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Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Four downs: Managing expectations

By Sean Adams

Each week Sean Adams looks at a few topics around the Texas Longhorns and college football.

First down: Expectations

Jordan Hicks
The return of Jordan Hicks from injury will help bolster Texas' back seven.
Texas has never run from expectations even when it did not like them. Expectations sometimes lead to false hope and pressure. I’ve often thought that it is perfectly fine to feel nervous about a task. Being nervous only proves that you care about what you are doing. When people feel pressure, which is usually due to feeling unprepared for the task at hand, that is something that fractures the base of a team.

ESPN’s post-recruiting, pre-spring national ranking posted Texas as the No. 14 team in the country, with Big 12 cohort Oklahoma right behind it at 15. Texas is the highest ranked Big 12 team. Texas, whether it wants to acknowledge the validity of recruiting rankings or not, had the best recruiting class in the Big 12 in 2013.

Texas brings back the most experienced quarterback in the Big 12, the most complete backfield, its entire offensive line and the lion’s share of the receivers back in 2013.

If the defense can put the back seven together, then this Longhorns team just might meet expectations.

Second down: How important is 2013?

Recruiting has changed. Texas did not have a recruiting class that matched the depth and scope of the 2011 and 2012 recruiting classes.

Momentum in the Texas football program is probably at an all-time low during Mack Brown's tenure. For the first time in his time in Austin there might be more questions than answers.

There is an apathy associated to the Longhorns football program in the Texas fanbase. Texas fans are not willing to stretch, believe, or commit to their program’s greatness because trust between the fanbase and the program has been fundamentally marginalized.

Texas does not need to win the BCS Championship in 2013 but it needs to be reflective of the commitment, the resources and the talent in the great state of Texas, and specifically at the University of Texas.

Third down: Walking into spring...

Just a few years ago, the Texas defense was working with a really good back seven and was trying to shore up the front four. The exact opposite situation exists right now.

Even with Brandon Moore leaving Texas after one year for the NFL and Texas striking out on the defensive line with the 2013 recruiting class, the front four is going to be fine in 2013.

The back seven is what needs to be solidified this spring. Infusing Jordan Hicks back into the linebacker group and finding five really good players to accompany him at linebacker is paramount. After that, the lion’s share of the work and focus needs to be on the defensive backfield, where Texas needs to get a grip on what is going to happen at safety and how to fill out the nickel and dime packages in the wild and crazy Big 12 conference.

The defensive back seven is the group I will look at the most this spring.

Fourth down: Around the Big 12

All is not well at Oklahoma. Bob Stoops went 13 years without firing a coach. Now he has dismissed four in 13 months. Defensive backs coach Willie Martinez moved on after the 2011 season, James Patton was replaced as offensive line coach on Monday, and two more assistants -- defensive tackle coach Jackie Shipp and offensive tackles/tight ends coach Bruce Kittle -- were let go on Tuesday.

Oklahoma is trying to change a few voices on its staff and work against the notion that Stoops and his program have become comfortable, content, and maybe even complacent.