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|With even more responsibility in the Horns' new offense, QB David Ash is under even more pressure.|
AUSTIN, Texas -- Texas gave itself 15 practices, essentially 30 or so hours, to overhaul a long-standing offensive system and change a team mentality.
The Longhorns want to speed things up, go no huddle, move with the adroit alacrity of Oregon or Oklahoma State. Two weeks into the reconstruction project, with only two more to go, the one thing that seems to be moving quickly is time. And Texas, because of NCAA practice rules, doesn't have much time left.
"This offense is kind of a bear to change your mentality coming from a huddle team," said guard Mason Walters. "But the coaches have what they want this offense to be in their head and they're not accepting anything less than that. So even though we are processing and going through the steps to become better and quicker getting plays off, they are not going to be happy with it until it is exactly wherever they want it on the play clock when the ball is being snapped."
Well, to think one can snap his fingers and have a new spread-and-speed offense is slightly ludicrous. There will be missteps. But, at the least, Texas is taking the steps now to minimize them. Again, it's just the time factor.
Texas has just two weeks left in spring, and then fall practice, before it is forced to throw back the curtain on its new look. Whether it is an "Egad" or "Ta-da!" moment largely depends on not just how much the coaches accomplish in the remaining two weeks of spring but how successfully the players take the torch and run with it in the offseason.
"We can work through 7-on-7 season [this summer] and put the onus on the team," Walters said. "To run a fast-paced offense it has to be on the guys on the field to get that ball snapped."
The one guy it is on more than any is quarterback David Ash. The newly anointed starter is being forced to be more vocal, to orchestrate an offense that has been off-key in the past and turn it into something that makes beautiful noise by September.
"I'm yelling at everybody all the time," Ash said. "I love it."
This is not a role to which the soft-spoken Ash is accustomed. So, while the offense as a whole is having to change its identity, the quarterback is having to transform his personality. And again, it all has to be done in an ever-narrowing window of time.
Walters' view through that window is eye-opening, not to mention optimistic, at the moment.
"He is really stepping up in that management position of the fast-pace offense, and that is important," he said of Ash. "You have to have guys in the right spots to run the plays and make sure they are effective. David is coming into his own more and more."
That, in turn, could allow the offense to come into its own through the remaining few practices and the summer.
That Texas is running many of the same plays, only at a faster pace, with 10 starters returning on offense is also a tremendous asset to at least slow down the clock. Players should know where to be, and, just as Walters alluded, they now have to be independent thinkers and overcome any fatigue that might toy with their minds, because there is no longer a huddle on which -- and in which -- to lean.
Oh, yeah, and there's also no time, neither on the play clock nor left in spring, to do any leaning, either.