In the Newbery Medal winning short story, Recruiting for Dummies, I mentioned the myth of the rainmaker recruiter. These supposed rainmakers are in much shorter supply than Dummies realize. Most recruiters are beholden to circumstances that are largely out of their control, namely program perception. This excludes head coaches, of course. A position coach killing it on the trail for Ohio State isn’t going to be the same recruiter at other schools, even if he was selling a good and somewhat similar product like Michigan. Or even Notre Dame.
There are still unknowns surrounding the season in general, and plenty around the Texas program per the “new normal“ of the last decade, but there’s a lot of optimism that we feel is justified. Of course many of the concerns are every bit as justified, if not more so. It wouldn’t be Texas football without that tension.
Cross your fingers as Texas begins phase 1 of reopening the state. We need this to go well not only for important reasons, but also extremely important reasons like the return of Longhorns football, preferably with a punctual start. We’ll cover that potential start more in the coming days.
The recent Facebook live chat/interview that Tom Herman did with Inside Texas (hat tip @josephcook) during the lockdown lull had a couple of interesting nuggets packed in there that deserve some extra attention. It can be hard to dive into tactics and plays in specificity without illustrations or examples, but we can follow up and better understand some of the points that Herman was making in that chat.
Normally spring would bring practices and the orange and white game, offering up a lot of clarity on the depth chart and pecking order on the team. Assuming they didn't do another of those terrible drafts, a spring game would have been fascinating this year for revealing how well the defense was trading off routes in the new quarters scheme. They could have just thrown everyone off the scent by playing mostly cover 1 for the spring game but there’s a good chance we would have seen Chris Ash’s revamped defensive backfield executing the base coverages that will define the defense this season.
In his COVID-19 Chalktalk series on Twitter, new Texas offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich unveiled a couple of new passing concepts that give a little bit of insight into his thinking on play-calling. He also drew up a triple-option play from the I-formation on April Fools and then tagged some of Texas’ receivers in the play while joking about it being a go-to formation and play for the Longhorn offense next fall. The biggest takeaway from that one was almost certainly that he included Jordan Whittington among the receivers he was trolling.
The coronavirus and corresponding responses by public officials have impeded Tom Herman from accomplishing his spring task of fully installing new offensive and defensive systems. Thanks to modern technology and work accomplished prior to UT’s closure and various stay-at-home orders, the install was greatly disrupted but not fully derailed.
Tom Herman had to make one of the most important decisions of his career this offseason after “reassigning” Tim Beck from offensive coordinator. The obvious narrative that Herman has encouraged was that Texas needed an OC that could handle more of the play-calling and gameplanning load in order to free up the head coach to oversee overall program quality and culture. That’s certainly true, but Herman had a bigger challenge for 2020, which was to find someone to help the offense fully unlock their potential in a make or break year for his tenure and to make the most of being the flagship program in a state known for offense.
Back in 2017, Mike Yurcich was one of the early victims of the inverted Tampa 2’s initial pass through the league. Iowa State threw the scheme at Texas, who struggled mightily with it, then used it while upsetting Baker Mayfield and the playoff-bound Oklahoma Sooners. Not long afterward, Texas incorporated the scheme into their own defense and ended up relying on it to take the Mason Rudolph Oklahoma State Cowboys to overtime in Austin.