It’s been awhile since Texas has had a double-digit win season.
In 2009, the Longhorns went 13-1, their only loss came to Alabama in the national championship. But since then, things have been amiss. The Longhorns have won five, eight and nine games respectively in the past three years and coach Mack Brown has come under fire.
So Brown is adapting and he’s taking Texas with him.
When the Longhorns open spring practice today they’ll be working on perfecting a high-tempo offense similar to that of Oregon. Because when I think of Texas, I immediately correlate it with Oregon.
“We want to run a similar offense, but do it from no-huddle and try to keep the same personnel on the field,” Brown said. “We changed so much personnel over the last couple of years that we felt like it gave defenses a chance to match with us in packages. So we’re trying to get a group on the field and keep them on the field and run a lot of different plays and formations from the same personnel so the defense cannot rest.”
This isn’t the first time Brown has tried to shift to a spread system. Remember a quarterback named Vince Young? His athleticism forced Brown to move from a conventional offense to a spread to accentuate Young’s talents. The move paid off and Texas won a national championship in 2005. But then, Brown went back to the conventional style and it seemed to serve Texas well with quarterback Colt McCoy at the helm.
But in the past few years, there’s been a lot of unrest at the quarterback position as the Longhorns have shuffled through Garrett Gilbert and Case McCoy and David Ash. Consequently, Texas has put an emphasis on its running game, but now that Brown has finally settled on Ash, he thinks he has the right personnel at all positions to run an up-tempo style.
He also thinks he has the right offensive coordinator.
Under former OC Bryan Harsin, who is now the head coach at Arkansas State, the offense was split into multiple packages and tailored to the strengths of individual players. With Major Applewhite at the helm, Texas would like to snap the ball every 15 to 18 seconds and keep the play moving down the field.
It’s not that Texas doesn’t have athletes, but changing to an up-tempo style not only affects the offense, it affects the defense as well. Everyone needs to be in better physical condition and the defense has to be prepared for shorter rest times in case the offense sputters. It’s usually not an scheme change that works overnight.
But Brown is confident his squad can make the transition.
“We’re not going to be the option-type team like Oregon, but we’re going to run their tempo,” Brown said. “You still want to be physical. But we’re going to do it without huddling and try to do it with the same personnel.”
Texas does have recent experience on which to draw. When things got tight in the Alamo Bowl game against Oregon State, Texas moved to an up-tempo offense and wore down the Oregon State defense, resulting in a 31-27 win.
Now, we’ll see if they can do that for an entire season.
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