Summa Spreadologiae

I'd like to start this post by repenting for overlooking the way Colt played here by brushing aside his accomplishments in my praise of Gilbert's natural skills.

I still believe Gilbert has the potential to carry on the tradition of excellence established my Vince and Colt but my appreciation for how Colt gutted out victories in 09 is growing every week. Thanks Colt.

My views on the big picture situation we are seeing with this football team are very well encapsulated by the jesus over at recruitocosm and Scipio in his exasperated post-mortem.

In sum, there is little that Mack now offers to this team save for an obstacle in keeping Muschamp in Austin.

Granting the assumption, as I hope you will, that Texas needs a new coordinator and vision on offense the question becomes what that plan should look like. What kind of offense should Texas be running considering the resources available, the most common opponents, and the current strengths of the team.

For a disgusting example of an offense that is very simply designed with those factors in mind I call your attention to Kevin Wilson's Sooner offense.

Their basic thinking is similar to our own, that their athletes will be better than yours and their scheme looks to make that simple fact a very clear truth over the course of 4 quarters.

The major difference is that Davis tries to maximize the talent advantages by running a simple but difficult to master offense whose execution is beyond what most college defenses can handle...assuming it can be executed.

Wilson maximizes his talent advantage by building around the major consistent advantage you can always have at premier universities, talent in the trenches.

They base around the run and they use the spread to isolate your players against theirs and then the no-huddle to force you to win isolated matchups against superior athletes over and over and over again.

Nothing they do is very complicated, they run inside-outside zone like everyone else mixed with a very good trap play that offers good angles. From their it's bootleg, play-action, screens, throws to the sideline, etc. If you are either over-matched by their line or undisciplined in your assignments they will blow you out. If you have comparable talent and well-coached schemes they become imminently beatable.

It's a perfect basic strategy for a major-level program that will insure that their offense is consistently solid with the potential for dominance in years like 2008 when the line is experienced and there are NFL draft picks at the skill positions.

Short of doing basically exactly the same things, what would maximize Texas' advantages on offense?

Resources:

While the spread has taken hold in Texas High School football the abundance of athletes means that an intelligent staff backed by a great S&C program can always find and make players to fit any offense. However, since the spread is clearly the best offense in football and helps teams with elite talent get playmakers in position to make plays, Texas should be taking advantage of the preponderance of spread-ready high school stars.

You can, and I will, divide quarterbacks into 4 basic categories in regards to their skill set:

Guys that throw well and run bad: Greg McElroy

Guys that throw well and run okay: Colt McCoy, Garret Gilbert, Chase Daniel, Zac Robinson

Guys that run well and throw okay: Josh Nesbitt, Taylor Martinez, Russel Shepard

The great ones: Vince Young, Robert Griffin

Texas should be gunning for guys only in the latter 3 categories. With Wood, McCoy and Gilbert QB runs can be involved 10-12 times per game (sort of the plan) while that number obviously increases with a guy like Griffin or T-Magic.

Even if they have no idea how to use them, Texas has not struggled of late to find the shifty playmakers that can wreak havoc in the spread like Goodwin or the rare Percy Harvin.

Most Common Opponents:

It looked like Texas was going to take advantage of a league where every defense was being recruited and designed to stop the wide-open passing attacks with the jack'n'jill running game and a talented interior. Instead, virtually every Texas opponent has found such holes in the Texas defense.

Regardless, the fact that Texas can choose their linemen from a state rich in talent means that our Horns are criminally incompetent if they fail to take advantage and build a running game that can punish all the non-OU teams in the Big 12 who will rarely have NFL-caliber tackles to hold down the middle of the field.

Balanced scheme guarantees that Texas has superior weapons to attack the Big 12 defenses wherever they are weak. The spread utilizing a QB who can run builds automatic balance into an offense.

Current Strengths:

We know the defense will be good at Texas as long as Muschamp is here. He's recruiting the best athletes in the country, he's developing them and then he's deploying them with the cutting edge schemes in defensive football. The Texas offense is used to carrying the water around here and it shows when Davis eschews the run-game approach for the season and attempts to do things that result in "sudden change", bad field position, and rarely sustained drives. He's clearly bitter about playing 2nd fiddle to Muschamp even if he's not interested in putting in the work necessary to take back the edge in practice.

Given that Texas has the advantages that can lead to a consistent running game and a conference full of opponents who can't stop it that leaves a pretty direction for the offense to take, no?

Names:

A lot of people would surely like for Texas to target Holgorsen from our upcoming opponent and if he bests Muschamp in round 1 for the top young coordinator belt that will surely increase that sentiment. For me, while he is clearly very flexible and inventive I'm guessing he would not push Texas in the direction of running-based football where I think we should be heading.

Applewhite's another popular choice and I'm not sure exactly what kind of scheme he would opt for at this point in his career. Early on he was heavily influenced by Davis but at this point he seems to have passed him by. He's also learned from Saban so your guess is as good as mine to what his foundational offense would look like.

Apart from these two local choices I don't have a list of names but would defer to Muschamp's judgement and so should Mack.

Basketball:

Last time we checked in here Rick Barnes had just lead what we expected to be a dynamic and loaded squad to the most frustrating basketball season of my life as a Longhorn fan. The high priest of the Nickel Rover temple assures me that auspices are better this season.

For instance, we are seeing the team assume an interesting take on the classical "us vs. the world" method of motivating team cohesion by blaming last year's seniors.

Matt Hill, Dogus Balbay, and our now de facto backup small forward Gary Johnson have assembled a coalition to sweep the locker room elections on a platform of "eff James and Pittman." The new government is looking strong early.

Jordan Hamilton addressed the team with an apology for his occasionally selfish play last season and is clearly a guy we need to have a big year to see the kind of success that will ease the pain of having to see Greg Davis' good name dragged through the mud. After seeing the home game against OU when the team was sparked to victory with a few Hamilton-made offensive possessions that had the team more excited than any other series I saw that year I wonder if his ascendancy to a larger role on last year's team was blocked by the influence of the senior leadership.

At any rate, the team has been purged by the departure of the seniors, Avery Bradley, Varez Ward and Shaun Williams. The latter 3 would surely have been talented assets but last year demonstrated the need for chemistry and team offense/defense.

The results are already available in the forms of an early 83-52 victory over the Midshipmen and 89-58 triumph over La Tech. Not having observed Thucydibarnes brilliant naval achievement at Salamerwin center I can only point you towards the observations of those who did and offer my take on the trusty box score.

Success in basketball comes from securing possession and protecting those possessions with efficient shooting and an avoidance of turnovers. It's these simple principles that result in Laker finals victories year after year rather than the extraordinary abilities of Kobe in hitting contested shots at the rate of an average player shooting within the flow of an offense, but I digress.

In this instance, the triremes were advanced on the backs of Hamilton and Johnson in leading Texas to a 50 to 30 advantage in both rebounds and shooting percentage over the Midshipmen and 47-41 rebounding edge against La Tech.

While the offense slowly evolves into a conceptually superior unit it's essential that they protect the ball and the glass as though they were defending the pass of Thermopylae because they aren't really a sizable group.

Gary Johnson is the key here as a "glue guy" who does the things like rebounding, drawing fouls, and scoring efficiently which actually win games. Hill is more aptly compared to adhesive as a passer into the low post and extra screening surface on the perimeter or on the baseline. If Wangmene can give 10-12 minutes per game of defensive harassment, rebounding, rim protection and occasional missed Balbay-layup corrections officer then all the better.

Shaun clearly saw the writing on the wall with Hamilton and it makes GJ all the more important as one of our only options at the 3 should Jordan be injured or incur too many fouls.

With a more wide-open attack that emphasizes the transition game, steals and doesn't plant a 300 pounder in the paint I'm a much bigger fan of seeing Turkish Delight on the court. It's hard not to root for a guy who puts in such effort and has such dazzling athleticism.

Brown has some exciting abilities but until his turnovers decrease he has to sit on the bench because this team can't afford them at the rate they are shooting right now. Between him, Balbay and Joseph Texas has a good cast of guards to initiate fast break opportunities that will be essential in scoring enough to keep up with the Jayhawks and Wildcats.

Which brings us to Tristan Thompson. Rebounder, finisher around the rim, defensive presence. If he can grow into the role of defensive anchor and rack up easy baskets on feeds and transition baskets he sets a high ceiling for this team. I hope to God he sticks around for a year of Wright Conditioning and Myck Kabongo.

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