Davis Looks To Establish Offensive 'Identity'

Texas is breaking in a new backfield, as coaches speak of improved QB play while forecasting a more prominent role for speed demon Ramonce Taylor. Does it add up to a new look for the Longhorn offense when the season opens against Louisiana-Lafayette?

"I’m sure our identity will change, to some degree, because we have different players, and we have players who are at different places in their careers," Offensive Coordinator Greg Davis said Tuesday. "But we want to be a team that can run the football because everything functions better if we can run the football. You want to be able to win the game in two ways: you want to be able to win the game throwing the ball and you want to be able to win running the ball. That’s what balance is for us. Can you do it both ways, if you have to?"

Sure, but any specifics?

QB Vince Young will line up more often than not in the shotgun, Davis said, and is more likely to throw from that formation than in seasons past.

"I’m excited to see that our receiving corps is really grown up," Davis said. "They’re more mature. I think they will be a bigger part of the offense."

Otherwise, Texas will continue to serve up a steady diet of zone read plays and quarterback counters to help spring college football’s most lethal running QB.

"We were not quite there last year in terms of percentage, but I would expect us to be in the ‘gun more than half the time," Davis said. "But there will be some different things in the passing game to hopefully take advantage of those ‘gun runs. But you still want to make sure you’re featuring your playmaker."

Davis teaches the majority of his playbook during two-a-days and then scales back for the season-opener.

"We tell our freshmen that Fall Camp is much harder than the game plan," he said. "You’re trying to get things exposed to them that you can pick-and-choose from as the year goes on. There are things that you hold back because there are things that you think will work better against a certain scheme, but the way colleges are, you better not be holding too much back because each game is critical."

RB Selvin Young will get approximately 20 carries per game, Davis estimates, knowing that the explosive junior is a different breed than Doak Walker winner Cedric Benson.

"I told our offensive coaches that there will be times when (Selvin) makes three (yards) when Cedric made six; and there’s going to be times when he makes 23 when Cedric made 10," Davis said. "Cedric was more of a darter and a slasher. Cedric was the ultimate warrior. He was just a battering ram."

The X-Factor this season could be WR/RB Ramonce Taylor, who has worked almost exclusively as a pass-catcher since the seventh day of August camp. RT has been Texas’ most consistent receiver this month, offensive coaches have said, and is listed at SE. Yet, RT will also play FL, RB and in the slot.

"We’ve got to do a good job of making sure we get good touches for him," Davis said. "You’ll see him lined up at a bunch of different places through the course of a year. He’s taken a reverse for a score in every scrimmage that we’ve had this year, so you’ve got to make sure that you’re giving him some opportunities. One reason that we didn’t want to totally move him out of the backfield is you can guarantee him more touches back there."

Taylor becomes the starting RB should Selvin Young be sidelined early in the season. Otherwise, expect to see meaningful snaps for freshman RB Jamaal Charles this Saturday.

"We’ll play a freshman back early in the ballgame," Davis predicted. "Jamaal Charles is someone that we all think is a very talented youngster. He’s certainly performed well in Camp but there’s a huge difference (on Game Day). Even though you try to simulate as much of game as you can, it’s just different."

Coaches have gushed since April that VY has improved dramatically just since the Rose Bowl. Yet, that upgrade may not be apparent to the casual fan. Part of Vince’s development has been the efficiency with which he now goes through his progressions.

"Sometimes you’re going to the secondary receiver so fast that it’s not even obvious," Davis said, "but because it’s something (the defense) tipped (off) right before the ball is snapped."

Case-in-point: the August 24 scrimmage. That evening, VY hooked up with No. 4 receiver Selvin Young on a nine-yard TD pass.

"Selvin was his fourth choice," commented Davis, "and that doesn’t happen very often. (Vince) actually went through three guys on the front side and Selvin was coming out of the backfield and he hit him for a touchdown. Along with that, he had good protection. To get to No. 4, it takes a while."

Another thing is that Vince has clamped down on a tendency to prematurely tuck-and-run.

"He does not go back to run; he goes back to throw when the progression is not there," said Davis.

It’s gotten to where VY can read defenses while still in the huddle and now has both the freedom and the confidence to change routes prior to the snaps.

"You may have a three-man game working (on one side of the field) and an individual route called (on the other side)," Davis said. "He is changing those routes constantly. You can talk about that as a freshman but it doesn’t happen until they’ve played and how they can change them, and know which routes go with which concepts. And he’s doing that regularly."

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