Jay Norvell said Tuesday night Texas needs to run the ball at West Virginia on Saturday.
When QB Jerrod Heard was asked if the Longhorns' bowl chances were dependent on how much UT's passing game improves, Heard said:
"I wouldn't say that. We proved when we played some big teams like Oklahoma, we really didn't pass a lot. So I mean we can beat a team on the ground, just going at their throats the whole game. But definitely, you have to get the ball in the air just to make the game balanced and to keep the defense on their toes."
You pick up on that?
Heard described UT's running game against OU as "just going at their throats the whole game." Sounded aggressive and confident, right?
Of course, that's the game Texas built its running game around the two-back set out of the shotgun with speed sweep motion and ran the ball down the Sooners' throat - 58 times for 313 yards.
When I asked RG Patrick Vahe what he thought of the two-back set, he said:
"Dangerous. Perfect for us. Dangerous for the other team."
So after hearing Heard's comment Tuesday night (after hearing Vahe's comment Monday), I asked Jay Norvell if he could game-plan an aggressive mindset for his offense, and he wasn't quite sure what I was getting at.
"We don't want to be tentative or wait and see what happens, and I think we've done that on the road," Norvell said. "We've gone out there and maybe a guy hoped someone else would make a play. We have to be confident that each one of us is capable of going out and making the play that needs to be made and be anxious to do that.
"When we played the Oklahoma game, we had a bunch of guys ready and willing to make plays. That wasn't a true road game, but we need that kind of mentality."
Norvell is making my case for me.
When Texas got into that two-back set against Oklahoma, it DEMANDS an aggressive mindset. That's what running the ball downhill demands. But the Insanity Set also allows for Texas to use its speed on the outside (Daje Johnson, Ryan Newsome, Marcus Johnson) with the speed sweep.
And, of course, it features what Jerrod Heard does best - RUN! And it also sets up what Heard does best in the passing game - throw deep.
Asking Heard to go on the road and throw sideways receiver screens early against TCU and Iowa State just killed Heard's and this offense's confidence and swagger, because that's not what Heard does best - and UT lost yards (and a player - Daje - vs TCU) on those plays.
Asking your QB to do something that he's not yet ready to do, like reading a progression in the passing game, or making throws (WR screen) he doesn't throw well - is bad coaching.
Asking your QB to do what he does best - run the ball - out of an offensive set averaging more than 4 yards per carry (and then using play-action deep or on a wheel route) is good coaching. Because those are things he does well.
Here's Jay Norvell talking about what needs to happen to get Heard engaged and going early in the West Virginia game:
"Jerrod is like most quarterbacks. It helps when you start fast. Jerrod's an athlete. When he's running around, and he's moving, he gets into the game. That's always something that we're conscious of - whether it's sprinting him out or running him early.
"He gains confidence from being physically involved in the game. That's always been his personality, so we'll try to build that as we go in the game plan and starting him fast. Whether it's a run or completing a pass or a scramble, those are all things that get his juices flowing. So we're going to have to create that."
Did I mention Texas has been outscored 51-0 in the first quarter of true road games this season (14-0 at ND, 30-0 at TCU, 7-0 at ISU)? And UT is 0-11 under Strong when the other team scores first?
Sounds like on this road trip, there's at least a chance Norvell will call plays early that feature what Heard does best - plays his players love that also just so happen to put the Texas offense in an aggressive mindset.
I think we've learned by now that's Texas' only hope of scoring their first, first-quarter points this season in a true road game.
THIRD DOWN WILL BE CRITICAL ON SATURDAY: The Texas offense is dead last in the Big 12 at converting third down (35.7 percent). West Virginia's defense is only allowing offenses to convert third down 31 percent of the time (second only to TCU's 30.6 percent).
ON PAPER, IT LOOKS LIKE BAYLOR OVER OU: I love what Baker Mayfield has been able to do so far in his college career.
He walked on at Texas Tech when people told him not to do it because fellow Lake Travis product QB Michael Brewer was there.
Brewer ended up transferring, and Mayfield became the first true freshman walk-on to start a season opener at a Power 5 school at Texas Tech, then when Kliff Kingsbury picked Davis Webb over Mayfield, Mayfield wanted to transfer to OU where his girlfriend was a cheerleader. Those close to him said don't do it, because it was right after Trevor Knight looked like Drew Brees in a Sugar Bowl win over Alabama.
But Mayfield bet on himself - again.
Now, he's has completed 70 percent of his passes while throwing for 28 TDs with 4 INTs along with 5 TDs rushing for an OU team that has averaged 58 points per game (at K-State, vs Tech, at Kansas and home vs Iowa State) since losing to Texas.
Interestingly enough, I hear there is some concern about Mayfield getting "over-amped" for certain games. Apparently, that might have happened before the Tennessee game, when Mayfield struggled for much of three quarters, and against Texas, when he came out of the tunnel and ran the length of the field with Horns down - then never settled into the game.
Baylor is the better running team (308 yards per game), and no one has had an answer for Bears WR Corey Coleman (20 TD catches), and I think Jarrett Stidham, who was lights-out against K-State (23 of 33 for 419 yards, 3 TDs), plays big in this game.
I'm also curious to see how Sooners' OC Lincoln Riley plans to run the ball. OU has struggled to get Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon going this season against the best run defenses the Sooners have faced. Against Tennessee, West Virginia and Texas, Perine averaged a combined 3.7 yards per carry, and Perine's only run for 100 yards twice this season - against Tulsa (22 carries for 152 yards) and Texas Tech (23-201).
Give me Baylor over OU 51-40.
PS - Anyone else notice how hard the College Football Playoff Committee is working to keep Baylor out of the Top 4?
Moving Iowa ahead of Baylor this week and ranking OU at No. 12?
It's my belief that committee hates Art Briles' scheduling stance to the point that it will do anything it can to keep the Bears out of the top four until they absolutely have to relent.