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.

Austin American-Statesman - - FRONT PAGE - By Randy Riggs rriggs@states­man.com S Get com­plete Longhorns cov­er­age lead­ing up to the Alamo Bowl, in­clud­ing pregame press con­fer­ence video, pho­tos and stats, at states­man.com/ game­week.

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.

JAY JAN­NER / AMER­I­CAN-STATES­MAN

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.

Case McCoy started but lost against Kansas State de­spite 17 straight com­ple­tions.

Con­tact Randy Riggs at 4453957. Twit­ter: @Ran­riggs Ma­jor Applewhite is co-of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor and quar­ter­back coach for the Longhorns.

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