Going into this season, I and so many others assumed this Texas defense, which only lost three starters, was going to anchor this team like they did last year and give the young offense time to develop. I figured the defensive line would be solid with two premier defensive ends and that we'd fill in the gaps along-side our all-conference DBs. I figured our LBs might start slowly, but their upside was something to be excited about as the season moved forward. With the defense giving up 22 points per game last year I thought the goal this season for this defense in its second year in the system would be holding opposing offenses to fewer than 20 points per game. Somewhere along the way, our offense could find a spark and begin to put points on the board. I did my best to be as reasonable as possible when it came to our offense but honestly expected our defense to help secure wins whether we were great on offense or not.
But now, the course and the discourse has changed. We're committed to running the ball with fresh legs and have been doing it effectively. The offense has been able to finish long methodical drives as well as come up with the big, explosive plays. This offense is now becoming something about which we can all be proud. Coach Brown has even compared this offense's potential to that of 2005 group, now that David Ash has developed and many weapons have been found throughout. Who would have thought anyone would ever speak those words unless they truly believed it? The offense is right where we dreamt it would be when we poached Harsin from Boise, Idaho. Subsequently, it's prompted me to think, "what if this group is as great as 2005?"
In 2005 the offense averaged 512 yards and 50.2 points per game (both all-time UT records) and finished the season undefeated. In the 2004 season the offense put up 35.2 points per game. The 2004 and 2005 defenses allowed 17.9 and 16.4 points per game, respectively. I'll admit the Big XII is much stronger offensively now than it was in those years and this defense will likely give up a few more points. But, what if Coach Brown truly believes this team could match those numbers offensively? If so, we'd definitely have the wiggle room to give up the 21 points per game that we're averaging now. And in the most perfect of heavenly worlds, if this offense was able to produce 2005 numbers while the defense simply gets no worse than the 2011 stat of 22 points per game allowed, we'd be on track to play in the BCS title game, right?
Your instincts will likely tell you I've consumed bath salts and that I should be exiled from posting. But honestly, through the eyes of a head coach at Texas who believes this offense is that potent, there's no way this isn't remotely on your mind. Some people say when you're at Texas you're always in the hunt for a national title. Several of us know that's bullshit and the stars must align on so many fronts. But if even an ounce of Coach Brown believes that's possible, there's no doubt he's pushing with everything he has to make this happen. He has every incentive to do so.
What would that mean for this team and Coach Brown's legacy? Let's take the absolute best case scenario for Coach Brown over the next two years. He now sits at 145-39 (78% wins) as a head coach at Texas. If the defense can somehow hold down the toughest offense it will face for the remainder of this year and next (although a young Oklahoma State team might have something to say about that in a grudge match next year) this team could possibly run the table. With the past few weeks' offensive production and having a higher standard for the defense, you can't be a coach and not be thinking that. Running the table and playing in the BCS title game this year is on the forefront of your mind.
But to take it further, what does that mean for next year? While I try to be incredibly reasonable when it comes to our team, I'm doing my best to see this from the Mack Brown's driver's seat. Winning a championship this year is already an incredibly ridiculous thought but let's double down on that. He's only losing three senior starters throughout the entire team. Prior to the recent developments on the offensive side of the ball, most people believed next year was the year anyway, right? Coach Darrell Royal won back to back titles in 1969 and 1970. He finished his career at Texas with a 167-47-5 (76% wins) record is universally believed to be the best coach in Texas history. But, Coach Royal's records at Texas will be shattered if Coach Brown can do with this young team what we know he, DeLoss Dodds, and each big donor to whom the program has to answer is thinking.
Is there room on the stadium for Coach Brown's name? Imagine if he wins back to back championships with this team. Coach Brown would have 169-39 (80%) record in five less years than Coach Royal and would likely be the new greatest coach in Texas Football history. As crazy as this sounds at this point in the season when we're about to face our scariest opponent yet, as the head coach at Texas where opportunities to win and win big are rewarded handsomely, this has to be on your mind. And if it's on your mind, you're definitely pushing it on to your coaches. While the players are being coached to take it "one game at a time," they likely haven't begin to think of the big picture if they just so happen to pull everything together this weekend.
That's why this weekend's game is monumental for this young team and this staff. I always wonder what our legacy would be if we didn't lose to Oklahoma 12-0 in 2004. While we used that loss as a springboard into winning each game that year and the next, I wonder if these guys walked away from last week's nail-biter understanding what just happened. If so, they woke up last Sunday morning thinking, "Oh shit, we've put up 37 points or more all season and just proved we have the balls to win tight games on the road in spite of inexperience and injuries." Coach Brown's job is to take it a step further and put everything into context. If he's truly done that then every game moving forward needs to be coached like the national title game. The experience for these players, this school, and his legacy in college football history relies on it.
After answering so many questions about themselves last week, the confidence gained walking away from that will immediately be put to the test. Putting all of this into context may be reason to believe I'm undeniably high off what's on the table for Coach Brown's legacy. I just hope for damn sure they are high on it as well. You don't accidently become great. Greatness is deliberate. With expectations coming into the season, you wouldn't have guessed so much was at stake. Before the season, many would have taken a loss this week and then running the table as exceptional. But, you don't play this game for moral victories. There are far greater achievements on the horizon with a win this week and laser focus beyond. We'll see if they have it in them to kick off being the greatest in Texas history tomorrow. I'll be right there to take it all in.