Has the Shawn Watson Experiment Run its Course?


After another offensive clunker, is it time to move on from Shawn Watson?

I’ll admit it, I bought into the hype over the summer. The offense was going to be better (how could it be worse, really). We were going to see a new Tyrone Swoopes under center, moving the team down field like a guy playing with renewed confidence in himself. The running game would be the focal point, wearing down defenders behind an experienced offensive line. Daje Johnson was in Charlie Strong’s good graces.

More from Texas Football

All was well. Notre Dame here we come.

Sadly, what we saw was a repeat of the offense struggles against good competition. When the offense needed to dial up a big play to swing momentum back to Texas’ side, we saw three and outs. Too many three and outs.

The mastermind behind the putrid offensive showing is offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Shawn Watson. He wasn’t a popular hire last year. People didn’t like his track record, despite success at Louisville. Maybe he wasn’t Strong’s first choice, but considering Strong was hired about thirty days before National Signing Day there wasn’t time to adequately build a coaching staff. So we rode with Watson through a difficult 2014 campaign after starter David Ash went down with a career-ending concussion. Blowout losses to TCU and Arkansas soured fans even more on Watson.

This offseason he talked up the offense. The quarterbacks were pushing each other, making progress every day. The offensive line returned everyone from 2014 and was even getting surprising play from two freshmen. The running game was going to be lights out behind Jonathan Gray, D’Onta Foreman and Chris Warren. Longhorn fans couldn’t wait until Sept. 5.

Now many of them can’t wait for Watson to go.

He didn’t get a ringing endorsement from his head coach at Monday’s press conference. When asked about Watson, Strong didn’t mince words – the offense has to get better, now.

“We have to change. We have to get better on offense. You’re right, you go back, and I know last year is last year, but even to come out of this game with three points, with the players that we have, we should be more productive.”

Texas currently sits dead last in total offense after one week. Heck, Texas State put up 16 points in Tallahassee against a pretty decent Florida State squad. How does the University of Texas have the worse offense in college football?

Texas Longhorns
Texas Longhorns /

Texas Longhorns

“We can’t go through another season with a bad offense,” Strong added at the press conference. “No, that cannot happen. We have some talented players there. You look at J-Gray, he touched the ball eight times the other night. He’s a back that needs the ball. The ball needs to be fed to him anywhere from 15 to 20 to 25 times. But then you have Foreman sitting there, you have Warren.”

“Our offense has to run through our running backs and we have to run the football. You look at us outside on the perimeter, you have Warren; Burt is a guy who can stretch the field; you have Armanti who can stretch the field; and then you have Daje when you want to run, it starts with him and Marcus. So we have some athletes there on offense there. We’ve just got to do a better job of spreading the ball around and making sure that the right guys get the touches. We’ve got to get the ball in their hands.”

We heard this all summer – get the ball into the hands of the playmakers. Here’s what those playmakers did on Saturday – Gray had eight carries, John Burt one catch, Daje Johnson eight touches, Armanti Foreman one carry and Marcus Johnson was shut out.

The lack of production was maddening. Include Strong in with the lot of disgruntled fans. It doesn’t sound like it will be a pleasant meeting for the coaching staff.

“Oh, I got a lot to say, but I’m not going to say it now, but I have a lot to say.”

And it shouldn’t be a pleasant meeting. This is Texas. We get to recruit in one of the nation’s top high school football hotbeds. The coaches need to get the most out of each player while he is on campus. And if a coach can’t do that, maybe it is time for a change.

Strong won’t go that far, just yet. But no one should feel safe.

“Well, some of these guys I’ve been with a long time, so they know how I am and they know how I feel and I’m not afraid to express how I feel, and they’ve heard it and they’ve heard it from day one. So it’s an evaluation process.”

If things don’t turn around quickly on offense, Watson could find himself on the move sooner rather than later.

Next: Back to the drawing board following blow out loss