Colt McCoy

Former offensive guard Kasey Studdard now hosts his own show on Longhorn Network and owns a crawfish catering business.

Photo Credit: Joe Buglewicz | Daily Texan Staff

A crawfish-boiling, sports-talking, hunting Longhorn.

That’s how 2006 National Championship offensive guard Kasey Studdard now describes himself.

“I’m happy where I’m at,” Studdard said. “I’m doing the things I like to do.”

But he never thought about what he was going to do after football. It was all football, all the time, growing up.

When Studdard came to Austin, he was the fifth in his family to put on the Longhorn jersey. His grandfather was the first. His uncles donned the burnt orange as well, in addition to his dad before 10 years with the Broncos.

While at Texas, Studdard helped anchor an offensive line that paved the way for the highly ranked rushing team during his sophomore and junior years. In his senior year, he was a captain and first team All-Big 12.

After four years of protecting Vince Young and Colt McCoy, Studdard followed his father’s footsteps to the NFL. He was drafted in the sixth round of the 2007 draft by the Texans. But, after five seasons, he was cut.

“It’s a business,” Studdard said. “I knew I still had something left, but I really didn’t want to deal with knowing if I was going to play again or not. I learned I wasn’t as good as I thought I was.”

In 2013, his football career came to an end and his post-football life began. So what does Studdard do now?

He hunts, fishes, talks sports and cooks crawfish — all in Austin. 

He has his own fishing show on the Longhorn Network: “Hook, Line & Studdard.” The show has aired for one season, with a new season coming soon.

He’s also guiding corporate hunts.

“I’m getting that going,” Studdard said. “I enjoy being out there in the wild. It’s peaceful out there. Sometimes I’m in the helicopter shooting pigs or offshore bringing in a 100-pound tuna.”

As for his crawfish business, he is just getting it off the ground.

“I love eating and cooking crawfish,” Studdard said.

Studdard Crawfish isn’t a place yet. But that didn’t keep former Texas head coach Mack Brown from trying it.

“Kasey Studdard is starting a crawfish business. Everyone needs to go eat his food when he gets it up & going. The man can cook,” Brown tweeted back in May after going to one of Studdard’s crawfish boils.

But, most importantly to Studdard, his new life involves a family. Six months ago, he got married to a fellow Longhorn.

“I couldn’t marry outside the Longhorn family,” Studdard said. “That was [a] must in my book.”

Studdard doesn’t want to coach, instead focusing on spending time with his family. However, he did get the chance to be around Texas’ practices before the season started.

“I don’t know if they’re old enough to remember how good he was,” head coach Charlie Strong said. “Kasey comes out some days. When you have an alum, a player who was so good, for him to just talk about how important a team is and how it was when he was here in those old days.”

When Texas fans hear the name “McCoy,” most remember Colt McCoy, who led the Longhorns to a Fiesta Bowl victory in 2009 and a national championship game appearance the following year.

But, by the time her four years are up on the 40 Acres, freshman libero Cat McCoy hopes she will be the more famous McCoy.

“It would be really cool to redefine that name,” McCoy said.

So far, McCoy is well on her way to doing that. She has played in each of the Longhorns’ first four matches, digging 50 balls and providing leadership along the back line in the defense.

“It’s been so much fun playing in front of big crowds and in a high-level environment,” McCoy said.

Success is nothing new to McCoy. She led Southlake Carroll High School to a 44-1 record last year, just missing a state championship. For her efforts, she was named to the Under Armour All-American first team and named one of 30 underclassmen to watch by Volleyball Magazine.

“It was a really competitive program,” McCoy said. “There were a lot of great players that taught me a lot.”

McCoy was selected to the U.S. Women’s Junior National Team to compete in the North, Central American and Caribbean Volleyball Confederation Women’s U-20 Continental Championship. On the way to the U.S.’s gold medal finish, McCoy said the tournament really helped out with her mental game.

“We had triple days, and it was really hard, but the competition level was high,” McCoy said. “Just getting that international experience was really awesome.”

But, even with all of her experience, nothing could quite get her ready for the first day of practice at Texas.

“I was so nervous,” McCoy said. “They were like, ‘Cat, you need to calm down and just play volleyball.’”

Once she settled down, McCoy proved she was ready to compete on a collegiate team, emerging from the preseason as the starting libero over junior Kat Brooks.

But with the libero spot comes more pressure and responsibility. At the position, McCoy’s job is primarily to dig the ball, make good passes to the setter and control the defense in the backcourt.

So far, she’s only proven head coach Jerritt Elliott and the rest of the coaching staff correct in selecting her as the starter.

“Sometimes there’s a lot of pressure putting [the libero] jersey on, and she hasn’t flinched since she’s put it on,” Elliott said. “We knew she was talented, but you never know until they get into these types of situations.”

McCoy’s 50 digs leads the team early in the young season, and she’s also tallied an assist and an ace. However, Elliott’s been more impressed with her consistency as she continues to learn more about the game.

“We’re pleased with her progression,” Elliott said. “There are a lot of things we’re trying to tighten up with her on the defensive side still.”

So far, the libero spot is hers for the foreseeable future, but, with as tough a practice gym and as deep a team as the Longhorns have this year, keeping that spot will be a yearlong battle.

But, as long as she’s on the court, her goal is to win the championship she didn’t get in high school.

“I want to help this team win, especially for the seniors,” McCoy said. “I’m going to come to practice and work the hardest.”

The absolute worst case scenario for the Longhorns this season has already happened. Junior quarterback David Ash, yet again, is struggling with concussion symptoms.

So, as Texas head coach Charlie Strong would say, “Next man up.”

QB Tyrone Swoopes

That means Tyrone Swoopes, the 6-foot-4-inch, 243-pound sophomore from Whitewright, is now the Longhorns’ starting quarterback. Naturally, Swoopes has to step up. Injuries and struggles at the quarterback position have plagued Texas since Colt McCoy went down in the 2010 National Championship Game. Swoopes doesn’t need to be McCoy, but he’ll have to be better than he’s been in the few chances he’s had thus far.

“He does not need to put an ‘S’ on [his] chest and a cape on his back and try to do it all by himself,” offensive coordinator Shawn Watson said. “It won’t work that way.”

If Swoopes steps up, he may hear chants of “SWOOOOPES.” If he struggles, he will hear “BOOOO” instead.

C Jake Raulerson

The other part of Texas’ injury nightmare last week was the loss of 40-game starter and senior center Dominic Espinosa. Espinosa suffered an ankle fracture, which will likely sideline him for the rest of the season. The torch has now been passed to redshirt freshman Jake Raulerson.

Raulerson, a native of Celina, has big shoes to fill as the center. He will be responsible for keeping the offense organized and calling out reads — an even more difficult task, given the difficulties the line had at times against North Texas.

But the coaching staff believes Raulerson can get the job done.

“They know what they’ve lost in [Dominic],” Watson said. “[Raulerson] has taken a great sense of responsibility, making sure everybody is on the same page. They’re communicating together, [and] they’re in the film room together. [Raulerson] has captained a lot of that stuff. It’s impressive seeing those guys work together.”

Offensive Tackles

The offensive line suffered major losses after week one. Losing Espinosa was a tough pill to swallow, but even worse was the news that tackles Desmond Harrison, who was expected to return to action after being suspended prior to the season, and Kennedy Estelle were suspended for the game against BYU after violating team rules.

The offensive tackles will have to step up as a unit. Marcus Hutchins played left tackle last week but offensive line coach Joe Wickline may choose to rotate guys in. Whoever is lined up on the outside has a tough task in front of them and has to be ready to step up. 

If the college football playoff was around in 2008, the Longhorns would have had the chance to play for the national championship instead of settling for the Fiesta Bowl. 

Photo Credit: Caleb Miller | Daily Texan Staff

Most Longhorn fans still remember the score to the infamous 2008 Red River Rivalry game that fell in former Texas quarterback Colt McCoy’s favor: 45-35.

That was the score that Texas fans say should have put their team into the title game.

As the one-loss Sooner team went on to face Florida in the BCS National Championship, Texas, also with one loss, had to settle for the Fiesta Bowl.

Texas fans argue, and with good reason, if it weren’t for a Blake Gideon dropped “easy” interception and a last-second touchdown by Texas Tech’s Michael Crabtree, it would have been an undefeated Texas team playing for the national championship. Instead, it was the BCS rankings that gave Oklahoma the nod.

However, now, that problem should be solved.

For the first time in FBS history, there will be a four-team playoff this season.

No longer will a computer decide who the best two teams are. Instead, a 13-member selection committee will decide, basing their decision on strength of schedule, head-to-head results, comparison of results against common opponents and championships won, among other factors.

It won’t avoid all controversy, but it solves the main issue: that one team, controversially, was left out of the title picture.

Now, if a repeat of 2008 happened in 2014, Texas would be in the playoff — and have a deserving shot at the title.

But, unfortunately for Texas fans, the times of McCoy’s stardom have passed, and Texas won’t likely be a part of this year’s playoff system. However, this new college football will be a good change in the system, providing a new aspect to the entertainment of the sport.

The 13-member committee will be chaired by Arkansas athletic director Jeff Long and will consist of Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez, former Ole Miss QB Archie Manning, former Nebraska athletic director and coach Tom Osborne and former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. 

The committee will meet weekly, starting Oct. 28, with the rankings released Tuesdays. Each committee member will rank the top-25 teams in the country and assign teams to the Cotton, Fiesta and Peach Bowl when they aren’t hosting semifinal games. Committee members will be recused from certain teams because of possible conflicts of interest, such as Long from Arkansas.

The new system likely won’t do away with all controversy, though, as the No. 5 team will likely claim to be “robbed” of a chance. But that’s theoretically better than having the No. 3 team be “robbed.” In addition, some teams will have the chance to boost their resumes at the end of the season with a conference championship game — an advantage the Big 12 and Texas won’t have.

Although Texas isn’t expected to be a part of the new excitement, it should be fun to witness college football history as the new playoff system unfolds.

Photo Credit: Charlie Pearce | Daily Texan Staff


That is the record Texas compiled during a seven-year span when it started legends Vince Young and Colt McCoy at quarterback. Texas played for two national titles — winning one — in addition to winning two more BCS bowls in 2006 and 2008. Young beat teams with his feet and arm and made the team “inVINCEable” during the latter part of his career. McCoy was one of the most accurate passers in NCAA history and the winningest BCS-conference quarterback.

But over the past four seasons, with the quarterback carousel of Garrett Gilbert, Case McCoy and David Ash in full swing, Texas has gone just 30-21. During this time, the Longhorns missed a bowl game while only winning two of three minor bowls from 2011 to 2013. Gilbert was highly touted but flamed out. McCoy will be remembered for his late game moxie but struggled in his last few games. Ash can play brilliantly when healthy, but his durability appears to be a nagging concern. 

The quarterback position at Texas has been a mess lately and will likely remain so in 2014. The Longhorns will play their spring game Saturday with three active quarterbacks who have completed 5 of 13 passes for 26 yards in their careers combined.

Only sophomore Tyrone Swoopes got reps at quarterback in a game last season, playing in six games after a controversial burning of his redshirt against TCU. With such limited opportunities, it’s hard to tell whether Swoopes will be successful at this level, but it’s encouraging that head coach Charlie Strong sees Swoopes already taking advantage of Ash’s absence.

“He did a really outstanding job last Saturday,” Strong said. ”I know I don’t know his numbers, but he had really good numbers and threw an unbelievable ball to Marcus [Johnson] down the sideline where he beat one of our defensive backs. It was a big throw, but he did a really good job, and he settled in and had the confidence and just a different air about him when leading the offense.”

Texas’ other quarterbacks Saturday will be former wide receiver and tight end Miles Onyegbule, a senior, and sophomore Trey Holtz, both of whom should play to give Swoopes time off the field.

Many fans believe salvation is on the way with the enrollment of touted recruit Jerrod Heard on campus this summer. Heard led his team to two state titles in high school, but, while there could be temptation to play him early, Texas’ smartest move may be to redshirt him this season. Young and Colt both redshirted during their first seasons on campus, and that may be the best way to set up Heard for a successful career. 

Texas’ best hope in 2014 is to keep Ash healthy, but it should be prepared in the likely event he misses time. Perhaps it will nab USC transfer Max Wittek, who is a talented quarterback looking for a change of scenery. The Longhorns are thought to be the frontrunners for Wittek’s services, which would provide them with a solid backup in the likely event Ash suffers yet another setback.

The team will likely struggle until assistant coach Shawn Watson can develop his quarterback, but Heard may be the answer in 2015 or 2016. Until then, Texas fans need to remain patient as the Longhorns search for their next world-beating signal caller.

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

Case McCoy has always been in the background. 

He grew up as the little brother of former Texas star Colt McCoy and has spent most of his Longhorns career as the backup quarterback. For Case, however, the chip on his shoulder has not been in the background—a chip that has helped define McCoy during his time as a Longhorn so far.

“It’s there,” co-offensive coordinator Major Applewhite said. “You know the little brother syndrome or the back-up quarterback syndrome. Whatever you want to call it. He certainly has a chip on his shoulder. And it doesn’t come out in just feistiness or words, it comes out in his preparation and his dedication to his teammates.”

When he was five years old, doctors caught a skin and muscular disease named scleroderma, which is a build-up of scar-like tissue in the skin. The senior said that chip he has on his shoulder started when he got that diagnosis.

“That was a disadvantage I was put at early,” McCoy said. “But at the same time, I don’t think I’d be here if it weren’t for it. It made me work harder, it made me want all of this more than I would have if I were a normal healthy child.”

Scleroderma isn’t the only outside factor affecting how McCoy looked at his life. This past summer, the quarterback spent 10 weeks in Peru on a mission trip.

McCoy helped purify water and installed water filtration systems while in South America. He spent time with underprivileged families and came to the realization on how lucky he was to be in the position he was.

“I took away a lot, about how blessed I am along with all of everyone living in this country,” McCoy said. “I realized how much people not only in Peru but in America would trade for my position anytime.”

While it can be hard to see at first sight, the mission trip had an impact on his football career.

“I realized how much of a passion I have for this game,” McCoy said. “Being separated from it for 10 weeks, its something that I haven’t done since I was in junior high. I’ve been around this game my whole life. I realized how much passion I have and how much love I have for my teammates.”

When you play at a school Texas, it can be easy as a player to become overconfident, a feature some say McCoy exhibits too often.

“Around here you can love yourself pretty quick,” Applewhite said. “I’ve been a part of that, done it myself as a player, and you just have to fight it every day and focus on your team”

Nonetheless, McCoy has found that focus once again. With six games left to create his legacy at Texas, the senior has used his off-field activities as an advantage instead of a crutch.

“There was a time in there I was going through the motions and not relishing in the moment that I was living in,” McCoy said. “Once I realized that and realized I had one more year to do what I loved and continue to try and achieve this dream I’ve had for so long, that’s the biggest impact from it all. I was ready to get back as soon as that hit me.”

Although Colt McCoy left a distinguished legacy at Texas, Case MecCoy has been just as clutch. Case is 2-1 in rivalry games while Colt struggled in similar contests.

Photo Credit: Chelsea Purgahn | Daily Texan Staff

For students who arrived at the 40 Acres in 2010 — just in time for the football program to spontaneously combust — there is an understanding that the definition of a “big game” at Texas has changed.

While students of the Vince Young and Colt McCoy eras were regularly treated to Top-10 matchups, conference championships and national title games, Texas’ current crop of students hasn’t been so fortunate. Early season losses have led to uninteresting conference matchups and meaningless bowl games over the past four seasons.

As a result, the experience of watching marquee matchups has been reduced to just one thing: rivalry games. You know, those fiery contests against the Aggies and Sooners that are highly anticipated, regardless of either team’s standing.

The Longhorns are 2–4 in rivalry games since 2010, with a 2011 victory over Texas A&M in the schools’ final Big 12 meeting and a shocking upset of Oklahoma just a couple weeks ago. While those two victories were separated by nearly two years, they did have something in common: Case McCoy was quarterback in both of them.

Whether he was leading the comeback drive to set up Justin Tucker’s game-winning kick over the Aggies — a moment that seemed almost as big as Young’s run to the corner — or playing pitch-and-catch with senior wide receiver Mike Davis to seal a blowout victory over the Sooners, McCoy looked comfortable in the spotlight.

“I came to this university to play in games like that,” McCoy said. “Over my career, I’ve been able to play in some awesome, historical games that I will never forget. And we’ve performed in those games, so it’s fun to talk about.”

And while Case is certainly no Colt, their performance in high-profile games is comparable.

Case has a winning record as a starter against rivals, 2–1, and is hardly to blame for his lone loss, against OU in 2011. He was replaced early-on by David Ash, who he was splitting reps with at the time, and by the time McCoy returned to the game, Ash had already thrown an interception and it was 20–3 in favor of the Sooners.

Colt, on the other hand, often struggled in big-time contests. He lost three times against the Aggies and Sooners, including a 2006 loss to Texas A&M, in which he threw three interceptions, that cost Texas a shot at the Big 12 title. Add to that the 2008 loss to Texas Tech and a three-turnover performance in the 2009 conference championship game against Nebraska, and it’s clear that he didn’t exactly relish the big moment.

Sure, as far as overall results and the legacy he left behind, Colt McCoy was certainly more successful as a Longhorn. But when it comes to clutch performances, you could argue that the younger McCoy has been equally as impressive, and you might just have a case.

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

Bob Stoops took over at Oklahoma in 1999. Since then, Oklahoma and Texas have met on the field 14 times, with Oklahoma holding a 9-5 record. Over the years, college football has evolved with spread offenses becoming more and more prevalent, which has led to 11 Heisman winning quarterbacks since 1999, with the position more important now than ever.

Over this time, the Red River Rivalry has had some phenomenal quarterbacks take the field, such as Sam Bradford and Jason White of Oklahoma as well as Vince Young and Colt McCoy of Texas. Despite the dominating careers of these passers, the winner of the
Red River Rivalry has come down to whoever runs the ball better.

In every contest since Oklahoma hired Stoops, the team with the most rushing yards took the Golden Hat, except for 2006 when both squads ran for 124 yards. In the Stoops era, Oklahoma has out-run Texas 145 to 109 yards per game.

When digging deeper and dividing rushing stats by era (1999-2003, 2004-2009 and 2010-present) and results, (Texas victory, Oklahoma victory, Oklahoma blowout victory, other Oklahoma wins) running the ball further correlates to victory.

From 1999-2003, Oklahoma outgained Texas on the ground by an average of 155.6 to 93.80 and scored over twice as many rushing touchdowns. Oklahoma took four out of five from Texas and ran the ball 10 more times per game (39.6 to 29.4).

In 2004, Young pulled away as Texas’ unquestioned starting quarterback leading to a zone-read heavy offense. But Texas lost to Oklahoma 12-0 and the run battle 301 to 154.

From 2005 to 2009, Texas won four of five against Oklahoma, averaging 138.20 yards per game against the Sooners’ 80.60, while scoring a rushing touchdown three and a half times as often. 

Following McCoy’s injury in the 2010 BCS National Championship Game, Texas’ offense has struggled with its identity both under center and philosophically. 

Not surprisingly, over this stretch Oklahoma’s ground game has dominated Texas’ by an average of 184.33 to 72.33. The Longhorns have scored zero rushing touchdowns the past two contests and averaged only 1.62 yards per carry.

When Texas emerged victorious, it is because they won the battle in the trenches. This is apparent as Texas averaged 100 yards more on the ground per game than it did in losses, at 171 to 75. In both cases, Texas calls about an equal percentage of run plays (52 percent in wins, 48 percent in losses) but the difference lies in yards per carry (4.66 in wins, 2.44 in losses) and rushing touchdowns (1.4 per game in wins, 0.9 per game in losses).

What may be an even bigger indicator for Texas’ success is how many times and how well Oklahoma runs when they have the ball. In Texas victories, Oklahoma’s run game accounts for 49.6 yards per contest and only 1.52 yards per carry, but in Oklahoma victories those numbers grow to 198.56 and 4.41, respectively.  

In blowout victories, Oklahoma tears through Texas to the tune of 215.75 yards rushing and 4.9 yards per carry while running into the end zone 4.25 times per contest. In wins, Oklahoma attempts approximately 17 more rushes per game than in losses and finds the end zone through the ground significantly more per game (2.67 to 0.2).

Based off rushing statistics and observations through five games, it seems very unlikely the Longhorns will beat the Sooners on the ground. Texas ranks last of any BCS conference team in rushing yards allowed per game at 248.4, whereas Oklahoma surrenders only 113.20 per contest. The Sooners run the ball 46.20 times per game for 246 yards on average. 

Considering the context of the 2013 game and the tendency for the run game to decide the contest, it looks very likely the Sooners will run away with the Golden Hat again. 

Photo Credit: Chelsea Purgahn | Daily Texan Staff

Fans of Case McCoy have gotten their fair share of excitement this season. The senior quarterback has already appeared in three games, including one start, and there’s a good chance that more appearances are coming.

Throughout his four-year career, the younger brother of former Texas star Colt McCoy has appeared in 25 games, which is well above the average for a typical backup quarterback. But McCoy hasn’t been a typical backup quarterback. He’s been a starter, a backup and even a third stringer at one point, and his experiences have varied through all those periods.

Texas is also no stranger to this issue of quarterback switches.

“We play behind all of our quarterbacks,” sophomore running back Johnathan Gray said. “When one is down, the other one comes in, we rally around whoever is in the game.”

In his career, McCoy has completed 178 passes, tallying 2,086 yards on 278 attempts. He has also recorded negative 22 yards of rushing on 46 attempts.

McCoy saw little action in his freshman campaign with appearances against Rice and Florida Atlantic, attempting just one pass and one rush through those two games.

In his sophomore season, the Graham native helped fill in after the end of the Garrett Gilbert era. He started in five games and appeared in five others, setting the school record that year for the most consecutive passes to start a career without an interception (124).

While he only started one game in his junior season, he came into four others, and in just the first four weeks of this season, he has almost matched this number of

In Texas’ loss to Brigham Young University this season, starter David Ash suffered a head injury that took him out of the rest of the game and the following week against Ole Miss. Against Kansas State, Ash left the game at halftime because of those same injuries. McCoy has appeared in the place of Ash in all of those contests, winning just one.

Statistically there isn’t a huge difference between when McCoy starts and when he comes into games as a backup. When starting he has tallied 1,370 yards with a total QBR of 41.6. When he has come into the game to replace the starter he has tallied 610 yards with a total QBR of 65.12.

In his lone start this season against Ole Miss, McCoy led an inconsistent offense that was held to zero points in the last half.

The senior has had good luck when he gets on the field mid-game. In 2011 — after boos serenaded then-starter Gilbert — McCoy came in and switched off plays with Ash to lead the
Longhorns to an eventual win over the non-conference opponent.

More recently, Texas was down late in the game against the 1-7 Kansas team last season and McCoy came in to lead two fourth quarter touchdowns.

“Case knows when his time comes, he has to strap it on and lead the team to victory,” Gray said. ”Case does a great job of getting the team going and stepping in for David.” 

Fans will most likely get the chance to see McCoy again. With Ash still questionable, McCoy might have the chance in the future to prove he actually is a starting quarterback.

Longhorns head coach Mack Brown adresses reporters at Big 12 Media Days last month. While acknowledging that Texas' 22-16 mark over the last three seasons was unacceptable, he expressed optimism about the Longhorns' improvement and his team's goal of running the table this year—a goal he said it had last season.

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

The Longhorns’ last two mottos have been “Brick by Brick” and “R.I.S.E.”, both signifying a rebuilding process that began after a disugstingly disappointing 5-7 campaign in 2010.

That process is over. 

Texas has won 17 games, two of them in middle-tier bowl games, in the last two years but has yet to fully distance itself from the
5-7 debacle.

But this year could be the year. The year the Longhorns cast aside inexplicable deficiencies in tackling. The year they consistently establish an effective running attack. The year they capitalize on a weak Big 12 – and win a national championship.

“Nine’s not enough at Texas,” Brown said, referring to the Longhorns’ 9-4 record in 2012. “Other teams win nine and they’re pumped. They’re giving the coaches raises and having parades. That doesn’t happen at Texas. We’re the reason it happens. We created it. I understand that. I like it… Let’s win them all.”

For the first time in the conference’s history, no Big 12 team was among the top 10 teams in preseason polls. 

The Longhorns checked in at No. 15 in the coaches’ poll, one spot behind Big 12 presesaon favorite Oklahoma State, who comes to Austin this year, along with Kansas State and Ole Miss.

Their only true road test comes in late October against TCU, when Texas will be coming off a bye week. 

Gone are feared gunslingers Landry Jones, Nick Florence, Geno Smith and Seth Doege – four of the nation’s top five passers last year. And that illustrious list doesn’t even include Heisman finalist Collin Klein, who is also gone. 

Not only will its competition be worse but Texas is much better now than this time last year. The Longhorns’ 19 returning starters are tops in the nation and a defense that gave up more yards in school history will get a much-needed boost from the return of Jackson Jeffcoat and Jordan Hicks. 

“There’s a different swagger and a different confidence than there’s been the last couple of years,” Brown said. “And there should be.”

More importantly, Texas brings experience and stability to the quarterback position for the first time since Colt McCoy was behind center. David Ash has been inconsistent over the past two years, but the junior has blossomed from a wide-eyed fourth-stringer to a bona fide starter.

“As a freshman, 30 percent of the time you don’t really know what you’re doing,” Ash said. “As a sophomore, it’s like 15 percent. As you get older and older that time you don’t know what you’re doing goes down.”

The Longhorns are improving upon a team that was a few plays away from going 11-2 last season. A few yards here or there in narrow home losses to West Virginia and TCU and Texas would’ve had double-digit wins before its Alamo Bowl triumph over Oregon State. 

“Coach Royal said you gotta be good and you’ve gotta be lucky,” Brown said. “We haven’t been lucky the last few years. We haven’t had much luck. I’m ready to have some thrown our way.”

McCoy broke records en route to leading Texas to its national title game appearance in 2009. Ash is solid but he’s no McCoy. Fortunately for him, though, he’ll have a much better supporting cast than McCoy did. 

Tre Newton was the leading rusher on that 2009 squad, running for just 552 yards while McCoy accounted for nearly two-thirds of the team’s total offense. This year’s Longhorns have two tailbacks better than Netwon in Malcolm Brown and Johnathan Gray, arguably three if you include Joe Bergeron. 

With Texas’ newfound dedication to an up-tempo approach on offense, that should mean more touches to go around for everybody. Brown is even counting on Ash himself to make some plays in the ground game. 

“We really think he needs to make plays with his feet five or six times a game,” Brown said. “The best we’ve ever been is when Vince [Young] or Colt on a 3rd-and-4 pulls it down and runs it or he pulls it down toward the line of scrimmage, they all come toward him like David flipping it over his head in the Alamo Bowl.”

Everything has aligned itself for Texas to capture not just a Big 12 championship but a national championship. The conference is weaker while the Longhorns are stronger. They finally have a seasoned starter under center and the defense can only improve on last year’s performance. 

It’s time for Texas to contend for—and win—a national title.