5 X-Factors for Texas Longhorns' 2013 Season

We’re less than a week away from the start of the college football season, and the Texas Longhorns start the season at home against New Mexico State Saturday, Aug. 31. So, here are five notable Longhorns that will need to have big years if the ’Horns want to get back to contending for Big 12 titles. These five Longhorns may not be the most talented on the team, but Texas will need them to step up.

1. Jordan Hicks, LB

Hicks played in only three games last year thanks to a hip injury, but he was leading the team in tackles before the injury. The redshirt junior will be essential to the Longhorns success on defense this season. If he returns to the form he showed previously, or even improves, Texas should expect improvement from one of the worst defenses in school history.

2. Chris Whaley, DT

With the news that senior tackle Ashton Dorsey will transfer, it will likely be up to Whaley to start alongside sophomore Malcolm Brown. Whaley has only one career sack, despite starting 10 games. It is unfair to expect the former running back to produce like former Texas running back/defensive end Henry Melton did, but Texas needs Whaley to step up and help a defense that gave up the most yards in school history.

3. Anthony Fera, K

Yes, a kicker. At times overlooked, the kicking game is essential for every football team. The former Penn State transfer struggled through a groin injury last season, but he should be healthy and is listed at the top of team’s latest two-deep. Last season, Fera and Nick Jordan combined to make just 58% of their field goals. Texas needs better results from Fera this year.

4. David Ash, QB

Ash being on this list should not be a surprise. The Longhorns offense needs Ash to have a breakout season in his junior year the same way former quarterbacks Vince Young and Colt McCoy did. Ash has shown plenty of flashes of his potential in the past, like the Oklahoma State game in which he completed 30 of 37 passes for 304 yards and three touchdowns. But he’s also had some poor performances, ones that got him benched against Oklahoma and TCU. Ash has the weapons, so there should be no reason he doesn’t have a breakout season.

5. Mack Brown and the Coaching Staff

It’s obvious Texas has the talent to compete with anyone in the NCAA. After all, they were in the NCAA Championship game just three seasons ago. They have the talent, so it is up to the coaching staff to develop that talent. Everything is bigger in Texas, and expectations are no exception. If Brown and Texas don’t produce, then Brown’s job should be in jeopardy.

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