co-offensive coordinator

Junior quarterback David Ash leads a newly redesigned Texas offense which returns nine starters from its 9-4 season a year ago. 

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

Texas has in its burnt orange hands a new season, an up-tempo offense, a newly promoted co-offensive coordinator, a third-year starting quarterback and a bevy of receivers ready to step up.

Head coach Mack Brown has many ingredients on hand for a strong season. But Longhorns fans have been jostling for one of those for the past three years. 

While it was the defense that underwhelmed last season, Texas’ offense still left fans up in arms. Why couldn’t it execute the way it had in the Colt McCoy days?  Why weren’t more points up on the board? Where were the thrilling passes down the field that sent the crowd to its feet? The running game? 

For starting quarterback David Ash, the pressure stands much taller than his lean 6-foot-3 frame. The rising junior now has plenty of valuable experience under his belt, and with that experience comes expectations of more polished play. For the offense to produce results, Ash will have to be consistent in every game and claim a leadership role. 

Ash’s status as the team’s starting quarterback is much stronger than it was last season. Case McCoy currently holds the backup spot, but Jalen Overstreet, Connor Brewer and early enrollee Tyrone Swoopes will provide additional support.  

“It is going to be my job, and everyone on this team’s job, to hold everybody accountable throughout these next three or four months of the summer and the offseason,” Ash said. “We’ve got to take a hold of this team and make it something special for next year.” 

Brown’s up-tempo offense has largely been placed under the control of co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Major Applewhite. The offensive plan involves quicker snaps, a no-huddle approach and will require speed from players in order to be effective.    

An injury and a pair of suspensions have made room for a batch of ready receivers this spring. Rising sophomore Cayleb Jones, who served as a reserve last season, was charged with aggravated assault in March and is suspended, along with Kendall Sanders, who was arrested for DWI earlier this month, from the team for the time being. Meanwhile, junior Jaxon Shipley, who was often Ash’s go-to guy in 2012, is coping with a strained hamstring and did not play in the spring game. Those absences leave room for Bryant Jackson, John Harris and Marcus Johnson to develop their skills in the offseason. Senior Mike Davis, who started nearly every game last year, will work to exert his influence for a memorable last season. 

“A receiver in the spread offense is really fun, because the ball will be spread around and allows you to put up a lot of points,” Davis said. 

The running back position has a slew of returners — including Johnathan Gray, who has sparkling potential but often failed to execute last season. The sophomore will have more opportunities to run the ball and needs to step up in his second season with the Longhorns. Then there’s Malcolm Brown, who played in eight games last season but was plagued by injury. Add junior Joe Bergeron, and sophomore Daje Johnson to the mix and you’ve got a group of backs that Mack Brown says are being used interchangeably in the spring. 

“I’m seeing us like we were with Colt [McCoy}, and at the same time, running the ball better,” Brown said. “I’m really excited about our offense. I think it’ll be the best offense since Colt left.”

Recently promoted co-offensive coordinator Major Applewhite and men’s athletics director DeLoss Dodds both released statements last Friday regarding “inappropriate, consensual” behavior with a student during the days leading up to the 2009 Fiesta Bowl. (Daily Texan file photo)

Photo Credit: Marisa Vasquez | Daily Texan Staff

Texas co-offensive coordinator Major Applewhite engaged in “inappropriate, consensual behavior with an adult student” in 2009, according to a statement released by UT men’s head athletics director DeLoss Dodds on Friday night.

The incident took place during the 2009 Fiesta Bowl, when Applewhite served as running backs coach. The identity of the student was not revealed.

“Several years ago, I made a regretful decision resulting in behavior that was totally inappropriate,” Applewhite said in a separate statement also released Friday night. “It was a one-time occurrence and was a personal matter. Shortly after it occurred, I discussed the situation with DeLoss Dodds. I was upfront and took full responsibility for my actions. This is and was resolved four years ago with the University.”

According to a letter obtained by The Daily Texan through the Texas Public Information Act from Dodds to Applewhite dated Feb. 5, 2009, the department froze Applewhite’s salary for the rest of the year and required him to schedule an initial session with a licensed professional counselor.

“As we discussed, some of your conduct in Arizona during the Fiesta Bowl week was inappropriate and falls below the standards we expect of our coaches and staff,” Dodds said in the letter.

Applewhite’s admission comes on the heels of the resignation of Beverly Kearney, former women’s track and field head coach. Kearney admitted in October to an “intimate consensual relationship” in 2002 with an adult student-athlete in the track and field progra. The University placed her on administrative leave before notifying her in January that it was prepared to begin the termination process, at which point she resigned.

Dodds said in his statement released Friday that he believes the appropriate discipline was taken in regard to Applewhite.

“In determining appropriate discipline, we analyze the facts and circumstances surrounding the behavior and its relation to job responsibilities,” Dodds said. “Major fully accepted his discipline, including counseling. We have high standards for behavior and expect our staff and coaches to adhere to them in all aspects of their lives.”

Applewhite, a former Longhorn quarterback, joined the coaching staff in 2008 as an assistant head coach before being promoted to co-offensive coordinator in January 2011. He became the sole offensive coordinator after Bryan Harsin accepted the head coaching job at Arkansas State in December.

Applewhite said he and his wife, Julie, worked to put the incident behind them through counseling.

“I am regretful for my mistake and humbled by this experience,” he said. “I am deeply sorry for the embarrassment it has caused my friends, family and the University. I appreciate all of them. I’ve learned and grown from this and look forward to my work at Texas.”

Published on February 4, 2013 as "Coach pardoned". 

In the midst of the third quarter of the 2001 Holiday Bowl, the odds weren’t looking too good for the freckle-faced redhead to lead his team to a win.

Down 36-20 going into the fourth quarter, senior quarterback and team captain Major Applewhite furiously powered a previously turnover-prone Texas team to a 20-point onslaught, giving the Longhorns a 40-36 lead. The Huskies found the end zone one last time before Applewhite marched Texas into the end zone with a mere 38 seconds remaining, earning him Offensive MVP honors.

Eleven years later, another Longhorns quarterback would claim a bowl win with a fourth-quarter comeback of his own. This time, Applewhite was on the sideline, making his debut as co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.

The Baton Rouge native comes with charisma, energy and an impressive resume. He learned the ropes of coaching as a graduate assistant coach under Mack Brown for two years. He was Syracuse’s quarterbacks coach in 2005; Rice’s offensive coordinator in 2006, when the Owls scored the most points in school history; and Alabama’s offensive coordinator in 2007.

Despite an impressive stint in Tuscaloosa, Applewhite was drawn back to his burnt orange roots and joined the Texas coaching staff as assistant head coach and running backs coach in 2008. In January 2011, he was promoted to co-offensive coordinator.

Several weeks before the Alamo Bowl, co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Bryan Harsin left Texas to take over as the head coach at Arkansas State.

Applewhite continued to serve as co-offensive coordinator but also took on the role of play-caller and quarterbacks coach.

Brown had long been coaxing Applewhite into preparation for the position.

“I told Major, ‘You need to put yourself in position as the play-caller every day, because that day is going to come fast, and when it comes, you need to be ready,’” Brown said of Applewhite’s new position.

Brown also has full faith in Applewhite’s capabilities as play-caller for his team.

“Major has never lacked for confidence,” Brown said. “When I called him and said, ‘Bryan’s going. Are you ready to call plays?’ And of course he said, ‘Yes, sir. See you in the morning.’”

The first opportunity Applewhite had to showcase his play-calling abilities came in the Alamo Bowl against a favored Oregon State team.

No stranger to bowl games, Applewhite played in four and coached in eight. But with increasing pressure on his quarterback to deliver after an up-and-down regular season, many were left wondering how Applewhite would fare, how his quarterback would perform and if the team would be doomed to a second straight 8-5 season.

For the first half of the game, it was difficult to tell. The offense struggled to perform as Oregon State racked up several touchdowns, leaving the Longhorns 10 points behind heading into the fourth quarter.

But as the final 15 minutes on the clock began to wind down, Ash began to come alive, powering two touchdowns that ultimately allowed Texas to etch one more win on its record.

Ash’s performance in the second half inspired hope that perhaps next year will be a more successful year for Texas, as Ash becomes more comfortable in his position.

Only time will tell whether Applewhite will make that difference. But for now, he knows what he has to do to get Ash to that point.

“It’s not about the X’s and O’s, it’s really about just the culture of our program and demanding more of our guys, demanding more of our coaches, and that’s where we’re going to improve as a ball club,” Applewhite said.

Major Applewhite, who recently took over the playcalling responsibilities, looks onto the field of a previous Texas game. 

When Bryan Harsin was named Texas’ co-offensive coordinator and given play-calling responsibilities in 2011, Mack Brown knew who Harsin’s successor would be.

“I told Major [Applewhite], ‘You need to put yourself in a position as the play-caller every day, because that day is going to come fast, and when it comes, you need to be ready’,” Brown said.

Sure enough, when Harsin got his first career head coaching gig at Arkansas State last month, it was Applewhite who immediately took over his duties as the team’s play-caller and quarterbacks coach. In his first game in his new role, Applewhite’s Longhorns offense stalled in the first quarter of the Valero Alamo Bowl against Oregon State on Dec. 29. But Texas scored touchdowns on each of its final drives, overcoming a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit to beat the Beavers, 31-27.

“It’s not about the X’s and O’s, it’s really just about the culture of our program and demanding more of our guys,” Applewhite said after the Alamo Bowl victory. “Tonight, the way we needed to win the game was to spread them out, throw it, clear some loose lanes for the quarterback to run the ball and be effective.

Applewhite previously served as Texas’ running back coach, leaving a vacancy in the Longhorns coaching staff. It was filled by Larry Porter, who coached running backs at Oklahoma State, LSU and, most recently, Arizona State.

He went 3-21 in the 2010 amd 2011 seasons as the head coach at Memphis and will be working with a talented Texas backfield that includes Johnathan Gray, Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron.

“We are very excited to have Larry Porter joining our staff,” Brown said. “During his time at Oklahoma State and LSU, he did a tremendous job recruiting Dallas and Houston. He has also worked with two of our current coaches in [defensive tackles coach] Bo Davis and [offensive line coach] Stacy Searels in previous positions and has been friends with [wide receivers coach] Darrell Wyatt for a number of years.

“I’m just really excited to be joining what I think is the best program in the country,” Porter said. “Having the opportunity to work under a man like Coach Brown, who I look at as a legend in college football, is an honor and a privilege. He has done so much for college football and is so well respected.”

In the Longhorns’ nine wins this past season, they averaged 203.9 rushing yards per game and averaged 5 yards per carry. In their four losses, they ran for 98.5 yards per game and averaged only 3.1 yards per carry.

Harsin heads to an Arkansas State program that has seen each of its last two head coaches hired by SEC squads.

Hugh Freeze, who went 6-6 in his first season as the head coach at Ole Miss this year, was the Red Wolves’ head coach in 2011 while Guz Malzahn was named Auburn’s head coach last month after leading Arkansas State to a Sun Belt title last year.

“He’s a bright young coach with great enthusiasm and passion for the kids and the game. He’ll do a tremendous job at Arkansas State,” Mack Brown said of Harsin. “He feels like it is a great situation for him. We’re happy any time our coaches have the opportunity to be a head coach. I think that is a great reflection of the types of coaches we are fortunate enough to have in our program.”

Among the other coaching changes made include Wyatt being promoted to co-offensive coordinator, making him the first African-American coordinator in Texas history. Offensive line coach Stacy Searels was promoted to assistant head coach for offense and tight end coach Bruce Chambers now handles the primary recruiting coordinator duties, which he previously shared with Wyatt.

Published on January 14, 2013 as "Applewhite takes over play-calling". 

Former Longohrns offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin has officially been named the head coach at Arkansas State, Texas announced Wedensday afternoon.

With Harsin's departure, Major Applewhite will retain his title as co-offensive coordinator and will now assume the playcalling duties while wide receivers coach Darrell Wyatt has been promoted to co-offensive coordinator. Among the other staff changes are Stacy Searels' move from offensive line coach to assistant head coach for offense. With the promotion of Wyatt, who tight ends coach Bruce Chambers split recruiting duties with, Chambers will now handle the recruiting responsibilities on his own.

Texas also announced that it will begin looking for a running backs coach, a role that Applewhite had while serving as co-offensive coordinator for the last two seasons.

"[Bryan] has done a tremendous job fo us, and we appreciate all the energy he's poured into our program the past two seasons," Longhorns head coach Mack Brown said in a statement. "He's a bright young head coach with great enthusiasm and passion for the kids and the game. He'll do a tremendous job at Arkansas State. Because of the great support and resources [men's athletics director] DeLoss Dodds, [UT president] Bill Powers and The University of Texas provide us, our coaches are well compensated and in a position that they can focus all of their energy on our program and be patient when it comes to future opportunitites. We're excited for Bryan because after visiting with the folks at Arkansas State, he feels like it is a great situation for him. We're happy any time our coaches have the opportunity to be a head coach. I think that is a great reflection of the types of coaches we are fortunate enough to have in our program."

Applewhite, who left Texas as its all-time leading passer in 2002, was a graduate assistant for the Longhorns from 2003-04. After spending a year as the quarterbacks coach at Syracuse (2005), Rice (2006), and Alabama (2007), he returned to Texas to serve as the running backs coach. In 2010, he was promoted to co-offensive coordinator following the departure of Greg Davis.

He'll make his playcalling debut when the Longhorns take on Oregon State in the Valero Alamo Bowl on Dec. 29.

Bryan Harsin's brief tenure as Texas' co-offensive coordinator appears to be over.

Harsin, who joined the Longhorns' coaching staff last January, will be named Arkansas State's head football coach Wednesday, according to multiple reports, one by's James Bryant among the first. Since he took over as Texas' co-offensive coordinator, Harsin's offense ranked in the bottom half of the Big 12 in both scoring and total offense in each of his two seasons on the job. This will be Harsin's first college head coaching job.

After Texas went 5-7 in 2010, the program's first losing season since 1997, Harsin was one of six new members to join the Longhorns' coaching staff before the beginning of the next season. Garrett Gilbert won a four-man battle for the starting quarterback spot before the 2011 campaign but underwent season-ending shoulder surgery and transferred to SMU after starting only two games. David Ash and Case McCoy have had their moments but have failed to separate themselves from one another since.

Harsin takes over for an Arkansas State team that went 9-3 and won its second Sun Belt Conference title since joining the league in 2005. After less than a year on the job, former Red Wolves head coach Gus Malzahn left to become the head coach at Auburn, where he was an offensive coordinator from 2009-11. Senior quarterback Ryan Aplin passed for 3,129 yards, 23 touchdowns and four interceptions last year. Aplin will leave Arkansas State as the Sun Belt's all-time leading passer.

Malzahn became the second straight coach to use Arkansas State as a stepping stone to the SEC. His predecessor, Hugh Freeze, went 6-6 in his first season as the head coach at Ole Miss this year.

A press conference is scheduled for Wednesday afternoon to make Harsin's hiring official.  

Senior punter Alex King (15) came to Texas after serving as the Duke Blue Devils' punter for the past four seasons. King also handled the quarterback duties for the Blue Devils' scout team, as well as playing the position in high school.

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

The depth chart experienced a huge change this week at quarterback, as Case McCoy assumes the starting role. However, that’s not even the most shocking transition, because a punter is now the third-string signal caller.

Alex King, Texas’ starting punter, will be tasked with the responsibility of learning a few select plays in the emergency that McCoy gets hurt and David Ash is unable to play due to a rib injury he sustained in last Thursday’s loss to TCU.

“He was out there throwing with the quarterbacks last night,” head coach Mack Brown said. “I told [co-offensive coordinator] Bryan [Harsin] to put him right in the middle of it because we have no guarantees.”

It may sound ridiculous to have a punter fill in quarterback, but King grew up playing the position in North Carolina, and was an all-state selection at Phillips Exeter Academy in New England during his post-graduate year. He also served as the emergency quarterback in his time at Duke. King transferred to Texas this season to pursure a graduate degree after spending his first four years with the Blue Devils.

“Alex is an athlete,” offensive guard Mason Walters said. “We have faith in him. I saw him throw the ball around a little bit yesterday, I was impressed.”

King received the backup nod over freshmen quarterbacks Connor Brewer and Jalen Overstreet. Brown doesn’t wish to burn their redshirt seasons by putting them for only a few plays in one game.

Both freshmen have yet to see a snap this season. If a situation forced either one of them to enter the game on Saturday, it would waste an entire year of eligibility.

“It’s one of those reasons I think we should have five years of eligibility,” Brown said. “I would love to bring one of those freshmen out to let them play. Still, you put them in for three plays against Kansas State and it costs them a year. I don’t think that’s fair.”

Brown also discussed the possibility of using one of the other many athletes on the roster that played quarterback in high school instead of King, such as safety Mykkele Thompson.

However, Brown doesn’t want to take away depth from other positions and also felt that King, a fifth-year senior, is more mentally prepared to handle the role.

“We’re in a position where none of them have played and none of them have taken any snaps,” Brown said. “We feel that Alex is smart. He’s mature. And he’s older. We’ll give him a limited package and not have to take someone out of position anywhere else.”

King’s package of plays will be limited. Co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin taught him a few running plays at the beginning of the season, and now his role will expand to encompass a few pass plays. But the playbook will be simple.

This isn’t the first time a non-quarterback has prepared in a backup role for Texas. In 2006, when Colt McCoy was injured and then-backup Jevan Sneed decided to transfer, wide receiver Quan Cosby prepared to take snaps if necessary. He learned five plays, but never had to enter a game.

The coaching staff hopes it’s the same case with King. But they know one thing. He’d be the best quick-kick quarterback they’ve ever had.

“We actually used him last night, Harsin said. “He took a couple shots down the field. He dropped back seven steps, punted it, right on the money. Hit a spiral.”



Defensive coordinator Manny Diaz
Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

Co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin and defensive coordinator Manny Diaz now understand what it’s like to be both criticized and admired by Texas fans.

Both sit at 13-7 as Texas coaches. But people’s sentiments towards them are at opposite ends of the spectrum. Mack Brown can certainly sympathize.
“Last year people wanted Manny to have my job,” Brown said. “This year they’re mad at Manny. Last year they thought I hired the wrong guy in Bryan. Now they’re wanting autographs and pictures.”

Even though the pair’s situations have changed, neither are changing their demeanor or the way they coach.

As the Longhorns were walking off the field after their last-minute win over Oklahoma State, Harsin hugged or high-fived each player that passed by him heading to the locker room. Maybe it’s because he sits in the booth, but it was a surprising sight.

“If I could say one thing about coach Harsin, it’s that he’s passionate,” offensive lineman Luke Poehlmann said. “It’s kind of inspiring to see that as a player because it feels like it bleeds into our offense. All the players can see how much he cares about it and how hard he works to get us prepared. He’s a great coach.”

Poehlmann said he loves playing for Harsin because of his creativity. Though he hasn’t changed, he’s grown with the team and gotten to know the players better.

“Coach Harsin is really consistent,” offensive lineman Mason Walters said. “Win, lose or draw, he always brings that same mentality the next day of ‘Hey, we’ve got to get better’ ... It’s always about growing and it’s never about staying the same with Coach Harsin.”

Perhaps Harsin’s most important steps this year have come with David Ash. The quarterback has made significant strides and has controlled the offense very well. The Longhorns are fourth in scoring offense in the Big 12 and have stood their ground in shootouts against Oklahoma State, West Virginia and Baylor.

Last year, Diaz’s defense was sixth nationally in rushing defense and eleventh in total defense. Now the Longhorns are at the bottom, eighth in total defense in the Big 12 and 107th in the country. Diaz refuses to change what he’s doing.

“All it’s about is your persistence as a teacher,” Diaz said. “How can a scheme all of a sudden not be able to stop a run? Or how can a scheme not be able to stop a pass or do whatever? What it comes down to is your teaching.”

Said senior safety Kenny Vaccaro, “It worked last year, why shouldn’t it work now? I think we have talented players across the board. It’s not coach Diaz’s fault.”

Harsin and Diaz are taking on some of the highest expectations in the country. One is meeting them, one is falling way short. At Texas, it comes with the territory.

Printed on Friday, October 26, 2012 as: Diaz, Harsin stick to guns

Mack Brown has emphasized repeatedly the importance of third down conversions and red zone offense, two banes of Texas’ existence in 2010.

Out of 192 attempts, Texas only converted 77 third downs, a measly 40 percent. And in the red zone, the Longhorns scored just 23 touchdowns on 52 attempts from inside the 20-yard line — a 44 percent success rate.

So after an offseason of cleaning house, it’s out with the old and in with the new.

Co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin was brought to Texas this past winter to help the Longhorns score. One of the top offensive minds in the country, Harsin put together a strong body of work at Boise State and also helped the Broncos put up some big (and efficient) numbers.

While Texas sputtered on third downs and in the red zone last year, Boise State fared better. On third down, the Broncos converted 75 times on 153 attempts — a 50 percent rate. But with Harsin calling the plays and quarterback Kellen Moore executing them correctly, they faced a third-down situation 40 fewer times than the Longhorns. And remember Texas’ poor red zone success rate? Up north, Harsin’s Broncos broke the plane 47 times out of 68 attempts (69 percent).

Boise State’s effectiveness in crucial spots led to some big point totals. The Broncos averaged 45 points per game compared to Texas’ 24.

It’s clear that Harsin knows how to coach an offense, and he’s done it with two- and three-star recruits. Now, Harsin gets to work with co-offensive coordinator Major Applewhite, another young coaching star, and the esteemed recruiting classes Texas hauls in year after year. It shouldn’t be too long before Texas returns to offensive prominence.

Printed on Monday, August 29, 2011 as: Harsin's influence in Texas may be what offense needs.

Most Important Longhorn

(Daily Texan file photo)

Photo Credit: Jeff Heimsath | Daily Texan Staff

Editor’s Note: The Daily Texan will introduce one important Longhorn each issue. Here is No. 5 of the Texan’s 10 Most Important Longhorns.

It’s usually not a good thing when your best wide receiver is a sophomore, but there’s no need to worry with Mike Davis at the Longhorns’ disposal.

As a true freshman last season, Davis caught a freshman single-season record 47 passes for 478 yards. Many of Texas’ most prominent pass-catchers, however, are gone with James Kirkendoll and John Chiles exhausting their eligibility, Malcolm Williams leaving the team this offseason, and Marquise Goodwin redshirting as he pursues his Olympic track and field aspirations. So despite being just a sophomore, Davis will be counted on to be the team’s most productive receiver.

“The wideouts are a young group,” said Major Applewhite, co-offensive coordinator and running backs coach. “Not a senior in the group. [They have] a lot to prove. With it not being a really experienced group, they kind of feel like the little brother that’s ignored so they’re going to make their mark. They’re doing a great job.”

Of Texas’ top seven wide receivers, four are freshman, two are sophomores and there is one junior — DeSean Hales, who registered 10 receptions last year. Jaxon Shipley, one of the freshmen, is a strong candidate to start. Davis will have a lot of pressure on him to lead, but his coaches are confident he can handle it.

“Mike Davis has been great,” said Bryan Harsin, co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. “He can be a special player for us but I really like the way he’s competing. I like his attitude and I like what he brings to our team.”

Not only are Davis and the rest of the receiving corps inexperienced, but the Longhorns have also welcomed a new receivers coach this year. Former Kansas co-offensive coordinator Darrell Wyatt, who is also known for his remarkable recruiting prowess, has drawn high praise for his work with this young group.

“Darrell Wyatt has got to be considered one of the best wide receivers coaches in the country,” said head coach Mack Brown.

New faces like Wyatt could be beneficial for the Longhorns wide receivers, none of whom caught more than two touchdowns last season. In their defense, there were only 10 to go around, but with Davis at the front of this young wide receiver pack, they will be much more productive.

Printed on Friday, August 26, 2011 as: David leads inexperienced group of receivers.