By Jason Elmquist
Texas has been late to the party in the evolving up-tempo offenses of the Big 12 Conference.
But it’s better to be late than never.
Longhorn coach Mack Brown — whose offense averaged about 60 plays per game last year, with only Kansas State running fewer plays — said it’s not a complete overall of the offense. It’s just simply a change of pace for a group that averaged 416 yards per game in 2012.
“We didn’t change the names of the plays. We didn’t change the plays as such when Major (Applewhite) took over, and we’ve gone up-tempo,” Brown said. “But Major and Darrell Wyatt still have the same things in place. We’re just going at a much faster tempo. We want to go even faster than we did this spring.”
Brown is comfortable with making the change due to the talent the Longhorns have. Long considered one of the most athletic and talented teams in the country — thanks to the countless Texas players at its disposal — Texas will now take advantage of those athletes.
“We’re a faster team. We’re an older team. We should be a mature offense,” Brown said. “Two years ago our offense wasn’t very good. Last year, at times, they were really good. ...
“When you’re happy to win a game 56-50, things have changed. I mean, it’s just a different deal. You walk out mad at your defense or happy with your offense. You walk out happy you won, and that’s it — or you lose a game 48-45. “
Brown said the institution of the up-tempo offense into the UT program has also had its benefits with the defense, which returns most of its starters from a year ago when the defense gave up an average of 404 yards per game — ranked 67th in the country.
“What I do think is that last year our defense was at a disadvantage in this league because we had trouble preparing for tempo by not seeing it every day in practice,” Brown said. “... So we felt like it was very, very important for us to make sure our defensive coaches and our players got to practice every day against what they were trying to prepare for on Saturday because, if you haven’t seen the tempo offense on a regular basis, it’s a very difficult thing to do, and I do think something that’s really changed.”
The defense ranked fifth in conference play with 440 yards and was last in rushing defense, giving up 215 yards a game. And the defensive players share the same belief as their coach — that facing the faster offense on a daily basis will benefit them during the conference season.
“That helps. Almost every team in the Big 12 does the tempo offenses, so it helps us be conditioned for it,” said Texas defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat. “It helps us analyze offenses quickly, get our reads before the snap and just learn how to do it on a daily basis.”
The man that will be running the show for the Longhorn offense, David Ash, wasn’t very chatty about the change to the up-tempo offense.
“It’s been an adjustment, but it’s been enjoyable,” said Ash, who has had his ability to lead the offense in question over the years. “I’m really glad that’s the direction we’re going. It’s going to benefit us a lot.”