Ask James Brown

Former Longhorn QB and NFL Europe star James Brown answers your questions about how to beat the inevitable Oklahoma State blitz, the late success of the zone read in the Nebraska game and what that says about the Horns' offensive coaching, and his preparation for the AAFL draft.

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Q: Texas faces an Oklahoma State team that blitzes 49 percent of the time, is generally sound against the run but ranks No. 116 in pass defense. What type of game plan would you create for Saturday?

JB: If they're blitzing half the time and can't cover anybody, they need to stop blitzing. That's what I would exploit. If I was the quarterback this week, I'm focusing on my blitz pickups. I'm looking at their defenses and seeing how they come and to make sure the quarterback is protected on every pass play. If they're sending one more guy than we have, you've got to have your hot routes. I'm looking to (TE) Jermichael Finley and the quick running backs out of the backfield. Those would be key against a blitzing team. Sometimes you can split a blitzing team with the run, kind of like we did against Nebraska. They played an eight-man front and blitzed more than half the time and tried to play man-to-man. Sometimes you can crease that blitz with the run. With our style of running, we're not down-hill and the blitz is made to stop a down-hill running game. We run those off-balance counters. That might actually slice Oklahoma State a couple of times with Jamaal (Charles') speed. I would keep plugging at the running game and definitely focus on your blitz pickup.

Q: In addition to the blitzes, Nebraska showed a Double-Eagle look a few times and surprised Texas with some unexpected defensive fronts? What sort of problems does that create?

JB: It seemed to me they were loading the line and trying to blitz gaps. They put someone on both sides of our center so they could blitz both of the ‘A' gaps. That disrupts a lot.

Q: Texas' reliance on the Zone Read made all the difference in the fourth quarter comeback. Could the Zone Read have been as effective in the first three quarters, even when coaches were still trying to figure out the blitz package?

JB: I think so, but teams look for us to run that. Man, we did some down-hill running last week! I think we were just giving them a different look. They were expecting us to come out with the counters and the shotgun package. We went back to it at the end of the game once we had them thinking about something else. I thought it was good coaching all around. We knew Nebraska was going to come out gung-ho and trying to get us. They were having their own turmoil. Our coaches kept us in the game and kept plugging. A lot of people thought the game was over in the third quarter. There was still a lot of football to play and we kept plugging. We pulled it out and I thought we had some real good coaching.

Q: What changes will you need to be make in diet, strength and conditioning now that you expect to be part of the All-American Football League's inaugural Draft in January?

JB: [Laughing] I'm going to have to change a lot of things. Actually, I wasn't going to do too much until after the Draft. I wasn't going to waste my time getting in shape if I didn't necessarily need to. I eat pretty well and I'm in pretty good shape. I play basketball and do some light lifting. I need to increase my core strength. I need to be a lot more powerful with my muscles and in my movement to perform in a football game. I'll do more power-lifting so I can be bigger, faster and stronger.

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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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