It's rare at the University of Texas for the focal points of an offseason not to rest squarely on its players. The stability that comes with having the same head coach for 16 seasons will do that to a program.
This spring appears to be one of those exceptions, though, as the Longhorns prepare to embark on their first spring practice under new head coach Charlie Strong and his staff, which consists of only one holdover from the Mack Brown era (Bruce Chambers).
Because of this, LonghornDigest is going to take a closer look at each member of the staff leading up to the first day of spring practice on March 18.
On Thursday we took a look at wide receivers coach Les Koenning.
Today we'll take a look at coach tasked with figuring out who will line up behind center next fall.
Assistant head coach for offense/quarterbacks
Graduate assistant at Southern Illinois, 1982; graduate assistant at Illinois, 1983-84; tight ends/offensive tackles coach at Illinois, 1985; wide receivers coach at Illinois, 1986; WR/TE coach at Miami (Ohio), 1987-88; WR coach at Miami (Ohio), 1989; quarterbacks/recruiting coordinator at Miami (Ohio), 1990-93; head coach at Southern Illinois, 1994-96; quarterbacks coach at Northwestern, 1997-98, quarterbacks coach at Colorado, 1999; offensive coordinator/QBs at Colorado, 2000-05; TE/recruiting coordinator at Nebraska, 2006; OC/QB at Nebraska, 2007-10; QB coach at Louisville, 2011; OC/QBs at Louisville, 2012-13.
The Watson Digest:
Having Teddy Bridgewater helps, yes. But Bridgewater must credit much of his success to Watson, his former quarterbacks coach, for his impending high draft pick. Watson took over play-calling duties midway through the 2011 season and helped Bridgewater ear Big East Rookie of the Year honors. The following two seasons saw Louisville amass a 23-3 record, including a 12-1 finish in 2013 when it led the nation in completion percentage (70.8), fewest passes intercepted (4) and fewest turnovers lost (10), and was second in third-down conversions (56.0 percent) and time of possession (33:49). A believer in the West Coast offense, Watson has experienced success elsewhere. He did so at Colorado when Mike Moschetti became the Big 12's most efficient passer after just one season, and at Nebraska where Joe Ganz set 20 school records and Taylor Martinez became the Big 12's Freshman of the Year in 2010.
How he differs from Applewhite and Wyatt:
Watson seems to be bringing a different offensive tick to the 40 Acres. He is known for instilling a slower-paced West Coast offense whereas Texas' former co-offensive coordinators opted for a fast-paced spread attack. Both parties do see value in the run game. Texas has run the ball on roughly 58 percent of its plays over the past three seasons, while Louisville ran 455 runs against 439 passes in 2013. Another glaring difference is the lack of experience recruiting the state of Texas Watson has versus the wealth of knowledge Applewhite and Wyatt both had. That will take time for Watson to build, which could make recruiting difficult in the early goings.
Player he will most improve:
Sophomore Tyrone Swoopes. At least that's the player most Texas fans would hope he'd improve the most, especially early on. Swoopes certainly looks the part at 6-foot-4 and 245 pounds. Although he wasn't asked to throw the ball much in the six games he played, his five completions in 13 attempts left a lot to be desired. Given the health concerns of David Ash, Swoopes could be the starting quarterback for Texas this fall. He'll be one of Watson's most important pupils this spring.
Recruits will love:
His ability to adapt. Strong has said that Watson will definitely be involved in play-calling duties even though Joe Wickline is the offensive coordinator. But the fact that he'll have more time devoted to just the quarterbacks, as opposed to formulating weekly gameplans, should help his cause. He showed the ability to adapt to different types of offenses at Nebraska where he first led two top-12 offenses behind the strength of two top-15 passing attacks. Then he catered to Martinez, a limited passer at the time, and helped Nebraska rank ninth in rushing offense in 2010. Martinez finished the year with 965 yards and 10 touchdowns under Watson, which bodes well for Swoopes.
Predicting coaching future:
It's unclear how Watson feels about not being the offensive coordinator at Texas, after experiencing much success at Louisville. He will have a hand in play-calling duties. But something tells us he'll be offered another opportunity to be the offensive coordinator, and take it. Several NFL teams were interested prior to his accepting the job with UT.