Steve Edmond is one of the most terrifying Longhorns on defense
Texas running back Malcolm Brown was asked about the defensive players he really didn't want to see when running the ball. Two of the answers made absolute sense: hard-hitting safety Kenny Vaccaro and defensive end Alex Okafor.
But included in that group of great defenders that Brown hoped to avoid was rising sophomore linebacker Steve Edmond.
"He's like a wall," Brown said.
Young talent emerging at defensive back
One of the biggest points driven home by Texas coach Mack Brown this fall has been the need to develop depth all over the field. And safety Adrian Phillips has said that process has certainly taken hold in the defensive backfield.
"We're developing depth everywhere," Phillips said. "With the [defensive backs] always in the DB room, we're going to make sure that we have depth. Just in case anybody goes down. I know last year I had an injury, so [sophomore DB] Mykkele [Thompson] had to step up. He did some really good things. We're just going to make sure that we're always ready."
Along with Thompson, Phillips had positive things to say about true freshman Orlando Thomas.
"With Duke, he's really quick," Phillips said. "It might not look like he has a lot of size on him, but he packs the punch. And that's a promise. He gets after the ball really well. His cover skills are really nice. He really just gets after it."
Running backs developing as a group
"He fits in the group perfectly," Bergeron said. "As running backs, it's not more of a competition thing. It's more of bringing in another family member. We all hang out outside of football as well. We're in each other's rooms. We watch movies. We hang out. We really just bring him in and make him feel comfortable because we have all been in that position before."
Bergeron also said he looked forward to seeing what the Longhorns' deep group of running backs could do.
"It will be very difficult [for defenses]," Bergeron said. "With Malcolm, he brings a mix of power and speed, as well as Johnathan, Jeremy [Hills] and I. With four backs like that it's going to be extremely difficult to try and plan for it. Because you don't know which one of us is going to be in the game at which time."
Offensive line coming along, too
Bergeron was also quick to point out the Longhorn offensive line's improvement.
"The line is doing a tremendous job," Bergeron said. "Always, always, running backs are always there with the lineman. Today after practice we're pushing sleds with them. It all starts with them. Without them we wouldn't get anywhere. So we're always congratulating them. Always picking them up. I love them, as well as the rest of the running backs. They're like our best friends."
Offensive guard Trey Hopkins seconded that assessment of the line's performance.
"It is looking real good," Hopkins said. "We have a lot of positive things going. We have a lot of experience now with this new offense. With the protection, we have that down and can now focus more on game planning, what the defense is going to do, reacting better to that than we did last year. Now we know our basic rules and we know we have protection. We have a good class of freshmen coming in who are ready to learn. They are doing well, learning very quickly and just overall, we are all doing very well.
"While we have a lot of guys stepping up, there is some great competition between first and third lines," Hopkins said. "Everyone knows the system and everyone knows the schemes now so it is more about what can you actually do yourself, physically. We have a lot of guys from, my standpoint, that are competing and we have some spots that are being challenged. All of this just makes us better, makes everyone compete with himself and with the person that is trying to take his spot behind him. This is only going to make us better in the end."
No more Little Debbie's Zebra Cakes for Brown. And more stretching for Bergeron.
Both players talked about the need to stay healthy in 2012, and the changes they've made to get there, from eating more grilled chicken and veggies — courtesy of the Longhorns' new dietician — to spending more time stretching and in the cold tubs.
"Basically, the games we lost [last year] we could have won if we had had a lot more healthy players," Bergeron said. "With me and Malcolm having to sit out, as well as Fozzy [Whittaker], Keenan [Robinson], Christian Scott, it's not just us. It's with a lot of the other key players as well. We were brought on this team to help. When we're not helping the team, then we're hurting the team. Really what [Coach Brown] is saying is to stay healthy so we can help produce and bring the team back up to the top."