The Brian Harsin Offense Taking Shape
Brian Harsin came to the 40 Acres with a lot of hype. Harsin was the mastermind behind the Boise State offense, an offense that allowed a mid major from a small market to consistently beat the big dogs, and make living in the top 10 as common in Boise as potatoes. Harsin’s calling card was the Fiesta Bowl against Oklahoma, where Harsin used his bag of tricks to beat OU in a college football classic. So when the Texas Longhorns were looking for a new offensive coordinator, who better than the man that beat Oklahoma on the big stage. Harsin left his home state for a chance to bring his high powered offense to the next level. Only 1 problem, Texas was coming off a 5-7 season, and had no clear cut QB. Last season Harsin turned the once high powered Horns into a power running team, with freshman backs Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron. Texas struggled at times on offense last season, and the biggest disappointment was the red river shootout against OU.
This year started out slow as well, with plenty of rushing attempts, but still not very strong with the passing game. Harsin wasn’t on the hot seat, but he wasn’t exactly the most popular man in Austin(that title still belongs to willie nelson). Then Saturday happened, and the year long building looks like it’s starting to pay off. Texas traveled to SEC country, to the grove to take on Ole Miss. Ole Miss isn’t an SEC powerhouse, but it was a nice early road test for this young horns team. Harsin’s offense had been very basic and vanilla against Wyoming and New Mexico, but Harsin unleashed his full Boise state type offense on the rebels.
Texas scored 66 points in their route of Ole Miss, in front of one of the biggest crowds in Mississippi history. Texas established the run, like they had in every Harsin ran game at UT, but this time Harsin used the run to set up the pass. And UT didn’t just pass, they threw deep down field. They were able to throw so much, that Quarterback David Ash won Big 12 Offensive Player of the week, and the Davey O’Brien QB of the week.
Many were surprised on Saturday, not only with the 66 points, but with the strong game by Ash. Many in the media felt Ash would be a “bus driver”, basically someone to hand the ball off to the talented running backs. But those that remember why Harsin was hired shouldn’t be surprised. Harsin’s Boise State teams often ran the ball to set up the deep ball. Harsin has used his stable of talented playmakers to hit the opposing defense at all phases of the game. Brown and Bergeron run up the middle, DJ Monroe, Daje Johnson, and Marquise Goodwin hit the corners to spread defenses sideline to sideline. And now David Ash uses his big arm to throw the ball deep, which is sure to keep Big 12 defenses from loading the box. Now, the Horns will still run the ball as much as possible, but now Texas will use the run game to torch defenses, just like Harsin likes it. Time will tell if the UT offense will continue to shine, but if it does, Harsin just might challenge the red headed stranger as the most popular guy in Austin.