Adams' Four Downs: Hype and playoffs

Each week, Sean Adams will hit on some summer topics around the Texas Longhorns.

1st Down: Over and under

Coming into the 2012 football season, it seems there is a broad collection of thoughts about the University of Texas. Everyone is wrong and everyone is right and here are two examples:

Texas is underrated on the offensive line. The addition of Donald Hawkins at left tackle allowed the Longhorns to move Josh Cochran to right tackle where his size and weight are probably better suited. More importantly, it allows Texas to get add someone with Hawkins’ skills while still keeping the five best linemen on the field.

If there is a flaw on the offensive line it is the lack of depth. Staying healthy, getting quality playing time from backups and younger guys making big-time contributions will help overcome the depth concerns.

Texas is overrated at the linebacker spot. While the group is talented, they are largely inexperienced and will have to grow through their frustrations. Jordan Hicks and Demarco Cobbs are known commodities, (Cobbs more in practice)and Steve Edmund is big and talented but will still have to prove himself on game day. They should and could be a strength by the end of the 2012 season but will start with a lot of eyes on them after Texas lost two starting linebackers to the NFL.

2nd Down: Harsin has to keep everyone involved

Much has been made of players having to step up on the Longhorns offense in 2012. While I do not disagree with the statement, Bryan Harsin and his game plan and play-calling dynamics can go a long way to making the structure of the Longhorns offense sound.

Harsin has to keep the wide receivers engaged in the game. Even though there are 365 days in a year and football only demands you stay engaged for 12 games, getting targeted one or two times per game will strain the concentration levels of anyone.

Spreading the ball and concentrating on offensive diversity will not only keep all of the players engaged, it will keep the defense they are playing against on their toes.

It is a win-win situation.

3rd Down: Big 12 will battle for best conference rights

Oklahoma, Texas, Oklahoma State, West Virginia, TCU and Kansas State will all spend time in the Top 25 at some point during the year. I expect that all of the above teams could stay there for the lion’s share of the 2012 season.

The Pac-12 could have the nation’s top team in USC. The Big Ten could have the two teams pushing towards the top the hardest in Ohio State and Michigan. The SEC is well, the SEC. Florida State and Virginia Tech will carry the ACC’s banner even with the emergence of Virginia and resurgence of Miami.

The Big 12 will be better in 2012 than it was in 2011 even though West Virginia and TCU are overrated. West Virginia lost to Louisville and Syracuse in 2011 then blew out Clemson in the Orange Bowl. It is living off of that terrible game by Clemson. TCU is coming from a conference where it did not have to put it on the books every weekend against great opponents. We might not know much about TCU until late because its early schedule is quite easy to manage. The Horned Frogs close the season at Oklahoma State, at West Virginia, hosting Kansas State, at Texas and then hosting Oklahoma. Those are five straight games that TCU could lose.

4th Down: A playoff is here

While I am not as happy about the new structure of the postseason as most people are, it is better than the current system. For 12 years, starting in 2014, there will be a four-team playoff and where it will really help create clarity is when we talk about 2008 when Texas, Oklahoma and Texas Tech found their way into a three-way tie for the Big 12 South championship. Bob Stoops had votes in his pocket within the coaching ranks at a number of schools, which gave him the nod. While Texas was able to go to the Fiesta Bowl and beat Ohio State, it did not get the opportunity to play for the conference championship and possibly a national championship while the team it beat during the regular season, Oklahoma, did go on to win the conference. If the new playoff format was in place, here is how Texas Sports Information Director John Bianco saw it working:

No. 1 Oklahoma vs No. 4 Alabama

No. 2 Florida vs No. 3 Texas

Texas would have had their opportunity to play for it all under the new system.

It is better than what we have now, and as a fan, I have a huge appreciation for the change. As a man that cares about the welfare of talented young men, well that is just a story for a different day.

The conversation continues with Sean Adams and former Texas QB Chance Mock weekdays on The Adams Theory from 1-4 p.m. CT on The Horn, ESPN Austin.