Spring football will be in full-swing when spring break ends after this week. A few programs such as UTSA and Texas State started spring football a week prior to spring break. The rest start popping pads on March 21. Spring games take place throughout April. With football in the air at every FBS program in the Lone Star State, Dave Campbell's Texas Football put together a spring power ranking with the 2022 season in mind.
Where does your program rank?
The Cougars could realistically run the table and crash the College Football Playoffs in the same manner as AAC counterpart Cincinnati accomplished in 2021. Houston returns a trio of offensive stars in Clayton Tune, Nathaniel Dell, and Alton McCaskill. The defense was elite in 2021. Can the Cougars repeat the success on both sides of the football despite some keys losses such as Marcus Jones and Logan Hall on the defensive side?
2. Texas A&M
Texas A&M heads into the 2022 season with aspirations to reach the College Football Playoff and compete alongside Alabama and Georgia for an SEC title after adding the best recruiting class in the country and getting healthy at quarterback. The Aggies field one of the best secondaries in the nation, but will the highly-touted recruits fill voids along the defensive line and at linebacker? For Texas A&M to take the next step in the SEC, Jimbo Fisher's program needs better play at quarterback and wide receiver.
Baylor, the defending Big 12 champions, might field the best offensive line in the country. The defense must replace stars such as Terrel Bernard and Jalen Pitre, while the offense loses its top two running backs from 2021. Who is the quarterback? Who replaces the production at running back and wide receiver? The Bears should be fine in the trenches.
A tough out-of-conference schedule that includes Houston, Army and Texas will test the Roadrunners to start 2022. Quarterback Frank Harris and a trio of electric wide receivers lead an offense that will be without running back Sincere McCormick. It is possible for UTSA to start 0-3 in the season and still win Conference USA. The Roadrunners only lost two games in their 14-game 2021.
A new season, and a few high-profile transfers, offer renewed hope in Austin as Steve Sarkisian prepares for his second year in charge of the Longhorns. Texas must improve in the trenches to compete for a Big 12 title. Quinn Ewers and Hudson Card will battle for the quarterback position. The wide receiver position looks improved. Can the Longhorns beef up enough in one offseason to compete for a Big 12 title and not get embarrased by Alabama? The defense must improve.
First-year head coach Rhett Lashlee inherits a talented offense led by quarterback Tanner Mordecai, even though he'll need to find mostly new targets at wide receiver. SMU went 1-4 down the stretch in 2021 and must buck a habit of limping to the finish line to compete for an AAC title. Losing running back Ulysses Bentley IV to the transfer portal hurts the offense. The Mustangs weren't the same team when he was sidelined with injuries at times in the 2021 season. My biggest concern for SMU is its secondary.
A new era begins in Fort Worth with former SMU head coach Sonny Dykes taking over for long-time TCU head coach Gary Patterson. Dykes is sure to help the offense become more explosive, but can the run defense improve? The Horned Frogs allowed 5.8 yards a rush in 2021. That's not going to cut it in a Big 12 that is increasingly reliant on run-oriented offenses. TCU's offense should be a lot more fun to watch in 2022, at least.
8. Texas Tech
Joey McGuire gets his first crack as a head coach at the college level. He hired a young, exciting staff to pair with an underrated roster of talent. Success at Texas Tech requires the Red Raiders to become more physical. The Texas Tech team we saw trounce Mississippi State, and former head coach Mike Leach, in a bowl game is exactly what McGuire wants his program to resemble in 2022.
9. North Texas
The Mean Green won five consecutive games, including a win over C-USA champs UTSA, to reach bowl eligibility in 2021. North Texas should be run-heavy offensively again in 2022 despite replacing star running back DeAndre Torrey in the process. But can the Mean Green get back to passing the ball at a prolific level? Seth Littrell brought in new blood at the position to add competition to the quarterback room in the spring and into the summer.
UTEP reached a bowl game in 2021 for the first time since 2014 and only the second time since 2011 thanks to a 7-5 regular season record. Quarterback Gavin Hardison and a stout defense lead the way into 2022. Replacing its top three receivers, including All-Texas selection Jacob Cowing, is an impossible task. The Miners must be more balanced in 2022.
11. Texas State
The four wins accumulated by Texas State in 2021 were the most by the program in a single season since 2014. Head coach Jake Spavital holds bowl hopes for his program in 2022 thanks to experience and the addition of talented transfers. Hopes are high in San Marcos with the players stating that the depth on the roster is better than its been in past years. The Bobcats are another team on the list in need of improved consistency at the quarterback position.
Rice was two overtime losses away from reaching six wins and bowl eligibility in 2021. The Owls need to remain healthy at the quarterback position and improve their defensive effort to reach that milestone in 2022. How is success measured at Rice and are the Owls inching closer to being prepared for a step up in the AAC when that move is official? The 2022 season feels important for the current staff.
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