Longhorns offensive coordinator Gene Dahlquist hopes he doesn't have to drive a wedge between junior quarterback James Brown and senior wideout Mike Adams—the most dangerous passing combination in school history. "James was aware of Mike's abilities and tried a little too hard to get him the ball last season," said Dahlquist of the pair, who hooked up 52 times for 836 yards. "We are at our best when we spread the ball around."
Brown, who despite several injuries was the SWC's offensive MVP with 2,583 total yards and 20 touchdowns, spent half the season lobbing the ball deep to Adams, regardless of the coverage. He eventually learned to appreciate the "other guys" on offense.
The other guys carried the offensive load late last season when a painful shoulder injury limited Brown's ability to throw the bomb. During a crucial 6-0 streak that propelled Texas to the final Southwest Conference title, running back Shon Mitchell had four consecutive 100-yard performances, and Ricky Williams had three. They combined for 2,089 yards and 18 touchdowns for the season. Williams's 990 yards broke Earl Campbell's freshman rushing record, earning him the nickname Little Earl.
Texas needs another explosive year of offense to succeed in the rugged Big 12. The Longhorns have lost four starters from the defensive front seven—including All-America end Tony Brackens—and that is from a unit that ranked 55th in the nation in yardage allowed and gave up 100 or more yards to nine runners. Mere mention of these defensive holes is enough to bring back nightmares for members of the Longhorns' offense. Says Williams, "Last season it seemed like every running back we played against had 100 yards against us. Sometimes we felt like we had to score every time we had the ball."
That burden remains in '96. But this offense may be up to the task.