First Domino Fallen?
By Kevin Flaherty
First, he said, was scoring offense. When a team scored a lot of points, it didn’t typically lose. Which makes a lot of sense. When the Longhorns were winning at least 10 games a season from 1999-2009, they were averaging 39 points per game, the second-best mark in the country over that time period to fellow consistent winner Boise State.
In 2009, Texas went to the BCS National Championship game, thanks in part to a Big 12 leading scoring offense that put up 39.3 points per game. In 2010, Texas fell to 5-7, and out of the postseason, by averaging just 23.8 points per game. The Longhorns were even worse in conference play, scoring 19.2 points per game — second-worst in the Big 12 — and winning just twice in eight games.
And so sources within the athletic department confirmed that offensive coordinator Greg Davis, the architect of both offenses, will be removed from his coaching spot, and likely placed in a non-coaching administrative role. No official announcement has been made, nor is one planned for today.
Davis had earlier laid down the gauntlet somewhat, stating that he had no intention of retiring from coaching. But most believed his fate wouldn’t necessarily be his choice.
It’s worth noting that several factors played into those struggles. For one, Texas decided to switch to a more balanced attack, one that would lean on the run more heavily than in years past to protect new quarterback Garrett Gilbert. But all three running backs in Cody Johnson, Fozzy Whittaker and Tré Newton spent time fighting injuries, with Newton eventually hanging up his cleats.
The offensive line similarly suffered from injuries, at one point starting three freshmen, all in spots that were expected to be filled by seniors. At the same time, the wide receivers, essentially the same group as a year before sans Jordan Shipley, struggled to find the open grass that they found when Shipley was eating up coverage over the middle of the field.
All of that affected Gilbert, undercut by inconsistency around him and his own inexperience. He finished as one of the Big 12′s worst-rated passers and struggled with turnovers.
Following the season-ending loss to Texas A&M, Davis himself admitted that he did a poor job of coaching this season, stating that an offense’s only job was to score, and adding that the Longhorns failed to do that.
He also earned criticism for too-conservative play-calling, especially early in games, and failing to establish an offensive identity all season. When the Longhorns faced poor run defense teams like Iowa State and Kansas State, they fell behind early and failed to take advantage of the opponents’ weaknesses.
Davis coached with Brown for 16 years, dating back to the duo’s tenure at North Carolina.
It remains to be seen who will fill Davis’s spot. Will Texas promote young coaching star Major Applewhite, who was the offensive coordinator at Alabama before returning to Austin, or will they go for a more established, big-name candidate?
Whoever gets the job will have the luxury of some nice, but young, pieces. Gilbert has shown his talent at times, and Mike Davis and Darius White have exciting potential at wide receiver. Add in four returning linemen who started games this season and the country’s No. 1 running back in Malcolm Brown, and the Longhorns aren’t without young talent.
It also remains to be seen whether Davis will be the only one to lose his job before next season. Brown met with staff members on Sunday, and started the process of looking at each assistant coach soon thereafter. He will evaluate each coach and come up with his decisions from there.
Expect more moves to be made, but most won’t carry the same weight