Wednesday Grid Update, 12/10

Texas looks tough on defense, but that didn't surprise Jim Chaney. He's got great respect for Charlie Strong, the UT coach.

Jim Chaney put on the Texas tape and saw more of the same solid defense that has been on his screen over the past eight games.

"It's more good defense," the Arkansas offensive coordinator said Wednesday after the second bowl practice of the week.

It wasn't a surprise when the Longhorns were good against the run. When Chaney was at Tennessee, he faced Charlie Strong defenses at Florida. Strong is now the Texas head coach.

"That's Charlie's deal, play good run defense," Chaney said. "You look at them on defense, you don't see a lot of fleas.

"I know Texas is always good on defense from what I can recall forever and they are good right now. When I look at tape, they have a defensive tackle who really shows up. He's big and broad. I would believe that this will be his last college game."

That's referencing Texas junior defensive tackle Malcom Brown (6-2, 320), the Longhorns' best player.

"That's a guy who will bang you around," Chaney said. "No one has blocked him. He shows up in every tape, every play.

"They are good with Brown. He's exceptional. They have two really good linebackers and two or three really good ones in the secondary. That's about what it takes to play good defense and they have that."

Chaney said Strong's philosophy on defense has changed slightly as far as secondary coverage.

"They were more of a man-to-man team (at Florida)," Chaney said. "I don't see a lot of that now. It's mostly zone in the secondary.

"But one thing that hasn't changed, they play hard. As a coach, if there is one thing you want someone to say about you, it's that your team plays hard. For sure, you can say that about Charlie's teams. They are going to play hard. I see that in this defense."

Chaney said the Hogs have had two good workouts this week in bowl preparations. He praised the work of quarterback Brandon Allen, now healthy. Allen battled through an oblique injury against Missouri.

"He threw it with zip and I think he's fine," Chaney said. "I think he's good to go. He looks like he's feeling good."

Chaney said one of the focuses this week in bowl practice was work on the red zone.

"We improved in that area this year," he said. "Our stats were good on percentage of scores in the critical areas. We need to do better at getting touchdowns in the red zone, but we were better overall there this year.

"We'll put in more effort in the red zone. What we will work the most on is to get across a complete understanding that when we don't turn the ball over, we have a good chance to win every week.

"We'd like to throw the ball better down the field, too. We want to be better in third down, but we were better there this year. But I think every coach is going to tell you those same things and that's what we are working on right now."

Defensive coordinator Robb Smith was especially pleased with the selection of linebacker Martrell Spaight as first-team All-SEC.

"It's a great honor for Martell and it means a lot to our staff, the work we've done," Smith said. "I thought we played good defense down the stretch. We were disappointed in the way we finished the Missouri game. Martrell was a big part of the way we played defense all season. It was very deserving. All of our coaches did a great job. Randy Shannon did a great job with our linebackers."

Spaight credited his coaches and teammates.

"I've had two years with Coach Shannon," Spaight said. "I have learned so much from Coach Shannon, about football and about life lessons. Coach Smith did a great job of installing his system and I learned a lot from him, too.

"I never thought that I'd be an All-SEC player. I just didn't look at things like that. I focused on the little things that made us better on defense. If I look at our tapes now, I see a great defensive line, taking on double teams. I see a middle linebacker filling the gaps there. I don't see any blockers on me. That's how you make so many tackles."

Smith said the Hogs continue to improve in practice. He praised the work of some of the younger defenders in the two bowl practices.

"You see Santos Ramriez flying around today," Smith said. "Randy Ramsey, Khalia Hackett, Dwayne Eugene and Josh Liddell get better every day. It's been great to get so much work with those guys especially the last few days.

"I think we have gotten better in the secondary with our depth. You see at corner we have the ability to play a lot of guys. D.J. Dean has been a lot of fun to see develop. Jared Collins has really improved. So many people have talked about the improvement with Martrell, but Jared is improved just as much. He's gotten better with eye discipline.

"All things add up in this league. You need depth. Tevin Mitchel and Henre' Toliver have improved. Henre' had a really good day today.. We have a good group there (at corner).

“Today was definitely more fundamentals, without question. We have had some time off, and they have been with Coach Herbert in the weight room, so today was nothing crazy. We just wanted them to get out there, take on blocks, work on tackling, do some team stuff against our offense. Our main focus was getting these boys back into football shape.” Clay Henry, Publisher

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