Mack Talks Scrimmage, Position Battles

Read more on which players bulked up, some young players who are standing out and what Texas coach Mack Brown hopes will come from Friday's scrimmage.

Bulking Up

The Longhorns released a roster with updated heights and weights. Among those whose size is interesting, for one reason or another, includes: Taylor Bible (6-3 315), Malcolm Brown (6-0 217), Demarco Cobbs (6-2 215), Greg Daniels (6-5 280), Taylor Doyle (6-5 290), Steve Edmond (6-3 255), Dominic Espinosa (6-4 298), Sedrick Flowers (6-3 310), Jordan Hicks (6-2 235), Desmond Jackson (6-1 285), Cody Johnson (5-11 252), Dravannti Johnson (6-2 255), Kyle Kriegel (6-5 288), Chet Moss (6-2 242), Kheeston Randall (6-5 305), Christian Scott (6-1 225), Traylon Shead (6-2 225), Jaxon Shipley (6-1 190), Mason Walters (6-6 315) and Chris Whaley (6-3 279).

Almost all of those players have added weight from a year ago (Brown is a bit down), in some cases massive amounts of weight. Edmond was listed at 235 before, while Flowers was in the 270-275 range in high school.

But the biggest gainer was Whaley, who was listed at 245 pounds and now holds a weight similar to some Longhorn defensive tackles. So it should come as no surprise that Texas coach Mack Brown said he was getting some reps at that position.

"Whaley is doing really well," Brown said. "He is playing defensive end and defensive tackle. I think by what we are doing right now, it helps him because the movement really helps him. He was a big running back at 275, 280 pounds that is making some good plays."


Freshmen competing at return spots

The Longhorns are expecting to field a young roster this year, and that theory also holds true in the return game, Brown said.

"There are four punt returners right now that we are looking at," Brown said. "And I think right now, in no order, we have Jaxon Shipley, Quandre Diggs, Darius White and Mike Davis are the four guys that are back there returning punts. And (that's) similar to the guys that are on kickoff return."

Shipley and Diggs are true freshmen who arrived on the 40 Acres with great reputations in the return game, and both were first-team All-Staters at the return position. Shipley took back six returns for scores as a senior (five punts, one kickoff), while Diggs returned five for touchdowns (three punts, two kickoffs).

Davis and White, a pair of true sophomores, aren't much older.


At cornerback, too

The Longhorns are also looking at a youth movement at cornerback, where true sophomores Adrian Phillips, Carrington Byndom and A.J. White are teaming with Diggs to form what is likely one of the country's youngest groups.

"We're OK (at corner)," Brown said. "Adrian Phillips is playing everything and then he stepped in at nickel last year against Nebraska as a true freshman and did a great job. So he's playing corner, he's playing safety and he's playing nickel. He's a real key to our secondary because he can give us so many great things.

"A.J. White's stepping up and doing some really great things as of late," Brown added. "The true freshman corners are out there and they're working hard to give us some good looks. I don't even count Quandre as a freshman because he was here in the spring, and he's done a good job."

Brown went on to add: "I think the fact is that we're going to be really young at corner, and we'll be really talented."


The running game

Brown talked at times about how the Longhorns weren't being conservative on offense, making reference to plays like double-reverse passes dialed up by offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin. But he still admitted that the Longhorns wanted to be able to get back to running the ball physically.

"We're running it more," Brown said. "We're trying to be more physical, so I think that's a key. At the same time, we've been inconsistent with it. I think both young freshman backs look good."

"Both young freshman backs" refers to power running threats Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron. Both have also displayed the speed to create some big plays, and Bergeron has been one of the surprises of camp, showcasing the ability to get to the outside despite weighing in at 235 pounds.

"We feel like both Malcolm and Joe Bergeron have come in, in good shape," Brown said. "They are participating on a daily basis and are doing really well. Again, the scrimmage will help. But they seem to grow every day, so we are really excited to see them play tomorrow night."


Gotta keep 'em separated

Brown called Friday night's scrimmage — likely to be held at 7 p.m. to simulate conditions like what the team will face against Rice — "huge." The scrimmage marks the start of "Phase Three", which is the confidence and perfection stage.

"You're in a position right now where you're trying to take this scrimmage and start finalizing a depth chart sometime next week and into the third and final scrimmage so you can start having more perfection … and start trying to figure out exactly what you're going to take into the Rice game plan in all three phases," Brown said. "Right now, we're trying to figure out who we're going to play and at the same time figure out how you're going to narrow it down in those phases as we get about 10 days from Rice."

Brown said he hoped players would start to separate in their competitions, though he said that "some (players) have already separated."

"It would be stupid of us to give you four positions that are settled when all the rest of them aren't," Brown said. "So what we've told the players is that as soon as you settle it, it's settled. We don't care if it's tomorrow. We'd rather it had been last week."

Brown also said that the quarterback position wasn't one of the "settled" positions.

"We really haven't decided that," Brown said. "We'll meet this afternoon. Our first offense, which would be considered the older, more experienced guys in the line, playing against the first defense gives you a better chance than the younger offensive linemen playing against the first defense. So which quarterback gets the best chance and how do you divide those snaps, and that's what we're looking at.

"I don't think we've had equal snaps in a while, really, at quarterback," Brown continued. "We're trying to look at all of them in all of the different settings and see what we can feature that they do best and then work through it."


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