Texas offensive coordinator Joe Wickline, also the team’s offensive line coach, holds the title of play-caller for the Longhorns. But he said input for game plans, as well as individual plays, will be subject to group input.
At this point, Wickline and quarterbacks coach Shawn Watson remain in discussions with head football coach Charlie Strong about the direction the team’s offense will take in 2014. Members of the first-year staff want to watch returning players in action for a few days after spring drills open March 18 before deciding where to focus the attack. Although he will call plays from the sideline, Wickline said a group mindset will prevail.
“It will be by committee, basically,” Wickline said Wednesday. “Somebody’s going to kind of oversee the running game. Somebody’s going to oversee the passing game. Somebody’s going to oversee situations. But, ultimately, we’re all responsible. And we’re going to do it by committee is how it’s going to work.”
Wickline and Watson envision running a balanced attack built around the talents of the team’s two returning quarterbacks: David Ash, a junior who missed most of last season with concussion-related issues, and sophomore Tyrone Swoopes, who threw sparingly as a backup to Case McCoy during last year’s 8-5 campaign.
Watson said the quarterbacks will not take part in contact drills this spring because he does not want to risk injury and take away from their learning curves. Watson said he has studied both players on tape but added, “I don’t know if I have a true evaluation of Tyrone because of the way he was used.”
Asked what he looks for in a quarterback, Watson said: “A passer who is athletic.” But intangibles, in his mind, outweigh the physical skills.
“When I train a quarterback, I approach it like I’m trying to hire an assistant coach,” Watson said. “No matter what system you run, that’s what he is. He has the game in his hands. So I’d just tell those guys, ‘There’s a lot to learn this spring. So come hungry and humble and have high expectations.’ Eventually, we’ll get them there.”
_ Jimmy Burch