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Texas Longhorns Football

What the Texas Longhorns can take from William & Mary’s new offense



There is always a new trend emerging in the college football landscape that has an impact across the country and even stems to the NFL level. The Big 12 had its hay-day of developing breakthrough concepts in the spread offense. The Texas Longhorns weren’t really a part of that breakthrough trend in the Big 12 in the 2000s under former head coach Mack Brown, but they’re latching on now under current head coach Tom Herman.

The coaches in the Big 12 that really had those breakthrough concepts on offense were Oklahoma State’s Mike Gundy, Texas Tech’s Mike Leach, and the Briles’ at Baylor. But the line of Big 12 coaches that are developing new concepts on offense still stems through 2019 with Oklahoma’s Lincoln Riley.

In the case of the Longhorns, Herman likes to run spread concepts with a run-first tendency. Junior star quarterback Sam Ehlinger gives him the perfect dual-threat to run his schemes. Ehlinger is more accurate than ever so far this season, and still uses his legs as a weapon when Texas runs the quarterback power or he escapes the pocket.

But how can Texas continue to add more complexity and variety to their offensive schemes as other Big 12 programs like Oklahoma innovate more and more?

There’s a place Herman can turn to that most wouldn’t consider. The place the Longhorns can seek-out houses an FCS program.

Deep in the heart of the state of Virginia is the William & Mary Tribe. The Tribe hired former Virginia Cavaliers coach Mike London, who wanted to install an up-tempo offense that was heavy on the run (more specifically the option). William & Mary offensive coordinator Brennan Marion calls this new up tempo option scheme the “go-go” offense. This scheme also incorporates quite a few trick plays.

The Tribe averages more than 190 rushing yards per game so far this season and has two players with at least 40 carries a piece in just three games. Their two leading rushers also have five touchdowns combined, and averaged over 4.5 yards per carry.

Where the concepts really made an impression for the Tribe was in the win over the FCS Colgate Raiders last week. William & Mary managed to run the ball 40 times and put up 38 points while only possessing the ball for 26:42. The Tribe also mixed in 20 passing plays. William & Mary was able to completely wear down the Colgate defense in such a small span of possession time to nab a 38-10 win.

That’s a lot of tempo.

What the Longhorns can take away from this new William & Mary offense is the combination of up-tempo shotgun offense with a setup of two running backs in the backfield to run the option at all times. The ability for William & Mary to utilize their running back depth to throw their opponents off with constant ground-and-pound tendencies and trick plays mixed in is very intriguing.

Once the running back depth picks up for the Longhorns down the stretch this season and with incoming freshmen next year, Herman could incorporate this into his game plan to some degree. With Ehlinger getting a better and better grasp of commanding the offense himself, he might be able to pick up the tempo for the Longhorns even more next season.

In Week 4, Texas will take on the electric offense of Oklahoma State to open up Big 12 play. William & Mary faces their second FBS team of the 2019 campaign this weekend as they take on the East Carolina Pirates. Both games will be interesting to watch to gather more information about various successful and intriguing offensive schemes.

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