Applewhite and Muschamp Bring New Fire

The Texas Longhorns finally hit the practice fields for the first time in 2008. Friday was also the debut of running backs coach Major Applewhite and defensive coordinator Will Muschamp and the dynamic of the new coaches could be felt by fans and players.

It didn't matter where one stood on the Denius Practice Fields on Friday, the sound of Will Muschamp could still be heard.

The fiery defensive coordinator made his presence felt as the team began spring practice, yelling as players executed drills, forcefully making his point while correcting his athletes and firing up those around him.

And that's just Day 1. Muschamp said it's an attitude he wants to bring to every workout.

"You want the players to take the personality of their coach, that's the way I've always looked at it, and I want our players to play excited and have fun," said Muschamp.

The offensive side of the ball also picked up a new coach in former Longhorn quarterback Major Applewhite. Last season Applewhite was a co-offensive at Alabama, but returned to his alma mater as the Longhorns' running backs coach. While he does not bring as noisy a demeanor as his colleague, Muschamp, offensive coordinator Greg Davis noted an excitement in the air that came from the two new coaches.

"I think the first day of spring, hopefully, is going to be enthusiastic, but I don't think there's any question that Will and Major brought a renewed excitement and a renewed enthusiasm," said Davis.

Davis should know. Both Applewhite and Muschamp are actually former players of his. Davis was Applewhite's offensive coordinator when he quarterbacked the Longhorns and Muschamp was a safety at Georgia when Davis was the Bulldogs' passing game coordinator. Davis said he's continued to see the same intensity from Muschamp over the years.

"Well, he is wired and he expects that from his players," said Davis. "That's what you see. That's the way he was as a player and that's what you see. That's what I saw when I was at Georgia. That's the way he played and you can see that as a coach."

But where did the fire come from? Muschamp has a simple explanation: Necessity.

"Your intensities, sometimes, have to overcome your talents," said Muschamp. "I wasn't very talented (as a player), so I had to overcome it with intensity. As for coaching, I don't have a whole lot of experience, so I try to overcome it with intensity and get the guys to play that way."

At 36, Muschamp is a relatively young coordinator, but the 29-year-old Applewhite is even less experienced in the coaching game. However, Davis points to Applewhite's breadth of knowledge.

"He's come a long way and he's been in three different systems, so that's helped broaden his horizons. He's got some good thoughts and plus he's got a great grasp of what we're trying to do," said Davis. "Major's going to do great. He has a great understanding of what we're doing and will do a great job with the backs."

Applewhite and Muschamp have also faced each other as coordinators. Last season, when Muschamp was the defensive coordinator at Auburn, his Tiger D faced an Alabama offense coached by Applewhite. What were Muschamp's thoughts on the face-off?

"We won," said Muschamp with a smile.

The relatively low-scoring affair was a 17-10 win for Auburn, but playful ribbing aside, Muschamp said he has tremendous respect for Applewhite.

"He's an outstanding football coach and he did a great job here as a player and a graduate assistant. I thought (Alabama) was very multiple on offense. It's always tough in your first year of transition with a whole staff and that's what they were in...I thought they did a great job rallying their team," said Muschamp.

Texas resumes practice at 9 a.m. on Saturday morning and it will be the last that will be open to the public before the spring scrimmage on March 29th.


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