Coach's Look: Let's Talk About Something Good

After watching the game on Saturday, I wasn’t looking forward to another week of writing negative thoughts on the Longhorns’ offense. Passes were thrown behind receivers, in front of receivers, to the wrong receivers. Cedric Benson had another fumble. I felt I was in an episode of Groundhog Day.

I also felt like taking some time off from trolling message boards, reading the paper, listening to sports talk radio, etc., might clear my head and allow me to watch the game tape with a fresh new outlook. You know what? I feel better.

I must say that I have a tad bit more respect for Greg Davis this week than last week. I am starting to see the Longhorns for what they truly are: a good imitation of a mid-90s Nebraska team. Though the Longhorns run a different option and they don’t have a catchy name for the defense (thank goodness!), they seem to be following the same playbook: Get ahead by running the option; stay ahead by pounding the ball. Greg Davis is starting to see this team for what it is, and the transformation started last year post-OU.

Texas is a team that can run the zone read, the ISO, and a few other running plays very well. The Horns can’t pass, and they are in trouble when they have to pass. However, if Texas can get ahead, it has a pretty good chance of staying ahead.

I have been one to give some criticism to the coaching staff of late, so I will give credit where credit is due. Mack Brown and Greg Davis have changed this offense from a pro-style offense to an option offense in the matter of one year. Changes to the offensive line have occurred, and personnel have changed drastically. If you wonder why Chance Mock looked like a fish out of water last week when he came in the game, consider this: this is not the same offense that he ran last year. Even when he came in against Tech last year, at least the wide receivers knew the offense he ran earlier in the year. At least they had some repetitions on the plays they ran. The current Longhorns offense was not made for him.

The current offense is built for Vince Young, and it should be. He is a tremendous athlete, and a physical specimen. However, I think many of us need to lower our expectations for Vince Young. Let’s not set the bar at Michael Vick or Daunte Culpepper or Randall Cunningham. Let’s set the bar at Tommie Frazier or Jamielle Holloway. I know I would feel much better about his passing ability if those last two are his peer group.

Something else I was glad to see was the new QB Sweep play that Texas unveiled Saturday. A problem with the zone read is that the coaches didn’t have any quick action plays (plays that were on you before you knew it). Plays in the zone read take some time to develop. I’ve always thought that a quick-hitting play would be one more thing a defense would have to worry about. In reality, there are three ways to confuse a defense: 1) running the same play out of many formations, 2) running many different plays from the same formation, and 3) running any play before the defense expects it. Quick counts and quick-hitting plays can accomplish the last part, and the QB Sweep is great on two levels. It is another play from a basic Longhorn formation, and it develops much quicker than any other play the Horns have from that formation. In addition, it is the perfect counter to the team that plays too much to the weakside to stop the weakside zone read. Here is the formation that the Longhorns ran it from on Saturday, and I will also put the way that Missouri defended it the first time:

Based on this formation, Texas has an even battle to either side. Seven playing on seven to the strongside, four playing on four on the weakside. At the snap, the line zone blocks, Cedric "load blocks" on the end if the TE can hook him or the LB if he can. Cedric takes out the LB, and it is Vince versus the FS. A gain of six yards on a 3rd and 3 play is something most of us will take all day.

The next time the Horns ran the play, it was an even better play because of Missouri’s alignment to stop the weakside zone read play (a first down favorite for Davis):

Missouri brings up the FS right before the snap to help with the weakside zone read play, but the Longhorns are actually running the ball strong side with the QB sweep. Vince breaks off a run of 9 yards on first down. The Tigers are outnumbered on the strongside and at a severe disadvantage.

I sure hope we see this play more this weekend. It is a natural progression of the option offense Texas has started to master, and it has big play capability. If nothing else, if gives the Red Raiders a new wrinkle to worry about.

Mark Kissinger has coached high school football in Texas and Tennessee, coaching OL, TE, WR, DT, DE, and serving as both an offensive coordinator and defensive coordinator. In high school, he was coached by the legendary G.A. Moore. Mark recently retired from coaching and received his M.B.A. from Rice University and is in his third season of writing for IT. His 'Coach's Look' column appears after each game during football season on

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