New offense exhausts Longhorns

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Right now, one word may describe the Texas Longhorns: winded. The story out of spring practice so far has been the pace which Sterlin Gilbert and the offensive staff have set.

“It’s nonstop from start to end,” senior tight end Caleb Bluiett said. “We are continuously moving, running from left to right, it doesn’t stop. … We’re going to be well-conditioned. … From what I hear from coach Gilbert, it’s always going to be like that. It’ll stay that way and never slow down.”

Sterlin Gilbert left Tulsa with Matt Maddox in the offseason to become the Longhorns’ offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Mattox serves as the run-game coordinator and offensive line coach. Only two days into spring practice, the two coaches have brought a new level of intensity that the Texas players haven’t seen before.

“[Gilbert’s] very high energy,” Bluiett said. “When he says something, he means it. When he says he wants fast, he wants fast. … He cares a lot about the players and knows a lot about speed.”

Though Gilbert only commands the offense, his new practice strategies touch every corner of the field. For every bit faster he wants the offense wants to run, the defense must keep up.

“It’s a change, not just for the offense but for all of us,” sophomore linebacker Malik Jefferson said. “It gets us better mentally and helps us slow down the game. When we’re out there, a team may go fast, but we’ll be used to it. We’re going to be a lot faster on our end, and it’s going to make the team better.”

Going into spring practice, the main concern for Texas is the quarterback position. Senior Tyrone Swoopes has been taking the primary snaps, but redshirt sophomore Jerrod Heard remains the favorite to win the battle. Early freshman enrollee Shane Buechele also has a shot at the starting job.

But the position seems to be a non-issue to the players.

“The biggest thing with this offense is the speed we’re going at,” said Kent Perkins, the oldest member of the offensive line. “I feel comfortable with any of the quarterbacks. They’re all competing their butts off.”

For a year with so much on the line, the players are starting to grasp the basics of an up-tempo offense. 

“It’s about getting in as many plays [as we can] and trying to be fundamentally sound on each play,” Perkins said.