Expect to see more of Chiles for the burnt orange

August 6, 2008 7:01:14 PM PDT
Big, fast and athletic, John Chiles is the player Texas fans are aching to see in action every week, not just once in a while in mop-up duty. The problem is, he's the Longhorns' backup quarterback behind junior Colt McCoy, who is firmly entrenched as the starter with 51 career touchdowns passes, 5,873 yards and a 20-6 record.

After limited playing time last season as a freshman, coach Mack Brown promises to get Chiles more involved in the offense this season, whether its passing, running off direct snaps or catching the ball.

He's not a threat to take over for McCoy. It's just that Brown says Chiles is just too good of an athlete not to get on the field. And McCoy says he loves the idea of adding a new weapon to the Longhorns' offensive arsenal.

"John and Colt are two of our best players," Brown said this week as Texas opened training camp for its Aug. 30 home opener against Florida Atlantic. "We are committed to trying to get Colt and John on the field at the same time."

That means a busy training camp for Chiles, who will also continue to work as the No. 2 quarterback. Brown stressed that Chiles will not be giving up his backup QB duties.

"I told John when he reported Sunday, 'We're going to see if you're in shape or not,' " offensive coordinator Greg Davis said. "He's getting a bunch of reps at several different places."

Davis has a history of finding ways to get multiple uses out of multitalented players, going all the way back to his days as a Georgia assistant where he helped develop Hines Ward as the do-it-all quarterback for the Bulldogs.

Brown and Davis say they're still developing a package of offensive plays to use Chiles in multiple ways. They didn't work on it in the spring to allow Chiles more time developing into a solid backup QB.

Chiles teased Texas fans with brief glimpses of what he can do in 2007.

He played in seven games but his time and snaps were extremely limited. Still, he made the most of it when given a chance.

Chiles ran for 77 yards and led two scoring drives against Rice. He scored a touchdown in a win over Iowa State and ran for a TD in the Holiday Bowl against Arizona State. He completed only one of nine pass attempts for 17 yards last season.

His biggest single play came in his only carry in a tough win over Nebraska.

McCoy was shaken up by a hit and briefly had to leave the field with Texas trailing 17-9 and Chiles ran for 24 yards out of the zone read on his only carry.

The Longhorns had spent most of the afternoon trying to pass against one of the country's worst run defenses and Chiles' run seemed to turn on the light bulb in the coaching booth.

Texas turned almost exclusively to the run for the rest of the game and rallied to win 28-25 behind Jamaal Charles' 216 yards rushing in the fourth quarter.

It was those kind of performances that caused the Longhorns to hope they might be able to use him more last season. But Texas was deep at receiver and running back, and those chances never really developed. And Chiles has yet to show he can be much of a passer.

But his flashes of overall athletic skill have built very high hopes of what he can produce if Texas can get the ball in his hands. At 6-foot-2 and 215 pounds, the coaches say Chiles is one of the fastest players on the team.

McCoy, who proved he can be multiple-threat QB with 492 rushing yards last season, said he's excited to have Chiles more involved. He could provide a huge boost as a receiver where Texas is extremely thin on experience this year.

"John's good at anything he does," McCoy said. "He's explosive with the ball in his hands."       Send us your sports story tips | More sports stories
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