Coordinator Corner: Major Applewhite

Texas co-offensive coordinator Major Applewhite talks about winning close games and the Oklahoma State defense.

When Texas co-offensive coordinator Major Applewhite gave his message to the offense at against West Virginia, he wasn't happy with where the game sat.

"'Just keep playing. Down by six. Keep playing,'" Applewhite said to his team. "I wasn't happy. Nobody was happy losing. Just go play. It's a four-quarter game. It's not like we were down by 21. If we score, get the extra point, then we're up by one. Keep it in perspective. If you've ever played sports, there's always that one guy that's always hollering and screaming in the locker room so I was just making sure everybody was holding it together. Just make sure everybody holds it together."

Texas held together, scoring the game-tying field goal to send the game to overtime, then scored the only touchdown in overtime to sneak out a 47-40 win. But it wasn't anything that Texas hadn't practiced for.

"I think you've got to expose them to that situation as much as possible," Applewhite said. "Put them there with the game-winning shot. A three-foot putt. Whatever it is, put them in that pressure situation as much as humanly possible. We practice one-minute offense every week on Wednesday. We'll go again tomorrow.

"Sometimes we'll give them a 1:08 with one timeout; sometimes we give them 46 seconds and no timeouts," Applewhite said. "So we'll move those scenarios around and put the pressure on them and kids like that. They enjoy practice but when you make it game-like and create that third down, they enjoy that more when there's a win or loss at the end of the play."

This week's opponent, Oklahoma State, has earned rave reviews for turning its defense into one of the Big 12's best.

"There's about three or four things [that stand out]," Applewhite said. "Number one is experience. They've got three experienced linebackers back, two and three guys in the secondary, couple guys up front. Second thing is their takeaways. They're in the top-10 in terms of turnover margin but they've got 23 takeaways. They take the ball away from you quite a bit. The third thing is they're 27th in country in run defense. I think they've given up around 127-130 yards a game. And the fourth thing is their red zone defense. They're 11th in the country in red zone defense so they don't allow many points down there.

They're a very, very good football team top to bottom and one thing that everybody knows who coaches in this league: they've always been good on special teams," Applewhite said.

A big part of them forcing turnovers is the talent in the defensive backfield, Applewhite said.

"They've got skill and height and length outside so both their corners, No. 1 and No. 4, can play the ball and so that's why they've got some," Applewhite said. "[Daytawion] Lowe and [Shamiel] Gary, both of those safeties have done a great job in terms of coverage, putting their eyes to the ball. When they play zone and they drop seven, you've got all those eyeballs staring, matching routes, seeing the quarterback and you take all that and you add together 36 games of experience, you start getting some turnovers.


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