Mack talks about the DTs, Lee Jackson, and more

Here are a few of the head coach's comments on the defense and defensive players from this week that we weren't able to work into our twice-daily practice reports, along with some IT analysis:

On replacing Casey Hampton and Shaun Rogers in the middle of the D-line: "We can't fill Shaun and Casey's shoes with guys because they were too good and they had too many years of experience. We've got some real talented guys at that position but it's going to take help from those linebackers and defensive ends and secondary and offense to help take some of the pressure off the guys inside. . . .we've got a challenge inside and those guys are working really hard and we're rotating some guys to try to get more energy in there but we'll be OK in there, we're just not going to be the same."

[IT note: Marcus Tubbs will start at one defensive tackle spot, but the other spot is still somewhat up for grabs for either Adam Doiron, Maurice Gordon and Stevie Lee. Gordon, whose play both Brown and Carl Reese have repeatedly praised, has missed the last few practices because of a sprained ankle, and if he misses much more time, his chances for the early season starts may be diminished. Regardless of who ends up as the official starters, all four of the guys above will be big parts of the DT rotation.]

On the play of converted LBs Marcus Wilkins and Reed Boyd at defensive end: "Marcus and Reed have done really well because we're trying to get more pass rush out there out of our (defensive ends). That's why we moved O.J. there for his quickness. Reed and Marcus have been around long enough that they can go back and play linebacker. It's given us a chance to look at Aurmon Satchell and Derrick Johnson at linebacker and at the same time get (Boyd and Wilkins) ready if we get a sprained ankle or someone has to miss (time) at defensive end so we don't get so thin out there that we can't play. When you get more maturity and experience with your football team you can play a guy at two spots. Marcus has been around a long time, he can play all three linebackers spots and he can play end so he's a great swing guy for us right now and we feel he'll get a lot of playing time."

[IT note: If the season started today, Jermain Anderson and Wilkins would probably be the first two DEs off the bench. Wilkins has shown the practice field ability to be a passing down rush end.]

On Lee Jackson's play so far at the rover position: "Lee is a great blitzer. He's one of the best blitzers on our team and he's an outstanding cover guy and he brings a lot more speed to that SAM linebacker position and he's had two great practices the last two. Talking to him, he's really happy. He feels like he's found his niche again and we're going to get Lee back involved on all kicking teams. He was one of the best kickoff cover guys that we had and our whole message to this bunch is that we don't want selfishness. If we ask you to be on the kick team, you be excited about it because we need you to help us win. We're not worried about the individual stats, we're not worried about what you like as much as what helps the team win."

More on Jackson: "Lee's doing great. I think it's been a great move for him. There was quite a bit of to-do when he moved about moving to linebacker and he's really not. He's playing strong safety near the line of scrimmage because so many people are four and five wideouts now and your outside linebacker/strong safety position better be a cover position and your guys that are deep better be more like corners. It's just the way that football is going to that moved Lee up. He's had a couple of great practice sessions. He's moved ahead of Tyrone (Jones) at that position as a starter and we're really excited about Lee. One of the best things Lee did as a safety was blitz and we've got him up around the line of scrimmage because he's got a natural knack of getting through the whole and hitting the quarterback."

[IT note: Although Jackson seemed to fall out of favor with the coaching staff last year (that can be at least partially attributed to his injury problems, but also simply to his play), he has emerged as a solid starter at rover. The position switch, which puts the former strong safety near the line of scrimmage on every play, seems to have awakened the ability as a blitzer that Jackson showed as a sophomore in '99.]

On Everick Rawls: "We think he's been a really good player for us at The University of Texas and we're excited about seeing him have a great year because we think he and D.D. inside will be the difference in this year's defense. We lost two great players at tackle so we have to have someone step up and we think those guys have to help those young tackles inside."

[IT note: Reese has consistently said that he likes the athleticism of his linebacking corps but he wants to see more physical play from the group. Rawls perhaps more than any other Texas 'backer fits that description. Reese said earlier this week that Rawls has shown "good toughness," but will that be enough to help the LB corps evolve from good to great? We'll be watching for that desired physicality from all of the LBs over the full pad portion of two-a-days.]

On the secondary: "The secondary is playing really well. It's by far the best they've played since we've been here. . . . We feel like we've got depth there and we're improving each day. We need some of these freshmen to come on and help us in the secondary also. . . . We're doing more disguise, we're doing more zone blitz stuff and getting away from every snap in man. We're trying to confuse the quarterback and make him hold the ball longer."

[IT note: Brown said above that the Horns need help from a true freshman in the defensive backfield. Right now, that would be corner Aaron Ross. He's been the most impressive of the bunch through the first week or so of full squad practice.]

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