Texas Offense: A Simpler Plan?

Offensive Coordinator Greg Davis does not intend to scale back his game-plan following Texas' 41-21 home loss to Kansas State. But he is considering changes that should result in a less "hesitant quarterback" and less confusion along the line of scrimmage.

"I did a poor job," Davis said Monday. "I felt like I had a hesitant quarterback. He has to free-flow."

Specifically, Davis is mulling whether to curtail QB Colt McCoy's pre-snap audibles.

"We do a lot of things at the line of scrimmage," Davis said. "Some are either-or situations; some are true checks. Some are passes where the quarterback determines different routes based on what he's seeing. We may have to revisit that to see if we're giving Colt too many choices. For example, if it's a 'house blitz', one way of handling that situation is for the quarterback to call for a certain protection or a specific route. Typically, we've not done that. Typically, we've said, 'Here's an answer, here's an answer, here's an answer' based on depth of cornerbacks, based on down-and-distance situations, and things like that. We did not handle that well Saturday. I've got to see if we're asking too much of Colt at the line of scrimmage. It's not something we're going to throw out. We've been doing it for years, but we didn't do it well Saturday. When you don't do something well, you've got to find out why."

McCoy is exceptionally bright and spends countless hours studying game film, Davis reiterated. Most of the offensive breakdowns -- McCoy suffered through his first-ever four-INT outing -- had to do with nonverbal communication, Davis believes. The result was busted blocking assignments and incorrect passing routes.

"We were on different pages," Davis said. "If that's a problem, then you've got to cut back on choices and options. We had way too many situations in the ball game where we weren't on the same page."

The breakdowns came as a surprise, Davis noted, given Texas' strong suit this season is considered to be its veteran group of receivers.

"It's the first time it's happened. Quite honestly, part of it was frustration because we had more of it in the second half than we did the first half. You want to give your players as many different options as you can, both at the line of scrimmage and at post-snap. At the same time, sometimes you're better off with everybody knowing exactly what you're doing even if you are running into a stacked deck. At least, we're in the same rhythm, the same gaps and all those kinds of things."

The playbook has been expanded considerably for the second-year quarterback, coaches have said. For now, it may be a case of information overload and McCoy trying to do too much on his own.

"If we are giving him too much, then we need to limit those things that make him more hesitant," head coach Mack Brown said. "The biggest thing we did with the team (Sunday) was show them the four turnovers and why (they occurred). If we don't have those turnovers, we probably still win the game even with the kicking game problems because we were moving the ball."

McCoy is not necessarily buying into the notion that, for whatever reason, he has become more hesitant. But he concedes he may have pressed too much against a blitz-happy, 3-4 defense.

"They (Wildcats) were getting a lot of pressure," McCoy said. "As the game went on, I tried to make plays by moving in and out of the pocket."

In McCoy's estimation, it's not a matter of diminishing his responsibilities as much as it is honing them.

"There was some nonverbal stuff that went wrong, maybe with some signals," McCoy said. "Some guys didn't catch what was going on with some audibles. I just think we'll work on it more. We haven't had a problem with that before. Nobody's pointing a finger at anybody. Everybody understands they can do their parts better."

K-State used a variety of blitzes that Texas did not anticipate, McCoy noted, and then changed its coverage behind the blitzes. The Wildcats went with more Cover Two than they had shown in previous ballgames.

"It threw us for a loop," McCoy said. "It caught us off-guard. That was the first time we played against a 3-4 defense, so that was challenging. We didn't handle it as well as we could. I know we can handle it better."

Davis was asked during Saturday's post-game press conference if some of the batted balls resulted from defenders jumping the routes because they knew Texas' tendency toward underneath passing game. On Monday, Davis acknowledged it was "a valid point."

"Maybe they realize we're doing a lot of short passes," Davis said, "so they'll start their rush. They're jumping up and trying to restrict (passing) lanes."

At the same time, McCoy's second-quarter injury occurred during a take-off route. One of his interceptions came on a deep, sideline route, but two of them came during short routes,

"We're not going to get away from it (short-passing game) because it's a big part of our offense," McCoy said. "When it works for us, it opens up the running game and it opens up the deep ball. Every team has that package. We took our shots (Saturday). I threw a couple of deep balls to Limas (Sweed). One was out of bounds; a couple of them the defense made some good plays on him."

Coaches are conceding Texas may have prematurely abandoned the run Saturday. The Horns attempted 11 straight passes after Jordy Nelson's 89-yard punt return for TD made it a 34-21 ballgame late in the third quarter. The first designed run of the fourth-quarter came on backup QB John Chiles' eight-yard keeper; by then, Texas was staring at a 20-point deficit.

"In retrospect, we tried to catch up too fast," Brown said, and that was probably because of the momentum changes from their kicking game."

Statistically, Jamaal Charles' 72 yards on 17 carries, including one TD, do not represent his best outing. Yet, he probably ran tougher against K-State's defense than he has against any opponent this season, Brown observed. Texas netted 113 yards (through basically three quarters) against a K-State defense that had limited opponents to 68.0 rushing ypg.

"We knew, going into the game, that popping a long run was going to be difficult," Davis said. "Other than that, we had very few negative rushing plays. We should have stayed with it. It helps your protection, it helps your play-action, and it takes pressure off Colt."

Right now, taking pressure off McCoy would be the biggest change of all.

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