HOUSTON – University of Texas head coach Mack Brown walked into the J.W. Marriott Grand Ballroom with a big smile on his face.
He was happy to see all the gathered alumni at the Touchdown Club’s annual luncheon.
He also has a feeling that 2013 could be something special.
“We have worked really, really hard to get the pieces back to make another run at this,” said Brown. “Two years ago we weren't as talented as we are now so it’s a good time to jump up and get back in the game.”
Brown is entering his 16th season as the head coach of the Longhorns. He’s seen the good times, but more recently the bad. In 2010, Texas finished 5-7, missing a bowl game and breaking a streak of 9 seasons with 10+ wins.
2011 was better at 8-5 and a Holiday Bowl win while 2012 saw the Longhorns finish 9-4, a season which finished with a victory in the Alamo Bowl.
Brown sees that game vs. Oregon State as a spring board to this year.
“The Oregon State game was really important for us in my estimation because it was the start of this year,” said Brown. “The guys were very passionate at halftime of that game, David Ash came out and become a leader all of those things have given us the motivation through the off-season.”
Texas returns 19 starters from last year’s team and one thing that isn’t in question anymore is who the starting quarterback will be.
David Ash is the man in charge in Austin.
“You have to have a little confidence and a little swagger and he did that,” said Brown of his quarterback’s final couple of games in 2012. “He’s taken that through spring practice and through the off-season.”
Ash has won 10 of the last 13 games he’s started. Last season, he finished with 19 touchdowns as opposed to 8 interceptions. Brown sees that Ash has grown up since being asked to step in and that he now understands the responsibility.
“You can’t be an 8-4 quarterback at Texas,” Brown told Ash. “If you think people are on you, they are on you for a reason. You followed some pretty good ones.”
Texas has made multiple changes to the coaching staff and one of the things he wants to see from his team this year is a faster, more up-tempo style of offense. There were glimpses of that in 2012, but it needs to get better.
“Yes, we’d like to run the ball well, but we’d like to go back to what we did with Colt and what we did with Vince and get more plays per game,” said Brown.
But anytime Mack Brown is mentioned, the question of whether this will be his last year in Austin is sure to come up. Many believe that if Texas doesn’t live up to the high expectations this season, Brown may be on the way out.
The long-time coach doesn’t see it like that.
“I’ve got more information than those that are out there that are talking,” said Brown of his future. “I know how good we’re going to be, I know where we’re headed.”
“The tough thing in your guys business is that you’re only hearing from the negatives, I hear from all the positive ones,” said Brown of expectations. “There are a whole lot more positive things going on out there now than there are negative.”
No wonder he has a smile on his face these days.