Scrimmage Report

Texas had its second of three scrimmages on Friday. Come inside to read how things went.

Score one for the running game

The Texas offense set out to make it a physical scrimmage and did just that, thanks in large part to the five-man line tandem of Tray Allen, David Snow, Dominic Espinosa, Trey Hopkins and Mason Walters.

Fozzy Whittaker and Joe Bergeron received most of the repetitions with the first team offense at running back, though Malcolm Brown was also in that mix, and accounted for a long touchdown run. Cody Johnson served as the fullback, and served up plenty of contact.

In all, that side of it was positive for the offense, which has been "inconsistent" running the ball according to Texas coach Mack Brown. It was also nice in that the offense tended to get the best of the defense in this scrimmage, which runs counter to what happened in scrimmage No. 1.

On the flip side …

You always hear coaches talk about how practices are a zero sum game. If the offense turns the ball over three times, you're happy for your defense, but still ticked that the offense turned the ball over. Well, in this case, you're allowed to be happy that the offense was able to run the ball so effectively, while also upset that the defense was so gashed.

The front seven for the defense, and particularly the defensive tackles and end Jackson Jeffcoat, struggled against the offense running the ball. In turn, the linebackers often had to fight a losing battle in that they were getting reached at the second level. The first-team defensive tackles were Kheeston Randall and Calvin Howell, and both were pushed back at the line of attack.

Garrett Gilbert has a strong performance

Remember when we wrote an article here talking about how quarterbacks often showed a huge rate of growth between their first and second years as a starter? Well, that's the way Gilbert looked in Friday's scrimmage.

In direct contrast to scrimmage No. 1, Gilbert didn't turn the ball over and looked the most poised of the three quarterbacks who appear to be fighting for the job (along with David Ash and Case McCoy). Gilbert showcased great pocket awareness and extended a few plays while making the kinds of throws we've always known that he's been able to make.

Ash played well, but not as well as Gilbert, and McCoy did some nice things as well. But Friday, it was Gilbert's show, and it wouldn't be stretching it to say that he likely leads in the quarterback race.

Mike Davis and Jaxon Shipley each caught touchdown passes with the first team.

Welcome back, Kenny

It was tough to get a good look at the secondary simply because the offense was running the ball so effectively, though it didn't take much for Kenny Vaccaro to make his mark felt.

Vaccaro nearly made an outstanding diving interception, and in general showed that he was in the right place at the right time in his reps next to Blake Gideon at safety. He's missed part of fall practice with a minor hamstring injury, but if Friday's results were any indication, he's not rusty at all.

Winning early downs

If Friday's scrimmage showed anything, it's just how important it will be for Texas to win the early downs, on both sides, this season.

If the Longhorns can run the ball on first down, it takes the pressure off players like Gilbert and leads to more high-percentage plays.

On the flip side, the defense hasn't shown that it can stop the running game consistently, but appears to be a salty unit against the pass, thanks to interior defensive linemen who are more effective at shooting gaps and creating pressure on passing downs and a linebacking corps that should rank among the country's best at getting into their drops.

If Texas can win first down this year, expect the Longhorns to win a lot of games. If they don't … well, that's where things could get messy.

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