offensive coordinator

Joe Wickline, offensive coordinator and offensive line coach, returns to Stillwater, Oklahoma, this weekend to take on Oklahoma State, which is suing him for nearly $600,000.

Photo Credit: Jonathan Garza | Daily Texan Staff

For Joe Wickline, offensive coordinator and offensive line coach, this weekend’s trip to Stillwater, Oklahoma, will be somewhat of an awkward homecoming.

On one hand, he will be returning to the house that built him.

At Oklahoma State, in the friendly atmosphere of Boone Pickens Stadium, Wickline led an offensive line that consistently ranked among the best in the country. He also coached the likes of Russell Okung and Corey Hilliard, and developed a résumé that eventually persuaded Texas head coach Charlie Strong to hire him as his offensive coordinator.

On the other hand, Wickline will be returning to a university that is currently suing him for nearly $600,000.  

When Wickline left Oklahoma State, his contract stated he would owe the program the remaining balance of his contract unless he was named “offensive coordinator with play-calling duties” or took an NFL job.

Initially, that’s how his gig in Austin was presented: Strong hired him as the offensive coordinator, and he was to share play-calling duties with Shawn Watson, assistant head coach for offense and quarterbacks coach.

But, according to Oklahoma State administrators, Watson has been calling the plays, and Wickline hasn’t been involved at all, so he must pay the school the remaining $593,478 of his salary.

The mini-drama has added fuel to the fire ahead of this weekend’s must-win game for the Longhorns, but the Texas coaching staff insists it won’t be a distraction.

“It’s not going to be brought up, and it’s not a concern,” Strong said. “Their concern is go play Oklahoma State because the lawsuit has nothing to do with how we’re going to play and where our focus is going to be.”

All legal matters aside, Wickline’s wealth of experience working alongside Cowboys head coach Mike Gundy and the rest of the Oklahoma State staff should give Texas the inside edge Saturday.

Defensive coordinator Vance Bedford spent time on Gundy’s staff as well, but that was back in 2005 and 2006. Wickline’s recent nine-year tenure with the Pokes will be particularly advantageous.

“It’ll be helpful when we start talking personnel that he knows the guys,” Strong said.

Several of Oklahoma State’s players from a year ago, when Wickline was still there, are key contributors this year, so having him on staff should help the Longhorns prepare on both sides of the ball.

“I think he’ll be a huge asset,” senior receiver John Harris said. “[Wickline] knows the guys that are on the defensive side pretty well. We’re going to rely on him a lot, take his input on what we need to do and how we need to go out and get this win.

Perhaps Wickline’s prior experience with the Cowboys will prove to be the added advantage the Longhorns need to get past Oklahoma State and gain bowl eligibility this weekend. Or maybe his lawsuit with the school will end up being a distraction Texas can’t overcome, giving the Pokes their sixth win of the season and a post-season birth of their own.

Either way, one team will leave Saturday’s contest having realized its bowl aspirations.

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

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 released by the University 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.

Earlier Friday, the UT System Board of Regents announced a special meeting to take place Sunday to discuss legal issues related to individual athletics personnel and issues related to relationships between employees and students generally.

System spokeswoman Jenny LaCoste-Caputo declined to tell The Daily Texan why the meeting was suddenly called. LaCoste-Caputo said the regents do not plan on approving any specific course of action as a result of the meeting, which will be held in a closed session.

“They don’t plan to take any action, but they made the decision that this was something they needed to care of and discuss,” LaCoste-Caputo said.

Board chairman Gene Powell said the regents’ primary area of concern is the well-being of students, and the board learned of the incident with “great disappointment and sadness.”

“We expect our coaches to adhere to the highest standards of conduct and lead by example,” Powell said in a statement. “However, until such time as the Board can fully understand the background surrounding this event and its moral and legal implications, we will have no further public comment.”

Applewhite’s admission comes on the heels of the resignation of Bev Kearney, former women’s track and field head coach. Kearney admitted in October to an “intimate consensual relationship” with a student-athlete in the track and field program in 2002. 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.

According to the University’s Handbook of Operating Procedures, “The University strongly discourages consensual relationships between supervisors and subordinates, teachers and students and advisors and students.” The policy goes on to say that a failure to report the relationship “will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination.”

But Kearney’s attorney, Derek Howard, said the University’s reasons for firing Kearney made no mention of those specific policies.

“[The University] doesn’t mention [Kearney’s] failure to report the relationship as the reason for firing her,” Howard told The Daily Texan in January. “It’s because she had the relationship, period.”

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 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.”

It’s not every day a quarterback passes for almost half a mile, guiding his offense to more than 807 total yards. However, if the feat were going to be accomplished, West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen’s air-it-out offense would be the likely gateway. Last Saturday, Geno Smith, West Virginia quarterback and Heisman frontrunner, burned Baylor for 656 passing yards, and 8 touchdowns, en route to a 70-63 victory. 

Even though the Big 12 is known for spread-style offenses, Holgorsen was well aware of his team’s feat last weekend.

“Not every Big 12 game is like this,” Holgorsen said following the game.

And he would know best after stints at Oklahoma State and Texas Tech as offensive coordinator.

With West Virginia heading to Austin Saturday, let’s take a look at how Texas has fared against Holgorsen-coached offenses.

In 2005 Holgorsen’s first season with offensive coordinator duties at Texas Tech, the No. 10 Red Raiders visited Austin only to be dealt a 52-17 loss. Tech quarterback Cody

Hodges was coming off a 643-yard performance the week before but only managed 369 yards against the Longhorns’ defense. Overall the Red Raiders eked out 468 total yards, averaging 5.8 yards per pass.

The next year, Texas headed to Lubbock and struggled with a 21-point deficit in the first half. While Texas eventually rallied back to win the game 35-31, the game was deemed more of an escape. The Red Raiders, behind sophomore quarterback Graham Harrell, put up 518 yards of offense, 519 through the air and -1 via the ground. Harrell threw all three of his touchdowns in the first half as the Texas defense gave up 10 plays of 16 yards or longer all before the half.

“Everything he did was right. The right throw, the right receiver, the right route,” former cornerback Aaron Ross said. It goes to show how disciplined a Holgorsen-coached quarterback is.

In 2007 the Red Raiders came back to Austin and, in Holgorsen fashion, tallied 476 total yards, 466 of them through the air. Harrell sought revenge from the previous year throwing five touchdowns but ultimately came up short, as Tech lost 59-43 behind the Longhorns’ 551 total yards of offense.

Texas had a two-year breather from Holgorsen when the coach headed to Houston for the 2008 and 2009 seasons. However, the offensive mastermind re-emerged at Oklahoma State in 2010 as the offensive coordinator. The No. 10 Cowboys visited the 40 Acres and dropped 532 yards of offense on the Longhorns’ defense en route to a 33-16 victory.

Behind junior quarterback Brandon Weeden’s 409 passing yards, the Cowboys snapped a 12-year losing streak to the Longhorns.

Holgorsen-coached offenses average 499 yards against Texas, 441 of those yards through the air. However, the Longhorns have always held their own, averaging 459 yards through those four games, and have an overall 4-1 record against the offensive guru.

While the Longhorns have found success against Holgorsen-mentored teams, the Mountaineers squad visiting Austin Saturday is arguably his best ever. Behind Smith, the school’s all-time passing yardage, touchdown passes and completions leader, West Virginia is averaging 442 yards through the air, with help from arguably the nation’s two best receivers, Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin, who have 17 touchdowns and 1,195 yards between each of them.

If the Longhorns’ defense isn’t ready for a track meet Saturday, Holgorsen and company will fly out of Austin with another victory.

Printed on Wednesday, October 3, 2012 as: Holgorsen's offenses test Texas

Greg Davis (left), who coached at Texas for 13 seasons, is now the offensive coordinator at Iowa and will make his debut with the team on Saturday. He led the Texas offense to a national title in 2005. The team averaged averaged 50.2 points per game that season.[Daily Texan File Photo]

Photo Credit: Amanda Martin | Daily Texan Staff

Big Ten Media Days wrapped up July 27 with the overwhelming majority of attention directed toward the Penn State scandal. Football will go on, and many of the Big Ten teams have generated a lot of excitement.

One team with potential upside, the Iowa Hawkeyes, made some changes this offseason, most notably for Texas fans, hiring former offensive coordinator Greg Davis. Head coach, Kirk Ferentz, and quarterback James Vandenberg have nothing but respect and enthusiasm for the 61-year-old offensive coordinator.

“How much he knows and how excited he gets, he’ll run all the way down the field after a big play in practice,” Vandenberg said.

A second-year starter, Vandenberg knows how much experience Davis has, as far as coaching different skill sets.

“He handed it to Ricky Williams 40 times, ran the zone, read with Vince Young and threw it almost every play with Colt McCoy,” Vandenberg said at Big Ten Media Days in Chicago. “All three players are arguably the greatest offensive weapons in the history of Longhorn football and aren’t a bad trio to have on a coaching resume.”

Ferentz, coming into his 14th season as Iowa’s head coach, had no doubt about hiring Davis after his stint on the 40 Acres. With references from Miami Dolphins head coach, Joe Philbin, and former Indianapolis head coach, Jim Caldwell, Ferentz heard nothing but great things about Davis, who has garnered much respect from the coaching landscape.

Davis led the Longhorns offense from 1998 to 2010 and for a 9-year stretch (2000-2009) within that period had Texas averaging 39 points per game, ranking first nationally among BCS schools. During the national title run in 2005, the Longhorns offense racked up 652 points, an NCAA record at the time, averaging 50.2 points per game.

However, with all the accolades, one of the big criticisms of Davis in his time at Texas was that he was a buttoned-down play caller and did not utilize the immense talent available — the same criticisms directed toward Ken O’Keefe, the longtime Iowa offensive coordinator who resigned in February to take the wide receivers’ coaching job with the Dolphins.

When questioned about Davis’ play-calling, Ferentz pointed to his track record at Texas consisting of tremendous long-term success.

“The offensive coordinator position has become a lightning rod in football, and Greg knows that it comes with the territory,” Ferentz said, “If you look at Greg’s statistics, it’s almost laughable to question his coaching ability.”

Ferentz continued on to reemphasize his lightning rod analogy.

“If Vince Lombardi were alive today and were an offensive coordinator, he’d be getting ripped on Sundays the first time his team lost,” he said.

It goes without question that Davis was and still is a remarkable coach with incredible ability to develop quarterbacks and coach to certain players’ abilities. It might not have been so evident in his final season on the 40 Acres, during which the offense averaged 23.8 points per game, pairing together with a 5-7 season; but make no mistake, a Greg Davis-led offense can score points. Perhaps a fresh start is all that’s needed.

Printed on Friday, August 31, 2012 as: Davis to make coaching debut with Iowa

Iowa excited about its new offensive coordinator

CHICAGO -- For my summer internship in the Windy City, I was given the chance to cover the Big Ten media days Thursday and Friday at the Hyatt Regency downtown.


The overwhelming majority of attention was, of course, directed towards the Penn State scandal. However, when it got down to the subject at hand -- football -- I saw a conference looking forward to the future, with talented young teams ready to emerge.


One team with upside, the Iowa Hawkeyes, made some changes this offseason -- most notably for Texas fans, hiring former offensive coordinator Greg Davis. I sat down with head coach Kirk Ferentz and senior quarterback James Vandenberg to discuss their new play-caller.


Vandenberg, a second-year starter, knows how well Davis has adjusted his offense to particular skill sets in the past.

 

“He handed it to Ricky Williams forty times, ran the zone read with Vince Young, and threw it almost every play with Colt McCoy," said Vandenberg, who threw for 3,022 yards and 25 touchdowns as a junior. "He knows a lot."

 

Vandenberg is also impressed with Davis' fire.

 

“[I've noticed] how excited he gets, he’ll run all the way down the field after a big play in practice.”


Ferentz, coming into his fourteenth season at the helm of the Iowa program, had no doubt about hiring Davis after he took a year off. With references from Miami Dolphins head coach, Joe Philbin and former Indianapolis head coach, Jim Caldwell, Ferentz heard nothing but great things about the 61-year-old Davis and the respect he has garnered around the coaching landscape.


One of the big criticisms of Davis at Texas was being a buttoned-down play caller at times, and not utilizing the immense talent available, which just so happens to be the same criticisms directed towards Ken O’Keefe, the longtime Iowa offensive coordinator who resigned in February to take the wide receivers coaching job with the Dolphins.

 

Ferentz isn't having any of that, or the unfair fact that offensive coordinators scapegoats for a struggling football team.

 

“The offensive coordinator position has become a lightning rod in football, and Greg knows that it comes with the territory,” Ferentz said. "If you look at Greg’s statistics, it’s almost laughable to question his coaching ability. If Vince Lombardi were alive today and was an offensive coordinator, he’d be getting ripped on Sundays the first time his team lost.”


It goes without question that Davis was and still is a remarkable coach with incredible ability to develop quarterbacks and coach up to certain abilities. That touch might not have been so evident in 2010, his final year with the Longhorns, but as writer Robert Brault once said, “Time is a figure eight, at its center the city of Déjà vu.”
 

Iowa State quarterback Steele Jantz, No. 2, leaps over a Northern Iowa defender in their first game of the season. Jantz has traveled a long road to become a Division I starter.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

One year ago, Steele Jantz was trotting on to the field of RAM Stadium about to lead the City College of San Francisco football team at quarterback against another Northern California Conference opponent.

Flash forward and the 22 year old, who only started one game at quarterback while in high school, has led the Iowa State Cyclones to a 2-0 start, including an upset 44-41 victory over in-state rival Iowa in the third overtime last Saturday.

“You are going from one level of football to the next, and as the competition increases and the level of play increases, there is that unknown factor,” said Iowa State head coach Paul Rhoads. “[Jantz] has the personality that he has shown us thus far that he’ll be unflappable when it comes to 55,000 screaming fans and playing under the lights.”

Prior to this season, Jantz’s only FBS football experience was playing the role of then Florida quarterback Tim Tebow on the University of Hawaii’s scout team as a true freshman. After redshirting at Hawaii, Jantz joined the junior college ranks and transferred to City College of San Francisco in search of more playing time.

During his 2010 season at the helm of the City College of San Francisco offense, Jantz threw for 3,075 yards and 23 touchdowns and rushed for 601 yards and 14 TDs to lead the Rams to an 11-1 record and a spot in the California State community college title game.

Jantz’s play caught the eye of Rhoads and Iowa State offensive coordinator Tom Herman who offered him a spot on the Cyclone’s roster and a chance to compete for the job of starting QB.

After a battle in training camp with Jerome Tiller — who was eventually ruled academically ineligible and forced to sit out the 2011 season ­— Jantz won the starting position and was handed the ball for the Cyclones’ season opener against Northern Iowa.

“Steele emerged from a group of quarterbacks by displaying the three qualities we were looking for most consistently. That’s decision-making. That’s throwing accuracy and that’s getting things done with his feet,” Rhoads said.

In his first start as a FBS quarterback, Steele went 18-40 in the air for 187 yards and three interceptions and rushed for 80 yards and two TDs. Despite struggling throughout most of the game, Steele led the Cyclones to two scoring drives in the final five minutes and gave Iowa State a 20-19 win over Northern Iowa.

“I tried not to pay attention to the nerves, but there were some nerves,” Jantz said about his first game at the head of the Cyclones’ offense. “Luckily as the game went on, I was able to settle down a little bit.”

Despite a rocky, although victorious, start to his FBS career, Jantz brought his name to the front of the minds of the Cyclone faithful with a performance against Iowa that earned him Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week honors and caused Iowa State fans to rush the field.

“When I do things bad, when I make mistakes, I try to make sure that’s the last time that’s going to happen,” Jantz said following Saturday’s victory. “I’m the type of guy that really learns from mistakes so hopefully every game I’ll be getting better.”

Throwing for 279 yards, four TDs and no interceptions in addition to rushing for 42 yards, with a QB rating of 166.58, Jantz led Iowa State to the tying touchdown with 1:17 left in regulation and then to touchdowns in each of the three overtime periods.

“He’s just a natural quarterback,” said Cyclone junior wide receiver Josh Lenz. “He has a knack of making plays when he needs to and that’s what he’s doing.”

As he continues his transition from junior college to the FBS, Jantz will need to have more performances like his one against Iowa if the Cyclones are to return to a bowl game for the first time since 2009.

“Steele Jantz makes plays. He made plays as a junior college player that we recruited and he’s making plays as an Iowa State Cyclone now,” Rhoads said. “Some guys rise up when the spotlight’s the brightest and he certainly has in two football games.”

Seeking to add some punch to an offense that faltered badly last season, Texas coach Mack Brown hired Boise State offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin on Friday to handle the play-calling for the Longhorns.

Harsin will share the offensive coordinator title with former Texas quarterback Major Applewhite, who has been on staff the last three seasons as running backs coach.

"What a great opportunity to come to a place like Texas with its rich history and tradition," Harsin said. "We've had success at Boise State over the years, but you look at a Texas and it has been a championship program for a long, long time and it's just one of those places you want to be a part of."

Harsin replaces Greg Davis, who won a national championship with Texas in 2005 and played for another in 2009, but resigned after the Longhorns went 5-7 last season.

Harsin spent 10 seasons on the Boise State staff, the last five as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. He was a finalist for the 2009 Broyles Award given to the nation's top assistant coach.

Under Harsin, the Broncos had one of the nation's most potent offensive attacks. Boise State went 61-5 over the last five seasons. The Broncos ranked among the top scoring teams in the country under his play calling.

"Bryan and Major working together gives us two of the best, young offensive minds in the country," Brown said.

Hiring Harsin is the latest move in Texas coach Mack' Brown staff shake-up. On Thursday, Texas introduced new defensive coordinator Manny Diaz, who spent last season with Mississippi State. Five Texas assistants, including defensive coordinator Will Muschamp, who had been designated as Brown's successor, left the program to take other jobs or resigned or retired.

Muschamp left Texas to be the head coach at Florida.

Davis had been with Brown at Texas since 1997 and had led some of the most successful offenses in program history. But he was the frequent target of fan frustration when Texas lost, which reached a fever pitch in Texas' dismal 2010 season.

Christmas came early for many Longhorn fans Monday who finally got what they had been wishing for — the end of the Greg Davis era.

It’s official. The Texas offensive coordinator has stepped down, resigning under intense pressure from the hordes of Texas fans who have been calling for his head for several years now. And it didn’t help that Davis’ sudden — and rather bizarre — switch to a pro-style offense in 2010 went belly up as the Longhorns finished a disappointing year with just five wins.

But Davis isn’t the only coach who will not return for the 2011 season. Joining him are associate head coach and offensive line coach Mac McWhorter as well as defensive line and special teams coach Mike Tolleson, who both retired.

This could be the change that Texas needs as the Longhorns search for answers after one of the school’s worst seasons in recent memory. The last time Texas failed to reach a bowl game was 13 years ago — Mack Brown and Davis’ first year in Austin.

Davis’ biggest failure in 2010 was his decision to drastically change the direction of the Longhorn offense, totally rewiring the spread-offense attack that had worked wonders for Texas when dual-threat quarterbacks Vince Young and Colt McCoy roamed the 40 Acres.

But with first-year starter — and Davis’ handpicked prodigy — Garrett Gilbert running the show in 2010, Davis saw fit to change the Longhorns’ offense.

Forget that Texas’ roster had no — count them, zero — dominant running backs and an offensive line that hadn’t consistently run-blocked in four years. It looked like a poor decision at the time, and it certainly was on Davis’ part.

The proof is in the pudding.

Consider that in 2010, the offense averaged an abysmal 23.8 points per game. Compare that with the nearly 40 points Texas scored on average in the previous seven seasons — during which the spread offense thrived — and it’s clear that the pro-style attack had no business in a Texas huddle in the first place.

Davis even misread the talent and skill of his own prized recruit. He figured Gilbert couldn’t run a lick and wasn’t as mobile as Young or McCoy — part of the reason he decided to change philosophies. But watching Gilbert play all year — look no further than the Nebraska game — it became clear the sophomore signal caller had the legs and athleticism to make plays on his feet, much like his predecessors.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. It doesn’t get much simpler than that unless, of course, you’re Davis.

Two National Championship appearances in five years using a spread attack? Sure, lets just change that right quick.

Well, Davis made his changes and forced Brown to make his own tough decisions after the season, costing Davis his job and ending his 16 years coaching alongside Brown.

Davis’ departure opens the door for running backs coach and former Texas quarterback Major Applewhite to step in as the new offensive coordinator.

It makes sense for Texas to promote someone in-house rather than searching for someone from another program, and Applewhite should be a welcome choice to the boosters, fans, media, coaches and players.

Texas fans can breathe a sigh of relief now that Davis will not be up in the booth calling the shots on game day, but simply jettisoning the offensive coordinator is not the one and only solution to Texas’ issues.

The Longhorns still need to find a go-to receiver, one who won’t drop easy first-down catches, and a workhorse out of the backfield.

Davis wasn’t the only problem but he was a huge part of it, and it’s up to Brown and most importantly, the players, to restore Texas football to elite status in 2011. 

Nothing is for certain, but rumors are circulating about the fate of Texas offensive coordinator Greg Davis.

The Texas Rivals website, Orangebloods.com, first reported last Thursday that head coach Mack Brown had fired Davis, but nothing official has been released from the athletic department since then.

Brown, who began his post-season evaluation of the disastrous 5-7 season last Monday, plans to take his time making serious decisions that will affect the future of the football program. Not to mention replacing Davis would be one of the hardest decisions of Brown’s career, as the two are close friends and have coached together for 16 years dating back to their days at Tulane and North Carolina.

But something is definitely going down — Greg Davis was even a nationally trending topic on Twitter for a few hours last week when the rumors first broke.

Sunday, the Austin American-Statesman reported that Davis told writer Kevin Robbins that he had not resigned, despite tips that a decision would be made by that afternoon. Davis said he and Brown will continue to evaluate the situation at hand on Wednesday after Brown returns from New York City, where he is attending the annual National Football Foundation scholar-athlete banquet and functions associated with the college football hall of fame.

It wouldn’t be surprising if Davis were fired. Though he molded Vince Young and Colt McCoy into some of college football’s all-time greats, rewrote the record books while helping Texas to a national championship in 2005 (the offense averaged 50.2 points per game that year) and coached in a second title game in ’09, he is considered the bad guy when Texas isn’t playing well.

From 2000-04, Texas lost five straight to Oklahoma and averaged less than 11 points per game in those contests. Much of the blame was put on Davis’ shoulders. A firing was also reported in 2003, but nothing ever came of it.

This season Davis was criticized for trying something new. With first-year starter Garrett Gilbert, who is not considered a dual-threat quarterback like Young or McCoy, Davis deviated from the successful spread offense and tried out pro-style with a balanced offensive attack.

That design didn’t quite fit the talent. Texas never was very balanced and finished the year as the 59th-ranked offense in the league. The group failed to score touchdowns and now Texas is home for the holidays instead of preparing for the post-season. It’s the first time the program has not made a bowl since 1997.

Texas expected a smooth transition from McCoy to Gilbert, but that did not happen as Gilbert threw 17 interceptions (two shy of the school record) and just nine touchdown passes.

The Monday before the Texas A&M game, Davis wasn’t worried about the state of his job.

“I’ve never felt like I was coaching for my job,” Davis said. “I got into this because I love the game and I can’t imagine doing anything else. When the alarm went off at this this morning, I jumped up excited to come to work.”

But changes must be made. A 5-7 record is atrocious and something the Texas football program cannot swallow.

If Davis were fired, it would cause a domino effect in the offensive staff. It’s unlikely Brown would hire a new offensive coordinator and keep the rest of his old staff, so if Davis goes, what does that mean for running backs coach Major Applewhite and tight ends coach Bruce Chambers? Chambers is one of the program’s best recruiters.

If Brown wants to keep the offensive duties inside the Texas family, maybe Applewhite will be promoted to coordinator. There’s also talk that defensive tackles coach/special teams coordinator Mike Tolleson and offensive line coach Mac McWhorter are going to retire and that receivers coach Bobby Kennedy is searching for a job out west.

There are a lot of variables in this equation, which is why Brown is taking his time re-evaluating. Don’t count on anything official being released until later this week — maybe after the team’s annual banquet on Friday night.

The Longhorn offense has been deathly ill this season, but the good news is the coaches think they’ve finally found the diagnosis — they’re not scoring enough.


But it’s not quite that simple. The Longhorns are moving the ball down the field, but when they get inside the 20-yard line, they choke. So why can’t they score in the red zone?

“I think there are a couple of things,” said offensive coordinator Greg Davis. “One, I think I’ve been a little conservative in the red zone trying to get points. I think there are some opportunities that we had that we didn’t come up with. So we’re going to look at a few things and see if we can give our guys some better chances.”

The truly curious thing is the fact that they’re getting enough yards to score. Texas ranks a mediocre 69th in the nation in yards and a distant 82nd in scoring. At this point last year, the Longhorns had reached the red zone 38 times, scoring 24 touchdowns. Fast-forward to this season’s nightmare, and they’ve reached the red zone 36 times but only scored 15 touchdowns.

“We’ve been able to move the ball down the field pretty well,” said left tackle Kyle Hix. “We just have to be more productive in the red zone and get touchdowns instead of field goals.”

While kicker Justin Tucker racks it up and leads the team in scoring, the rest of Texas’ offense fails miserably. Nearly every regular starter has been responsible for at least one blown touchdown. Whether it’s an interception, a dropped pass, a false start or a bad run, everybody hurts.

“I don’t think it’s one particular reason,” said running back Tre’ Newton. “We’ve just been making mistakes and not executing. I feel like we’ve been hurting ourselves more than anything. We just need to focus more and try to come away with touchdowns.”

It doesn’t matter how much the players and coaches focus on it week in and week out, the Longhorns somehow find a way to come up short. Many have blamed the lack of scoring on Davis’ play-calling, but at some point, the players have to take some of the responsibility.

“The coaches have put a big emphasis on finding the end zone and scoring more touchdowns, especially in the red zone,” Newton said. “I’m sure they’ll have a great game plan for us, and it’s our job to execute that game plan which will hopefully lead to more touchdowns.”

Some have suggested the Longhorns simply place too much pressure on themselves when they’re threatening. Most of their struggles have come at home in Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium when 100,000 rowdy fans are on edge, waiting to erupt at a score. Even the Texas Cowboys have prematurely fired Smokey the Cannon several times this season in anticipation of a score that didn’t happen.

“We just need to relax, have fun and execute,” said receiver Malcolm Williams. “It seems like sometimes we get in the red zone and start to get tight. We just really need to go in there and keep pushing forward.”

The toughest part about the lack of red zone scoring is the fact that no one entity is at fault. It’s everyone and anyone near the playing field. But it won’t get much easier this weekend in Kansas State against a defense that has allowed just 11 touchdowns in 25 trips for opponents. They rank 104th in yards allowed and 66th in points allowed. But regardless of how many yards the Longhorns can get, the only number that matters is the score.

“For the last couple of weeks, we have said that there is an area that we need to improve,” Davis said. “We’re just not getting touchdowns.”The Longhorn offense has been deathly ill this season, but the good news is the coaches think they’ve finally found the diagnosis — they’re not scoring enough.

But it’s not quite that simple. The Longhorns are moving the ball down the field, but when they get inside the 20-yard line, they choke. So why can’t they score in the red zone?

“I think there are a couple of things,” said offensive coordinator Greg Davis. “One, I think I’ve been a little conservative in the red zone trying to get points. I think there are some opportunities that we had that we didn’t come up with. So we’re going to look at a few things and see if we can give our guys some better chances.”

The truly curious thing is the fact that they’re getting enough yards to score. Texas ranks a mediocre 69th in the nation in yards and a distant 82nd in scoring. At this point last year, the Longhorns had reached the red zone 38 times, scoring 24 touchdowns. Fast-forward to this season’s nightmare, and they’ve reached the red zone 36 times but only scored 15 touchdowns.

“We’ve been able to move the ball down the field pretty well,” said left tackle Kyle Hix. “We just have to be more productive in the red zone and get touchdowns instead of field goals.”

While kicker Justin Tucker racks it up and leads the team in scoring, the rest of Texas’ offense fails miserably. Nearly every regular starter has been responsible for at least one blown touchdown. Whether it’s an interception, a dropped pass, a false start or a bad run, everybody hurts.

“I don’t think it’s one particular reason,” said running back Tre’ Newton. “We’ve just been making mistakes and not executing. I feel like we’ve been hurting ourselves more than anything. We just need to focus more and try to come away with touchdowns.”

It doesn’t matter how much the players and coaches focus on it week in and week out, the Longhorns somehow find a way to come up short. Many have blamed the lack of scoring on Davis’ play-calling, but at some point, the players have to take some of the responsibility.

“The coaches have put a big emphasis on finding the end zone and scoring more touchdowns, especially in the red zone,” Newton said. “I’m sure they’ll have a great game plan for us, and it’s our job to execute that game plan which will hopefully lead to more touchdowns.”

Some have suggested the Longhorns simply place too much pressure on themselves when they’re threatening. Most of their struggles have come at home in Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium when 100,000 rowdy fans are on edge, waiting to erupt at a score. Even the Texas Cowboys have prematurely fired Smokey the Cannon several times this season in anticipation of a score that didn’t happen.

“We just need to relax, have fun and execute,” said receiver Malcolm Williams. “It seems like sometimes we get in the red zone and start to get tight. We just really need to go in there and keep pushing forward.”

The toughest part about the lack of red zone scoring is the fact that no one entity is at fault. It’s everyone and anyone near the playing field. But it won’t get much easier this weekend in Kansas State against a defense that has allowed just 11 touchdowns in 25 trips for opponents. They rank 104th in yards allowed and 66th in points allowed. But regardless of how many yards the Longhorns can get, the only number that matters is the score.

“For the last couple of weeks, we have said that there is an area that we need to improve,” Davis said. “We’re just not getting touchdowns.”