The Norman Transcript


August 24, 2013

’Horns expecting turnaround


AUSTIN, Texas —

2. The defense: The lasting image of the 2012 version of the Texas defense was an Oklahoma fullback hurdling through the secondary, jumping over one defensive back while another bounced helplessly off his midsection.

The Longhorns return nine starters on defense, including senior end Jackson Jeffcoat, a potentially dominating pass rusher whose career has been dogged by injuries. Despite all that experience, Texas lost its best two players from 2012 in safety Kenny Vaccaro and end Alex Okafor, who are now both in the NFL.

3. The coach: To look and listen to Brown is to see and hear a coach who hasn’t felt this good in four years. He’s dropped 25 pounds and took the unusual step of opening up six practices to the media and three to the public. The message: After two years of rebuilding behind closed doors, let me show you what I’ve got. Yet some things still seem unsettled. After Texas lost to Alabama in the BCS championship game after the 2009 season, Brown was determined to remake Texas from a passing offense to a power running game. After that failed with 5-7 finish in 2010, Brown pushed out longtime assistant Greg Davis for a new offensive coordinator, promising Bryan Harsin would rev things up. Now Harsin is the head coach at Arkansas State and Brown wants Major Applewhite to push the offense in an up-tempo, snap-every-few-seconds attack.

4. Show me, don’t tell me: Brown can talk about his best team in years and fans can dream of chasing titles again in a league that looks as wide open as ever. But Texas won’t make believers of anyone until they can beat Kansas State, not get blown out by Oklahoma and win in Waco against Baylor.

5. Off the field: Texas fans may want to pay attention to the Austin federal courts in September. That’s the earliest former women’s track coach Bev Kearney can file a federal race and sex discrimination lawsuit over her forced resignation last January. How would this relate to football? It was Kearney’s attorneys who shook out the embarrassing revelation in February that Applewhite had an inappropriate relationship with a student on a bowl trip after the 2008 season. Kearney’s attorneys have threatened a lawsuit and point to the Applewhite instance as a major piece of evidence. A lawsuit would lead to another public airing of a humiliating episode for Applewhite.

Predicted finish in Big 12: Second.

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