Thursday Football Practice Notebook

The injury list for Thursday counted two in the rehab work area. RB Ashton Shumpert is still slowed by the ankle turned at last Saturday's scrimmage. And WR De'Runnya Wilson went out during Tuesday's drills with the same groin strain that began back in basketball season.

DT P.J. Jones didn't report to the ‘pit' today but didn't practice either, same as the first nine days of spring. DT Kaleb Eulls did not even report to the field today, nor did WR Jeremy Chappelle who also missed Tuesday with an unreported condition.

RB Josh Robinson was back to full-speed enough after some easy days to guard a hamstring to run some real plays, including a big one (later mentioned). WR Shelby Christy was also practicing normally today. Towards the end of the session though OC Dillon Day hurt a left arm and missed one final series with an icepack on the elbow area.

*With Wilson sidelined, WR Fred Brown moved up to first-team split end for the beginning of the day, paired with opposite-end WR Robert Johnson, slot WR Jameon Lewis, and TE Malcolm Johnson. And WR Gabe Myles replaced Chappelle as the second slot man, again with good results. This made the second split ends WR Joe Morrow and WR Fred Ross.

RB Nick Griffin and RB Brandon Holloway alternated at second tailback with Shumpert out. And when the offense lined up for goal-line plays, Griffin played ‘fullback' in front of Robinson or Holloway in a I-set.

*Starting OC Day arrived late to the practice, likely for class obligations this senior spring. While he was away somebody had to hike for the first team, and it was not the spring #2 man Archie Muniz. Instead #2 RG Devon Desper stepped in as first center until Day arrived. This ought not surprise since Desper was a high school center and has been projected for this position since arriving. Guards are expected to be able to play the position at State of course.

When Desper was at first center, his second-team right guard spot was filled by OT Jake Thomas who had been working up to now entirely at tackle. OT Rufus Warren ran #2 right tackle for both the second and third teams today.

*As Coach Dan Mullen noted in the post-practice interview, this was the first day for real two-minute game work. The offense always begins a day running a script of plays to drive length-of-field but with nobody in their way. Today the defense was in position and the work serious.

*For the two-minute period, the first offense was in third down and sure to be stopped as a blitz by R.Brown would have bagged QB Dak Prescott. The play was allowed to continue and F.Brown made the catch around mid-field and broke it the rest of the way. But the next 1-on-1 series when Prescott tried to find Brown again, this time out in the left side, CB Jamerson Love picked it for the return.

In 2s-on-2s R.Brown did get his sack on 4th-and-12, catching Williams without actually tackling.

*Also the pass/skel period, a seven-man set for both sides, was run inside the red zone as that aspect of the offense—and defense—was emphasized even more in advance of the upcoming scrimmage.

*Regular red-zone work began at the 20 with contact allowed, except of course on the quarterbacks. Prescott took advantage on a third-and-long to take off for the end zone and get there…though he waited to the one-yard line to ‘roll' in air across the goal.

Prescott hooked up with M.Johnson for a 15-yard touchdown play against the starting line and linebackers but with the second-team secondary. Prescott also found R.Johnson on the left side of the end zone for a touchdown against CB Tolando Cleveland. QB Damian Williams used WR Joe Morrow for a high lob that was caught in the end zone too. #3 QB Nick Fitzgerald also found Morrow just behind CB Jahmere Irvin-Sills for a red zone touchdown toss, then came back to hit Christy on a slant for the 20-yard scoring play.

The first offense had 3rd-and-15 and instead of throwing downfield Prescott swung the ball out to Robinson for a dash down the right sideline and score.

*The aforementioned goal-line I was used on 4th-and-inches with Griffin blocking for Robinson, who broke through the line and tried to reach the ball over the goal. But it came loose and LB Richie Brown recovered in the end zone.

*During three-on-three drills, Mullen himself played ‘quarterback' for the three receivers involved. Not only that but he took care of both groups, throwing a pass on one set of hashes; then jogging to the other set for the next trio. The head coach is taking his self-assigned task as overall offensive coordinator seriously, obviously.

*Not everything went the offense's way today. During full-field drills, Williams floated a ball into the wind and LB Christian Holmes got over for the interception.

*PK Westin Graves missed one PAT as his kick ‘topped' the ball, which didn't get off the ground and was scooped by a defender for the return.

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