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Big 12 football: Major Applewhite needs an effective run strategy against the Sooners

Major Applewhite is the Texas version of Josh Heupel. But two big differences. Applewhite didn't quarterback Texas to a national title, and Heupel's offense is not under the gun.
by Berry Tramel Published: October 11, 2013
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Major Applewhite is the Texas version of Josh Heupel. A salty quarterback who helped jump-start a new golden era at his school, then went into coaching and now is the offensive coordinator at his alma mater for the coach he helped get off to such a great start.

But two big differences. Applewhite didn't quarterback Texas to a national title, and Heupel's offense is not under the gun.

The OU-Texas game Saturday matches offensive coordinators who were dueling quarterbacks from the 1999 and 2000 versions of the rivalry. But Applewhite's maiden season as offensive coordinator has not gone well. While the Texas defense has been most responsible for the Longhorns' sputtering start this season, UT's offense has been perplexing.

The Longhorns were shut out in the second half against Ole Miss, and then UT went away from an effective running game at Iowa State, though the 'Horns rallied to win 31-30.

Saturday, Applewhite will again go with backup quarterback Case McCoy, who replaces injured David Ash. Applewhite is a lot like Heupel; both seem to be pass-first gameplanners. But that seems to be shaky strategy against OU. McCoy's arm is not strong and OU's pass defense appears to be the strength of the unit.

Can Applewhite create an effective run strategy against the Sooners, using the likes of Johnathan Gray and Joe Bergeron? He needs to, or the likelihood increases that Applewhite's first season as offensive coordinator at Texas will also be his last.

by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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