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Harsin Failing To Use Playmakers

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The three fastest players on the Texas offense received zero touches in the first half against Oklahoma.

Brendan Maloney-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

Senior running back/wide receiver DJ Monroe has received quite the reward from co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin after scoring touchdowns in each of the first four games -- he hasn't received a single touch in the last two contests.

All this despite averaging 7.3 yards per carry on consistent efforts that haven't benefited from a long run to boost his average -- he's simply run hard and picked up yardage nearly every time he's had opportunities.

Speaking of opportunities, the calling card for Harsin coming to Texas was his ability to utilize his playmakers and find creative ways to get them the way, with the capability of devising and installing counters to keep defenses honest and punish them for overplaying base concepts.

Monroe isn't the only explosive Texas player who was left out of Saturday's gameplan -- senior wide receiver Marquise Goodwin, who torched Ole Miss both through the air and on the ground, had zero catches and rushing attempts.

At least freshman running back/wide receiver Daje Johnson wasn't completely forgotten. In the second half. The Pflugerville Hendrickson product got four carries for 41 yards and a reception that went for 12 yards, making him perhaps the most efficient player offensively for Texas in the game.

There really aren't any good explanations after a game in such situations, but the "flow of the game" excuses from Harsin are getting old, taking on a Greg Davis-like tint. The co-OC said that the plan was to get the ball to Monroe and Johnson in the redzone, but, of course, Texas never got down there. Maybe they would have more often had the fastest players on the team had the ball in their hands.

In fact, Oklahoma was prepared for the Texas gameplan, such as it was, which required some adjustments at halftime. Apparently, Harsin didn't realize that Oklahoma would be well-prepared to stop those base concepts for Texas, which the former Boise State coordinator said dictated Texas had to go away from Johnson.

So instead of explosive players with the ball in their hands on Saturday, Texas fans got platitudes on Monday:

We need to find a formula for those guys and start to use it. Daje has showed he can run and make things happen. We have to get it to D.J. in the open field and get us down there. We didn't do that, and we need to do it earlier.

Yeah, a formula would be good. Try this one out -- Daje + the ball = yards gained. Another -- DJ + the ball = yards gained. Simple enough, no?

Harsin admitted that he's not putting the players in position to be successful:

They're practicing hard and playing hard. That's not an effort issue. It's coaching. It's getting guys in better positions. It's helping those guys out so they can be more successful. They want to be successful, and so we have got to be able to do that as coaches.

It didn't happen against Oklahoma.

During the Greg Davis era, the major issue against Bob Stoops and the Sooners was that the offensive philosophy for Texas was basically to be simple, run plays that the opponent knew were coming, then achieve success because of execution partly, but mostly because of having better athletes.

When October would roll around, Davis would try to stick with the same general plan, but Stoops would verse his defense in the Texas plays and tendencies and then crush them. It was easy, simple. Stoops probably laughed about it with his assistants as they headed out for a couple beers after calling it a early night because there weren't any late nights at the office preparing for what the Longhorns were going to do.

Harsin says that he understands the need for counters, and has shown it in the past:

So as you put together plans, you've just got to assume at times that this may not work, and if it doesn't, what do we go to then, what's our answer. So you're not putting all your eggs in one basket. We've got to at this point in the season to continue to evolve. You start looking at your tendencies, you start looking at what you've done, what teams are preparing for, and you start to look at how you can counteract that or how you can balance yourself out a little better and find more ways to get the same type of runs.

Philosophically, Harsin gets it. As Davis probably did, too, on some level.

It just didn't translate well to the field against Oklahoma.

The self-scouting fail reeks of Mack Brown and his occasionally meddlesome ways, a belief supported by some rumblings from around the program. In other words, the same things that Brown was doing back in 2004 to hold down Vince Young, the type of behavior that led to 12-0.

If only Texas fans had been lucky enough to get a game that close on Saturday.

If Brown is getting in the way, then the real problem isn't really Harsin and his offense, it's Brown interfering with Harsin and his offense, trying to coach not to lose instead of to win. But it's still up to Harsin to stand up for himself to the greatest extent possible because the team may need that from him.

And if Brown can't get out of his one way, well, that just provides all the more ammunition to remove him from the head coaching position at Texas by whatever means necessary.