Can Muschamp Bring the 'Boom'?

Upon his arrival, defensive coordinator Will Muschamp was given a great deal of control over the Texas football program and he began instituting a new scheme, new drills and a new attitude. But will the changes brought by Muschamp result in a stronger defense in the fall? Can Muschamp, as he did at Auburn, bring the 'boom'?

"I wasn't prepared for this," said Rashad Bobino. "Even though he's my fourth coach and all of them bring something new, he's out there. He is intense."

The Texas senior linebacker had no idea what he was getting into when he stepped onto the Frank Denius Practice Fields for the first day of spring ball. He was met with the full force of yelling, raving, screaming Will Muschamp. When practice began, it was not the practice Bobino had become used to in his four previous years at Texas. Muschamp jumped down any players' throat when he was taking a lazy step and demanded intensity in every drill.

When the pads came on, it got much more intense. The Longhorn defenders were told to hit and hit and hit again. Instead of players being told to 'thud' on every play -- Texas' term for a wrap-up but no tackle -- Muschamp began handing out the 'Hard Hat Award', which is given to players who level a big hit in practice.

But this 'Hard Hat' is not a meaningless trophy. If a player gets the award for knocking the snot out of a ball-carrier, he's immediately moved into the starting role in practice. Needless to say, this placed a priority on learning to hit.

"(The previous starter) may be doing well but if a player gets that hat, he's bumped aside," said Bobino. "It's a big competition."

This policy of aggression, physically and competition should come as no surprise. This is Will Muschamp. This is a man who's most famous quote is screaming "Boom, mother(expletive)!" after his Auburn defense held Arkansas to a three-and-out.

He wants his players to bring that 'boom' to the field.

Texas defenders have each said they feed off the energy their coach displays every day in practice. Muschamp is hoping that remains the case and his intensity affects the players' intensity.

"I think that the players are a reflection of their coach and I told them that I want to be the most over-achieving defense in the country. We want to be a blue-collar defense, a blue-collar football team," said Muschamp.

This blue-collar attitude started on the first day of practice. When he arrived at Texas from Auburn, Muschamp immediately declared that players would be graded in practice each day and that the coaches would be keeping score in the workouts. Senior cornerback Ryan Palmer enjoys the competition and said the battles in practice will have a huge impact on results in the fall.

"If you don't get motivated off of competition then you shouldn't be playing this game,"said Palmer. "Just how you have to go out there every day, work hard and do your assignment, we have to go out there and make sure we don't mess up or we won't be out there playing."

One of the biggest changes has been in the play of junior cornerback Deon Beasley. When he arrived at Texas, Beasley preferred to be more of a finesse DB, primarily baiting quarterbacks, going for inceptions and shying away from big hits. That changed with Muschamp.

"Coming in I wasn't a very aggressive player. He told me that has to change for me to get on the field," said Beasley. "Coach Muschamp came in said you've got to be physical to get on the field, so therefore I had to change my whole mind frame just to play."

And it's not just the defensive players who have taken notice. Junior quarterback Colt McCoy has been taking some hits from his teammates. He, like the other QBs, wears the black jersey and isn't tackled on a regular basis like his offensive compatriots, but he said he's still feeling the heat.

"It's really intense. Coach Muschamp has brought an attitude where they're coming after you, they're going to hit you, they're going to strike you and it makes us work that much harder," said McCoy.

Muschamp has implemented a number of changes to the way Texas practices, including making 125-play scrimmages a commonality. The fiery coordinator has been given the freedom, essentially, to do whatever it takes to make sure the Longhorns bring attitude to the field.

But it's not all competition and screaming with Muschamp. Texas head coach Mack Brown said his defensive coordinator doesn't just yell at players who aren't giving their all, he praises the ones who bring it.

"He's not going to play you if you don't hustle, but he'll be the first one to pat you on the back and jump up and chest bump you if you do something well," said Brown. "I've really been impressed. You can't be hard on them all the time and he's got the great balance of both and the kids have bought into him."

Muschamp said he's been doing quite a bit of celebrating with the players in practice because of the attitude he's already seen from them.

"The kids have been great. We have smart kids here, football is important to them, they want to do well, they want to have success," said Muschamp. "They want to please you as a coach and it has been a great experience."

The players say they've bought in, Brown said there's a new fire in practice and Muschamp said his defense will be much more physical, but will it translate into more wins? Will he be successful in pulling the team up from ranking in the hundreds in pass defense? Will the defense be able to force more turnovers? Will some opponents actually fear the Texas defense, as they did many years ago?

For now, it's all just talk. But what Muschamp is talking about indicates that something is changing on the Texas football team.

"We're going to be fast, we're going to be physical, the kids are going to play hard or they're not going to play," said Muschamp.

Boom.


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