Mack Brown Does the Coaching Staff Shuffle

Head football coach <B>Mack Brown </B>has shuffled the deck of his offensive coaching staff, anticipating the realignment will produce a winning hand in his team&#146;s running game next season. The official announcement came Monday (although changes have been in the works since last week) after Brown completed his annual evaluation of his program.

The moves are essentially geared to jump-start what was one of Texas’ poorest rushing offenses in school history, finishing No. 74 nationally (135.5 ypg) in 2002.

Brown hired LSU running backs coach Mike Haywood as his running back coach and assistant special teams coordinator.

The fall guy is offensive guards/centers coach Tim Nunez, who will not return for a sixth season at that position. Offensive tackles and tight ends Mac McWhorter, in his second year at the Forty Acres, will now serve as offensive line coach. Bruce Chambers, who has coached running backs for the past five years, will become the tight ends coach.

Brown countered UCLA’s attempt to hire defensive backs coach Duane Akina as its defensive coordinator. Akina, who coached the nation’s No. 9 pass defense in 2002, will become Texas assistant head coach while receivers coach Darryl Drake has been promoted to associate head coach.

Obviously, LSU’s rushing attack in its 35-20 Cotton Bowl loss to junior wideout Roy Williams, er, Texas only confirmed what Brown likes about Haywood. The Tigers netted 248 yards on the ground on 49 attempts, the third highest total of the season (Nebraska 47-320, Oklahoma 46-266) against the Longhorn defense.

Haywood was a four-year letterman at Notre Dame and has been an assistant coach on the collegiate level for the past 15 years. The Houston native has spent the last eight seasons as LSU’s running backs coach and was the Tigers' special teams coordinator in 2002. Last season, LSU had the nation’s No. 29 rushing attack, averaging 196.9 yards-per-game, or 4.59 yards-per-carry.

Brown is known as one who is fiercely loyal to his staff, but he is no idiot. Texas’s 3.45 yards-per-rush last year is the lowest since the 1988 team managed but 3.4 yards-per-carry in that horrific 4-7 season. The Horns were held to less than 100 yards rushing five times in 2002 and barely eclipsed the century mark against Texas A&M (40-102). Texas’ 27 yards on 34 attempts in the season-opener against North Texas "made me want to throw up," Brown said halfway through an otherwise solid 11-2 season.

Sophomore RB Cedric Benson, hampered by turf toe and apparently a broken rib suffered against Oklahoma (Benson did not reveal the rib injury until a few days before the Cotton Bowl), rushed for more than 1,000 yards but passed the century mark only three times all season (North Carolina, Houston, Iowa State).

The Longhorns open spring drills on Monday, Feb. 24. Texas kicks off the 2003 season at Royal-Memorial Stadium against New Mexico State, August 30. In the current issue of Sports Illustrated, Texas is listed as a preseason No. 5, behind Ohio State, Oklahoma, Georgia and Miami.

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