Texas entered 2013 with a clear plan on offense. The Longhorns were going to build an offense around an up-tempo spread that would take advantage of David Ash's strengths and the 'Horns' ability to exploit their athletes in space.
But with Ash looking more and more like a lost cause for the season, and a very different quarterback in Case McCoy taking the snaps, the Texas staff had to go back to the drawing board, coming away with a more run-heavy offense that relied on McCoy's ability to hit the occasional deep ball.
"It is just the way that we have to be built to win games right now," said offensive coordinator Major Applewhite. "That's what we are going to have to do and a lot of it has to do with quarterback depth. When you don't have a lot of depth or a lot of experience in that position, the last thing you want to do is find out how inexperienced you are.
"You want to be able to take the ball and in some cases it is frustrating for guys like Mike [Davis] or Kendall (Sanders) or whoever it may be at wideout because they want to catch footballs," Applewhite said. "But they have been selfless, they have gone down and blocked and when they have had their opportunities, they have cashed in on them and that has helped us with our defensive side. It is team ball and understanding what fits and what just gives our team overall the best chance to win."
Texas will take that team approach to Morgantown, the Longhorns' first trip to West Virginia since the Mountaineers joined the Big 12.
"They've got a great amount of talent and they play hard," Applewhite said. "That is a tough combination. They have some guys in the back end—I am extremely impressed with their safeties. Those are the two most physical safeties I have seen in a long time. Those guys do a great job coming down hill, taking on ball carriers, and knocking balls loose.
"They have done a great job at creating turnovers and taking the ball away from the offense," Applewhite said. "Defensive line wise, they got some great guys up front in terms of size, strength, and speed. Will Clarke is a great guy off the edge, (Shaq) Rowell is a tough guy when he plays in the nose or in the shade. They are very talented and they can run."
West Virginia largely utilizes a three-man front, which can be a challenge for teams that practice mostly against four-man fronts. But the Longhorns have faced that defensive look several times already this season, including against BYU, Oklahoma and last week against Kansas.
"You work through those games and it is a little of an odd thing when you are installing things against a four-man front and the first time you see it, it can be unsettling," Applewhite said. "They do a good job of mixing it with 30 and 40 front. They don't just sit in one so it has been a blessing in disguise to see so many of those coming into this point of the season. It would be a lot more difficult had we not seen those fronts and played those fronts better."