The following statements are almost certainly going to be heard in the coming weeks with the start of spring football on Tuesday: "The defense is ahead of the offense." "Both quarterbacks have good days, but remain inconsistent." "Collin Johnson looks like a future NFL player." "The off-season has been incredible." The question I've been asking myself for the last few weeks is whether there's actually anything we can learn about this football team's fortunes in six months based on anything we see, hear or think in the next month? I have my doubts. There's only so much that can be fixed on a 7-6 team in a couple of months, especially on the side of the ball where so much attention will be focused. Herb Hand hasn't even had a practice with his new players, Calvin Anderson won't arrive until the summer and a number of players are still on the mend. The trickle down impact of the unsettled line issues the team will deal with this spring hits every position, from quarterbacks to running backs to wide receivers to tight ends. Much discussion will take place about the quarterback job, but it would be shocking to see Tom Herman announce a starter before the end of the spring, and if we're being honest, is this really a job that can be won in p-r-a-c-t-i-c-e? From my perspective, the 15 days of practice this team is about to experience are all about making baby steps of forward progress. Forget about the offensive line as a whole ... are there a couple guys picking up their levels of play? Forget about whether this team has a 1,200-yard back on the roster ... are the young guys making definitive progress? Position by position, baby steps of progress needs to be the name of the day. With the anticipation that Rome will take at least 6-9 more months (at a minimum) to build on the offensive side of the ball, it should allow everyone to properly control the amount of Kool-Aid they consume in the coming weeks and months. If you hear something about a player or a part of the team that sounds too good to be true, it probably is. I'm not suggesting that everyone tempter their enthusiasm as much as I'm advocating establishing realistic expectations. What's a realistic expectation for this team over 15 days of practice? Progress. In small increments. At every position on the roster. No. 2 – The elephant in the room ... Quarterbacks, quarterbacks and more quarterbacks. Will Shane be released without restriction from the first day on? Who takes reps with the 1s? Are the reps really even, regardless of coaching rhetoric? What about the freshmen? Can one of them take reps with the second-team offense at the expense of the other quarterbacks before the end of the spring? We could ask questions about this group until the cows come home, but I'm going to stick to one more and one more only ... is it more productive or problematic to have a starting quarterback named before the team breaks for the summer? I'm going to make a case that, despite the possible negatives, it is more important to have the quarterback of this team announced for everyone to see and I'm going to point to last season's summer workouts as the big centerpiece of my point. Championship teams take a break after finals and all the way through Memorial Day, but from June 1 on, it's work time and the only break between June 1 and Big 12 media days (good teams take their starting quarterbacks to these events ...) is the Fourth of July. Other than that, it's daily workouts and three or four nights of seven-on-seven for the entire summer. Last year, the players in the program participated in fewer seven-on-seven workouts than just about any team I can ever remember covering in the last two decades. Part of that is the lack of quarterback leadership the program had a year ago. It's the quarterbacks who get the keys to the practice field. It's the quarterbacks who organize the entire workout schedule. It's the quarterbacks who hold everyone accountable for getting their ass to practice. Chris Simms made people show up because of his personality. Vince Young made people show up with his mere presence. Colt McCoy made sure people showed up by driving around and picking up his teammates, personally. This team will not win 9+ games this season if it coasts through June and only busts its ass in seven-on-seven workouts for three weeks in July because the internal leadership inside the program is lacking and/or being placed on training wheels. Look, if there's really not an answer at the quarterback position by the spring game, then you hold off. However, if one guy is clearly ahead of the other, to the point that he is taking the overwhelming volume of reps with the first-team offense, then I would contend that there's just as much good out there to be had than bad when making an announcement. It's time for someone to spread some wings at that position, if at all possible. Otherwise, someone needs to tell someone on the defense to take the lead in off-season organizing because the players expect the quarterbacks to take the lead ... and when that doesn't happen, the least-active summer workout schedule in the last 20 years occurs. No. 3 - Really wondering what is inside the tanks of these players ... Toneil Carter - Right when the door seemed to be opening for the true freshman in 2017, he was passed on the depth chart by another true freshman. For the first time in Carter's life, he didn't just out-talent everyone on the way to the top of the depth chart. How Carter responds this spring will likely tell us what we should expect from him for the next few seasons. Reese Leitao - A redshirt year always made sense for a guy with a ton of talent, but not nearly the overall development needed to take advantage of playing time available in the fall. Well, the playing time is still there, as is the talent. Where will the development be? Denzel Okafor - With Calvin Anderson on the way, there's a game of musical chairs taking place on the offensive line and someone that starts in the spring is going to be on the bench in the fall. Okafor is always a guy that has been talked about in the context of future upside, but as he enters his third season, it's time for the upside to be realized. This guy HAS to emerge as a top-four lineman on this team over the next 15 days or he'll have officially not made the progress needed that matches what his ceiling can/should be. Chris Nelson - He's a starter on this defensive line and a key piece of the puzzle going into this season, but where is his head? Jeffrey McCulloch - You wouldn't have convinced me in a 100 years that McCulloch would be entering his third year without having locked up a starting position, but yet here we are ... and he's still not a starter. It's time for him to take a job and run with it. Brandon Jones - It's year three ... this should be the time he starts to take off. This is a guy who has played a lot of football, but now it's time to emerge into a game-changer or give up the job to someone who will (see Caden Sterns). No. 4 - Well, here we are ... I believe the following statements are all true ... a. Shaka Smart did a really nice job of coaching in his first and third seasons in Austin, although really nice only means he had teams good enough to qualify for the NCAA Tournament and not win. b. However good those first and third seasons were, they don't cancel out the bad from the second season, one that was arguably the worst in the modern history of the program. c. Smart hasn't competed for a conference title or made it to a Sweet 16 in his first three years, which is beneath the bar of acceptability that I think Smart, himself, would create. His three years have been a failure to date. d. I believe Smart is still held in very high regard across the country, even if his Q rating isn't high among a large segment of Texas fans. e. He has to do better or his tenure will end as a failure. That's pretty much it. No. 5 - Question about the Texas women ... How far do the Texas women have to go in the Tournament in order to call this season a success, especially following three losses to Baylor in Big 12 play, which defined the regular season? I'm going to say Elite 8. The Longhorns are a two-seed and get the first two games of the Tournament at home. A regional final against UCLA in Kansas City could be a very big game for this program. In the meantime, I expect that the Longhorns handle some business on Monday night in an effort to set up that very important game. No. 6 – Random Tournament thoughts ... ... I thought the edge in experience that Nevada had across its line-up proved to be a pretty defining difference between the two teams in the final two minutes. Unless you're Kentucky or Duke, it's going to be hard to have success with three freshmen in the starting line-up vs. a bunch of upperclassmen. Nevada played with just a touch more composure. ... You can scoff all you want, but this team had a chance to be playing in the Sweet 16 with a healthy Andrew Jones and eligible Eric Davis. ... I'm a fan of Dylan Osetkowski, but he needs to commit himself to a level of fitness that he simply wasn't committed to this season. I wouldn't normally make a comment like that, but on a team with a rotation of seven at the end of the season, it made a negative difference. ... Matt Coleman and Snoop Roach will be better next March for the experience of this March. Those two dudes deserved a second game. ... For the most part, I thought the officials did a good job of letting the players play (not a lot of whistles), which makes it ironic that a big piece of the outcome was the final two fouls called on Mo Bamba, which were questionable at best. I would have like to have seen him in those final five minutes. ... So, about Virginia being my national championship pick ... oops. ... Texas A&M looked like the most dangerous team in the Tournament on the first weekend. ... Random note: Five of the eight teams that qualified for the Sweet 16 were on the Texas schedule this year. Three more teams (not including West Virginia that were on the Texas schedule qualified on Sunday. ... The door is wide-open for Kentucky. ... It's hard not to root for Loyola (Chicago). I've been a fan ever since Brewster's Millions. No. 7 - No offense to the Kansas baseball team ... The Jayhawks should never win a baseball game in Austin. Ever. If the Texas baseball program is living right, these are the games that the program can win in cruise control. When it loses them, it's a warning sign. The 2018 Jayhawks actually have a nice little squad, but it doesn't change anything ... a good Texas team handles its business and wins all three games. That happened this weekend. Say whatever you want about this Texas team and where it might be headed in year two under a new coach, but taking all three games this weekend under different circumstances proves to be a nice pulse check of this club going into conference play after the number that Stanford and Arkansas combined to do to it in the last week. Like Tom Herman's program, David Pierce's is still going through building block stages and it's possible this weekend served as one. We'll see. No. 8 – Buy or Sell … BUY or SELL: Texas goes undefeated in non-conference next year, setting itself up for the type of season we're all dying for around here? (Sell) I'm just not in the giving benefits of the doubt to this program until they are earned. I fell for the okey-doke last year for the first time since 2010 and it won't happen again the very next year. BUY or SELL: As a general philosophy, Texas should not hire head coaches from schools like Tulane, VCU and Houston? (Buy) Texas should never have to reach down, not if Texas is being Texas. BUY or SELL: Fans didn't know how good they had it during the days of Mack, Augie and Barnes? (Buy) In 20 years, the era will be remembered as the Golden Years. BUY or SELL: Shaka is coaching elsewhere next season? (Sell) I don't see it. I think he knows he'd be remembered as a huge failure if he left now. BUY or SELL: Texas baseball is only 50-50 to make an NCAA regional this year? (Sell) I'd say 70-30. They kind of remind me of the basketball team in that they are going to get some benefit of the doubt because of the schedule. BUY or SELL: Liverpool advances to the Champions League semifinals. (Buy) I ain't scared. BUY or SELL: You would let @UTwiz back after an extended break if he formally apologized, but his ego is too big to ever do so? (Buy) All I ever asked for was some basic levels of respect. I tend to feel like he views showing people respect as a sign of weakness. BUY or SELL: Ketch throws a damn good kids birthday party? (Buy) 25+ kids got a 2-hour free-for-all good time at Catch Air, complete with pizza, toy bags and 2 cakes from which to choose. BUY or SELL: You like Peter, Paul and Mary better than Simon and Garfunkel or the Beatles. (Sell) Girl, you crazy. No. 9 – Eternal Randomness of the Spotty Sports Mind … ... I watched golf on Sunday over the NCAA Tournament and soccer. That's the power of Tiger Woods. ... So, the Jets moved up in the draft so they could draft a quarterback? Oh boy ... ... Really like Houston's signing of Tyrann Mathieu. When he's healthy, he's an impact player. ... Man, this just might not be the Warriors' year. It feels like it's there for the Rockets to take. Watching James Harden in the playoffs will be fascinating. ... Mo Salah, Mo Salah, Running down the wing. Salah la la la la la la la Egyptian king ... Ronaldo has 20 goals in his last 11 games. Yeah, I'd say he's in form with the quarterfinals of the Champion's League approaching. No. 10 – And Finally … Augie Garrido, the man, was an absolute joy to cover. The very first time I met Augie Garrido was in the hotel lobby in a Dallas hotel near the airport on the day he was announced as the Texas head coach. Tipped by Jerry Scarborough on his whereabouts, Andy Liscano, myself and a camera guy sat in the hotel lobby for three hours waiting for Garrido to emerge from the hotel elevators. When he finally popped into the lobby while wearing a hotel robe, we sprang into action and confirmed through him that he was going to be the next Texas coach. If he didn't know what he was getting into by taking the job before that moment, he sure as hell did afterwards. I had a chance to talk to Augie after big wins, big losses and even while he was wearing slippers, and he was nothing short of a bright, shining soul each and every time. We were all incredibly lucky to have him around here for all those years. He was a special one. Rest in peace, Coach.