Forecasting what could prevent Texas football from reaching 10 wins

Texas should win 10 games in 2023. I predicted as much in my way-too-early record predictions.

Athlon Sports shares a similar view of the Longhorns ranking them as their preseason No. 1 in their Big 12 power rankings.

The case for Steve Sarkisian and company to reach the 10-win mark is an easy one. Texas returns 10 offense starters, not including two game-breaking receivers in Isaiah Neyor and AD Mitchell.

On defense, the Longhorns return a core of Jaylan Ford, Ryan Watts, Jahdae Barron, Jerrin Thompson, Barryn Sorrell and T’Vondre Sweat. Two elite freshmen defensive backs and two portal defensive backs give coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski the makings of a special defense.

On paper, Sarkisian’s squad looks like a Big 12 title favorite. Even so, things have gone awry far too often on the Forty Acres in recent seasons. If the team were to fall below expectations, here’s what could be their undoing.

If Isaiah Neyor doesn't get back to health

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If Isaiah Neyor is healthy, Texas will be dangerous. In fact, if Sarkisian gets nine games of a fully healthy Neyor I would be surprised if the team can’t win 10 games. That’s how impactful I believe the Wyoming transfer is for the Longhorns. If he and AD Mitchell can’t make the impact we expect them to make, the offense could revert to some of its 2022 struggles.

If Quinn struggles

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Quinn Ewers has all the tools to be a great quarterback for Texas. If he can’t get on the same page with receivers, the Longhorns could be in for a long season. His chemistry with Isaiah Neyor in the passing game is what makes Neyor of such high importance for the team in 2023.

If Texas loses to Alabama

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The early trip to Tuscaloosa could have a huge impact on the direction of the season. Last year, Steve Sarkisian assured fans the season would not be defined by the Alabama game. That’s a difficult sell this year. The Crimson Tide will be as unequipped at quarterback as they have been in awhile. A loss there could be tough on the psyche of the team despite the lack of impact on the Big 12 standings.

If run blocking doesn't improve

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Jonathon Brooks is an elusive and dependable running back. That said, he can’t make as much out of nothing as last year’s modern-day Barry Sanders clone, Bijan Robinson. Texas will need to start moving players at the line of scrimmage and beyond.

If Sarkisian can't find more staple plays

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Offenses need a system to fall back on when the script fails. Texas can start with finding two or three run plays that work against nearly any opponent. Many focus on the inefficiency of the running game in modern football. Few try to build a fool proof run scheme that consistently works. Kyle Shanahan has one in San Francisco that allows his offense to play keep-away whenever it wants. Developing two or three dominant run plays through design or better execution is necessary for Texas to avoid offensive lulls.

Story originally appeared on Longhorns Wire