Moving Monroe to make screens work 

March, 21, 2012
AUSTIN, Texas -- D.J. Monroe cannot find a way to get the ball in his hands and make an impact.
[+] EnlargeD.J. Monroe
Erich Schlegel/Getty ImagesUntil now, D.J. Monroe has seen most of his production on fly sweeps and hasn't had many catches.

Texas cannot figure out an effective use of the bubble screen.

OK, let’s all pause here for a moment … now slowly put two and two together. Don’t think you are all alone in figuring it out. Texas had that aha moment as well. That’s why as of now Monroe, who was ineffective at running back, has become a wide receiver.

“He should be really good at those little bubble screens because he can do thing in space,” Texas coach Mack Brown said.

And Texas is going to need to be effective at those plays. While David Ash and Case McCoy have a year of experience, Texas is not exactly ready to hurl the ball downfield 40 times a game. So the Longhorns need some quick, easy passes -- the type they failed to throw last year -- that allow the quarterbacks to get a rhythm and gain confidence.

“It is usually an easy completion, and it can be a play that is part of the run game for four yards or 20 [yards],” co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin said. “It spreads the field and gives you more options on the offensive side of the ball.”

That’s not to say the execution of the bubble screen is a no-brainer. There still has to be a decent throw, a catch and some serious blocking to make it work.

“… being physical on the edge,” Harsin said. “When you do throw it out there, it is not the guy catching the ball, but the guy blocking for him (who makes the play).

“I think we have made an emphasis on that going into the bowl game, and it has carried over into these practices. We are trying to get some different people in those spots.”

Different people like Monroe.

“If he is going to play more he needs to expand his package,” Brown said. “He needs to be outside. That is who he is and to do that he has to catch better.”

That has always been the catch with Monroe. He was a running back in high school and not called upon to catch balls out of the backfield. When he got to Texas he was almost exclusively used on speed sweeps and not in the passing game. He has eight career receptions, all of which came last season.
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