No coach is on a hotter seat entering the 2016 college football season than Texas’ Charlie Strong. It’s quite simple: either the Horns win at least eight games this year or Strong will be out of work after just three seasons. UT is given a wins total of 8 for the regular season on college football lines, but the under is favored.
Taking a Closer Look at the 2016 Texas Longhorns Betting Predictions
Strong Won’t Be With Texas In 2017
A lot of powerful boosters didn’t want Strong hired in the first place; sadly, some because of racial reasons as Strong became the first black head football coach at Texas. There were some rumors this past offseason that Strong was interested in returning to Florida (he was a former University of Florida defensive coordinator before being named Louisville’s head coach) and taking the Miami (Fla.) job. But the two sides never talked and UM hired Mark Richt. If the Longhorns spiral into a 5-7 or 4-8 season, it would be hard to say that Strong is moving the UT program in the right direction after posting losing records his first two seasons. He would certainly put himself in position to be fired. UT boosters reportedly have eyes on Houston head coach Tom Herman to replace Strong. I don’t believe Strong is with UT next year. It just hasn’t been a good fit from the beginning, but Strong will be hired quickly somewhere else.
Offense Will Be More Exciting
The Texas defense has been pretty good in Strong’s two years but the offense hasn’t. Strong stripped offensive coordinators Shawn Watson and Joe Wickline of their play-calling duties after one game last season. Receivers coach Jay Norvell called plays for the final 11 games of Texas’ 5-7 season. So this offseason, Strong hired Tulsa’s Sterlin Gilbert as the new offensive coordinator. As Tulsa’s co-offensive coordinator, while also coaching the receivers and quarterbacks, Gilbert helped Tulsa rank No. 14 in total offense last season. Under the guidance of Gilbert at Eastern Illinois, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo won the Walter Payton Award, the FCS equivalent of the Heisman Trophy, given to the nation’s best player. Garoppolo threw for 5,050 yards and 53 touchdowns in 2013 and during his two seasons under Gilbert’s guidance passed for 8,873 yards and 84 TDs. UT will play more up-tempo under Gilbert.
Shane Buechele Will Start Week 1 At QB
As of this writing, we still don’t know who will start at Texas at quarterback but it’s expected to be freshman Shane Buechele, who is battling senior Tyrone Swoopes. Prior to starting practice at the beginning of August, it looked like the job was Buechele’s in all but name. Swoopes largely floundered for two years in dysfunctional offenses. When Strong was recently asked he had a quarterback capable of winning the Big 12 (with no names mentioned), he responded by saying, “he’s going to be young,” but that he just needed to manage the game. That answer clearly was about Buechele. With running backs Chris Warren and D’Onta Foreman and receiver John Burt headlining the most talented offensive roster Strong has had at UT, Buechele won’t be hamstrung by the same disadvantages the Longhorns have had in recent years.
Texas Will Nearly Upset Notre Dame
Last year, the Longhorns went to Notre Dame to open the season and UT was pounded 38-3 by the No. 11 Irish. Malik Zaire threw for 313 yards and three touchdowns, and Notre Dame held Texas to 163 yards of total offense. Swoopes was 7-of 22-passing for 93 yards, and Jerrod Heard completed his only pass for 10 yards. Notre Dame apparently will use two QBs in this game. Both junior DeShone Kizer and senior Zaire will play against Texas in the season opener, Irish head coach Brian Kelly announced on Wednesday. While Zaire torched UT last year, he was hurt in the team’s second game and Kizer played very well in his place the rest of the year. Though Kelly had maintained he wanted to name a definitive starter, the decision became too difficult as fall camp progressed. Kelly said through 257 reps during fall camp, the two quarterbacks had combined for just two interceptions. I think the Irish will still win this game in Austin, but it will be very close and that will give Texas confidence.
Texas Will Go Under On 8-Win Total
I believe that Texas will win seven regular-season games but that it won’t be enough to save Strong’s job. I see Texas losing against Notre Dame, at Oklahoma State on Oct. 1 and vs. Oklahoma on Oct. 8, at Kansas State on Oct. 22 and home to Baylor on Oct. 29.