Applewhite, Harsin Talk Offense

Texas fans shouldn't put a lot of weight into which players get how many reps in Sunday's Orange-White Game, co-offensive coordinator Major Applewhite said this week.

"It's a spring game," Applewhite said. "We've done the meat and potatoes in the first 14 practices. We want to go out there and have a crisp day where we're scrimmaging. I wouldn't pay attention to how any of the positions rotate: defensive end, placeholder, quarterback, the whole nine."

At the same time, co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin said the unit would have an established pecking order. As for the value of the spring game, Harsin said it would be looked at the same as the Longhorns' other scrimmages.

"All these scrimmages, we put a lot of stock into (them)," Harsin said. "The one thing is, you're going to have people in the stands."

How many fans remains to be seen. Texas coach Mack Brown has said he'd like to see 80,000 fans in the stands for the game, to show support for the new-look Longhorns. However many fans show, most eyes will be tuned into the quarterback position, where returning starter Garrett Gilbert is in competition with Connor Wood, Case McCoy and early enrollee David Ash.

Applewhite knows something about quarterback competitions, having seen a couple of his own when he played for the Longhorns. He shared advice that he once received from Indianapolis Colts star Peyton Manning.

"Don't get caught up on if the other guy throws the deep ball," Applewhite said. "You may throw five check-downs and still score. Just get the ball from Point A to Point B. It's not style points, it's just running the offense."

Applewhite went on to say: "I think when you're a quarterback and you're competing, or any job, you can't worry about the other guy. It's a lot like a golfer: just master the course. If you're good enough at the end of that 18, then you're good enough."

The Longhorns are seeing competition across all the positions, including running back, Applewhite's coaching position. He said that Fozzy Whittaker and Cody Johnson received most of the reps early on, while Traylon Shead and Jeremy Hills worked themselves into more reps as the spring went on. D.J. Monroe was also working his way in, Applewhite said.

"We'd like to have a guy that can do it all," Applewhite said. "We'd like to have a guy that can do every single thing we can ask. Third and one, a big guy that can power through there and get that one yard. First and 10 you want to free release him and send him on a wheel route. You start looking at all the job descriptions of a back, it's hard.

"It's a lot like tight end," Applewhite said. "You want that guy that's 6-foot-6 260 (pounds), that can power that defensive end off the ball, but you also want that guy that can run 4.5 down the middle of the field."

Tight end is another position with heavy competition, though the Longhorns have more open spots than they did a year ago. Applewhite said the Longhorns used as many as four tight ends on the field at once. He said Texas was looking for a jack-of-all-trades player, but would utilize the tight ends to their strengths.

"It's kind of like running back: they can all do (everything) but it doesn't make it a good idea," Applewhite said. "D.J. Monroe can run third and one, but that's not smart. If we're going to run this outside play, let's put our fast guy there. We're going to run this inside play, let's put our bigger guy there. Then, let's get some tricks off of that stuff."

Ah, the tricks. Harsin discussed trick plays, and his philosophy that trick plays need to be practiced as much as regular plays to ensure their efficiency.

"That's part of what we do," Harsin said. "That's part of the offense. If we're going to have some sort of wrinkle in there that's not just part of the offense, not just an every down play … we're going to spend as much time on it, we're going to try to get as much detail as we can on it, and we're going to spend as much prep time on it, as we do any other play.

"Those things are rewards for guys executing your base offense," Harsin said. "You're not going to hang your hat on those things necessarily. Once guys are out there executing what you need them to do in your base offense, you're able to put in some wrinkles there and have a little fun."

Harsin said that he hoped players would make depth chart decisions "a burden, because (then) you're having to pick from a lot of guys that you can put into the game.

"That's what you want," Harsin said. "That's when it becomes fun.

"That's just competition," Harsin said. "Those guys are going to compete, they're going to continue to compete and they're going to continue to compete through the summer into fall camp, and then we'll make a decision when we feel like we need to. I think at every position, that's important because that's what you want. You want guys competing, you want guys having opportunities, you want guys out there preparing to go in there and give their very best and not have anything distracting them from doing that."

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