2008 CFN Texas Preview
Texas DT Roy Miller
Texas DT Roy Miller
Posted May 20, 2008

Texas has always had enough talent to be in the national title chase, but it hasn't exactly had a mean streak in the Mack Brown era. That might change going into this year thanks to new defensive coordinator Will Muschamp leading Roy Miller and the Longhorn D. Check out the CFN Texas Preview.

Texas Longhorns

Preview 2008

By Pete Fiutak

- 2008 CFN Texas Preview | 2008 Texas Offense
- 2008 Texas Defense | 2008 Texas Depth Chart
- 2007 CFN Texas Preview | 2006 CFN Texas Preview 

Interested in blogging about Big 12 football?  Let us know

Texas isn't exactly your typical football program.

It's Texas, so to go T-shirt here, football is life and the rest is just details, but this hasn't exactly been known as a tough, punch-you-in-the-face, nasty program that's willing to get its hands dirty.

This has been the program of coaches like Fred Akers and John Mackovic and Mack Brown, guys who could be teaching in the history department as easily as they could be figureheads for the football-mad state's flagship college franchise.

Head coach: Mack Brown
11th year at Texas: 103-25
25th year overall: 183-94-1
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 20, Def. 24, ST 1
Lettermen Lost: 15
Ten Best UT Players
1. QB Colt McCoy, Jr.
2. DT Roy Miller, Sr.
3. DE Brian Orakpo, Sr.
4. OT Adam Ulatoski, Jr.
5. OG Cedric Dockery, Sr.
6. DT Lamarr Houston, Jr.
7. LB Rashad Bobino, Sr.
8. CB Ryan Palmer, Sr.
9. PK Ryan Bailey, Sr.
10. WR/KR Quan Cosby, Sr.

2008 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 8-4
2008 Record: 0-0

Aug. 30 Florida Atlantic
Sept. 6 at UTEP
Sept. 13 Arkansas
Sept. 20 Rice
Sept. 27 OPEN DATE
Oct. 4 at Colorado
Oct. 11 Oklahoma (Dallas)
Oct. 18 Missouri
Oct. 25 Oklahoma State
Nov. 1 at Texas Tech
Nov. 8 Baylor
Nov. 15 at Kansas
Nov. 28 Texas A&M 

2007 Schedule
CFN Prediction: 10-2
2007 Record: 10-3

Sept. 1 Arkansas St W 21-13
Sept. 8 TCU W 34-13
Sept. 15 at UCF W 35-32
Sept. 22 Rice W 58-14
Sept. 29 Kansas State L 41-21
Oct. 6 vs. Oklahoma L 28-21
Oct. 13 at Iowa State W 56-3
Oct. 20 at Baylor W 31-10
Oct. 27 Nebraska W 28-25
Nov. 3 at Oklahoma St W 38-35
Nov. 10
Texas Tech W 59-43
Nov. 23 at Texas A&M L 38-30
Holiday Bowl
Dec. 27 Arizona State W 52-34

Texas players are currently known for being ridiculously talented, there's an NFL farm system in Austin, and for good and bad, to have brains. At the very least, they're far more pensive than your average college football meathead.

Does any big-time program have as many big-time talents sticking around for their senior seasons? While that's admirable, and we'd all like it if everyone stayed in school until their eligibility was up, it questions whether or not Texas cranks out killers.

Pure football players go to the NFL the second they're able to because that's all they think about and it's all they want to do. Texas players, for the most part, seem to be interested in leading lives, and while that's hardly a negative, it has tagged the program with a bit of a reputation for being, for lack of a better word, flaky. Soft is the word the pro scouts use. Cedric Benson and Ricky Williams haven't exactly helped the cause.

The Texas rivalries are nasty, no one has a bigger, badder, meaner pair of showdowns to deal with than when the Longhorns have against Oklahoma and Texas A&M, but still, overall, no one would exactly associate Texas football with being gritty.

On December 27th, 2007, that all might have changed.

No, Texas didn't all of a sudden become a grinder-type of program in the Holiday Bowl win over Arizona State, but after struggling late in the year to get by Nebraska, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech, and with a loss to Texas A&M, things started to get a little edgy. All it took was for ASU QB Rudy Carpenter to start popping off, and the powder keg was lit.

A jacked up Texas ran for 300 yards on the Sun Devils in the 52-34 laugher, while the defense used Carpenter like a rag doll. It was as if the program, after ten years under Brown, suddenly realized that if it combined a nasty, 1980s-Miami-like edge with all the all-star talent, big things could happen. It had that disrespected attitude when the 2005 USC team was being compared to the greatest war machines in the history of the planet before the Rose Bowl was even played, and it showed. Basically, to use a baseball adage, don't think, just throw.

Now, with defensive coordinator Will Muschamp entering the picture, the aggressive factor is being turned up to 11. Oh sure, the recent array of star defensive coaches have been great, but Muschamp takes things to a whole other level. If there was any question about the team being aggressive, edgy, and with a physical attitude before, it's answered now on defense.

So now, can Texas really change its stripes and combine a ten-cent-head mentality needed for football to the million dollar talent? This will be an under-the-radar year for the Longhorns with everyone about to be in love with Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas, and Texas Tech, but the potential is there to be the Big 12 champion, and even more.

What to look for on offense: The running back by committee approach. Jamaal Charles was the ground game last year, running for 1,619 yards, with QB Colt McCoy finishing second with 492 yards. It'll take a trio of players to get it done with speedsters Vondrell McGee and Foswhitt Whitaker combining with veteran Chris Ogbonnaya to try to make the nation's 17th ranked rushing attack even better. With an improved line up front, it could happen.

What to look for on defense: Someone other than a defensive back to make a tackle. It's not like the front seven wasn't pulling its weight last year, Texas led the Big 12 and was sixth in the nation against the run, but the top three tackles were defensive backs with Marcus Griffin, Ryan Palmer, and Brandon Foster combining to make 250 stops. Teams bombed away 517 times for 3,611 yards and 23 touchdowns with 16 interceptions, and they made the defensive backs make all the tackles. With more blitzing and more of a pass rush to come from the defense, there will be fewer big pass plays for the secondary to deal with.

This team will be much better if… the secondary shows up. While Muschamp will be looking to improve the defense as a whole, if there's as much blitzing as he'll want to do, the relatively young secondary will be on its own ... again. Texas gave up 236 yards per game in 2006 and allowed opposing quarterbacks to complete 58% of their passes, and that was considered a disaster. Last year, quarterbacks hit 61% of their throws and threw for 278 yards per game. In the final five games of last year, Texas allowed an average of 376 yards per game with 16 touchdown passes.

The Schedule: Considering Arkansas is in a rebuilding phase, and the old Southwest Conference showdown is at home, the non-conference schedule couldn't be much fluffier. Oooooh, there's a game against Sun Belt champion Florida Atlantic. Oooooh, at trip to UTEP before facing Rice. There's a week off before going to Colorado in a can't-look-ahead game before back-to-back dates with Oklahoma and Missouri. Going to Texas Tech will be nasty and traveling to Lawrence to face Kansas isn't like it used to be. There's a week off after playing the Jayhawks and before the rivalry game against Texas A&M.

Best Offensive Player: Junior QB Colt McCoy. It's easy to get swept aside in a year when Missouri's Chase Daniel becomes a Heisman finalist, Oklahoma's Sam Bradford leads the nation in passing efficiency, Texas Tech's Graham Harrell puts up ridiculous numbers, and Todd Reesing of Kansas becomes a national breakout star, but McCoy, outside of his 18 interceptions, deserved more attention after throwing for 3,303 yards with 22 scores, while running more than usual with 492 yards and four touchdowns.

Best Defensive Player: Senior DT Roy Miller. While he wasn't a starter last year, playing behind Frank Okam and Derek Lokey inside, Miller still came up with a strong season making 40 tackles with a sack and eight tackles for loss. With tackle depth an issue, Miller doesn't just have to be great, he has to be durable.

Key player to a successful season: Redshirt freshmen safeties Ben Wells and Earl Thomas. The Texas defensive backs are relatively interchangeable, they're all fast like corners and they all hit like safeties, but early on, the spotlight will be on Thomas and Wells to replace Marcus Griffin and Erick Jackson. Tackling and consistent run support will be a must, but after the last few years, providing more help for the corners will be vital.

The season will be a success if ... Texas wins the Big 12 South. This year, just winning the division, much less the conference, will be a monumental achievement considering Oklahoma is national-title good, Texas Tech has a loaded team that might be its best ever, and Oklahoma State and Texas A&M should be improved. The Longhorns need to focus on the progression. Win the South first, and then hope things fall into place from there. Shooting for a national title, even though Texas is one of the few programs able to go into every season with that as a realistic goal, is too big a mountain to climb all at once.

Key game: Oct. 4 at Colorado. Coming off a bye week and just before the showdown against Oklahoma and with Missouri to follow, Texas has to make sure it's 100% focused and as sharp as a tack for a bear-trap of a Big 12 opener. Just ask Oklahoma, who lost 27-24 in Boulder last year, what kind of effort Dan Hawkins' Buffs can bring in big games.

2007 Fun Stats: 
 - Fourth down conversions: Texas 14 of 22 (64%) – Opponents 9 of 22 (41%)
 - Average yards per carry: Texas 5.0 – Opponents 2.9
 - Onside kicks: Opponents 0 for 6 – Texas 1 of 1