VINCE'S THROWING MOTION:
Yes, coaches have noticed Vince Young's quirky throwing motion and have worked on it more than they have publicly disclosed. But Greg Davis said Young's release had more to do with his footwork than anything else.
"When Vince would throw deep, he would plant a leg as a power leg," Davis said, "but when he attempted a shorter route, a hitch pass or something, he would plant his leg again and that caused him to lower his elbow, and that made him more inconsistent."
There is one other significant area of improvement that is not as easy to detect: Young's ability to read the defense and make pre-snap decisions.
"A lot of times you can make some of your early decisions by what you see prior to ever receiving the ball," Davis said.
Based on what Young sees in the defensive set, for example, he may eliminate the designated primary receiver. In short, Young is going through his progressions prior to the snap. Coaches have also trained quarterbacks with an 18-second play clock to foster faster decision-making and mitigate against delay penalties.
Davis said it's a common misconception that Young abandons the pass too soon in order to tuck-and-run.
"That's far from the truth," Davis said. "I thought he did an excellent job with the zone read. In fact, if I were him and I was that fast, I would want to keep it every time. The quarterback draw sometimes looked like it was a drop back pass and he took off but most of his runs were called."
THE 'SPIES' OF TEXAS:
To what extent do defenses assign "spies" specifically to Vince Young?
"I feel like Bill Clinton... it depends on your definition of a 'spy'," Davis laughed. "If it's (against) the zone read, almost every (defense) has somebody assigned (to the QB). Either an end, or maybe a 'backer will come over the top, or maybe even a secondary guy. But in those cases, almost everybody gets an assignment."
But as the 2003 season progressed, coaches noticed that defenses began to keep either a nose guard or linebacker hanging around the line of scrimmage, occupying a specific lane, until Young made a ball handling decision. Teams would sometimes commit a DB as a 'spy' in dime packages, Davis added.
Head coach Mack Brown has said publicly that all those hitch passes and slants just isn't going to cut it this season. And Davis knows it. Typically, Texas tries to go deep at least once a quarter, or four-to-five times per game, Davis said. But Brown has said on more than one occasion this month that the offense needs to show more deep routes even with untested receivers, to keep defenses from stacking the line to stop the zone read.
"(FL) Tony Jeffery has been deep," Davis said. "From the standpoint of going to war, he's been on the beaches more than the rest of them."
Relatively speaking: with 277 career yards on 24 catches, Jeffery is Texas' top returning receiver. He posted eight receptions for 91 yards and a TD in 2003. That's part of why Davis still concedes that wide receiver remains a "concern" heading into the North Texas game.
"I think you'd have to say it's a concern because they haven't done it yet," Davis said. "I'm encouraged by their talent. I'm encouraged by the way they've worked. But there's a whole lot of difference between Denius (Field) and six o'clock Saturday night."