The Start of Something Big?

Technical analysis: a coach's look at the Longhorns' offensive performance in the Kansas State game:

After UT's disappointing loss last week to OU, I was eager to see how the Longhorns would react in their next tough situation. Luckily, I guess, I didn't have to wait long. Every trip to Manhattan, Kansas is a tough one, but in the first quarter the Horns found themselves up against the wall.

Just like several times last week, the Longhorns were buried deep in their own territory. The wind was blowing stiffly in their face. It was a tie game, and the Kansas State faithful were doing their best to make it hard on the Horns. What I saw in that one drive, even though it didn't end in a score, might be the start of something big for the Longhorns this year.

It was also interesting to see how Greg Davis would respond when his offense was starting on the five-yard line against a very talented defense. When it was time to fish or cut bait, he lined up in the straight I formation with Matt Trissel at fullback. Why that formation wasn't run more against OU is still a mystery to me.

The first two plays of the drive were the weakside ISO to Cedric Benson for a total of 10 yards. Although Trissel and the offensive line did a good job of blocking, Cedric really kept churning for the extra yards. On the third play of the drive, Chris Simms threw a jump ball to Roy Williams that he almost came down with. Instead, the Longhorns were faced with second-and-10 like they were so often the week before in Dallas. After a short screen to Robert Timmons for four yards, the Horns faced a third-and-six. I've always believed that when it comes to a pressure situation, you let your stars make plays. Texas did just that. Simms threw a quick slant to Roy Williams for eight yards and the first down.

After an offsides penalty on Kansas State, Benson touched the ball two more times for 6 yards and the first down. Then, on first down, the Longhorns got stopped for no gain. The plays on second and third down produced six yards, and Texas was forced to punt. Kansas State got the ball on the 19.

You might be screaming at your monitor right now, saying, "I read this column for insights…not play-by-play." And, you're right. However, as I watched the drive unfold, I gained more insights into the mind of Greg Davis than I have all year. I also wanted to point out how a non-scoring drive can prove to be the turning point in the game.

Here's what I learned about Greg Davis….

  1. He believes in the running game, and he realizes that the I formation with Matt Trissel is the best way to run the football. Even though it wasn't immensely successful, Kansas State was intent on stopping the run and praying for a Chris Simms mistake.
  2. Both he and Chris Simms have all the confidence in the world in Roy Williams, as they should. The Horns don't have anyone that makes the clutch catch like Roy when he is healthy. It seems that the mundane plays give him the most fits, and he makes the difficult catch look easy.
  3. Davis still believes in the five-wide offense, and I imagine he always will. I get the sense that he wants it to work so much, regardless if it works or not.
  4. I would bet my left ear that Greg Davis and Mack Brown had a long visit last week. I can imagine the conversation went like this: "Greg, I want to run the football out of the I with Matt Trissel as fullback. I want the ball thrown to Roy. I want to put Chris Simms in a position to succeed." However, Davis might have made the same conclusions of his own volition. But, it just doesn't have that feel.

I hope many of you have a chance to go back and enjoy that non-scoring drive at the end of the first quarter. I know I did, and I saw determination and fight in the Longhorns. And that gives me hope for the rest of the season.

Mark Kissinger has coached high school football in Texas and Tennessee, coaching OL, TE, WR, DT, DE, and serving as both an offensive coordinator and defensive coordinator. In high school, he was coached by the legendary G.A. Moore. Mark recently retired from coaching and received his M.B.A. from Rice University. His 'Technical Analysis' column will appear each week on

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