Finding Something To Be Concerned About

Technical analysis: a coach's look at the Longhorns' fullback performance in the Baylor game:

If it weren't for my son's final soccer game of the year (and the $2.50 trophy presentation that followed), I would have been among the thousands at DKR Memorial on Saturday, basking in the beautiful sunshine. Instead, I had to watch tape of a $30 pay-per-view slaughter. Therefore, I am going to try my best to find something in the game to pick on. Sometimes I am a little too rosy for many of you, and today I will probably be a little too negative for many of you. That's O.K. — it all balances out.

I must say that I found it hard to find something to be concerned about. The offensive line did a good job for the most part. I can't say anything negative about the play calling, because I don't think Baylor ever stopped the Horns. Chris Simms looked fantastic. According to Spike Dykes' commentary on the pay-per-view, everyone looked fantastic. For the most part, Spike was right on. I only take exception with one of his comments. When he said that Ivan Williams has soft hands, is a good blocker, and is big. Hey, Spike, two out of three isn't bad.

Ivan Williams, all things considered, is a pretty good fullback. He has given UT a weapon it has not had in years. However, I think he takes UT's running game a notch lower instead of a notch higher. I don't want to start writing a "Strength in Numbers" column, but I do want to point out the numbers in this argument.

20-64. That's the number of tailback carries and yards on those carries when Ivan was the fullback against the vaunted Baylor defense. To compare, Matt Trissel led the tailbacks for 4 carries for 15 yards, which isn't a whole lot better. However, Matt Trissel's plays came when UT was backed up against their own goal line. To this point, my harpings have been between Ivan Williams and Matt Trissel. Will Matthews threw his name into the hat on Saturday, though. UT tailbacks rushed for 113 yards on just 15 carries when he was in the game. Not too shabby if you ask me. Do we have a fullback controversy in Austin right now? No, we don't, and we probably never will unless the Longhorns revert back to the Wishbone.

Each fullback is different for the Horns. Without a doubt, Trissel is the best blocking fullback on the team. Is it worth losing a weapon to make another weapon more effective? I guess Greg Davis doesn't think so, and that's where he and I disagree. Ivan Williams has become a better blocker, but I think a few things hamper him right now. They are:

    1. Stance — Sometimes, I wonder why Ivan Williams even bothers to put his hand on the ground. So much weight is distributed on his feet that his forward acceleration is hampered. If he would put a little more weight on his hand, he would hit the initial block a little bit quicker. In turn, the seam would be a little wider for Cedric Benson/Selvin Young (which is a whole different debate).
    2. Sense of Urgency — The stance isn't the only reason that Ivan hits the hole so much slower than Trissel or Matthews. Williams could do a better job of getting to the point of attack. Maybe this is just a continuation of my first point; maybe it's a whole different problem.
    3. Pad Level — Right now, Trissel does a great job of making blocks. Ivan does more "catching blocks", where the defender gets into his pads, instead of the other way around. A lot of this is because of stance. A lot of this is because of body flexibility and an understanding of leverage. You can tell Trissel has been a fullback for a while. Ivan Williams looks like a big tailback playing fullback.
    4. Knowing Where to Go — Though we all have our opinions of John Mackovic, one thing he said at a coaching clinic always stood out to me. He handed his players a card and asked them to write down the answer to two questions: "When do you play your best?" and "When do you move the fastest?" Most of the answers were some form of "I play my best when I know what I'm doing," and "I move the fastest when I know where I'm going." I'm still not sure that Ivan Williams has all of the intricacies of Davis' offense down yet. When he does understand everything, he will be a much better football player.

[Editor's note: This is Part One of Kissinger's analysis for the week. Part Two -- the first in a series of coaching critiques on the play of some of the Longhorn freshmen -- will be posted Wednesday evening.]

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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