Ask James Brown

Former Longhorn QB and NFL Europe star James Brown answers your questions about Greg Davis and the Longhorns' early season offensive struggles, and what (aside from Vince Young) made the 2005 team a championship squad.

(NOTE: Several subscribers included personal words of gratitude for James Brown' tenure at The University. James Brown made it clear that he very much appreciated your thoughtful comments.)

Q: I'd be curious to know James' opinion of Greg Davis and the job he's doing as our offensive coordinator.

JB: (John) Mackovic had a system, and players were expected to fit into his system. It wasn't good all the time because, someone like me who had some running ability, when I first came out in 1994 and 1995, I ran the ball a lot because it was natural. Eventually, I had to fit into Mackovic's system. He would provide more protection than allowing me to move around. By comparison, from what I've seen of Greg Davis, he'll develop his offense according to the players he has.

All of (Mackovic's) plays and all of his formations were already set. Whether it was a shotgun or a sprintout, if it was a sprintout, it was going to be a sprintout package. He didn't create any sprintout packages for me, really. It was all just 'dropback' with him. We could have incorporated some more sprintouts and maybe some option. But it wasn't even a question: he had his playbook and he stuck to that.

Q: What are your thoughts on the struggling Texas offense? Why can't the coaches run the ball at people like they used to with a power running game? Why can't coaches utilize the talents of the players that they have? The Zone Read was great when Vince Young was here, but it won't work with (Colt) McCoy. Jamaal (Charles) should be hitting the line of scrimmage full speed. Other teams do it. Why can't (or won't) Texas? It's very frustrating to see great athletes being harnessed because of coaching philosophies. Do you see any changes any time soon?

JB: With the pro-style offense that we run, it's hard for the defense to run a lot of formations or to match-up with us. It's hard for defenses to recognize our fronts. Why don't we line up in the 'I' and run the ball downhill? I would like to see some of that also. I really like (backup RB) Chris Ogbonnaya. I think he's an 'I-backfield' type of back. I think the reason why we don't run more out of the 'I', and we talked about this last week, it's hard to turn somebody into a fullback. Texas hasn't really recruited a true fullback in a while. Texas has mainly recruited 'athletes' lately. With the players we have, I don't think we have the fullback to run the ball downhill the way we would like.

I think McCoy can run the spread-option. McCoy has speed. I think he's shifty enough. I think he's better than Texas A&M's quarterback's (Stephen McGee) ability, and they run the option all the time. I think McCoy can run that offense. I believe last year against Ohio State, if we had let him run the ball in the spread, we'd have had a better chance of running the ball. This past Saturday (against TCU) in the second half, Colt broke out. The two long runs that he had, I said, 'That's a good job, Colt. That's what you need to do.'

We have a lot of veterans at wide receiver, but you have to be able to run the ball to pass the ball. Colt is going to have to run the ball along with the running backs. Colt is going to have to run the ball for us to have better success running the ball. But they're not going to go (exclusively) with the 'I'. They're not going to switch up their offense.

Q: Since January 4, 2006, I have often wondered: if there had been no Vince Young, how far does Mr. Brown think he could have taken the 2005 squad and what would have been different?

A: I think Vince Young won the Rose Bowl but I think our coaching staff won games for us throughout that (2005) season. We out-coached some teams. Not to keep comparing (with John Mackovic) but, when I played, we didn't out-coach teams. We out-coached some of the smaller teams, but when we played teams like Penn State or Notre Dame, we got out-coached. As players, we just felt that way. Watching Texas now, I don't think Texas gets out-coached. And that, of course, helps us win national championships. It puts us in a position to beat teams like Michigan and USC.

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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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