June 3, 2008

Adams: Horns will get 10 wins in 2008

As Jesse Jackson, the politician that has never held office and the reverend that has never led a church would say, "Keep hope alive."

Or when it comes to the 2008 version of the Texas Longhorns, "Keep the streak alive."

Of course, the streak of 10 win seasons by the Longhorns football team is alive and well at seven seasons.

It has been the statistic that has been offered as the congratulatory centerpiece for Mack Brown and the Texas program over the course of the last two seasons, as both have ended the regular season with losses to Texas A&M.

It would be remiss of anyone to dismiss the streak as non-important. The key to any program is to be in the running for a championship near the end of the season and whether you appreciate the way it is paraded about, the longevity and consistency are impressive.

The 2008 season has been one that has been pointed to as the time when the streak might not only end, but as a season in which the Longhorns could look very mediocre as a football program. The reason for the possible downturn in the program is the change on the schedule that now has games against Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado and a Texas A & M team that has beaten Texas the last two years with a team and coaching staff thought to be inferior to the Longhorns. Some have gone as far as to suggest that the Longhorns have a setback season in store and could turn in an 8-4 or even a 7-5 season

Put the crack pipe down.

I'm not prepared to say that Texas will find its way into the BCS national championship game, ever though stranger things have happened, but Texas will win 10 games in 2008 and here's why…

1) Will Muschamp

With all due respect to Duane Akina, whose career is long and distinguished, but last year's misadventure with the defensive coordinator position was a resounding flop. The Texas defense broke records in 2007, but they were the records you do not want to break as a program, giving up more yards as a unit than any defense in the history of the school.

It's too easy to say that Muschamp's star is on the rise. It is much greater than that. The energy, focus, scheme, flexibility and confidence that he brings to the table will pay dividends right away. From Auburn to the Miami Dolphins to LSU, where he won a national championship by stifling the record setting Oklahoma offense lead by Heisman trophy winning quarterback Josh White.

Youtube aside, Muschamp can be painted in a corner for his energy levels and on-field vernacular, but the story is much deeper than that. Players at every stop along the way of Muschamp's career laud the guy with praise. So the coach whose persona makes him "hard to know" is beloved by the players that bleed, sweat and tear for him?

The answer is simple - he loves his players and lauds them on a level that is equal to or exceeds the level of his toughness.

That, my friends, is what a legend is made of. Every coach can't be that coach but it appears by reading the tea leaves of history that Texas has that type of coach on its hand. The stats are mind-boggling and speak for themselves, but it is the other side of the coach that could take this very talented but inexperienced defense and turn it into something special.

A lot of guys can thrive with X's and O's, but not everybody can Muschamp.

2) Duane Akina

There is opportunity cost to every decision. When Akina took over the defense and didn't experience much success there, the elephant in the room that nobody talked about was the fact that the play of the defensive backs dipped and the special teams play took a serious hit.

The Texas special teams that in previous years could hold punt- and kick-blocking clinics left a lot to be desired in 2007. The unit not only fell short, but they fell off to the point of not even making a mark in the stat book.

Leaving the macro look at the defense to Muschamp will allow Akina to focus on the two things where he has found wild levels of success - the defensive backfield and special teams. He can focus his time on molding the next Michael Griffin on special teams and the next Michael Huff in the defensive backfield.

While both made their way to the NFL via the 1st round of the draft on amazing talent, they both have nothing but great things to say about Akina, and the technical and mental aspects of the game of football that he taught them.

3) John Chiles

I'm not going to pin all the hopes and dreams of every Longhorn fan on the defense because somebody has to put some points on the board. Colt McCoy is going to have a fine season and will get much closer to the numbers he put up as a freshman in 2008.

Blaine Irby is going to do good things at the tight end position. Quan Cosby and Jordan Shipley are known commodities that should have great years. Vondrell McGee and Foswhitt Whittaker will form a strong tandem at running back.

The cog in the machine that might make the whole thing go will be the versatility of the backup quarterback. Even though Chiles is clearly a quarterback and carries himself in that manner, I will liken his playmaking ability and ability to baffle a defense to the skill set and ability of former Longhorn Ramonce Taylor. Taylor was a guy that made play after play in the 2005 national championship season and every team that lined up against the Longhorns had to account for his whereabouts and his ability.

Expect to see Chiles play the quarterback position in a role different than in 2007 when he was part of a an all-freshman unit. Expect Chiles and McCoy to be on the field at the same time.

McCoy is the man at quarterback but expect Chiles to be "The Man B".


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