Texas has become accustomed to its running backs taking over games and scoring most of the points. But that isn’t enough for this year’s offense.
Head coach Mack Brown has been pushing for a more balanced offense since last season, but with the quarterback struggles, it has been difficult to maintain a consistent passing game.
Now, he and co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin want the offense to capitalize on explosive plays downfield.
“We feel like we need to throw the ball more often deeper. And we have to make more yards on the short passes,” Brown said. “That’s something that we’ve been concerned about.”
Ash’s longest pass against Wyoming was 16 yards. There were five long downfield throws called, according to Harsin.
Two downfield passes to wide receiver Mike Davis were underthrown by Ash. Brown believes that as the season progresses, Ash will get more comfortable and the team will have more success when throwing the ball downfield. Harsin says ultimately the goal is for the team to send two shots downfield each quarter.
“We had some shots in there that we’ve got to hit,” Harsin said. “Those are game changing plays.”
Ash threw eight interceptions last season and a goal of the offense this season is to avoid turnovers. Last season, when the Longhorns won the turnover ratio, they won the game. Ash wasn’t picked off by the Cowboys, so that’s a start.
Though being responsible with the ball is important for Ash and the offense, throwing the ball downfield is still a necessity.
“I played a pretty much mistake-free game,” Ash said. “I missed out on some opportunities that I need to be able to exploit...there’s a couple of times I took a hitch step which threw off the timing which means the ball is going to be late. So for me that’s the main thing is trusting my reads, trusting my feet, and getting rid of the ball.”
Against Wyoming, the offense had 280 rushing yards and 156 passing yards. Having a running total that is higher than passing was a common theme for the Longhorns last season.
In a conference where teams scored 84, 69 and 59 points in their openers, the Longhorns will need more than Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron handling the ball in order to contend for the Big 12 title.
A deficit in explosive plays is nothing new for the Longhorns. They were seventh in total offense in the Big 12 last season. With newcomers West Virginia and TCU, the offense simply needs to score more points.
During Texas’ game against New Mexico, the team will have the opportunity to improve how it capitalizes on long passes downfield.
‘We’ve got to hit those big plays,” Harsin said. “I think it will change the outcome.”