Brown Wants More Speed On Offense, Defense

Even in college football, speed kills -- but only if the other team has more of it. Head coach <B>Mack Brown</b>'s commitment to getting more speed on the field (particularly on defense, where Texas desperately needed it five years ago) has been enough to post consecutive 11-win seasons but not enough to win those elusive "two more games" that would bring home a national title.

That is why a part of the emphasis of the Texas off-season strength and conditioning program is increasing both lateral quickness and foot quickness of Longhorn players.

"Defensively we want to get more speed on the field," Brown said. "We want to get more (QB) pressure out of our front four. We've been working on that since we've been here, but we're still not getting what we need. Cory Redding had the most sacks on the team. He did a good job; the other guys didn't get there."

Brown wants his secondary to play more zone defense and disguise its man coverage better this season. At the same time, Texas absolutely has to tackle better in 2003.

"I didn‘t think we tackled as well last year," Brown said. "We lost two games in the fourth quarter. We thought some of it was injuries, some of it was conditioning, but some of it was tackling. Against OU, I didn't think we looked like we tackled well. The thing that our defense felt like it should have done more against OU in the fourth quarter was blitz more, to get after them and try to force them into some mistakes instead of standing there and get blocked. We didn't get off blocks very well."

Brown's need for speed applies also to his quarterbacks, even though Chance Mock and Vince Young individually bring more speed than the head coach has had at that position since his first spring training here in 1998.

"The quarterbacks are more mobile. That's obvious," Brown said. "We are looking at things that will help their mobility, which will help our offense. We'll look at it the next two weeks, but we'll probably change some things in the spring," Brown said. "There will be more things with our quarterback moving with the ball in his hands. We're looking hard at the option, but it's something we just haven't been able to get to."

While Brown wants more speed on both sides of the ball, he covets consistency in the kicking game.

"At times, we've shown the ability to be real good in the kicking game," Brown added, "but at other times we were not. What (graduating senior) Brian Bradford did real well was catch the ball and get it off. He would drop the ball inside the 20 (yard line) well."

For every Bradford boomer that sailed 50 yards, it seemed there was also a 15-yard shank. The scary thing is Bradford was the most consistent kicker Texas had last season, and now Brown must look for one of the guys already on campus (Justin Smith, Richmond McGee, Taylor Landin) to step up this spring.

Brown has repeatedly said that he prefers to reserve scholarships for guys who can both punt and kick-off, and that may (or may not) have been Geoffrey Price, who reneged on his verbal commitment to Texas and signed with Notre Dame.

"Did we lose anything? Who knows?" Brown surmised. "I don't know if he would have been the answer. I do know that we have won 11 games without wasting but one scholarship on the kicking game until we find the great one. We're trying to find a great one and not mess with a chance (punters). Because if you sign a chance (punter), it kills us."

Smith can easily sail it 60 yards; he can just as easily turn in a 20-yard stinker. No one would be surprised if Landin landed the starting punter position and was said to be Texas' most consistent kicker (yet not the most experienced) by the end of last season.

Spring drills begin February 24 at Frank Denius Field.

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