With the Humidor shut down for renovations until next week, I did have a chance to catch up to everybody’s favorite part of the balance sheet—The Asset. Although he was brief and asked me not to reveal a significant amount of information in the interest of the program, he still provided some valuable tidbits about this week’s practice.
We’ll start with the overall sentiment in the locker room with respect to preparing for ISU. If the team is looking past ISU, they’re hiding it pretty well. The coaches have done a tremendous job reminding the team that Iowa State essentially ruined Texas’ season in 2010 by starting the tailspin with their upset victory in Austin. If you recall, the Horns seemed to have had gotten their mojo back after whipping the Huskers in Lincoln, and the Cyclones turned the momentum 180 degrees in the other direction. Needless to say the players and coaches are focused and looking for revenge this Saturday.
As for practice, Tuesday’s practice from top to bottom wasn’t all that energized or crisp but The Asset tells us that there was more bounce in the Horns’ step on Wednesday even if there were plenty of miscues and mistakes.
The interesting thing about today is that David Ash got about 80% of the starters snaps and The Asset claims that if you were to use today as an indication of who will start this Saturday, then David Ash would be that guy. He ran the Ash package some, but he got PLENTY of work with the more conventional package of plays meaning he was dropping back and making throws from the pocket down the field. The Asset says that Ash made some mistakes and some ill advised throws, however, and he’ll need to get better in game situations if he wants to continue to vie for the starting job. Still, look for Ash to make his debut as more of a true passing threat in the game against ISU.
Overall on the offensive side of the ball, if you were watching practice these last two weeks, you would think Harsin was calling plays from his X-box instead of his play sheet. In other words, there were gadgets galore and most of these plays seemed be designed to take advantage of an aggressive defense that struggles with discipline and assignment football. If you’re thinking they're for OU then I think you’re on the right track, but ISU’s defensive scheme and man to man concepts lends credence to the theory that we may unveil some of these plays up in Ames this weekend. The added benefit would be to get as much on tape as possible right before OU so Brent Venables has his players chasing ghosts and running down rabbit holes when the two teams square off in Dallas.
One particular play the Horns have run in the last three practices is designed to punish nosy safeties. It’s a play that we can only use once and more than likely goes for a 50 yard TD if we catch either the Cyclones or Sooners’ secondary looking in the backfield. We’ve also worked on a new wrinkle in the wide receiver screen game that should pay dividends and open things up by keeping defenses honest. Add these two looks to three or more gadgets that we’ll run in the coming weeks and it’s no wonder that Diaz had Harsin’s offense appropriately tabbed as "guys jumping out of helicopters and coming out of manholes".
The Asset also tells us of some interesting personnel moves going on with the team. Onyegbule and Thompson are getting looks in the Wildcat formation but aren’t taking enough snaps to make you think they’ll play there this weekend. Shipley and Whitaker will continue in the Wildcat role if this week was any indication, while it appears Thompson and Onyegbule are simply running the Ash package in case of injury. Obviously this isn’t set in stone since we’re talking about Harsin and it’s tough to guess what he’ll draw up from his laboratory in Bellmont, but I’d be surprised if Thompson takes QB snaps based on what The Asset says.
At wide receiver, Darius White has been put on notice that he needs to step right in and take over for John Harris. The coaches are using positive and negative reinforcement to encourage White we’re told. The Asset tells us that Harsin himself pulled Darius aside, telling the young man that his team needs him because he’s a special talent at a thin position. Wyatt, however, seems to be the stick to Harsin’s carrot by making it perfectly clear to White that he has to earn his snaps and his team’s trust or he’ll be right back where he was just after the BYU game. The Asset tells us that White gave really good effort this week in both the passing game and the running game, but time will tell if this enigmatic sophomore performs when the lights come on.
The Asset also says the Oline performed well the last two days, in particular Snow and Hopkins with the ones. The Asset warns us not to sleep on Sedrick Flowers, however. The Asset tells us that the true freshman is opening some eyes and leapfrogging some older players based on his play the last two weeks. He’ll get more snaps as the season wears on because Flowers is the prototypical Harsin guard--a mauler that can pull.
On defense, it continues to look like Edmond and Cobbs are being groomed for significant snaps on defense with the ones. Edmond is needed to control the running game in between the tackles, and Cobbs, as The Asset reported last week, is finally healthy and ready to give Diaz that dynamic stunting linebacker off the edge. It’s good news all the way around in this respect--two coordinators, leaving no stone unturned from a personnel or scheme standpoint, proving they’ll do whatever it takes to improve this young football team.
Refreshing, isn’t it?