FanPost

Presidents and Coordinators

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What have our beloved Longhorns shown us through five weeks of football? Chiefly that reality cares little for our attempts to forecast the future. So far this season our Offense and Defense are making our preseason notions of what the 2012 Football Longhorns would look like appear as misguided as the decision to grant Bill Little access to a keyboard that's actually hooked up to a computer. I have a theory as to why this is, and please believe me when I say I am well aware that this could easily come off as committing the narrative fallacy and passing it off as foresight. You'll have to either trust me when I tell you that I would punch myself in many, many sensitive areas if I ever caught myself doing such a thing, or you could just berate me mercilessly in the comments. Whichever you choose, I probably deserve it.

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That out of the way, in those many months of torment preceding the season, the time when turning on ESPN was most likely to lead to watching golf, baseball, or horse racing, I read everything I could get me eyes on that pertained to the 2012 Football Longhorns and nodded along while I read prognostications of a near-elite defense and an offense that would probably struggle early but pick up steam as the season wore on. In the back of my mind, though, I always thought "not so fast my friend. Maybe the opposite happens." This is the part where I get to the point and state my thesis in a way that would make a High School writing teacher shake their head. "You did not state your thesis at the end of the first paragraph and then develop it in the standard three body paragraphs followed by a conclusion tying it all together.” Sorry, Mr. Youngblood but I always thought you were too much of a traditionalist. What do presidents and coordinators have in common? Well, aside from getting too much credit when things go well, and too much blame when things go poorly... as an aside, we could probably throw in QB's if that was my entire point... they both inherit the failures and successes of their predecessors. Sometimes this works out well for them, sometimes not so much. I forego providing real life examples from the political realm out of fear of generating a political debate and bringing a Rushdie-esque fatwa on myself because someone missed the point and has a victim complex. Here's where I theorize and could be possibly full of shit…

Manny Diaz is thought of as a cerebral schemer, a man of stats and balls. Moneyballs. He is famous for never having played the game, but developed the 2011 defense with many question marks in the preseason into a QB demoralizing, ball-hawking, Swope vanishing beast. We finished at the top of conference in almost every important statistical category. This is known. The common conclusion was that Manny Diaz is a genius. While this may still be true, the current fundamental flaws of the 2012 defense have us wondering what has changed. I propose that what has changed is that Diaz was scheming with players that were taught good fundamentals by Will Muschamp, and he is now using players that he has taught himself. As long as Duane Akina is around, Texas will have a decent secondary. But the linebackers are not taught by Duane Akina, nor are they taught by Bo Davis or Oscar Giles. They are taught by Manny Diaz, and they used to be taught by Will Muschamp. Where is our defense the weakest at this point? The linebackers. Are they lacking in talent or athleticism? No. So, why did our rushing defense that has been stout under Will Muschamp and was stout under Manny Diaz for a year suddenly take a plunge? I think it's because the teaching of fundamentals to the linebackers has taken a plunge. Perhaps the fundamentals of a position are taught best by someone who has done what they are teaching at a similar level of the game. When Manny Diaz came to Texas, he inherited a defense of experienced players in the linebacking unit, and some on the defensive line. The secondary was the question mark going into his first season as DC, but they overachieved and surprised us all. The D-line and linebackers played tentatively at first, but once they started attacking instead of thinking and reacting they dominated in Manny's aggressive scheme. While the scheme no doubt put them in position to make plays, their fundamentals were the foundation for everything they did well and Manny Diaz was recipient of a sizeable inheritance in linebacker teaching from Will Muschamp.

On to Bryan Harsin. He is a smart man, He played QB, and now coaches the QB position in addition to orchestrating offense. Bryan Harsin brought with him from Boise State a reputation as a man who called an offense with genius in it. This is known. The question was the source of the genius. Was it really Bryan Harsin, or was it Chris Petersen channeled through Harsin. Bryan Harsin inherited from Greg Davis an offense of juniors and seniors who were not Texas standard. These sub-Texas standard players were supposed to play positinos important to any offense, and very important the offense Harsin runs. This being known, Harsin was granted patience and understanding from the portion of the Texas fanbase capable of higher level cognition than "I SEE PROBLEMS. HARSIN NO FIX EVERYTHING." Fortunately for me, I had the benefit of reading intelligent analysis on Barking Carnival and assimilating the wisdom found therein into an understanding that time will be needed to develop the young talent on the team, particularly that at QB which was thrown into the fire way too soon, the O-line, and that miasma we knew as tight end. One year later, our patience, for those of us capable of such a thing, was rewarded with a QB laughing at our notion of a development curve, tight ends doing tight end-y things much of the time (one on one handling of a defensive end notwithstanding), and offensive line that is grasping the scheme and executing coherent blocking schemes well most of the time. Despite being Chauncey in the DIRECTV commercial when it came to inheriting well taught, talented players with sound fundamentals, Harsin has made his doubters look foolish.

I think you all get my point, but just in case Mr. Youngblood is reading, I'll make some concluding remarks that belabor my thesis and attempt to show how my dubious evidence supports it. Manny inherited some good talent that was taught well, and they eventually thrived as they developed an instinctive understanding of what his scheme wanted from them. Thus, Manny Diaz was a god in the latter part of 2011. Harsin wasn’t quite so lucky in the inheritance proceedings, and as a result suffered the wrath of fans conditioned by modern society to expect instant gratification. The true story line of 2012 thus far has scoffed at our preconceived notions and revealed that we may have given Diaz too much credit for the deeper forces at work he inherited from his predecessor, and some of us may have blamed Harsin too much for things out of his control. The side plot in which flaws in my understanding may be revealed is my hypothesis that the key difference between Harsin and Diaz one year later is that Harsin played the position he teaches and his teaching benefits from the understanding only experience can provide, whereas Diaz did not and does not. As a result, we have a potent offense working in a beautiful scheme led by a QB who is exceeding expectations, and on the other side of the ball we have a defense that has us shaking our heads as our rush defense is gashed and our linebackers mistakes render the scheme ineffective. Prove me wrong Manny. Whip those linebackers into shape. Not literally, though. We can't afford any more injuries.

So what say you? Am I on to something, or am I full of shit?

Be excellent to each other.

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