As Texas retreated to the locker room for halftime during the Alamo Bowl, it found itself down 20-10 and in dire need of some offensive productivity.
The offense came alive in the second half to pull off a stunning victory over Oregon State thanks to two touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
Texas’s second-half offensive execution against the Beavers was exactly what Mack Brown wants to see from his offense this year. But he wants to see it during every game the Longhorns play.
“We have talked long and hard about who we want to be this year,” Brown said at a press conference preceding spring practice. “We want to be attacking on both sides of the ball and be aggressive like we were in the second half of Oregon State. That’s who we want to be.”
Much buzz has surfaced with Brown’s discussions of an up-tempo offense. Which leads to the burning question of whether an up-tempo offense is the key that will spur more yards, more points and ultimately more wins for the Longhorns this season.
The strategy, in theory, will involve quick assembly of the offense, often without a huddle. The Longhorns will utilize the speed and talents of quick players to wear out opposing defenses, giving it less time to plot and substitute before the snap.
The strategy will draw upon the Colt McCoy and Vince Young years for its use of quick players, and combine it with the running game Texas has developed over the last two years.
“We still want to be very balanced,” Brown said at his press conference. “So we will continue running the ball a lot. We will have fewer formations and we will substitute less, because one of the real advantages right now for defenses is that when you substitute, the defense gets to substitute.”
The tactic sounds solid, but is Brown’s offense the right fit for the quickness the strategy requires?
“We did it with Vince in one offseason and we kind of started the stuff out here in a lot of ways,” Brown said. “That’s what David [Ash] was in high school. We feel like he’ll be perfect for this. It was what Case [McCoy] has always done.”
A key facilitator in executing up-tempo will be co-offensive coordinator Major Applewhite, who was a starting quarterback when Texas utilized the quick technique. Up-tempo offenses guided the Longhorns to a national championship under Young in 2005 and two additional BCS bowl victories.
While the Longhorn offense often struggled to execute in 2012, equally exasperating at times was Texas’ inconsistent defense. Brown believes the up-tempo technique will help on both sides of the ball.
“We have created a tempo environment in the offseason,” Brown said. “Everything we did in the offseason was for both groups to be around tempo. We think that by working against tempo offense every day in practice, [it] is going to help us a lot when we get ready to play against these type [of] offenses next fall.”
The upbeat style will take time, practice and a little faith. Only time will tell how efficient it is in jump-starting the offense next fall. Brown, meanwhile, is optimistic about his offseason efforts.
“Now we have got our power runs and short yards and goal line, and most tempo teams can’t do that,” Brown said. “And we feel like we can. So we feel like that what we have done for the last two years is a great advantage for where we’re going.”