Alamo Bowl: What Ash as quarterback means for UT
Coach Brown says the team’s new offensive boss is excited to take on challenge of bowl.
Major Applewhite and the rest of the Texas Longhorns’ new offensive brain trust have made their first executive decision: David Ash will start at quarterback in the Alamo Bowl.
Coach Mack Brown made it official Monday in his first news conference since naming Applewhite Texas’ lead co-offensive coordinator Wednesday as part of the staff shakeup after Bryan Harsin’s departure to become the head coach at Arkansas State.
Naming Ash the starter was the first notable decision in Applewhite’s new role, part of a staff transition that Brown described as “about as easy and smooth as can be.”
Also with new titles are wide receivers coach Darrell Wyatt (now co-offensive coordinator), line coach Stacy Searels (assistant head coach) and tight ends coach Bruce Chambers (recruiting coordinator).
But Brown emphasized that Applewhite, 34, will run the show.
“With Major’s passion, energy and savvy at playcalling, it’s his baby,” Brown said. “He’s excited about that challenge.”
Applewhite, who before returning to his alma mater in 2008 had spent 2007 as the offensive coordinator at Alabama and 2006 in the same role at Rice, has not been avail- able for comment since getting the increased responsibilities. His first public comments are not scheduled to come until a Dec. 26 news conference in San Antonio before the Dec. 29 bowl date with Oregon State.
Applewhite, the Longhorns’ quarterback from 1998 to 2001, has coached running backs since returning to Texas in 2008. But he now assumes Harsin’s job of coaching the quarterbacks, and he and his staff spent relatively little time before naming Ash the starter against the Beavers.
Ash started the first 11 games of the season, but a rib injury against TCU sidelined him
Coach Mack Brown said Monday he’ll wait until after the Dec. 29 Alamo Bowl to hire a running backs coach.
The position opened when Major Applewhite started coaching quarterbacks after he was made the lead co-offensive coordinator when Bryan Harsin became head coach at Arkansas State.
“I’ve gotten so many people who are interested, so it’s not going to be a hard hire,” Brown said. “The question will be which way do we go, because there are so many great ones who are interested in coming here.”
Replacing Hopkins: Senior Luke Poehlmann and redshirt freshman Sedric Flowers both will probably play in the bowl at left guard with the absence of Trey Hopkins, who will miss the game and spring drills after surgery next month on a stress fracture in his lower right leg.
“We just haven’t decided who’s going to start yet,” Brown said. “Luke can play anywhere. He’ll move all over the place. We’ve worked Sedric really hard because it’s time for him to step up and start playing more.”
Hopkins is the only Longhorn expected to miss the game with injury.
Whither Diaz: Brown declined to address Internet speculation Monday that defensive coordinator Manny Diaz was spotted boarding a plane to his hometown of Miami. Florida International University, located there, has a vacancy at head coach and Diaz has been rumored to be a candidate for the job.
Brown did say Diaz has been approached recently by a school about a job, but Brown — who did not name the school — reiterated his policy of not commenting on assistant coaches being candidates for other openings.
Brown said Diaz has been given new special- teams assignments for the bowl that include kickoff returns and kickoff coverage — areas formerly held by Applewhite.
Hitting the books: Fall-semester finals end Tuesday at Texas, and Brown said he’s not expecting any Longhorns will miss the bowl game as academic casualties. “Obviously, something could happen, but we do not anticipate that,” he said. “We think everybody’s in good shape.” catcher, both with multiple years of eligibility left.
Beyond Daniels and McFarland, you’ve got Miles Onyegbule, who might benefit the most from Smythe not being in the program.
You’ve got junior college tight end Geoff Swaim coming in at the semester, and he figures to take Matthews’ position as a glorified fullback.
The X factor of the group is Caleb Bluiett, the former four-star defensive end recruit who has all the tools to be an inline tight end, and possibly a good one. He’s another guy who needs all the reps he can get to hit the ground running in the spring.
Just think where the Texas offense would have been over the past few years if Finley had come back for at least one of his final two seasons, if Irby’s and Grant’s futures had not been stolen by injuries.
Smythe could have been the answer, but now he’s right alongside them as fans wonder what might have been.
Quarterback David Ash started the first 11 games of the season, but a rib injury against TCU sidelined him for the regular-season finale at Kansas State. Ash was 8-3 in those games.
Contact Randy Riggs at 4453957. Twitter: @Ranriggs Major Applewhite is co-offensive coordinator and quarterback coach for the Longhorns.