It may be Mack Brown’s 14th season as Texas’ head coach, but a majority of his staff has barely been on the 40 Acres for more than a few months. Nonetheless, the players have warmed up to the newbies fast.
With the departure of longtime offensive coordinator Greg Davis, coach-in-waiting Will Muschamp and three other Texas coaches, the Longhorns did what they do best — they didn’t rebuild, they reloaded. Texas hired a bevy of young coordinators and coaches on both sides of the ball hoping to inject some new life into a team that had become stagnant in it’s on-field approach.
“We brought in a pretty young staff, and we have guys that are 30 or 31 years old, who are just passionate about the football game,” senior running back Foswhitt Whittaker said. “You can see the energy that they bring is affecting everybody from coach Brown to the players.”
That reinvention included two key hires — former Boise State offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin and former Mississippi State defensive coordinator Manny Diaz. Brown considers them future head coaches and wanted their fresh perspective. To the players, the hires are relatable and motivating.
“[Diaz] is very confident in what he does and naturally that bleeds over to us,” senior safety Blake Gideon said. “He believes in his schemes, and he’s made it work everywhere he’s been. He’s given us a lot of freedom as far as the older guys go, and he’s really trusted us to learn the defense on our own, so it is really exciting working with him.”
Although all the players showered their former coordinators with praise, senior linebacker Emmanuel Acho sees tremendous potential in transitioning into Diaz’s scheme.
“Both Diaz and Muschamp are both equally great coaches, but I’m excited to play under Diaz’s scheme. I think the sky is the limit for us under this new system.”
Although the players didn’t reveal too much about the logistics of the new system, many think Diaz’s approach will resemble the “Desert Swarm” defense used by Arizona in the early ‘90s. The scheme is characterized by a greater emphasis of on-the-ball defense and hard-nosed pursuit tactics making it very hard for offenses to read and exploit.
Also injecting some muscle into the program is the new action-figure-like strength and conditioning coach, Bennie Wylie.
Wylie works out with the team three times a day with a superhero-like mentality, which senior linebacker Keenan Robinson said pushes him to train even harder.
“You don’t want to be embarrassed by your coaches in the weight room,” Robinson said. Robinson added that he felt the chemistry between the coaches has done wonders for building cohesion among the players.
“All the coaches are fun to be around. They joke a lot, they’re cool and they get along,” Robinson said.
“That’s always good for a coaching staff, especially when you get guys together in such a short period of time. And when they get along that just makes the players get along as well. It helps build team camaraderie.”
Mack Brown didn’t need to reinvent the wheel after last season’s performance; he just needed to spruce the existing ones up. And so far the players feel as if the suped-up additions will have the monster truck that is Texas football revved up and running smooth in 2011.
Printed on Thursday, July 28, 2011 as: Staff sparking team with enthusiasm