Mailbag: All Longhorns edition

Miss your team's mailbag? Here's the first two:

On with the show...

Dan in St. Peter, Minn. asks: Who do you think has/had more pressure put on them, Freshman Colt McCoy following VY's run into glory or Grapes (GG) following his...um...encounter with the Alabama Defense?Do you think the "lights will be to bright for him" as they were for Nebraska's Cody Green or will he deliver as a freshman?

DU: First off, Grapes is a fantastic nickname. Although, it opens up the Horns to some too-easy jokes every time he gets sacked about what’s eating him. And I can only assume you’d have to pay Johnny Depp some royalties. I’m sure no one wants to get into that.

But to your question: It’s Gilbert. The hopes were high for McCoy, but no one expected him to do what Vince did. Even though he never got that national title, he was arguably as good overall as Vince was, even though they were very different quarterbacks. Now, the folks in Austin have seen that legends can be replaced and that it’s possible for Gilbert to be as good as McCoy—and he might be. No pressure, just replace the quarterback with the most wins in the history of college football.

I don’t think “the lights will be too bright,” but like McCoy in his first year (Ohio State, Texas A&M), Gilbert’s going to have his bad days and forgettable games alongside his memorable ones. But unlike McCoy, he’ll have a top-notch defense to fall back on and help the Longhorns “down year” be pretty high. The Longhorn defense finished 24th nationally in scoring and total defense when McCoy was a freshman. I’d be shocked if Texas was that low this year.

Eric in Dallas, Texas asks: Which running back actually steps up to take some of the load off Gilbert, and will Texas stick with the running game if Gilbert proves he is consistent and reliable?...........Or will Texas ditch running the ball around the UCLA game, only to try and revive it after OU takes a halftime lead in the RRR?

DU: Tre’ Newton and Fozzy Whittaker should receive the bulk of the carries, but I think the distribution will vary game-to-game based solely on who’s being more productive. As for your second question, I think the reverse is more possible. They’ll keep running the ball and I don’t see Texas losing a game until maybe at Texas Tech in the third game but more likely the Red River Rivalry. If they’re down at the half, I could definitely see the running game scrapped and the game put in Gilbert’s hands, depending on how he’d played in the first four games. If he engineers a comeback and beats Oklahoma, thus reincarnating the spread in Austin, well… let the legend begin. He looked really good in the spring game, and I didn't see any real negatives in his Easter performance against his own defense. Obviously, that wasn't the case against Alabama, but he won't see defenses like that every week. We'll probably get a good read of what to expect from him this year by the end of the Texas Tech game.

Bobby in Austin, Texas asks: Why did you not put Texas' three-headed monster on your list?? I mean, Texas has so much talent to be afraid of, it is ridiculous! Garrett Gilbert will be the best QB in the Big 12 this year with all his skill and leadership. He already has 2 Texas state championships to his credit and several Texas high school passing records. Fozzy Whitaker and/or Tre' Newton will have a big year in the new offense with Gilbert being more under center. They are fast and shifty and can make big plays. And Malcolm Williams and Marquise Goodwin will have a party on the field this year at receiver. The size and athleticism of Williams could rival anyone in the conference, while Goodwin is one of the fastest players in the nation and can jump farther than anyone (proven by his national championship in long jump). So what gives?

DU: Who would you kick off my list for a quarterback with zero career starts, two running backs who have never rushed for more than 600 yards in a season and two receivers who have also never touched that mark? Oklahoma State has a couple of those, but they also have a guy without a real ceiling in Kendall Hunter and a chance to put up crazy numbers offensively.

Larry in Salina, Kansas asks: Does Texas pay you weekly or monthly for your services?

DU: Bi-weekly, with per-post bonuses.

Cecil in Plano, Texas asks: Mack Brown and Co. have a lot of work to do this off season and once the season starts. What are the realistic expectations for the 2010 Horns and what will you be looking for in order for them to make a championship run this year or next?

DU: The defense will keep the Longhorns streak of winning 10 games for the past nine seasons alive. How many more they win is up to Gilbert. If he plays well, Texas could go undefeated. The defense won’t be able to beat teams like Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Nebraska and Texas A&M by itself. If he plays poorly in those games, the defense will need to make a couple big plays or force some timely turnovers to win.

Kevin in Austin, Texas asks: David, love the blog. I have a feeling that the post-Earl Thomas era for UT's secondary is going to be BETTER than last year. I think the added experience of Aaron Williams, Chykie Brown, Curtis Brown and Blake Gideon, in a defense that snatched 17 non-Earl Thomas INTs in 2009, will mature into the scariest secondary in college football. Do you agree and should the rest of the conference decide to focus on the run game versus UT?...(uh oh...Acho brothers....)

DU: I agree completely. Texas should have the best secondary in the nation, and that front seven will help them do it. The Acho brothers, Sam and Emmanuel, LB Keenan Robinson and DT Kheeston Randall will put pressure on passers and keep teams from focusing on the run. The entire defense will have a hand in what should be a good turnover ratio and a great pass defense, but the talent and depth that Texas has on the defense’s back line is unrivaled.