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If anybody is wondering about Major Applewhite's acumen in offensive scheming and play calling based on real time responses by the defense to each play run by the Texas offense, you need to feel really good about this man's understanding of Spy vs Spy. I've always admired Major and thought him to be extremely intellectual an analytical, but what I heard and saw today leaves no doubt that Major understands the dynamics of the game within the game as well as anybody. It's not just Harsin pulling the strings and setting up the defense, it's Major and even Coach Wyatt constantly communicating on what they see on defensive player responses. Harsin calls the plays always, per Major, but there is constant input and communication so that the play calling is not just a shot in the dark.
As Major put it, the guy that might be inclined to say "lets try so and so" would immediately be asked "what have you seen by the defense that makes you think that play would work?" If you've notice something that's a weakness, the next play call or two is likely to be something that will exploit the defense's "tell". This is precisely what happened on the bomb to Mike Davis.
The graduate assistants had been feeding defensive player movement (reactive movement) to Harsin & Major and Coach Wyatt also noticed that the safety was stepping toward the line when there was play action to the right. Harsin, Major and Wyatt knew that Davis could get past the safety deep, so they called the play and Ash hit Davis in stride.
I can't convey how impressive Major's skills are and how immersed in strategy and counter strategy Major is involved in. He has full understanding of every players impact on the opponents defensive movements on each and every play. He absolutely is capable of being the coordinator for this complex offense and would be a dangerous adversary to any defensive coordinator.
He opened the talk by discussing the wishbone play and how important it was that is succeed, especially as deep as the possession was near our own end zone. I mentioned this on the Longhorn luncheon - Tribute to Darrell Royal thread but Chambers suggested the double pass and the staff decided on Wednesday to put it in after much discussion.
There is a lot of interaction between all of the coaches on anything they notice that might benefit the team.
Major said when Chambers suggested a double pass that his first thought was Darrell Royal saying when you pass three things can happen and two of them are bad. With a double pass that would be 6 things that could happen and 4 are bad.
By game time the coaches were having second thoughts and thought maybe they should just call timeout after setting up in the wishbone. Then the team would point skyward for a few seconds, huddle and call a real play. But they stuck with it and it set the tone with field position and agressiveness. They were glad to reward Greg Daniels because of his significant improvement at the tight end position. They also intentionally got senior TE Barrett a touchdown motioning Pehlmann from the left side TE position to the right side, thereby making Barrett a left tackle eligible. He sneaked out to the left as the play went to the right side.
Major also discussed everybody's (coaches included) concern about taking out a hot player like Gray and replacing him with a package and possibly interrupting momentum.
They do this because the defense is showing the staff a vulnerability that Harsin and Major are trying to exploit immediately.
Major pointed out that the GA's on the staff are assigned to watch specific players on defense to see how they react to a series of our offensive play calls. The GA's simply confirm what they see and Harsin decides if and when to call a play that punishes the tendency.
All the coaches make observations on what the defense is doing. It could come from Bo Davis or Manny or Wyatt or Searels or Chambers or Akina. Harsin decides when and how that tendency is to be exploited, but it's not just the mad scientist Harsin doing the scheming. The whole staff reports what they see for future use by Harsin.
Major commented about how they noticed late in the Kansas game that they had gotten away from the jet sweep, and that although Kansas was playing great defense, you can't just conceed that Kansas is going to stop the sweep without making them prove they can.
That's when they also realized that they had to emphasize to David to look more for Shipley and to have him as a first or second read instead of a second or third. Shipley had big impact in the Tech and Cyclone games. Of course he carried the day as the forgotten man with clutch catches in the Kansas game.
Major talked about physicality and tackling and that the defense has been beating up on each other several times a week in the high jump area where they go mono e mono including tackling. He said they practice fundamentals every day to some degree and that the bye week is great for that.
He mentioned the 25 second clock and how that has radically changed the game by forcing teams to go up tempo. The down side is that the defense for either team can get drained and more susceptible to an injury. He also said that one reason that tackling is tougher in todays game is because with the old style slow offense that's largely run based, much of the game is played between the hash marks. With spread offenses the main part of the game is played outside the hash marks and done quickly by isolating a skill player and blocker against a corner or nickleback. This quick offense makes it tougher for the tackler to make a sound tackle because he is not in prime position. Bottom line, spread offenses play the game outside the hashes and away from your traditional better tacklers.
Anyway, Major is a special guy and he totally gets it. I'd really like to see him run the offense. I have not doubt whatsoever that the defense would be back on its' heels.
This post was edited by TexasBlackjack 20 months ago
Thanks for posting. Pinning this.
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Outstanding first hand recounting. There's no doubt that Major is one step away from a head coaching position. Will it be Texas? He'll probably have to go elsewhere first but it would surprise no one to see him return some day.
In the mean time, the unselfish team work the coaches imbibe is exemplified in the team's play, imo.
Thanks from us in the hinterlands for posting.
I could not make it to the luncheon. Reading that was the next best thing. Thanks.
Just added some line breaks to make it easier to read
Very good read. Thank you for taking the time to share.
Great stuff. Absolutely agree on thanks for taking the time to put it all down for us to savor.
“Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.”
Well written. Thanks for sharing what happens behind the scenes.
I would not play all of my hand on him leaving just now or in the near future. Will be interesting how High the team and coaches chose to attain....
"Don't know. Never had one"
-- D. Royal-Mack Brown how to coach a team after a losing season
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