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Insider

Strickland's mailbag: Wishbone revival?

11/10/2011

Benjamin Valentine (Texarkana, Texas): What is the reason that mack brown is not letting Chris Jones and DeSean Hales onto the field.

Carter Strickland: Benjamin, you are in luck because Hales is listed as the co-starter along with Jaxon Shipley this weekend. Now whether or not he will play is another question. Hales has just one catch this season.

Jones has transferred due to lack of playing time. In fact, he is the fourth guy to do so since August. So he is out of the picture. But let’s focus on Hales.

Texas came into this season holding open auditions at every position. Every player has been given plenty of opportunity in the 20 hours of practice and were given time in preseason practices to prove they deserve playing time. Hales has not proven that. He is not a precision player. Meaning he does not run great routes and is not committed to blocking in the run game.

Darrell Wyatt is in his first season as Texas’ wide receivers coach, so he didn’t have any long-held favorites during the spring. He was interested in playing the best guys, who worked the hardest. Those guys are Shipley and Mike Davis. Once Marquise Goodwin came back to the program and showed that he was willing to work, it pushed Hales even further down the depth chart.

The amazing thing is that even with the loss of John Harris (foot) that Hales still was not bumped up in the rotation. That just leads to the conclusion that he is not getting it done where it matters most, on the practice field.

Rudy Wolf (Skiatook, Okla.): WHEN !!! ... will the negotiations with DISH TV be completed and I can subscribe to the LONGHORN NETWORK ?

Strickland: OK, I can’t answer all of that question because I am but a lowly writer. But I can give you at least a glimpse of the Longhorn Network. Check it out this weekend’s free preview of the network online. Starting Friday at 9 .m. until Monday at 12 a.m. LHN will be broadcasting at www.longhornnetwork.com for free. That means both the men’s and women’s hoops game and you can check out pregame and postgame coverage of the football game.

Mark (Houston): Could the Horns’ emphasis on the running game(throwing less than 10 passes per game) possibly hurt their recruitment of Conner Brewer. He is used to putting it up 35-45 times per game. I don't think he would have a chance to show off his arm in this style of offense. Also, any chance of Texas going to a form of the wishbone next year to get Gray, Brown, and Bergeron on the field at the same time. I'm thinking Harsin could put some pretty interesting wrinkles in the old triple option. The rest of the Big12 would be way behind and have a difficult time preparing in just a week.

Strickland: Mack Brown has been talking about getting more and more balance to the offense. I think you are going to see it go more 55 percent run and 45 percent pass in the next couple of years. Right now Texas is doing what the personnel dictates. They have no passing game so they have to run it. If they had a better passer, someone like Colt McCoy, they would throw it more as they did in 2008-09.

Ideally Texas wants to be like it was in 2005 when they rushed for 250 and threw for 250. They seemed to have a pretty good result with that too.

As for running the wishbone, man that would be entertaining. But you can’t be that one-dimensional in college football these days and win on the biggest stage. Yes, Georgia Tech has some success with what they do. But invariably Tech gets behind in a game and cant catch up because they cannot throw the football. No doubt co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin is going to have fun drawing up plays with all the talent he has. But I don’t think the wishbone is in the cards.

Jimmy Walker (La Grange, Texas): Why are the Horns so committed to Ash over McCoy? The coaches keep saying how much he has matured and is a game manager, if their only going to throw seven times a game anyone could be back there. They might as well just use the wishbone. I also have concerns about the players leaving, who's to say McCoy doesn't leave and Brewer and/or Overstreet pull their commitment with this ground and pound style. A final note, these last two games don't impress me, they were against two of the worst defenses in the nation, are they going to keep running when their down 20+ in the second half of a game?

Strickland: If I give you a good answer, will you buy me some kolaches at Weikel’s? Just kidding. David Ash has a better upside. Meaning that the staff feels like with Ash they can develop him and therefore not be in this same situation next year where they are trying to get a new quarterback ready for a complicated system. Ideally, Ash develops enough that he can take control of the offense and Brewer or Overstreet can be either redshirted or developed in practice. It’s very tough throwing a freshman into the fire. Only two true freshman QBs in BCS conferences don’t have losing records -- Ash and Rutgers’ Gary Nova.

Plus Ash, if he ever gains confidence, can make the play-action passes that are necessary in the current offense. McCoy does not have the arm to make that throw.

As for McCoy leaving, I highly doubt that would happen. I truly think he likes being a part of this team.

Overstreet is not going anywhere because he is a dual-threat QB and this offense is perfect for him. As for Brewer, you can bet the coaches are telling him the passing game will be different when he gets on campus.

Now, as for not being impressed the last two games, I am right there with you. Kansas and Texas Tech are 120 and 118 in FBS in rush defense, respectively. They weren’t much better before they faced Texas. The Longhorns will have to throw the ball at least 20 times against Kansas State and Texas A&M to win those games.