Notes from the Austin Longhorn Club – Major Applewhite

The mood was a bit grim walking into the Frank Erwin Center today, after the embarrassment in Provo. Hook ‘Em worked the crowd, trying to discourage negativity, but he didn’t have a whole lot of success.

The scheduled speaker was originally to be Manny Diaz, but he obviously had to be replaced. While we would have received very interesting answers to our questions from Coach Diaz, they sent Major Applewhite instead.

I anticipated lots of hard questions for Coach Applewhite. Most of the focus since the BYU game has been on the shake-up on the defensive side of the ball, but the reality is that the offense left a lot to be desired as well.

The biggest problem on that side was the offensive line’s inability to block anyone or get any sort of push, and at times to even try to do so. But many of Applewhite’s play calls were definite head scratchers.

In any case, Major’s opening statement was short and sweet. He said that last week wasn’t what anyone wanted, but that they don’t have the luxury of focusing on the past. They have to look forward to this weekend.

He also said that they have to get more continuity on offense. There were a couple of stretches during the BYU game where things worked well, but that they have to do it for the entire game.

The whole statement lasted maybe two minutes. Then he opened the floor to questions.

Unfortunately, he didn’t really open himself up to answers. He dodged and weaved, and answered very little.

Like the lunch two weeks ago, I’m paraphrasing both the questions and the answers. Many of the questions were asked, at least partially, without the benefit of a microphone. And Applewhite’s answers were hard to follow at time.

So, take this all with a grain of salt. It’s not a transcript. The luncheon is supposed to be shown on the Longhorn Network later, so watch it there if you can.

And, if I misstate something too badly, please point it out in the comments.

The first question was regarding Daje Johnson. We had been hearing all week about how the plan was to get him into space. Why did you call a run up the middle?
Daje can do all sorts of things, including getting a yard and a half up the middle. But we have to execute the play.

The next question was about the offensive line not being able to hold their blocks very long.
The deeper you go in down and distance, the more options the defense has. As a result, sometimes the QB needs to get rid of the ball faster. Or just get out of the pocket. Sometimes the line needs to block longer. There’s not just one reason that things fail.

We were running an up tempo offense. We would run up to the line and then look to the sideline for the play. Meanwhile, the defense had time to get set. Why weren’t we snapping faster?
We had a number of communication issues. We’ve got to operate more effectively.

What do you expect from Ole Miss’s defense?
They’re bigger and better at their front seven then they were last year. The back four are also tied together better.

We’ve got to take care of the ball and stay out of third and long.

I’m an old guy, but when we learned to tackle, we were taught to wrap our arms around the guy and keep our legs moving. It just seems like we need to block and tackle better.
It usually is your fundamentals. It’s usually not the scheme.

We hear a lot about the clock in the quarterback’s head after the snap. How do you get them to speed up that clock, or be more cognizant of it?
Just coach them. Teach them to anticipate. Read the coverage pre and post snap.

There were plenty of times early in the game when it worked. But as the game wore on, we had issues with protection, third and long, and timing.

We teach timing, spacing and anticipation throughout.

You’re giving us a lot of individual things that weren’t going correctly. Why were we messing up on all these little things?
When you lose a game, it’s usually a team effort. There’s a lot of different things.

Sometimes it has to do with mental focus and a player’s responsibility to get things done. Sometimes a coach hasn’t gotten a player into the right place. Sometimes you face adversity and you have to fight through it. Sometimes it’s about your mental strength.

Can you talk about WR and TE and their play.
I thought our WR did a great job. There’s always things you want to get better at, but they did a great job. But Coach Wyatt won’t ever be satisfied.

TE did some good things, but weren’t called on as much. Late in the game, we ran some two TE and were able to run the ball.

Do you want to give priority to the run or the pass?
We just want to score points. We want to take whatever the other team gives us. We don’t want to be one-dimensional.

Let’s talk about this weekend’s game, especially quarterback.
David is great at preparation. He’s tough, physically, and getting tougher mentally.

Case is the classic coach’s son. Asks all the right questions. Doesn’t have the physical skills of David.

Tyrone has all the physical skills. He just needs to stay with it.

When do we redshirt someone? How do we make that decision?
We’ve been behind the 8-ball the last few years due to injuries and transfers. If David can’t play, we might have to play a true freshman in Tyrone.

We’d certainly like to redshirt our freshman quarterbacks, but we haven’t had that luxury lately.

Lately, it seems that the teams we’re playing are more ready than we are. It looks like our team is still at the Friday night movie in some games.
We have to have our guys ready to play.

The last couple of years, Malcom Brown has been nursing injuries almost constantly. When are we going to see a healthy Malcolm Brown?
Yes, I think we saw that last week. He was running well, but we were getting behind so we had to throw the ball. Maybe in retrospect, we should have stuck with the slower game.

How does the loss of Daje affect the game?
We had a package of plays for Daje, but we discussed what we would do if we lost him.

Once we lost him, we had to throw some of the plays out, but it’s not like we lost our entire gameplan.

Could you comment on the altitude/oxygen issues?
I didn’t hear anyone comment on that, but I didn’t ask the players. I didn’t see it with any players.

It was a huge effect in Wyoming, but not in this game.

It appeared that the BYU DBs were playing way off our receivers. Why didn’t we play the short pass game more?
We did, but there were times we didn’t execute.

Do you prefer coaching from box or the field?
There’s benefit to both. Being in the box means less distraction. Sometimes on the sideline a player will try to tell you something you already know. Maybe he’ll come up to you and say, “Coach, I can’t block that guy.” And you’re thinking, “Yes, I can see that.”

On the sideline, you can’t see the far side of the field.

The advantage of being on the sideline is being able to communicate with your entire team at one time.
Sometimes, when communicating through another person like another coach, not everything comes across.

I’ve liked each at times, and I’ve not liked each at times.

What about Overstreet?
I don’t really want to talk about individual players. Sometimes we have information that other people don’t have.

1 Comment on “Notes from the Austin Longhorn Club – Major Applewhite

  1. Brian Combs

    Oh, and one more note. The attendance was higher two weeks ago with Mack Brown talking, but the food was better today.

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