Searels: Line Can Continue to Improve

Texas offensive line coach Stacy Searels is a no-nonsense individual. So when he says something regarding the Longhorn offensive line, it pays to listen.

And while Searels says there's room to get better, he said he's been pleased with the offensive execution.

"I really like the way our backs are running," Searels said. "The old guys have had a role, the young guy Malcolm (Brown) stepped up. Joe Bergeron stepped up. They have all been running extremely hard, and that makes it easy on us up front.

"I'm pleased with our effort," Searels said. "We've got a lot to improve on. That's one thing we're working on this week is trying to get better."

That includes new center Dominic Espinosa, who has been a pleasant surprise as a redshirt freshman.

"Dom has been steady inside," Searels said. "He's got a lot of work to do, but I've been pleased with his progress. He started out really well the first game, and he's doing a good job with his snaps and his calls, and he's holding up pretty well."

But while the starting offensive line has been strong, the worry has always been what happens if any of the top five goes down. In the spring, Searels had to juggle walk-ons just to have a complete second-team unit because of injuries, and he spent time in the fall rotating players at multiple positions to manufacture depth.

"We've got a lot of young guys that, if called upon, they can step up and carry their weight," Searels said. "Primarily, we've rolled in Paden Kelley as a sixth guy. Josh Cochran has rolled in and played a part. (Sedrick) "Sed" Flowers has rolled in. All those younger guys, the guys that aren't starting — Luke (Poehlmann) and (Thomas) Ashcraft — all those guys have played some this year.

"I think Josh is a young guy that once he gains some weight and gets a little more physical is going to be an outstanding player," Searels said. "Sed has been hurt and that has limited him. I think he would've played a lot more if he hadn't been hurt. But they add depth, and any time you have depth you can keep guys fresh, and that helps us in the fourth quarter."

Searels said the quarterback rotation hasn't really affected the offensive line's play, and added that offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin has been able to add some nice twists in terms of misdirection.

"A lot of the schemes we have up front are simple, basic schemes: gap schemes, zone schemes," Searels said. "But when they're put into the whole package, it makes it easier for us to block."

Searels said he treated every game like it was the Sugar Bowl, and preached to his players that the most important game was always the next one on the schedule. And Iowa State is no exception.

"They're 3-0, and they're a very good football team," Searels said. "The primary thing we're trying to do this week is us getting better, and then as the week goes on, we'll implement a little bit of preparing for those guys. But we've got to get better ourselves."

That's a primary theme of Searels' teaching: that the Longhorn offensive line can always find things to improve on.

"The only numbers we're going to look at is the 'W' and 'L'," Searels said. "And we've got three wins, no losses, but we know that we can be a lot better. We know we're going to play some really, really good football teams down the road. Our only goal this week is to get better and prepared to beat Iowa State."


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