On the surface, it’s absurd to state that the Texas Longhorns football team is underrated. After all, they’re almost always overrated before the season.
Since Colt McCoy got hurt in the first quarter of the national championship 2009 BCS National Championship Game, the program has not been able to reach its massive potential. There have been four different head coaches since that time, and the success has been underwhelming.
They’ve only had one ten-win season since, a 10-4 mark under Tom Herman in 2018, and have been under.500 five times in a not-so-great Big 12.
The preseason Coaches Poll came out on Monday, and Texas slotted in at number 12. Mind you, they’ve finished above their preseason ranking just once since 2009.
But, this team is actually underrated. This Texas Longhorns team is the best team they’ve had since 2009, and are loaded all over the field.
It starts with a great combination of quarterback and head coach. Former top overall recruit in the country, Quinn Ewers, /a> has taken a strange route to get here. He enrolled early at Ohio State after being committed to Texas, likely due to the fact that Texas high schoolers were not allowed to collect NIL money. He found his way back to Texas last year, and looked incredible in the first quarter of their Alabama game before suffering an injury. Ewers was never the same after that, completing 58% of his passes for 2177 yards, 15 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. But, arguably no quarterback in America has more potential, and his second-year head coach Steve Sarkisian is one of the great quarterback whisperers in all of football. If something happens to Ewers, Maliik Murphy and Arch Manning form one of the best quarterback rooms in the country.
When you add in an impressive receiving corps led by potential first-round pick Xavier Worthy and solid players Jordan Whittington, Ja’Tavion Sanders, and Georgia transfer Adonai Mitchell, there’s no reason that the passing game won’t be dynamic. Gone is Falcons first-rounder Bijan Robinson, but arguably the nation’s top running back recruit, CJ Baxter, comes in to replace him.
The best part of the Texas Longhorns offense, however, is the offensive line. It’s a group that very well may be the best in the nation. 101 career starts return, including sophomore tackle Kelvin Banks, who could be the nation’s best this year. That line should pulverize the subpar fronts they will see in the Big 12.
The defense is not as loaded as the offense, but it’s plenty good enough for the Big 12. Returning All-American linebacker Jaylan Ford anchors the defense that will need to rush the passer better than they did a year ago. The Texas Longhorns will look to Barryn Sorrell and Justice Finkley to do that, while true freshman Anthony Hill was arguably the nation’s top high school linebacker last year and has huge potential as a blitzer in the Micah Parsons build. The secondary, led by returning safety starters Jerrin Thompson and Jalen Catalon, is probably the strength of the defense. That’s needed, given the way teams in that league like to throw the ball.
If I haven’t bored you already, you’re still probably thinking why anyone should believe in this Texas team more than the last 13 Longhorn teams. After all, those all had great players, too. And, maybe I’m going to end up on Old Takes Exposed for writing this. But, things, just seem different about this Texas team. It seems better in the trenches, especially on the offensive line, than it’s been in over decades. The Horns go to Alabama week 2, a game they lost by a point last fall in Austin. But, with Alabama breaking in two new coordinators and their quarterback situation looking less-than-ideal, I think Texas wins that game, runs the table in the Big 12, and makes their first college football playoff experience. If not, I’m going to look very dumb.