Bent out of shape

AUSTIN, Texas -- The first test is at 6 a.m today.

That's when Texas coaches will find out who did what during the 10-day break and who is capable of doing what during the next seven practices.

"You can't take 10 days off if you're a big guy and come right back and do what you need to do," Texas coach Mack Brown said.

And you can't be a part of Texas' plan if you are not in shape. The new offense won't allow it. Plus the coaching staff won't have it.

"Tempo has been fun for the coaches on both sides of the ball, but really stresses the guys and makes you be in great condition and makes you have energy when you come to practice because you are running the entire time," Brown said.

Make that sprinting. Not just during in plays but after them. Texas is taking this new speed-thrills thing so much to heart (and legs and lungs) that it has started work on getting the ball back to the official as quickly as possible.

Because, well, you know, " ... most of those officials aren't good athletes, so you need to hand them the ball so they can spot it and we can go again," said co-offensive coordinator Major Applewhite.

Flying in the face of Texas is the reality that in order to move faster on the field it has to get faster off the field.

"Conditioning," guard Mason Walters said when asked what he found to be the most difficult thing about the offense. "Getting up to the ball and keeping your technique while doing it better than the guy in front of you -- that is the challenge. You have to get in great shape to be able to do this offense, and the coaches are pushing us every day."

It will take more than the coaches, though. The players are only in front of their eyes for 15 practices. But during these 15 practices the coaches have been able to show the players, with indisputable evidence on video, where their conditioning level needs to be if they want to be on the field in the fall.

"It's really significant for the offseason program to show them that you're a 10-play guy right now because you can't play 12 plays in a ballgame because you're out of shape," Brown said. "So it answers a lot of questions for parents, and it answers a lot of questions for the guys because the big guy in the sky don't lie. You got it right there. So you can show them."

The idea for Texas is that not only does tempo allow it to spread the field, take advantage of the speed and allow the Longhorns to keep its best talent on the field, it also forces more than a few hands-on-hips moments for the opponent.

"We've got to be in such great condition that in the fourth quarter tempo is wearing the other team out and we're going even faster," Brown said. "So we can't slow down."

There were a few pauses before play in the scrimmage just before spring break. Brown quickly -- because that is the way everything is done now -- addressed the issue and made it clear that poor conditioning would not be tolerated. At this point, Texas has too much depth and enough talent in most spots to move past a player who is not moving as fast as he needs to.

"When you throw your hands on your hips and you get your head down or get down on one knee after a 12-play tempo drive, it shows you that whatever condition you're in is not enough -- so eat better, sleep better," Brown said.

The staff has also handed off all film of players who are not in top shape to strength coach Bennie Wylie, so he can put in the extra work with those players this summer.

But for now, the work will begin bright and early and will rather quickly -- again, because that is how Texas does things now -- shine the light on those players who are in shape and those who are not.