Ask James Brown

Former Longhorn QB and NFL Europe star James Brown answers your questions about rotating quarterbacks, including the rotation with him and Shea Morenz in 1994, his success vs. Baylor, and his favorite routes as a quarterback.

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Q: Texas has two gifted QBs in Colt McCoy and John Chiles. How does a head coach optimally use both players on game-day?

JAMES: I am a firm believer in the two-quarterback system, and that may come from playing in the NFL Europe for two years. They wanted to get everyone some playing time in the NFL Europe. So, if you had two good quarterbacks, they'd let them play a half or they'd split quarters. I liked that. It takes pressure off the quarterbacks. It takes away all the pressure that comes from being the starting quarterback. The quarterback position actually works as a team, just like a two-running back tandem. A lot of people would think that the quarterback has to be warm and stay in the game. That's not true. I believe it's just like being a running back or a receiver if you get focused during the week and you know the plays you're going to run. The two-quarterback system makes a quarterback want to make less mistakes because he's not going to be in the entire game. He's going to make better decisions. If I was a coach of a team, I wouldn't mind playing two quarterbacks. I would say you would switch out your quarterback at least every quarter. And if someone has a drive going and the quarter changes, then he finishes off his drive and the other quarterback comes in the next drive.

Q: You had a monster game at Baylor (1994) the week after you were named the full-time starter as a RS-freshman. Did coach John Mackovic base this decision on (QB) Shea Morenz's knee injury or because he thought the team was more productive with you as starting quarterback?

JAMES: Shea hurt his knee against Colorado the week before we played Oklahoma. He could not play against Oklahoma and I got that start (a 17-10 Texas win). The next week we played at Rice, and coach Mackovic put Shea back in the starting role. So, I had not won the position with the win against Oklahoma. Coach Mackovic gave Shea another chance against Rice. It was on ESPN, it was raining and we lost. After that, fans and alumni were asking Mackovic why he didn't at least put James into the game. The week after Rice, we started splitting time. I started the last three games of the season (beginning with a 48-13 win over Houston on November 12). The team was definitely more responsive to me because most of the guys that were actually making noise were part of the class that I came in with, guys like Bryant Westbrook, Tre Thomas, Chris Carter and Tony Brackens. We saw ourselves as the class that turned the program around. But it may have had more to do with the 'minority' thing. A lot of black players were behind me. (SE) Lovell Pinkney was definitely behind me. There came a time in practice when Lovell didn't want Shea to throw him a pass. (WR) Coach Cleve (Bryant) got on him, but it caused a lot of ruckus on the team. I just think the team was more responsive to me.

Q: You went 18-of-25 for 289 yards and a school-record five TD passes against No. 25 Baylor. What was the route Pinkney ran that was so effective that day?

JAMES: Lovell ran a lot of 15-yard in-routes, or a D-End route. We ran that quite often because he was such a big target coming across the middle. It never hurt him to get hit by a safety.

Q: Did you have a favorite route? What was your bread-and-butter?

JAMES: I've always liked the out-routes. I like the 10-to-12 yards simple out-routes. It's a timing route so I could throw the ball before the receiver breaks on it. The DB just doesn't know. The DB has to be in a different coverage other than 'man' to pick that off. The out-route was a good route for us. We ran that a lot. We'd move the pocket and throw the out, and then we'd throw the out-and-up if they started breaking on the outs. Mackovic wanted to move the pocket more so we incorporated this half-pocket roll to the out-route. That was something we started throwing that year against Houston, and I believe I threw four or five touchdowns. (Brown was 22-of-27 for 320 yards against Houston.)

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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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