AUSTIN, Texas — With each day that goes by, the 2009 national championship game fades a bit more at Texas.
That 2005 national title? That’s on the verge of ancient history considering two senior classes have come and gone since Vince Young wore burnt orange. Toss in a 22-16 record over the last three seasons and the once-mighty program seems on the verge of long-term mediocrity if Longhorns can’t challenge for the Big 12 title this year.
But it’s clear that Texas — from coach Mack Brown to the offensive line — enters the 2013 season with a quiet confidence that the Longhorns are being overlooked as not just Big 12 contenders, but perhaps national ones as well.
“I’m more confident this team will be the best one we’ve had in the last two years or three years,” Brown said.
Texas returns 19 starters from last season’s 9-4 squad, making it the most experienced team in the Big 12, and is coming off a bowl win over Oregon State that was arguably quarterback David Ash’s best game of the season.
Here are five things to watch at Texas this season:
1. The quarterback: David Ash has two seasons and 18 starts under his belt and Texas fans are still waiting to see what he can deliver week to week. He’s shown he can win in tough road environments like Stillwater, Okla., and crater in the cauldron of the Cotton Bowl. Thrust into the job as a true freshman in 2011, Brown was frustrated in 2012 when Ash took a big step backward every time he seemed ready to break out. The Longhorns are hoping his superb effort to rally Texas to a win in the Alamo Bowl carried through the offseason, despite a couple of bad interceptions in the spring game. Brown has declared Ash his go-to quarterback, with Case McCoy the backup.