March 31, 2011

Harsin and Applewhite talk offense and Sunday's spring game

On Wednesday, we had a chance to catch up with offensive coordinators Bryan Harsin and Major Applewhite.


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Don't expect to see a whole lot of the offense during the spring game on Sunday.

"We want to go out there and execute some of our base stuff, some of the stuff we want to hang our hat on," Harsin said.


"Want to see them execute the plays and have fun and do what we've seen in practice up to this point.

"We want to see them compete, have energy and have fun. And we want to see them execute at the highest level they can."

Applewhite said even though fans won't see all the trick plays on Sunday, they are being worked on in practice.

"Unfortunately, in a spring game you don't show a whole bunch," Applewhite said. "So the fans may not see as much as they'd like. But I can promise you we are doing everything we can to give them an edge as far as scheme.

"We've worked on a lot of stuff, and there's a lot of new wrinkles. I'm excited about the new stuff. The players are thrilled. The coaches are excited. That's not a comment on anything we've done in the past. This is about the present, and the guys are really excited. We're ready to roll."

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Harsin said adding a new trick play happens at the end of practice, when the players have shown they can grasp the bread and butter stuff.

"Those things are rewards for guys executing your base offense," Harsin said. "Once guys are out there executing the base offense, you're able to put in some wrinkles and have some fun."

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The players are grasping the offense to the point where they are starting to point out mistakes to their teammates.

"They are starting to point out when a guy is lined up wrong," Applewhite said. "They are taking ownership of the offense. When they are the ones doing the pointing out, and it's not the coaches, they are starting to grasp it.

"And April 4 to August 4 is critical for us in terms of these guys taking ownership of the team."

Harsin said no position has more at stake during the summer than quarterback.

"We don't have enough time to spend with them," Harsin said. "And in order to take it to the next level at the QB position, they have got to be able to do quite a bit on their own. And I think they've done a nice job. I see those guys in there on their own watching tape, studying and talking to other players.

"So they are doing those little things. Once we get through spring and they have a better concept of the entire system that will help them determine which play or part of the offense they need to be working on.

"When we get through with the spring, the players are going to have to continue to watch film, prepare, study, take notes, everything they've been doing up to this point. If they don't, then we're not going to make progress.

"We want to be able to come out of spring ball and get into fall camp with those guys having the understanding of the details. And then just go in there and tweak it. And then add a little bit more because we haven't gotten in everything we need to. We're going to have to use some of fall camp to finish that out and then tighten it up."

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Major Applewhite said once Foswhitt Whittaker and Cody Johnson showed a grasp of the offense, he began giving more reps to Jeremy Hills, Traylon Shead and D.J. Monroe.

And there's a good chance Texas will use different backs in different situations.

"We'd like to have a guy who can do it all, a guy who can run on third-and-1 and a guy who you can free release on a wheel route on first down," Applewhite said. "But we will use guys for certain situations. We are going to be smart with it."

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Applewhite said the running backs put the ball on the ground in the last scrimmage. But he's happy with the progress of his position group.

"I think we've done a good job in pass protection because we've been asked to do a few things that are new," Applewhite said. "I've just been excited watching them execute this offense. There's a lot of new space, loose air and some different creases. There's just some new looks. The defense is having to see a lot, and it's making them get out of position at times."

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Malcolm Williams is catching up on the time he missed at the beginning of spring ball.

"He's fit in nicely," Applewhite said. "He's got a great intensity about his work and he doesn't care if he catches one ball or 10 balls, he's going to go out there and block. So it's nice to have that kind of mentality back out on the field."

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Applewhite has some advice for the quarterbacks battling for the starting job.

"It's not style points, it's just running the offense," Applewhite said. "I've heard others tell a quarterback, we're going to give you the keys. We don't care how you drive, just get us from Point A to Point B. Those are the things we look for.

"The competition is intense. They are all studying and being students and diving into the new scheme. But it's also like being a golfer. Don't worry about the other guy, just master the course. If you're good enough after that 18, then so be it. But don't worry about the other guy."

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Dominique Jones continues to impress at tight end. He is one of four tight ends who were on the field in an offensive set Wednesday.

"The tight ends are excited because there's a lot of different personnel groupings they are involved in," Applewhite said. "We've had one, two, three and today we had four tight ends on the field at once. There's a lot of things keeping it fresh for them. We like it, too. We feel like it gives us an advantage."



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