Coordinator Corner — Offense

Co-offensive coordinators Bryan Harsin and Major Applewhite talk about the quarterback battle, young players at running back and wide receiver and the second scrimmage.

The quarterback battle

Texas co-offensive coordinator Major Applewhite joked around about the quarterback's position of fame Sunday, stating that "nobody cares who the starting left guard is." While Applewhite was certainly joking, it's an obvious position that people seem most interested in what's going on behind center.

In that regard, neither Applewhite nor co-coordinator Bryan Harsin were willing to name a starter at the position following the fall's second scrimmage. Still, both had encouraging words for the players in the heated battle.

Harsin talked about the quarterbacks at his disposal, and said they displayed many of the same qualities as quarterbacks he had coached at Boise State, including Jared Zabransky and Kellen Moore in terms of competitiveness, accuracy and intelligence. He said each quarterback was spending time with the different teams to put each player in different situations.

"Our job is to put them in those uncomfortable situations and see how they adapt to it and handle it," Harsin said. "Those guys continue to battle and make it very difficult."

Both said that Gilbert had a standout scrimmage.

"He took care of the ball really well," Applewhite said. "He made some really good decisions down in the red zone, made some tight throws down in the red zone that were, I wouldn't say risky, but you're always going to have tight throws down in the red zone. He had some formations here and there that he kind of straightened out. I thought he had a clean scrimmage."

Ash has also turned heads with his performance.

"I think David's done a good job," Harsin said. "David's a young guy. David's a very good player, very competitive. And he's going to continue to get better."

Applewhite said Texas wouldn't release any starters until all the starters were set.

Young running backs stepping up

One of the main stories of camp has been the emergence of freshman running backs Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron. While Brown was expected to be in this spot, he's been slowed somewhat by an injury, though he's up to full speed now. And Bergeron has been one of the pleasant surprises, demonstrating his own sizable ability.

"Everybody wants to polarize everything all the time, something's black or something's white," Applewhite said. "But they're more alike than they are different. Both of them can run with power. Both of them have good feet in the hole. Both of them have good vision. Both of them are really strong students of the game and trying to, not necessarily understand what I have to do but why is it this way, what are the exceptions. They've done a great job of studying."

Harsin also said the duo had similar talents.

"They are both big, and they are both powerful," Harsin said. "They're both very quick. They both have great balance."

Major sizes up the young wide receivers

Texas is arguably the league's youngest team at wide receiver, with three freshmen and two sophomores among their top six or so players at the position. But that doesn't mean that Longhorn fans should be fearful. Applewhite said that the group had plenty of playmakers, and said that receivers coach Darrell Wyatt was making an impact on the young players.

The group has been buoyed by a pair of true freshmen in Miles Onyegbule and Jaxon Shipley, both of whom came in ready to play, according to Applewhite.

"I think Miles (has it) maybe because he played quarterback and Shipley (from) being a coach's son, but they've just got a really good feel for football," Applewhite said. "If it's zone, they've got a really good feel for dead space, if it's man, they've got a good feel for body position and how to body people up.

"Miles has got a really good feel for the timing of the play, when the ball has to be out, when I need to be out of my break, how long that quarterback has to hold the ball," Applewhite said.

Applewhite said Shipley had the same feel that his brother, Jordan, had.

"It's eerie watching tape. It's scary," Applewhite said. "It's almost the same guy. Him and his brother, the way they come out of their breaks, the way they catch the ball, the way they tuck it and get upfield, it's just very, very similar."

From the scrimmage

Applewhite said that the Longhorns, and specifically the running backs, set out to accomplish three things in last week's scrimmage. First, the coordinators wanted players to take care of the ball. Second, the players needed to be assignment sound. And the third and final point of emphasis was toughness.

Mission accomplished. The Longhorns were more physical with the running game and were able to keep the turnovers down, something they weren't able to accomplish in the first scrimmage. While the offense could always get better, Applewhite said the players were largely able to accomplish what the coordinators wanted.

At the same time, the Longhorns continued to move players around while shuffling lineups to try and create competition and depth.

"Trying to create competition, that's something that's very important when you're rebuilding a team," Applewhite said.

But Applewhite admitted that some of those tactics would begin to phase out. The Longhorns are in the "perfection and confidence" phase of fall camp, meaning the lineup will need to become more set to get players more repetitions and feel within the offense.

"To do that, you do have to have a little bit more continuity depth chart-wise," Applewhite said.

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