Year Two With the 'New' Coaches
The common narrative is that a system becomes much easier to understand, and play, in year two. Offensive guard Mason Walters was asked about whether the coaches were testing the players' ability to retain knowledge from last season.
We're expected to retain the offense that we've learned and then grow on that; different looks that we're going to get from different defenses at times," Walters said. "Coach [Manny] Diaz does a really good job of presenting us with a defense that shows multiple looks. They're already starting to get some confusion going for us right now. And we have been in the system for a while now. So we just have to keep learning."
Walters went on to say that the defense kept presenting a day-to-day challenge.
"I think Coach Diaz has a similar philosophy to Coach [Bryan] Harsin," Walters said. "What he does isn't really that complex, but he makes it look that way. He can bring blitzes in ways you don't think he can just because guys play really disciplined."
Still, Walters said that the Longhorns were making strides in year two.
"I think so, especially with the older guys," Walters said. "It's been fun to watch the younger guys as well start to pick up the offense. I think they're doing well. But, from an older guy's standpoint, the guys that are going out there, that have been practicing in the a.m. group, I'm encouraged by how much they have been able to retain, and how hard they have been practicing."
Defense Standing Out
The Texas defense is expected to be one of the best defenses in the Big 12, if not the country. And so it shouldn't be a surprise that the players are bursting at the seams to get said defense onto the playing field.
"Oh it's always exciting," said Jackson Jeffcoat. "It's always exciting. But we have to do it. We have to get out there and actually do it.
"There isn't much change," Jeffcoat said. "It's more that we're so comfortable in it. It's our second year, so a lot of us it is our second time being in the defense. So it feels more like second nature now."
One of the main reasons for that excitement is the stellar crop of defensive ends, led by Jeffcoat and senior Alex Okafor, both of whom are projected as potential first-round NFL Draft picks.
We're very talented," Jeffcoat said of the end group. "We'll be as good as we practice. We've got to come out and practice well every day. Get better every day. We spent a lot of time in the offseason training hard, trying to improve ourselves. It comes down to how we work as a team out here, with the whole d-line and the secondary out here."
Junior cornerback Carrington Byndom said that practice has been a positive indicator so far.
"We were out there making plays as a defense," Byndom said. "Offense was looking good, moving the ball. A lot of motions going on out there and today was a good day for us. Just trying to get ready for the first game."
Byndom talks about his role as a cover cornerback
One of the great narratives of the past season was Byndom emerging as arguably the Big 12's top cover cornerback, and somebody who seemed to thrive even more as his assignments got more difficult, putting in outstanding efforts against receivers like Justin Blackmon and Kenny Stills.
"Playing corner you know you are going to come up against some of the top receivers in the nation and the Big 12 is a strong conference with great receivers," Byndom said. "I pride myself on getting out there playing the best."
That's also true in practice, with Byndom relishing his one-on-one battles with receivers like Mike Davis.
"Mike is a great receiver," Byndom said. "He is like all the other receivers. They all come out each day and work as hard as they can to improve. They know they are going to need to step up this year and Mike has been doing that."