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Longhorns Open Rebuilding Project Versus Rice

The Texas Longhorns open their 2011 season in Austin versus the Rice Owls on the brand new Longhorn Network. The Texas lineup features loads of young players and will be led by a variety of new play callers.

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Mack Brown will show off his rebuilt coaching staff and young team Saturday night against the Rice Owls. A miserable 5-7 season spurred a complete overhaul of his staff and led to the hires of co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin and defensive coordinator Manny Diaz, as well as the promotion of Major Applewhite to co-offensive coordinator. New strength and conditioning coach Bennie Wylie has been brought in to freshen Jeff Madden's program, and three new position coaches were hired.

Harsin's new offense will still be led by junior Garrett Gilbert, at least starting with Rice. Sophomore Case McCoy and true freshman David Ash will back him up. Gilbert's starting offense could feature three freshmen and four sophomores, along with a slew of other underclassmen on the two deep. His primary target figures to be slippery sophomore Mike Davis, with Jaxon Shipley (yes, Jordan's little brother) operating out of the slot and a crew of big bodies on the other side. Fozzy Whittaker starts at halfback, but possible impact freshmen Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron figure to be his primary backups. Texas will start three underclassmen in the offensive line, and burners D.J. Monroe and DeSean Hales are expected to have special package prepared for their talents.

The defense will also be young, with five sophomores starting. Jackson Jeffcoat and Alex Okafor provide Texas with quality bookends on the line, but Calvin Howell will have to step up to provide the Longhorns with improved play inside next to Kheeston Randall. The linebackers figure to be the strength of the team, as Keenan Robinson, Emmanuel Acho and Jordan Hicks all look like NFL talents. Blake Gideon will direct a young secondary that starts two sophomores at corner and lists five true freshmen on the two-deep. See UT's full depth chart for the game here

Junior Sam McGuffie heads the rushing game for Rice. McGuffie ran for 819 yards last season, while Jeremy Eddington scored ten times in just seven games as a freshman.

Game time is 7:00 CDT in Austin and can be seen on the Longhorn Network for those chosen few with access.

For more on the game and the Longhorns in general, check out Burnt Orange Nation

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.