Texas Longhorns: Texas football

Time of the essence for up-tempo Texas

August, 6, 2013
8/06/13
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AUSTIN, Texas -- The speed and hustle are unmistakable, but so is the noise.

Texas’ first-string offense moved down the indoor practice field in choreographed chaos, players and coaches alike showered the affair in shouts.

David Ash
Max Olson/ESPNDavid Ash and Texas' offense will be moving at a frenetic pace this fall.
Snap. Play. Go, go, go. Again. Snap. The frenetic pace was met with screams for more urgency. Assistants jumped up and down and backslapped players after big gains, then scrambled back to work.

Whenever 11 lined up against 11 on Monday at Texas’ first fall practice, the buzz inside the practice bubble instantly amplified. The Longhorns put the next phase of their up-tempo offense installation on display, and though this is still very much a work in progress, the final product is shaping up to be a fun one.

There’s no doubt new play-caller Major Applewhite provides some of the jolt to the system. His teaching style is demonstrative in nature, and he doesn’t hesitate to dole out tough talk. Quarterback David Ash got a taste of that Monday.

“He’s extremely demanding, which is what any player wants out of a coach,” Ash said. “He ripped me today already. I’m looking forward to a few more rippings. It’s going to be good, and I’m going to learn from it. Usually when he rips me, I don’t ever do that again. That’s how you have to be if you want to be the best.”

As coach Mack Brown had vowed all summer long, the plays Ash must execute are not drastically different. This is still philosophically a pro-style attack dedicated to a power run game, only now it’s cloaked in and complemented by a three-and four-wide-receiver-spread-look.

The challenge is knowing how to hit the pedal just right to close in on Brown’s admittedly lofty goal of 84 plays per game. Texas will continue tinkering with the all-too-important variable of any hurry-up offense: Time wasted in between plays.

In the final 11-on-11 work of Monday’s practice, the Longhorn offense spared as little time as it could on the moments between the end of one play and the start of a second. On this day, the next snap typically came 12 to 15 seconds after the last.

It’s a starting point, and Ash anticipates the pace will get ratcheted up plenty in the coming weeks.

“Right now, I think we’re kind of polishing things,” Ash said. “Today we weren’t going as fast. I think you’ll see us steadily get faster throughout camp. You don’t want to start off so fast that you can’t get no faster. You want to build to that speed and stay there.”

Texas is trying to run in the fast lane alongside offenses like those featured at Baylor (82.5 plays per game in 2012) and Oregon (81.4). Will achieving that level of execution require rethinking how the scheme is practiced on a daily basis?

Under former coach Chip Kelly, Oregon reportedly ran between 100 and 150 plays during its two-hour practices, sometimes knocking out 30 plays in 10 minutes or less. Texas’ offense likely won’t be held to those absurd standards, at least not this fall.

There is still plenty of learning and adapting ahead. To senior offensive lineman Mason Walters, though, the goal is clear.

“I think it’s no missed assignments,” he said. “It’s being able to get on the field in four seconds, hear the number of the play and run it with great execution.”

Four seconds? That’s about as ambitious as it gets for an offense that averaged 2:50 in time of possession on its touchdown drives in 2012, and scored in a minute or less on only seven of those 58 drives.

Those numbers have the potential to improve dramatically this season, so long as Applewhite keeps pushing the pace. This was only day one, but for the Longhorns, time is now most definitely of the essence.

“As fast as he’s blowing the whistle, he’s never going to slow us down,” Walters said. “He hasn’t yet.”
During the summer, HornsNation will analyze each of the scholarship players on the Texas roster -- excluding the Longhorns' 2013 recruiting class -- in our Burnt Orange Breakdown series. Starting with No. 1 Mike Davis, we will go through the roster numerically, finishing with No. 99 Desmond Jackson.

No. 62 Curtis Riser
Freshman guard


BEAVERTON, Ore. -- As a Texas commit, quarterback Jerrod Heard (Denton, Texas/John H. Guyer) is focusing more on himself and his growth out at The Opening and Elite 11. That doesn't mean, however, that he isn't putting on the recruiting hat for the Longhorns.

[+] EnlargeJerrod Heard
Tom Hauck for Student SportsQuarterback Jerrod Heard is focusing on his overall growth at The Opening and Elite 11.
"My goal was to become a better person, a better athlete and just perfect my game. Then the recruiting when the guys come off the field," he said. "Like right now, we're done, so I'm probably going to start recruiting. Everyone that's undecided, everybody. I'm just being a sponge right now and enjoying it."


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AUSTIN, Texas – Texas has 19 starters returning, a two-deep no longer as shallow as the Pedernales River, a coach who has been pointing to this year during the tumult of the last two and a team that's been as high as No. 4 in some of the preseason rankings.


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During the summer, HornsNation will analyze each of the scholarship players on the Texas roster -- excluding the Longhorns' 2013 recruiting class -- in our Burnt Orange Breakdown series. Starting with No. 1 Mike Davis, we will go through the roster numerically, finishing with No. 99 Desmond Jackson.

No. 52 Bryce Cottrell
Freshman defensive end



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Meet the Freshmen: WR Jake Oliver

July, 2, 2013
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He broke the state record for career receptions at Dallas Jesuit, but these days that doesn’t mean a thing for Jake Oliver. The slate has been wiped clean for the ESPN 300 receiver signee.

[+] EnlargeJake Oliver
John Albright/Icon SMIJake Oliver is excited about playing in Texas' up-tempo offense this fall.
Now that Oliver is a Longhorn and in the middle of summer workouts, the star ratings and broken records are meaningless. The 6-foot-4, 205-pound receiver has a new reputation to establish.

And he’ll have to do quickly. Texas suspended receivers Cayleb Jones and Kendall Sanders for the season opener, and that means the Longhorns’ three incoming wideouts have an opportunity to prove they deserve immediate playing time.

We caught up with Oliver before he enrolled at Texas to discuss his expectations for 2013, the new Texas offensive scheme and the game he’s got circled on his calendar.

HornsNation: What kind of gains did you make with your workouts this spring?

Jake Oliver: I’ve improved my strength a lot, and I’ve built up a little bit. I’ve improved on my speed and agility, and I’ve been working with [Texas A&M signee] Jordan Mastrogiovanni and [Iowa State signee] J.D. Waggoner. We’ve really pushed each other and made each other better this offseason. I think that’ll really show when we step on the field this year.

HN: What do you think of the opportunity to be mentored by Jaxon Shipley and Mike Davis this summer? Those are two pretty good veterans to learn from.

Oliver: Yeah, I’ve gotten very lucky this year. Mike will be a senior and Jaxon will be a junior. To have their experience on the team and to be able to learn from them is great, because they didn’t have that when they were my age.

HN: Those two became starters as true freshmen. Is that the must for you? What do you expect this fall?

Oliver: I would love to play as a freshman, but it’s honestly not in my hands. I just have to work as hard as I can and do as much as I can, and hopefully I get that shot. If I don’t, I’m still going to work just as hard and work my way up to prove I can play.

HN: Back in the fall, you mentioned you’d love to see Texas go back to the spread offense. A few months later, they decide to transition to up-tempo and put more receivers on the field. How satisfying is that?

Oliver: I can’t wait. I’ve had that my entire high school career, so to have that offense in college, I honestly think this can be the best, most exciting offense in college football. I’m glad they switched to it. That’s the [way] old Texas is remembered that had a lot of success. We can have a lot of success in this offense.

HN: You got to know Tyrone Swoopes well during this process. How surprised were you to hear that he’s pushing for immediate playing time?

Oliver: I watched Tyrone in the spring game, and he did pretty well. It’s funny, I’ve been saying this all along and people doubted it: He’s a true quarterback. I’ve believed that since Day 1. I really believe in him, and I hope we can work together. I respect David Ash. David is a great quarterback and he’s 100 percent the starter right now, but to grow with Tyrone in these next couple years will be a great thing.

HN: You chose Texas over Oklahoma but had more than 50 offers. What kind of negative recruiting did you hear from other coaches about Texas?

Oliver: I always heard, over these last couple years, that Texas will never be back and they’re down. I’ve heard all that stuff. The fact of the matter is, the last non-SEC school to win a national championship was Texas. They’ve been to two national championships in the past 10 years. Texas competes with the best of the best. I bought in and fell in love with the program.

HN: How do you feel about the cultural change you’ve signed up for in coming to Austin from an all-male, private Catholic school?

Oliver: It’s going to be weird to even have girls in my class. I haven’t had that since I was in eighth grade. It’s going to be a weird sight to see, not that I mind that at all. I love Austin and everything about it. It reminds me of Dallas but is a little bit different, and I’m a city kid.

HN: Being a Dallas kid, what’s a bigger deal: Your first game under the lights at DKR, or your first Red River Rivalry game at the Cotton Bowl?

Oliver: Oh man. Uh, I don’t know. They’re about the same. A lot of my friends are going to Oklahoma, too, so they talk to me about that all the time. That’s just such a special game and the biggest rivalry in college football. Ooh, it gives me goose bumps just talking about it.
Texas commitment Derick Roberson (San Antonio/Brennan), an ESPN 300 defensive end, has a way of keeping Longhorns fans on their toes.

Derick Roberson
Max Olson/ESPNDefensive end Derick Roberson still has his sights set on Texas.
Roberson is pretty reserved when it comes to talking to the media, and even Texas’ coaches at times, according to his father, Erick Roberson. But he has no trouble expressing himself through Twitter.

His handle -- @DerickJRoberson -- has given Longhorns fans plenty of reason to wonder about the stability of his commitment, which he made on Aug. 2, 2012.


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During the summer, HornsNation will analyze each of the scholarship players on the Texas roster -- excluding the Longhorns' 2013 recruiting class -- in our Burnt Orange Breakdown series. Starting with No. 1 Mike Davis, we will go through the roster numerically, finishing with No. 99 Desmond Jackson.

No. 50 Paul Boyette Jr.
Freshman defensive tackle


Expectations for 2013: A lot of watching and learning. Boyette is a freshman at what is one of the deepest positions on the field for Texas.

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During the summer, HornsNation will analyze each of the scholarship players on the Texas roster -- excluding the Longhorns' 2013 recruiting class -- in our Burnt Orange Breakdown series. Starting with No. 1 Mike Davis, we will go through the roster numerically, finishing with No. 99 Desmond Jackson.

No. 44 Jackson Jeffcoat
Senior defensive end



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AUSTIN, Texas -- As is typically the case in the offseason, when there is more hype than hitting, Texas has fared well in number crunching -- ESPN Stats & Info has Texas projected to go 10-2 -- and educated guesses -- Phil Steele has the Longhorns as the No. 4 team in the country.

[+] EnlargeMack Brown
AP Photo/Eric GayMack Brown's Longhorns face a favorable schedule this fall.
It's Texas, and it is inconceivable to look at who the Longhorns have -- 19 starters return in addition to recruiting class after recruiting class of top prospects -- and not somehow feel they belong near the top versus what they were during the preseason hype of 2012 and 2011.

And it is quite possible the hype is warranted. Although 2010’s preseason predictions and the 2012 defense should serve as cautionary tales for those readying to ride the barrel over the falls with the Longhorns. Likewise all the statistical algorithms that put Texas near the top of 2013 can be quickly countered with other stats -- and by turning on the tape for just about any game in 2012.


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Jerrod Heard won’t be deleting the episodes off his family’s DVR anytime soon, that’s for sure.

He has been watching the Elite 11 finals for years now. He said he still fondly remembers watching his Denton (Texas) Guyer predecessor, J.W. Walsh, competing on TV in 2010. Ever since then, Heard has wanted this moment.


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AUSTIN, Texas -- Each week Sean Adams looks at a few topics around the Texas Longhorns and college football.

First down: The relationships in recruiting

While I have been open about the ills of offering younger and younger recruits, a great piece of the conversion in recruiting is that coaching staffs are getting to know players better because they are building longer relationships.


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AUSTIN, Texas -- Each week, I look at a few topics around the Texas Longhorns and college football.

First down: Few O-linemen in 2014 class


To continue reading this article you must be an Insider

During the summer, HornsNation will analyze each of the scholarship players on the Texas roster -- excluding the Longhorns' 2013 recruiting class -- in our Burnt Orange Breakdown series. Starting with No. 1 Mike Davis, we will go through the roster numerically, finishing with No. 99 Desmond Jackson.

No. 29 Sheroid Evans
Junior cornerback



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Meet the Freshmen: OL Rami Hammad

June, 18, 2013
6/18/13
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IRVING, Texas -- Though it’s essentially meaningless now that he’s on campus and a member of the Longhorns, Texas offensive line signee Rami Hammad still can’t get over the fact he was deemed a three-star prospect.

He won’t soon forget that. It’s been a driving force for the Irving, Texas, offensive guard for the past year, and he’s confident he’ll dispel any doubt about his talent by competing for a starting job immediately this summer and fall.

[+] EnlargeRami Hammad
Cal Sport Media via AP ImagesRami Hammad plans on competing for a starting job on Texas' O-line.
Thanks to the Bennie Wylie workout plan this spring, the 6-foot-5 lineman went from 335 pounds on signing day to 308 pounds today. He’s done everything he possible could to prepare for his arrival and his freshman debut.

Before he left for Austin, Hammad sat down with HornsNation to discuss is plans for 2013 and how far he’s already come.

HN: It seems like your goals for your freshman season are pretty obvious. How do you map them out?

Hammad: First things first. I’ve got to take care of academics and adapt to college life. I don’t think it’ll be that tough for me considering I don’t like to party or do anything wrong. My main goal is to play in Year 1. I don’t want to settle for anything else.

HN: Think back to a year ago. How would you have felt had you been told you’d end up a Longhorn?

Hammad: Man, I’d probably think you’re crazy. They never talked to me then, and it was pretty much last minute when I caught their attention. I like to earn my things, and I think I earned it. People doubted me throughout the way, even at my own high school. I’m really glad I proved myself.

HN: Why do you think it took so long for Texas to target you?

Hammad: I don’t know. I think they might’ve overlooked me. I wasn’t as solid-looking my junior year, and it was my first year on varsity. I really don’t know.

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