"Our running game has not been as consistent on a week-to-week basis as we want it to be," Brown said. "We’ve gone back and looked at what’s been good, and we’ve thrown out what’s not successful."
For the record, Texas’ most successful rushing play since 1998 has been the isolation play. This year, Orangebloods can expect more misdirection, draws, and options (as well as RBs Cedric Benson and Selvin Young in the same backfield on certain down-and-distance situations).
Nearly all of the significant moves that Brown made since the Cotton Bowl have been geared toward boosting a Texas ground game that was nearly grounded last season with its 135.5 ypg (NCAA No. 74). Brown, of course, named former LSU running backs coach Michael Haywood to that position at Texas, replacing Bruce Chambers who now coaches tight ends. The sixth-year UT head coach also canned offensive guards/centers coach Tim Nunez in January and named former tackles and tight ends coach Mac McWhorter to revitalize the offensive line.
Texas may not run the ball more in 2003 but it will run the ball better, Brown added. Brown emphasized throughout the spring (and again Wednesday) that he wants a team characterized by the kind of "toughness" and "aggressiveness" that reinforces the stalwart demeanor needed to "finish" each play as if it were the last.
"This have been our most physical off-season and spring practice to date," Brown said. "The thing we want to do is to be more physical."
In other words, it has more to do with attitude than personnel. Texas returns 16 starters (eight on offense, eight on defense) from last year’s 11-2 Cotton Bowl champion (which is to say, another Top 10 season that was nearly perfect but not where Brown wants the program to be.
Brown truly believes (as does Inside Texas) that individual players (to no small extent) reflect the personalities of their coaches in their performance. That is why the hard-nosed Haywood (with 16 years NCAA experience) is now in charge of the running backs.
"Mike Haywood came from a program that has run the ball really well," Brown said. "LSU has primarily been a running offense these last eight years. Both (DT coach) Mike Tolleson and (Defensive Coordinator) Carl Reese have worked with Coach Haywood and they knew he was very aggressive, a guy who had experience as a player at Notre Dame, a guy who had recruited Houston, and that he was also in charge of kicking (special teams). He brings a high level of competence to us and he brings toughness."
I had suggested (in previous columns) that hiring a genuinely nice guy like Chambers (with no NCAA coaching experience and just two years head coaching experience at Dallas Carter) was largely a symbolic move, serving notice that UT football (following the John Mackovic error, uh, era) was once again interested in Texas high schools. Brown pointed out Wednesday that Chambers was a North Texas receiver (‘82), implying that coaching tight ends is more to his natural inclination.
"Bruce brings good expertise in route running," Brown said, "and with Bo (Scaife) and Brock (Edwards) coming back next year, we think Bruce will do really well as our tight ends coach."