We continue with part two of Chip Brown's Wednesday scrimmage notes.
We've sort of come to take special teams for granted during Mack Brown's tenure, which is one reason why we don't talk about it as much as we could. As far as punting, Greg Johnson was middle of the pack last season, averaging just under 41 yards per punt. Gerland, who doubles as a track star for Texas, was the presumptive starter heading into camps, but Moore is making a battle of things. Though Gerland has the more explosive leg, he also hits more duds.
They'll all play? This year? Really? And Gatewood is moving to receiver? What the hell is going on here? Either the injuries to Pittman, Shipley, and Cosby are serious or Texas is going to rotate - what - nine, ten receivers on the field?
This doesn't add up.
"Jamaal has really done well. He deserves to have a great year. He’s done everything right," Brown said. "And Chris (Ogbannaya) and Vondrell (McGee) are competing every snap for the backup job.
"We’ve got to decide. We’ve talked about do you throw to set up the run with Colt's accuracy. And part of that might depend on how many of those receivers are full speed. But we feel like we can run the ball. We’ve gone back and looked at every snap since we’ve been here to see the years that we’ve run and why did well or didn’t do well and some of the passes.
"It’s more important to score points than it is to run the ball. I’m personally a guy who likes to run the ball and be physical and finish games and run on short-yardage and goal-line. But scoring points is more important, and we averaged 36 points a game last year. And maybe never less than 34. The other part that may sound foolish is scoring defense. Last year, we gave up more points than we have in some years and had the third-best run defense. So we have to be smart. We’ve got to look at what’s effective, but not back away from running the ball."
This is the big one. Two weeks ago, I noted that I was encouraged about Mack Brown asking the right questions about improvement in rushing. And on Tuesday, I talked a bit about Mack Brown's preference to be a power running team. And now, we get this quote, which is the third public statement from Brown suggesting he wants to be a pass-first team that guns it with Colt.
I can sympathize, to some degree, with Mack's preference to run a pound 'em into submission football team. That was The Way of football for decades and decades. And that was Darrell Royal's way. Royal used to say, "There are three things that can happen when you pass the ball and two of them are bad." (Royal attributed the quote to Woody Hayes, but he was clearly fond of it.)
Frankly, if you can win the game pounding it away and out-muscling your opponent in the trenches, you probably should. The issue, then, is not that Mack's preference is inherently flawed. The issue is that Texas probably can't win all its games playing that kind of football. Moreover, Texas seems ideally geared to a spread-'em-out, pass first, run-off-the-pass attack.
All told, I'm rather encouraged by what we're hearing from Brown. He knows Texas must improve its performance rushing the football this season, but he's talking publicly about how badly he wants to throw the ball constantly with McCoy. Maybe it's the optimist in me, but I think he understands what needs to be done.
We'll start to find out in just eight days.