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New Texas play caller Jay Norvell wants an offensive identity

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The former Oklahoma co-offensive coordinator has some clear goals for the Texas offense.

Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

Amid the resignation of Texas Longhorns athletic director Steve Patterson, it was business as usual for Longhorns football, with new play caller Jay Norvell meeting with the media for his first Tuesday availability in the role he assumed just one week ago.

Here are some notes:

-- Norvell said that there were half as many plays in the gameplan for Rice as there were against Notre Dame. The focus is on reducing the complexity of the offense to allow players to . It's also a tacit admission that Watson was still asking too much of his players, especially his quarterbacks, even though the offseason narrative held that the offense was becoming more simple and accessible.

"We want our skill players to threaten people, especially our quarterback," he said.

-- The offense is still looking for a clear identity.

"There's a difference between running plays and running an offense. We want to run an offense.

"Our whole goal is to build an identity," he said. "We want people to watch us play and know what we're trying to do."

-- There's also a battle to reduce selfishness among the players, but the team still isn't there yet. "We still have a bunch of individuals. We need to be a unit."

-- The Texas running backs haven't gotten the ball much yet this season, especially senior Johnathan Gray. Norvell wants to improve in both the running and blocking aspects of that phase, but getting the backs more touches requires a higher level of effectiveness.

-- Freshman wide receiver DeAndre McNeal has been notably absent so far this season, but Norvell said he wanted to play him in the second half against the Rice. The Texas play caller is excited about his future. The problem was that Texas just couldn't stay on the field long enough to do so as the Owls controlled possession and the Longhorns offense was unable to get going. McNeal did make some plays in practice on Tuesday, according to Norvell.

-- All the youth on offense is a big change for Norvell, who said that he doesn't ever remember having three freshmen start on offense, much less having them be three of the best players. Those three players are left tackle Connor Williams, right guard Patrick Vahe, and wide receiver John Burt.

-- Senior wide receiver Marcus Johnson missed most of the first two games after sustaining an ankle injury against Notre Dame, but Norvell is "hopeful" that he will play this weekend against Cal.