Texas Longhorns Coordinator Corner
Aug. 11, 2012
Co-offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Bryan Harsin
On the quarterbacks: It’s day five, and so far so good. With [sophomore QB] David [Ash] and [junior QB] Case [McCoy], both those guys you can see that the summertime has been really good for them. And I think this; I think for any quarterback going through spring and getting three things to work on through the summer, and all that time you have to watch film and go back, and now you have more film to watch from a season and a spring, and even in the fall camp prior to that, what we’re doing systematically and all that, they understand that. So in terms of calling plays, some of the audibles and checks, things like that, they get that. Now for both of those guys, the key is it’s not knowing. It’s going to be consistency out there. Obviously it starts with turnovers. Then completion percentage. Completions at practice. Both guys have done really well. I think they’ve made good decisions. We’ll get into the first scrimmage, each guy will have an opportunity when we do that to go out there and run with the ones. To be live bullets – they’re not going to get hit – but to be around live bullets. Then we will assess from the previous practices and that scrimmage and go from there.
On experimenting with different packages: We kind of did some of that today. With some of the new freshman that have come in, you can kind of see some of their talents and things like that. Where they might fit. And from doing it, now everybody kind of understands how guys operate and the way they fit into our system. So we can start placing them. And so we’ve kind of moved some guys around and done a little bit of that right now. Not too much of it before we have the first scrimmage. Then after that we will start piecing that together.
On the wild formation: Does [freshman QB Jalen Overstreet] have potential to do it? Sure. Yea. [Senior RB] Jeremy Hills did it for us in the spring. [Sophomore RB] Malcolm [Brown] has done it before. [Sophomore RB] Joe [Bergeron] has done it. [Freshman RB] Johnathan Gray is a guy that hasn’t done it yet, but can do it. So we’ll start to put that in here in a couple of days and let all those guys have some reps at it. We know what Hills can do, we’ve seen him. We’ve seen Malcolm. So you’ll have a chance to have Jalen in there, or Johnathan Gray, and let those guys operate and see how they work it. Then we go from there. It comes back to as well, how many snaps can these guys give us. If it’s just one, three plays a game, and guys are on special teams. So that starts to factor in as well as you start to look at it. You know, “What’s this guy going to do. Can he get significant playing time to do these things for us?”
On if QB Jalen Overstreet could throw the ball out of the wild formation: Oh yes. He’s a quarterback. He’s a quarterback, and he’s a very good-sized quarterback. He can move. He’s throwing the ball very well in practice. I’ve been very impressed with him, his coachability, and his understanding of the offense and all that. He’s a threat now. Like David was for us last year early on. To come in there and run the ball and be able to throw the ball, things like that. Jalen’s obviously got those abilities as well.
On if he can see a difference in the decision making and accuracy from last spring: Yes. Much better accuracy. You can tell with the veteran wide receivers and the young wide receivers that came in this summer, those guys got a lot of work. You can see it in one-on-ones. The decision making is there. What I look for is – there’s still mistakes and everything, but they can come back now and explain it, or coach themselves up right away. We’ll come back right away and repeat the play and correct it. So we have done more of that, If there is a mistake we’ll come right back and run the same play and correct it. They’re starting to understand why. They’re starting to understand how the defense can kind of manipulate them. And how they can manipulate the defense. So they’re doing a much better job of that. And that’s because of film study and those guys understand the system better.
On if they have decided about redshirting any freshman: I think right now we wouldn’t say anybody is redshirting. We just don’t know. I don’t think you tell a guy that when he’s coming in. You want a guy that is going to compete and wants to play. And then as it starts to get closer to game time, you’ve got to sit down and look at it as a staff and say, “This guy is going to get four reps a game, is that worth it? Well, he can play on special teams so he’s going to get 17 reps a game.” So you’ve got to decide. We’re not going to waste anybody out there. So you ask if he’s going to get significant playing time. Every one of those young guys are guys that have the ability to redshirt, but we expect them to play. And then we’ve got to decide if it’s worth it or not.
On sophomore WR John Harris: John’s done a nice job. He’s a smart football player. Now having him out there, able to run around, and he’s physical. He’s a big-bodied receiver. So he’s done well. He’s done what we’ve asked him to do in terms of being an inside guy. A physical guy. And he’s been providing the leadership for the young guys. Being an example for them. Keeping those guys hyped up out there in drills. There’s kind of a standard to the way we practice. He’s done a real good job.
On freshman RB Daje Johnson: He’s been really good in practice. We’ve kind of moved him around and done different things with him. He’s just an explosive football player is what he is. He can run. He catches the ball well. So he’s got a lot of different things that he can do. And we have utilized him in areas. We continue to kind of put plays in, and this offense grows. For new guys it starts to be a little bit overloaded. That will probably happen in a day or so. Then we pull back and we have to see how much he continues to retain. And where we can continue to utilize him. But as far as skill wise, he’s done everything we could hope for him to do.
On the running backs: Yes. I think this is exactly what a good football team, or a position that has good players at that position, is all about. You’ve got to talk about your role. Everybody does something maybe a little bit better or different from some other guy. And they all deserve to play. They all want to, and deserve to play. It’s a matter of, “What is the best package for this player? And this player?” And so forth. And for a running back, you don’t want to get into a back-and-forth in-and-out. You want to give those guys some reps so they start to get a hot hand a little bit. So you don’t want to have too much of shotgunning guys back and forth and pulling guys out. But we’ll start to identify their roles as we get past the first scrimmage and into the next few practices. Define these are inside guys. These are outside guys. Here’s a wild guy. Here’s a sweep guy. Here’s a guy we can put out as a receiver. And once we do that, we can start formulating our package and our plan, and building our offense around that.
Defensive coordinator/linebackers coach Manny Diaz
On the defensive ends: What we like about them is their experience in addition to what they both are physically. They both have a great understanding for the game. [Defensive ends ] Coach [Oscar] Giles is moving on to what we call ‘next level coaching’ with them and they are able to detail out their game a little bit more this year than they were this time last year. That is exciting for us and we will expect great things out of them this fall.
On what ‘detail out their game’ means: Now when you know what to do, you can start paying attention to what is happening on the other side of the ball. Like, “What does this back foot tell m? What does this stance tell me?” That is what an experienced player does. An inexperienced player is struggling to remember what they are doing on every play. Once they jump over that hurdle, once they understand that and how to do it, once they get through that hurdle because now they have played defense enough times as a linebacker, defensive back, or whatever it is. Now it’s like they can look across the line of scrimmage and say, “Okay, what are they doing?” Or , “What are they trying to do to me.?” That is when they really make that final jump in the development of the player, and that is where those guys are in the process of right now. They have not completed it, but they are in the process to.
On rotating the defensive ends: It will often depend on how many snaps were on the field. What we would like to – and in this league because rushing the passer is such a strenuous exercise – we’d like to be a hockey team. We want to be coming over the boards just with fresh bodies all the time. With an offense of three drives, which is what we want, that is not very taxing. No matter who we play, if you are on the field for eight straight plays the guy on the sideline is better than the guy that is on the field regardless of whatever credentials he has by his name. If – and this is the whole key – if the guy on the sideline can handle his assignments. That is really the thing, It has very little to do at this point with the physical ability. Our players have the physical ability. Do they remember if they have dive or do they have quarterback? Are they supposed to be in the B gap on those players or the C gap. Those are the things because when they don’t do that, it doesn’t matter if they can leap over the building because it will get you beat. That is really what we are stressing with out depth, with our second unit of defense. At first it is to be dependable. The best ability is dependability. Once you get that conquered, then you can go on and do other things that God blessed you with your talent to do.
On the linebackers: I am very encouraged with Jordan Hicks. He has really kicked on from the bowl game and used that as a springboard. Throughout spring practice from all accounts, throughout summer workouts, and through the first week of two-a-days. He was really taken on the leadership role on our football team. He is a guy that I believe our football team respects. They respect the way he works. They respect who he is as a person. Right now we are playing linebackers right and left to give us balance. We are not playing with ‘Sam’ and ‘Will’ because we want our guys to be able to play multiple positions and Jordan can handle that. Steve Edmond and Demarco Cobbs are also doing a very good job. They have gotten less at-bats than Jordan did but they have really taken that leadership role as well. That is a natural progression of college football – people graduate and the next in line needs to step up and they both have done a really good job. The question is who is behind them, and that is what this camp is all about. We have some contestants and they need to learn to be dependable because we can’t win with just three.
On how the freshmen are looking: They look like freshmen. They flash and you remember why you recruited them, and then they do something else and you have to remember why you have to coach them. Things are just happening. The game is happening at a faster level. But the good thing I can say for our entire freshmen class and all three levels, about everyone has done something at this point to make you be happy that they are here. We know we have picked the right ones, and now we just have to coach them.
On the team: The best thing about our football team is the experience we have coming back. It is really energy dynamic. Despite how young we are at the top end of the senior class, there is not that hole where you are really saying, “This freshman has what we want to be starting on the line.” All the things I was talking about with [Alex] Okafor and [Jackson] Jeffcoat at the beginning, they can really match the natural progression of a football player. Earn your right. You have to respect the locker room and find your way onto the field. It might be running down the field on kickoff or playing on second and ten. Whatever it is, find your way onto the field.
On if starters play on special teams: We will play our best players. The punt team is probably the most important down about football. Kickoff coverage is our first and ten on defense. If we have to play our 11 starters on defense, then that is what we will do. Now, if it is a tie, if we have a backup who is as good of a runner on kickoff as a starter, then we would like to get the backup in the game at that position. But we have really made a very strong emphasis that we want to have the best special teams in the nation. [Co-offensive coordinator/running backs] Coach [Major] Applewhite and Coach Giles are doing an outstanding job with that and that is something we take very seriously.