Texas's Caleb Bluiett runs into the denfense of Kansas State's Morgan Burns during the second half of their game at Royal Memorial Stadium on Saturday, October 24, 2015. DEBORAH CANNON / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Football

Notebook: Tight ends expect varied role in Texas’ new offense

Posted April 12th, 2016

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Story highlights
  • Up-tempo should mean more touches for Beck, Bluiett.
  • Gilbert’s system has brought 'new life' to the offense, Beck says.
  • Offensive line poised for another step forward.

In the new up-tempo offense being installed this spring at Texas, the tight ends are doing a little bit of everything.

“They’ve been having us do a lot,” Andrew Beck said Tuesday. “Today alone we split out a little bit, got to catch some passes, got to lead block a little bit.”

It’s probably best to temper any wild expectations, but if the offense moves at its desired pace, that should mean more touches for Beck and Caleb Bluiett, who each had eight pass receptions in 2015.

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Bluiett added two touchdowns, including a 57-yarder in the finale against Baylor.

Their numbers could grow in Sterlin Gilbert’s wide-open attack.

“The coaches have implemented us well, and now it’s on us to take advantage of it,” Beck said.

At Saturday’s spring game, Beck said, he’s looking forward to showing off the offense’s breakneck speed and calming fans who might be skeptical after last year’s promise of an up-tempo offense under Shawn Watson didn’t pan out.

He added that Gilbert’s system has brought “new life” to the offense.

“A lot of people are excited to see if we actually are going to be faster because I know we were in this position last year saying we’re going to go fast, then obviously it wasn’t as quick as we wanted,” Beck said.

The QBs: Beck weighed in on the two front-runners in the quarterback battle, calling freshman Shane Buechele a “baller” and praising Tyrone Swoopes’ increased leadership.

“They’re both very good quarterbacks,” Beck said. “I’d hate to be a coach and make that decision. That’s tough. That’s why they get paid more than I do.”

With last year’s starter, Jerrod Heard, nursing a sprained throwing shoulder, Buechele, an early enrollee, is the primary threat to Swoopes winning the job that he held in 2014.

Buechele “came in, got acclimated quickly and jumped straight into the battle,” Beck said.

He said Swoopes has made progress by “maturing and leading guys a little bit.”

Line change: The offense line made a nice jump from 2014 to 2015 and is poised for another step forward with a core of freshman All-Americans Connor Williams (left tackle) and Patrick Vahe (right guard) and veteran Kent Perkins (right tackle).

Freshman Zach Shackelford (center) and former junior college transfer Brandon Hodges (left guard) are in play for the line’s two openings.

Unproven young players such as Terrell Cuney, Buck Major, Elijah Rodriguez and Garrett Thomas will join part-time starter Tristan Nickelson in the line’s next wave.

“I feel like we have a lot more depth this year,” Williams said. “A lot more players stepping up.”

Williams said the line is clicking with new position coach Matt Mattox, who not long ago fired up his smoker and invited the unit to his home for brisket, sausage and peach cobbler.

“Great coach,” Williams said. “Great family guy.”

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