It's 'All Gas No Break' for Texas in 2021. Get used to that saying around the Forty Acres.
Steve Sarkisian enters his first season with the Longhorns hoping to meet the expectations that come with being Texas' head coach. To put into perspective, Tom Herman finished 32-18 a perfect 4-0 in bowl games.
He was fired in January following the Longhorns' win over Colorado in the Alamo Bowl.
The offense will be where Texas hopes to expand its overall production. After all, Sarkisian is coming off a season where his offense ranked No. 2 in the nation and his star wide receiver became the first pass-catcher since 1991 to win the Heisman.
That game plan will be implemented down in Austin. As Zach Barnett of FootballScoop.com points out, Sarkisian will run two types passing sets — Railroad and Thumb.
"When we call play-passes, we always read top-down," Sarkisian said during his meeting at the Angelo Football Clinic last week. "We're trying to play with the safeties, put them in tough situations."
A railroad formation will create a triangle between X, the Y, and the Z targets based on routes. One will run a drag route, the other a dig and the third player will run diagonally roughly 18 yards downfield.
For a quarterback, this allows them to check down to his first read at running back. The H-back is set to run a wheel route down the seam, which hopefully will be wide open thanks to the cornerback playing inside.
Sarkisian ran a similar concept during his time at Alabama and with the Atlanta Falcons. And for those wondering if it works, ask Najee Harris, the former Alabama star runner.
Since working with Sarkisian, Harris tallied 63 catches for 650 yards and 10 touchdowns in the last two seasons. His best route? The wheel.
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As for the Thumb, it's an RPO concept that allows the quarterback to decide what to run. The H-back runs a deep cross, one receiver runs a same side post, and tight end/running runs out towards the flat.
This allows the quarterback to get the ball out quick, or elect to keep it himself and run against a defense that pulls too quickly against the running back.
"When we call play-passes, we always read top-down," Sarkisian said. "We're trying to play with the safeties, put them in tough situations."
Texas' offense might be simplistic early, but that could be a good thing. A new offense is underway, but so is the name under center. Texas will be choosing between Casey Thompson or Hudson Card to be the next long-term answer following the departure of Sam Ehlinger.
As for running back, Bijan Robinson's role is expected to expand next season. Finishing the campaign with three 100-yard games on the ground, the Tuscon, Ariz. native was limited in the passing game, recording just 15 catches for 196 yards.
Sarkisian believes every play has a purpose. The ultimate one? Win early and often in 2021.
"We're an attack-oriented offense," Sarkisian said. "We're trying to attack our opponent, we're not just running plays to run plays."
Texas kicks off the season at home against Louisiana on September 4.
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