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January 23, 2011

Roundtable: Looking forward to spring drills

At the College Football Roundtable each week, we ask each member of the college football coverage staff for his opinion about a topic in the sport.

TODAY'S QUESTION: Which school's spring practice are you most interested in following this year?

Olin Buchanan's answer:
That's easy: Texas. The Longhorns are trying to bounce back from a five-win season and have a lot of young talent. If it develops, they could come back strong in 2011. But there are six new coaches on Mack Brown's staff, including two new coordinators -- Bryan Harsin on offense and Manny Diaz on defense. It will be interesting to see how much progress the Longhorns can make with so much change.

Tom Dienhart's answer:
Without a doubt, it's Texas. How will Mack Brown's rebuilt coaching staff mesh? I love the hirings of Manny Diaz from Mississippi State as defensive coordinator and Bryan Harsin from Boise State as offensive coordinator. And bringing in Bo Davis from Alabama to coach the defensive line and Stacy Searels from Georgia to coach the offensive line is huge. How well this remade Longhorns staff performs may end up determining Brown's legacy in Austin. Coming off of a last-place finish in the Big 12 South and the school's first losing record (5-7) since 1997, Brown clearly is at a crossroads. If his staff fails to maximize the massive amount of talent on hand in 2011, it could make Brown's seat mighty warm.

David Fox's answer:
I feel justified in saying I will watch two spring practices closely. After all, they are connected. Florida and Texas were shells of their usual selves this past season. The Longhorns were headed to a restructuring of their offensive staff anyway, but the defensive staff got a makeover, too, after Florida poached Longhorns coach-in-waiting Will Muschamp. For both programs, how the new coaching staffs work with the existing personnel will be the key to returning to form. For Florida, how will Charlie Weis alter the offense? How will he work with Muschamp? And which quarterback will impress him most? The issues for Texas are on offense, too. While Florida is moving to a more conventional offense, Texas hired Bryan Harsin from Boise State. I can't imagine Texas will look like Boise, but it will be interesting to see the changes. Harsin goes from working with one of the most efficient passers in the country (Kellen Moore) to one of the most turnover-prone (Garrett Gilbert). Texas, for the most part, has enjoyed stability among its assistants. A shake-up could be a welcome change of pace and philosophy, but the changes could also create confusion.

Mike Huguenin's answer:
I think there is more intrigue than normal for spring practice. There's defending national champion Auburn, which has a massive rebuilding project on both sides of the ball -- and without the best players on each side of the ball. There's Alabama, which is breaking in a new quarterback, a new tailback and a new go-to receiver. There's Miami, which has a new coach and a quarterback controversy. There's Texas, which must rebound from a nightmarish 2010 season with a revamped coaching staff that includes new coordinators on both sides of the ball. But I think the most interesting is Florida, which has a new coach and is installing a new offensive scheme under new coordinator Charlie Weis. A big problem when it comes to installing a pro-style attack, though, is the lack of a proven quarterback. Plus, there's the Weis-Will Muschamp relationship; can these guys co-exist? All in all, it should be a fun spring in Gainesville.

Steve Megargee's answer:
I'm looking forward to seeing the changes at Florida under new coach Will Muschamp. Does the guy known as "Coach Boom" show just as much energy as a head coach as he displayed as a defensive coordinator? And how will he co-exist with new offensive coordinator and former Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis? And the most important issue is whether Muschamp and Weis can help rebuild a Florida offense that was remarkably dormant last season. How well will the Gators adapt as they switch from a spread offense to a pro-style attack? Will the scheme change rejuvenate John Brantley, or will somebody else step forward as Florida's top quarterback? We probably won't get the answers to all these questions until this fall, but the results of spring practice at least should offer us some clues.



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