Tuesday Dimes with QB Coach Shawn Watson

Where's the confidence level with Johnathan Gray and Malcolm Brown? Will we see more from Armanti Foreman? Any update on Daje Johnson? What about that Baylor defense? Shawn Watson answers all those questions and more below.

Watson, like Charlie Strong, did not say that Daje Johnson would return from suspension against Baylor. But, like Strong, he didn’t rule it out.

Johnson, who hasn’t played in a game this season, hinted at the possibility of returning this weekend via Instagram on Tuesday.

Baylor knows all too well of Johnson’s game-changing abilities. The Bears saw it first hand in 2012 when he took a speed sweep 84 yards for a score to kick the scoring off in a 56-50 Texas victory.

If Daje is not able to go look for Watson and Joe Wickline to try and get Armanti Foreman involved in Daje-like fashion.

Everyone has waxed poetic about the true freshman’s play-making skills, and we saw a bit of that against Kansas with the long gain he had on the double reverse.

Those clamoring for more Foreman might get their wish against the Bears in a game the Longhorns will be desperate for big plays.

“He’s really practicing well. He’s had two good weeks of practice,” Watson said. ‘The thing I like about him is he reminds me of some of those kids we had at Louisville. He’s a tough guy. He loves to compete. He’s got a really unique skillset. He’s got speed like Daje. As he grows we can use more and more of him. His biggest thing, like all freshmen, is becoming assignment sound.”

If frustration’s mounting with Johnathan Gray and Malcolm Brown due to their lack of production, you wouldn’t know it from how their teammates and Watson are talking.

If anything, everyone is understanding of the task at hand running behind this makeshift offensive line. Watson hinted at that yet again on Tuesday.

“We've got to keep growing,” Watson said. “That's the number one thing; they've got to keep growing. Rhythm comes from hitting the blocking pattern and hitting holes and creating holes, really. We have to develop this line. Everybody knows the situation we're in and we just have to keep working.”

Remember, this is one of just six twosomes in the country to return after both having rushed for at least 750 yards last season. This season Gray and Brown have rushed for 222 and 191 yards respectively.

Watson tried to spin their contributions in a positive light.

“They're playing good football,” Watson said. “Their production is what you don't see because they're having to work for their yards and to those kid's credits, they've been great teammates. They understand and they just keep working.

“They probably give the most positive energy out there on the practice field with the offensive line. They've been outstanding teammates and really great leaders.”

When asked what different ways Watson could get them the ball, he mentioned the screen game.

Gray has always prided himself in his ability to catch out of the backfield. He has three catches for 11 yards. Brown has seven receptions for nine yards.

The biggest key of the game for Watson is not falling behind the chains on first down. Can’t happen.

“I think in this game, we've got to be great on first down, normal down because that's when their defense plays best when they're ahead of the sticks,” he said. “So you've got to collect your yards on first down. That's the key to the game.”

Staying on the field after third down is also something Watson will stress this week, just as Strong always stresses is key for his defenses to get off the field after.

Texas hasn’t been great this season on third downs, completing just 19-of-61 (31 percent).

For as good as this Baylor offense has been, leading the country with 56.3 points per game, its defense has been one of the best Art Briles has fielded in Waco.

Look at some of these stats from their win at Iowa State:

- The Bears defense had 6 first half 3-and-outs, which in Defensive Coordinator Phil Bennett's eyes is as good as a turnover.

- Baylor had 11 drives where it allowed less than 15 yards, including three where it allowed 0 or less.

- The Bears set a season high in Quarterback Pressures with 14. They had 12 in their first three games.

- Iowa State running backs rushed for 28 yards on 20 carries for a 1.4 yards per carry.

Watson knows full well that he has his hands full with this defense, especially a defensive front with the likes of Shawn Oakman (6-foot-9), Andrew Billings (chose Baylor over Texas), and Javonte Magee (chose BU over UT).

“The scheme's been taught over a number of years now,” Watson said. “They're playing really good team defense. They do a nice job with their scheme. They hem up the field and play good pursuit football.”

Watson continued his praise for Swoopes and the progress the sophomore has made as a starter, particularly behind the scenes.

“Every week, I'm just amazed how much more he's taken on from what he just learned. I've used players from my past like, ‘Here's how you do it, here's the experience they had, here's what they did with it, here's how we managed it and here's how we got through it,’” Watson said. “It's fun coaching him. I love coming to work. I do. He's putting everything in to becoming a good football player.”

Watson mentioned that Swoopes has gained the trust of his teammates as they’ve seen what he can do on the field, and now it’s time for him to “really live his conviction.”

“Be who you are and let what's inside of you out,” Watson said. “When you put a lot into it, it should be easy to let it out. So my whole purpose with him is to put a lot into it, take pride in what he's put into it and let his conviction out.”

When Watson was asked if Swoopes gets fired up he mentioned that he does in a similar fashion as Teddy Bridgewater.

“His example of leadership is by his production and he's a guy that if somebody drops the ball, you'll see him over there talking to him,” he said. “He gets excited in a positive way. He's not out of control. I think you want your quarterback to have poise but have emotion and he shows that.”


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