"You go back and we're all preachers of history. We go back and look, and Texas ran the ball when we were good. That's who we were. And we would throw deep. And then we played great defense. So that's what we want to get back to." - Mack Brown / November 5, 2011
To compete on a national level with the Big 10's and the SEC's you have to be physical between the tackles. Or you have to rely on a perfect quarterback. He's been in both pairs of shoes and he still prefers the former.
What he is retooling is a brand of football that few millennials are familiar with in the state of Texas. Ever since the Run-and-Shoot took hold in the late 80's and morphing into the quick-attacking offensive spread and zone read schemes, high school coaches, save for a few, have focused on explosive plays through the air.
And the football was good.
But like with many things, what was old is new again. You either lead or get out of the way. The spread offenses of today are still winning games and putting up exciting numbers, but for the most part, it is a brand that is slowly giving way to power (see SEC). The defenses in the Big 12 are designed to be fleet a foot. So, Mack Brown figures he will line his big ‘uns up against yours, hit you in the mouth for 60 minutes, and tell you "that's who we are". And if you take care of the ball better than the opponent, and don't give up the stupid yards, then the victories will come.
This is a fairly simple formula to be sure. Just ask Saban, McKay, Wilkinson, Hayes, and Royal.
In order to achieve the reformation coming off the depressing 2010 season, Coach Brown literally scrapped the system he built. He looked at every aspect to running the program: recruiting, management, academics, staff, etc. It was an exhaustive effort in a very short period of time. But with the flow charts synched, Brown trotted out a hot-rod new staff with key, tenured managers, all buying in to the mission statement.
One key acquisition, and arguably the key, was Head Football Coach/Strength and Conditioning Bennie Wylie. We are all familiar with his pedigree and story. But it is this fan's opinion that the quick turnaround we are seeing in the personality of the team is directly attributable to him. Sure, Searels' and Davis' personalities our wearing off on their respective disciples, but it is the drive and energy of Wylie which has fundamentally transformed the foundation of this team. No more entitlement.
Everybody must work hard to earn their keep. The brick-by-brick theme may sound hokey to some, but it is every bit as accurate in terms of the process. Credit Bennie Wylie for implementing the theme and credit Mack Brown for adopting the theme.
And for his cumulative efforts to date, Coach Wylie was presented with a game ball after the game Saturday night. A well deserved game ball at that.
Coming off the Oklahoma State game, Texas was a poor performing red zone club. Half way through the season and the team could not seem to break through and score. One of the daggers highlighting this fact was the short out to Fozzy that came up inches short in the fourth quarter against the Cowboys, a game in which Brown's record of never having lost a game after playing OU. Coach Brown said during the bye-week they (staff) were going to put every red zone play under a microscope.
Apparently the lab coats found a solution to the RZ woes as Texas is 10 of 14 touchdown tries in the last two games. Sure, it came against arguably the two worst rush defenses in the Big 12. But the play selection has simplified given the noticeable improvement of the rushing offense.
Expect Mack Brown to discuss the red zone improvement and physical play today.
Also expect Mack Brown to mention how the physical play is taking hold in other areas including the special teams (kick coverage and punt return).
Work In Process
As the engine is showing life of firing on all cylinders, the one area that continues to be a struggle is turnovers. While the team is improving on taking care of the ball, they are not taking advantage of takeaway opportunities. There were some thrown balls in the game on Saturday which were in the hands of the Texas defenders. Somehow our guys need to come away with those like they were doing earlier this season.
Hard to say which of the previous two games were more complete as the team pretty well dominated in every area.
But this week we travel to Columbia, MO in yet another morning kick off. Missouri is a fairly balanced team and will try to rebound at home coming off a thumping against Baylor. Coach will discuss the merits of their rushing attack and our need to minimize explosives, which Mizzou has shown a propensity to have, as well as a desperate need to get positive in the turnover category, as mentioned above.
After reaching one of the team's season goals of becoming bowl eligible with the overpowering performance against the Red Raiders, Coach Brown will reset the bar and push his team to the Texas standard of double-digit wins. There are tough conference opponents remaining and the team could easily lose as win each remaining contest.
But one thing is for sure, this brand of football satisfies like turkey and dressing, apples and dumplings, and V-8 short blocks. Yes, Texas Longhorn fans, the long awaited return of physical play on the 40 Acres has arrived.
Relish the dawn of an old made new era of Texas brand football.
Join us here for the live presser action.