Ask James Brown

Former Longhorn QB and NFL Europe star James Brown answers your questions about the Longhorns' running game, and suggests a play to improve it, and talks about his experience playing the Horned Frogs the last time Texas and TCU squared off.

Q: Given Texas' offensive personnel, is there a particular ‘scheme' or ‘featured play' that would best serve its running game?

J.B.: Just from my playing days, I always enjoyed the counter. I watched Ricky (Williams) and Priest (Holmes) run the counter. When you run the counter from an off-set formation, you can run tosses and sweeps and leads that complemented the regular running game that we always ran. A counter can hit anywhere. Texas has run that out of the shotgun. It was just a form of the counter with Vincent Young. After V. Young left, a lot of people have said Texas shouldn't keep that same offense because Colt (McCoy) is not VY. But it's not so easy to change your whole offense and everything you've been trying to drill into the guys' heads. Now, I think we're kind of stuck with it. We really haven't recruited any kind of ‘I' formation players, or true blocking backs. We recruit more ‘athletes'.

I actually listened to the Arkansas State game on the radio. I didn't get a chance to see it. But listening to all the hype and news coverage leading up to the game, the coaches were saying that we were going to run the ball. I remember reading that, so I'm sure the opponent knew. But I can say this: if you want to run the ball, you have to pass the ball. The pass is going to open up the run for you.

Q: (Offensive coordinator) Greg Davis has said part of QB Colt McCoy's maturation bas been his progression from reliance on ‘individual' routes to being able to complete ‘concept' routes. What is the basic difference between ‘concept' passing routes and ‘individual' routes?

J.B.: The ‘concept' side is, when you run the play, you let the defense tell you where to throw the ball. In the ‘concept' side, you'll probably have two or three receivers, a tight end or maybe a running back out on the route depending on his blitz pickup. The ‘concept' side is called that because it has to do with the concept of football. Let's say you have those three guys in the huddle who are designed to go out on the pass play. After the ball is snapped, the ‘football concept', the ‘play-call concept' and the ‘blocking scheme concept' might require the running block to stay in and block. So, he's out of the pass pattern. So, now you have two wide receivers running their patterns. You might have (Limas) Sweed running a ‘go' route and a tight end running a five-yard ‘out route. On the ‘concept' side, the quarterback would then read the linebackers or the cornerbacks. Obviously, there's a lot more thinking with concept routes. On the ‘individual' side, it's like playground football. It's like one-on-one practice. For me, I'd drop back and if Mike Adams is running a 15-yard comeback, and if I know before the snap that I'm going to the ‘individual' side, I just try to buy myself more time knowing that I have a deep route. It's just more sandlot football when you go to the ‘individual' side.

Q: James, you were the quarterback the last time Texas played TCU (1995). What do you recall most from that game? And what is your prediction for this Saturday's game?

J.B.: I hurt my ankle against TCU. I sat out the next game (Baylor) and young Richard Walton came in at quarterback. I still had that hurt ankle when we beat A&M (16-6) and that hadn't lost a home game in while (an NCAA-leading 31 straight home wins). But I hurt my ankle right after halftime against TCU. They started coming back.. (Texas nursed a 20-19 lead before RB Shon Mitchell capped the scoring a late TD run). I was in the locker room listening.

This Saturday, I don't think TCU can beat us but, just like Arkansas State, these guys (Longhorns) need to realize that everybody who comes to play us will play their hardest. They're going to give everything they have to beat Texas because that's their dream. If they beat Texas, then some of their players might have a chance to go to the NFL. It's hard playing a team that wants to beat you more than you even want to win. We just have to overcome that. We have a better team. We have better athletes. I just think we're bigger, faster and stronger. But the desire to win is the other element that plays a big part in the outcome of the game.

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James Brown (1994-96) guided Texas to three straight conference championships, including the final Southwest Conference and inaugural Big 12 titles. Brown ranks No. 2 all-time at UT in career passing yards (7,638) and third all-time with 58 touchdown passes.

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