AUSTIN, Texas -- Texas has 17 returning starters.
Not one of them is safe.
That is the first message Mack Brown and his Texas assistants gave to the players as spring practice started Thursday.
"Not one of you has a job," Brown was set to tell the players Thursday at 2 p.m. "All of you are fighting to get it and keep it. You may have it for a day but that doesn't mean you are going to keep it."
Presumably the quarterbacks will be listening the hardest. If not, maybe they should be. Because it is that position that is not only in the spotlight but the one that had the most glaring errors in 2011.
Even Brown said he felt like the offense was a top 10 team in most categories except the quarterbacks.
"I would like for us to have a passing game that meets our running game," Brown said. "Where we could throw it anywhere we want and anytime we want."
But, of course, there has to be a quarterback with the capability of doing that. Neither David Ash nor Case McCoy proved he was such a player last season. Their yo-yo-ing inconsistency turned Texas into a team that would rather punt -- see Missouri game -- and rely on the defense to make something happen than allow the offense to take any sort of risk.
Now freshman Connor Brewer has been thrown in the mix. He will get snaps this spring. But he already sounds like a heavy underdog to replace either Ash or McCoy.
It's the latter two who were the focus of most of Brown's comments. That might be because Brown has yet to see Brewer in practice. It also might be that Brown is setting Brewer up for a potential redshirt season.
That decision is months away. So too is one on a depth chart. While the staff most assuredly will have its favorite at quarterback, Texas will not name a quarterback or produce a two-deep until late August.
"We will wait till fall again because we have got a lot of new players and if you get set in something they may very well take some of those jobs like they did this year," Brown said.
Jalen Overstreet, another quarterback, is one of those players who will be on campus in the fall. But it is highly unlikely he will be involved in the quarterback race because he did not go through spring.
What this spring should produce is another two-man platoon and few answers.
"The message to those guys is we don't care who is ahead, we need two and we need two really good ones," Brown said of the quarterbacks.
The other message is that last year was not nearly good enough.
"(The quarterback) who scores touchdowns and who protects the ball and who is the best leader, that is what our quarterback is about," Brown said when asked who would be the starter.
McCoy, who was the subject of transfer rumors, did not play at all during the Holiday Bowl after throwing four interceptions against Baylor.
Texas cast its eye at potential junior college players or transfers during the offseason but ultimately decided to stick with Ash, McCoy and Brewer.
"You can get too many quarterbacks," Brown said of the decision not to bring in another player. "We feel like the guys we got and the guys coming in will be good enough and we wanted to show confidence in them and move forward."
Texas might be able to do just that once they pick a quarterback.
Carter Strickland covers University of Texas sports and recruiting for HornsNation
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