EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the 10th in a series of previews on West Virginia and Marshall football opponents.
Checking them out
Remember Vince Young and Colt McCoy? They were the quarterbacks who led Texas to one national championship and a runner-up spot. Texas fans sure remember them because since then the Longhorns haven't come close to national prominence, and the absence of a top-flight quarterback is one of the reasons.
Maybe that changes this season, maybe not. But at least for now there are still huge questions at the position. Case McCoy - Colt's brother - and David Ash battled for the job last season and again in the spring and Ash, based on last year and the spring, might have the edge. The battle will go on when camp begins, but inconsistency is the problem. Ash threw no TDs and six interceptions in five regular-season starts last year, then was the MVP of the Holiday Bowl. McCoy, meanwhile, had games like this: 356 yards and three touchdowns passing against Baylor, but with four picks.
The Texas QB, though, doesn't have to be outstanding, just competent. That's because Texas' running game should be back to its traditional strength with Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron. The top two wide receivers are also back and the line returns three starters.
Regardless of what happens on offense, though, the Texas defense might be the best in the country. Last year the Longhorns ranked sixth in rushing defense, 10th in pass efficiency defense and 11th in total defense. The pass defense ranked only 42nd in yards allowed, but that's due to the sheer volume of passes thrown by Big 12 teams.
The defensive line boasts NFL ends Alex Okafor and Jackson Jeffcoat, both about 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds, and more than enough talent to fill out the front. The top two tacklers are gone at linebacker, but one of the replacements, Steve Edmond, is bigger and faster than the guys he'll replace. The back end is more than fine, too, with All-Big 12 strong safety Kenny Vaccaro moving to free and plenty of corners led by speedy Quandre Diggs, who also averaged 22.6 yards on eight punt returns.
If Texas wasn't already stocked to the gills with running backs, incoming freshman Johnathan Gray ran for nearly 11,000 yards and a national-record 205 touchdowns while leading Aledoa High to three Texas 4A state titles. ... West Virginia won the only meeting between the teams, 7-6, in 1956 on fullback Larry Kutko's 15-yard run and halfback Bob Snider's PAT kick. That was a Texas team that finished 1-9 and a WVU squad that was 6-4 and won the Southern Conference. The game was played on Oct. 6, exactly 56 years before this scheduled rematch.