Friday, October 29, 2010

What is Ailing the Longhorns?

With the Longhorns third loss of the season, and second at home to a double digit unranked opponent, things are looking pretty bleak in Austin this year.  The problem is pretty obvious: the offense isn’t scoring any points, and root cause is Greg Davis’s system, or lack thereof. 
Given that Texas routinely recruits some of the top talent in the state, rebuilding years should still be fairly successful, and they are, many programs would kill for a 3-loss season.  Texas recruits great players, but great players aren’t always the right players.  The trend, however, has been to recruit the best player available and mold the offense around their talent, and that is a symptom of not having a system guiding recruiting needs.
Cedric Golden wrote on that the Longhorns should return to what they do best: the spread.  I agree.  The problem is that the success of the Texas spread offense was predicated by very (in Young’s case extremely) athletic quarterbacks, and as of right now, Garret Gilbert is not that kind of QB.  He is tremendously talented, and in time he could develop into a great spread QB, but right now he seems like Chris Simms 2.0.  Meanwhile, Darron Thomas, a less touted recruit from Houston, is near-flawlessly running a high octane spread in Oregon, he would have been a great candidate to run a Texas spread system, if Texas was committed to an offensive system.
Greg Davis appears to have no system in place and because of that Texas cannot recruit players that fit into an established offensive scheme.  Texas ran the spread quite successfully from late 2004 through 2009, so that can be considered a ‘system,’ but it is easy to forget that early in Vince Young’s career he was forced into the same run-first pro-style offense ran by Applewhite, Simms, and Mock before moving to the zone-read spread.  To their credit, Texas did aggressively recruit Ryan Perrilloux, a great fit to continue running the Young’s offense, but seemingly gave up pursing that kind of player once he chose LSU over Texas.
Putting more emphasis on the running game is actually a great idea, but the right players were not in place this season, that is why a return to the spread is needed to salvage this season.  Even if Gilbert is not an ideal spread QB, the Texas running backs have the necessary speed.  Ironically enough, Texas’s top incoming recruit, Malcolm Brown, looks to be the stud running back needed this year.
It is the inconsistency that is the most frustrating!  I know Davis isn’t going anywhere as long as Mack Brown is coaching, so I won’t call for his firing.  Unfortunately, as long as there is no established scheme on offense Texas will continue to go through frustrating transition seasons while the offense adapts itself to its talent.  Call me crazy, but I think it should work the other way around.
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