Ten Things We Learned

Here are 10 things that we learned from this week's media availability.

1) The Texas coaches weren't afraid to juggle the depth chart. For all the talk about certain players — specifically Garrett Gilbert — being targeted by the staff as starters all along, the Longhorn players apparently weren't in on the gag. Several players were moved up and down the depth chart depending on how things went in practice and scrimmages, including at least one instance of a player moving from starter repetitions in one scrimmage to third team the very next day.


2) The player mentioned above was Gilbert. Several players mentioned how impressed they were with the way Gilbert bounced back from a poor first scrimmage and the subsequent demotion. He was clearly the best quarterback at the second scrimmage, and solidified his hold on the job by being the best quarterback from that point on. Another player who was demoted and who fought to earn his job back was receiver Mike Davis.


3) There are some big names being bandied about. Alex Okafor has been described as hard-to-block, unblockable, and "maybe the best defensive end in the country." But Kenny Vaccaro also said that the offensive linemen have been making a comparison to a former Longhorn great: Brian Orakpo. Kheeston Randall said that the two players are different types of players, but said that he could see Okafor having a similar impact level. Vaccaro simply said that Okafor was the best player on the Texas team. Vaccaro also had big comparisons for Jaxon Shipley, saying "I've guarded (Ryan) Broyles and Kendall Wright, and (Shipley) is right there with them."


4) Even the coaches joke about the Longhorn Network. Texas coach Mack Brown took a joking swing at the network on Monday, quipping that he had filmed several segments and that he hadn't seen the footage yet. In general, the network appears to be a running joke for Big 12 fan bases, and will be until it is fired up and functional. Having said that, look up the introduction to the network, voiced over by Matthew McConaughy. It's pretty cool.


5) Brown showed some swagger. The players have talked about the need to get their swagger back, and Brown displayed some of that trademark Texas gusto on Monday when he basically said that the league's teams should "get us early", implying that the young Longhorn squad would be awfully tough to beat once it got rolling. After an offseason of press conferences bemoaning the Longhorns' depth, and talking about how they needed to stop talking and get to work, it was nice to see a little bit of hop back in the coach's step.


6) Blaine Irby is one of 115,000. No, that's not how many people have overcome his injury. But it's how many people have watched the play, where a Rice defender devastated his leg, on YouTube. Irby said Monday that he's only seen the hit that put him out for almost three full seasons once, and said that he saw the replay on the popular Web video channel. When told how many hits the injury replay garnered, Irby laughed and said that he always tried to find the humor in life, and that becoming an internet phenomenon through a horrific injury certainly qualified on some level.


7) If you count Tevin Jackson with the Class of 2011, because that's the group he enrolled with, a whopping 18 of 22 scholarship true freshmen made it onto the initial two-deep. That number gets even bigger with the addition of Ben Pruitt, an invited walk-on kicker from The Woodlands, making it 19 of 23. The number could have been even bigger. Chet Moss was on the post-spring two-deep at middle linebacker before transitioning to fullback. And Garrett Greenlea probably would have been in the mix at tackle if he didn't have to battle mono. The reviews on offensive linemen Marcus Hutchins and Taylor Doyle, the other two true freshmen not on the two-deep, have also been positive.


8) Vaccaro said that one difference between Manny Diaz and Will Muschamp was the complexity of their defenses. He said the entire Diaz defense was installed in a few days, and said that the Muschamp defense took three or four weeks to install. He said that simplicity would lend toward young players playing earlier, and said that the best players wouldn't face as much of an obstacle to play.


9) Vaccaro might have had some of the best quotes from Monday's media availability. When asked about whether the young cornerbacks worried him, he replied: "The cornerbacks were old last year, and look what happened." On last year's Texas offense, Vaccaro said "honestly, last year in practice, we weren't even respecting the run, and a lot of teams didn't." On Quandre Diggs' size disadvantage, Vaccaro opined: "The guy can dunk the ball at 5-8 or 5-9. He plays big enough."


10) Perhaps no word was used as often on Monday as the word "fluid", which was often utilized to describe the depth chart. Players largely said that the depth chart didn't really matter, as their spots could change in the practices leading up to the Rice game. Players and coaches also described the playing time situation as fluid. Brown said the key was to hammer down the two-deep, and added that the next step was to figure out a rough rotation, though the number of plays each player would play would be somewhat open for game day adjustments. In other words, that's fluid as well.


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