Ask James Brown

Former Longhorn QB and NFL Europe star James Brown answers your questions on the Longhorns' ‘offensive identity', what to do with John Chiles and what to accomplish with a season-opener.

Legendary Longhorn QB James Brown (1994-97) returns to Inside Texas for his second season to answer your Texas football-related questions. Brown led Texas to three consecutive conference titles, including the inaugural Big 12 Conference championship. If you have a question for James, please submit it to, with the subject "Ask James" by 5 p.m., Tuesday. Brown's column will appear Wednesday's during football season.

Q: Texas coaches emphasize the importance of forming an ‘offensive identity' as a prerequisite to an established game-plan, but they have also said it may take until the third or fourth game this season. What are the most important aspects of creating a successful ‘offensive identity'?

BROWN: Keep It Simple, Smarty. That's what I've always been taught. It's all about getting the terminology out of the coach's head and into the quarterback's mouth and then to the huddle. It's all about keeping the terminology simple and teaching the kids the best they can. It just boils down to the staff. If you have good teachers, then the athletes will learn a lot.

As for my personal opinion about ‘offensive identity', I like the I (formation). You can do so much more with a power game.

Q: If Texas' offensive coordinator has been in position for 10 years and the team recruits outstanding talent, how could we head into our fourth game of the season (as coaches have indicated as a possibility) still trying to find our ‘offensive identity'?

BROWN: Every year, you start all over again. You always have new guys coming in, and there's always old talent that you have to replace. You have a few players that are above the rest in that they study all year and are always thinking about football. You have guys who played third (team) roles who now are playing first and second (team) roles. Every year it changes. When I played, every year we built on our offense. We won the Big 12 (title) in 1996 when I was junior and, by then, we were built up as a team. We had a lot of offensive power. We had a lot of plays, and everybody knew what was going on. But then we had 22 seniors leave and had a bunch of freshmen (in 1997). We were still building on the third year of that offense. We should have gone back to the basics that (1997) season. It hurt us. Guys didn't know what was going on. We had talent, but guys were never on the same page. They were thinking too much.

Q: How should a talented backup QB like John Chiles be incorporated in the game plan?

BROWN: He needs to be on the field. I don't know what (offensive coordinator) Greg Davis has in store. (Note: Chiles has lined up at FL and has also motioned from that spot to RB. He is also expected to handle a few series each game at QB). I would say that's a good start. I've never talked to Chiles, but I'm sure he wants to be on the field. It's pretty hard to get a quarterback to switch (positions) but someone with his athletic ability knows that he's just as big, as fast and as strong as the running backs. He knows he can play that position. It's just a matter of pride with a lot of quarterbacks. If he can push that aside he can help the team win because he can shine at any position.

Q: Given that offenses keep it basic in early games, what did you most want to accomplish in a season-opener?

BROWN: My deal was winning. That was my objective. But, specifically as a quarterback, you want to come out sharp in your first game. You want to complete your first pass. You want to make your first audible correctly. The first games are usually not huge games (in terms of opponent), so there's not as much pressure. You want to get down to a ‘practice feel' after the first few plays. You want to make your reads and audibles and checks that you've been working on. You want to be able to recognize it the first time you see it in a game.


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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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