Up-tempo offense key to Longhorn success

Garrett Callahan

With less than 15 minutes remaining in the Red River Rivalry, Texas found itself down 31-13 to the Sooners.

Although they would come up short in the end, the Longhorns staged a fourth quarter comeback in which the offense seemed to find its rhythm for the first time since sophomore quarterback Tyrone Swoopes took over at quarterback.

Texas used a series of up-tempo, no-huddle drives to score three times in the fourth quarter. Given how successful the no-huddle offense was last Saturday, the Longhorns should continue to use the accelerated offense as they work to fight their way back to .500 and into a bowl game.

“And the key thing too, they were tired, so we tried to just run down their [defensive] linemen,” head coach Charlie Strong said. “That doesn’t allow the defense to get set. So now they can’t sub; now he knows exactly what he’s going to get.”

In past years, Texas has stayed true to a methodical attack, huddling before each play in an attempt to take time off of the clock and use time of possession to its advantage. But, especially in the five games following former quarterback David Ash’s retirement from football, the Longhorns haven’t generated enough offensive production from their traditional offense.

With Swoopes under center, the Longhorns looked comfortable in the no-huddle. They were able to speed things up on the defense and prevent Oklahoma from getting set, creating more opportunities for Swoopes and his offense.

“You get defenses to numb up — go a little vanilla for you,” said Shawn Watson, quarterbacks coach and play caller. “Plus, the players, they’re moving so fast they’re not overthinking the process, so it definitely helps out – especially the younger quarterbacks.”

One of the hottest trends in the world of college football, the up-tempo offense has proven to be the key to success for many teams around the country.

Baylor, which currently ranks third in the NCAA in total offense, has run a total of 541 plays this season, an average of about 90 plays per game. In that time, the Bears have averaged 52.7 points per game — the highest total in the country.

Texas has run just 432 plays this season for an average of 72 plays per game. And through six games, the Longhorns have scored an average of only 19.7 points per game, two points lower than that of their opponents.

While Watson said the remainder of the season will feature a mixture of slow- and fast-paced possessions for the Longhorns, they are best when they are moving quickly. With Swoopes beginning to get comfortable under center, the Longhorns can expect more points and more wins if they continue to move the way they did in the fourth quarter at the Cotton Bowl.