Saturday scrimmage primer

After Thursday's first full pad scrimmage, I talked to both defensive coordinator <B>Carl Reese</B> and offensive coordinator <B>Greg Davis</B>. Here are highlights of those conversations plus some <I>IT</I> analysis:

IT: With Marcus Tubbs entrenched as the starter at one tackle spot, what's the situation at the other tackle?

Carl Reese: We've got about five or six names in there and they're all about the same. We're giving them all a chance as you could see today. All of them got in there at that other tackle (opposite Tubbs) and when Tubbs wasn't in there, six guys got work there as well. Other than Tubbs, we're still looking. We've got to find and develop some depth there and it'll be interesting to go in and look at the tape and see who looked best. After this scrimmage, that's when you start building your depth and start putting depth charts up and get these kids in position of how you would play your first game.

[IT notes: Today's scrimmage should give us a better idea of the rotation patterns at defensive tackle. Tubbs and Adam Doiron have consistently been the top two guys, but as Reese pointed out above, five or six guys are in the running to fill the spot beside Tubbs in the starting rotation. If Tubbs is out again (he missed Friday evening's workout), those five or six will have plenty of opportunity to make their depth chart move. Realistically, Doiron, Maurice Gordon and Stevie Lee, in that order, are the probables at the second tackle spot.]

IT: Ideally, how many DTs do you need for a solid rotation?

Reese: If you've got three good ones you're in pretty good shape because you have two guys and you have a swing guy that can play both sides. But you want more than that. You'd like to be two deep. Anytime you train for a football game, you train two deep so that's four. We'll just keep working and I'm looking for someone to come through and hopefully we'll find somebody tonight (on tape).

[IT notes: Texas could be four deep with good ones this fall, with the four I listed in the first note above, but the Horns are not there yet. Tubbs is already in that category but Doiron must make more plays, Gordon must prove that he can be a run-stopper as well as a pass-rusher and Lee must mature and remain healthy.

IT: What have the three guys competing for the back-up spots at defensive end -- Marcus Wilkins, Reed Boyd and Jermain Anderson -- shown you?

Reese: Marcus Wilkins has really shown some fight. He's one of the better athletes on the squad. He's shown some quickness and speed rush ability and Reed Boyd has shown some signs and Jermain is a guy that we know what he can do, so we've really been taking those (former) linebackers and working the heck out of 'em and getting them a lot of snaps. I think we'll find somebody there and if we do maybe we can get (Wilkins or Boyd) to move back.

[IT notes: Asked recently who has stood out on defense over the first week of two-a-days, Reese started with his No. 1 DEs Kalen Thornton and Cory Redding. "Kalen Thornton is really standing out because he had an outstanding summer," the D-coordinator said. "He's big, strong and quick, and he's improved all of that." Reese also said Cory has been solid but that he "continues to need to play into shape a little bit." Reese has also consistently praised the play of Wilkins. Of the three back-ups, Wilkins has shown the most explosive ability off the end. If the season started today and all three back-ups were healthy (Wilkins left Friday night's practice early with an undetermined injury), Wilkins looks to be the No. 1 back-up overall and at left end, followed by Anderson (who can play both left and right end) and then Boyd.]

IT: How do you feel right now about your linebacker depth?

Reese: It's a little shaky. They're good players and I like them. They're young. Being young and playing a lot early is a little shaky. Before we play, we could always take a Marcus Wilkins or a Reed Boyd and kick 'em back. But we're still scratching.

[IT notes: With Boyd working as the No. 5 guy at defensive end, it wouldn't be a total shock to him back at linebacker, as Reese hinted at above. But if he does go back to 'backer, where does he go? He's played both WILL and Middle, but at WILL Everick Rawls is solidly the starter and Derrick Johnson is the most impressive freshman on the defensive side of the ball and has earned the second-team spot, while in the middle, D.D. Lewis will take the vast majority of the snaps and Aurmon Satchell has come on at the spot with a solid two-a-days. The guess is that if he does indeed return to LB, he'll be a utility 'backer, backing up both at WILL and in the middle.]

IT: What is the situation at left (offensive) tackle?

Greg Davis: Robbie Doane had a real good practice (Wednesday) night, an extremely good practice. I'd be guessing if I said much about today other than I thought the offensive line in general looked good but we're going to continue to bring Alfio (Randall) along. In many ways he's just a freshman in terms of nomenclature and things like that and we're going to continue to have Derrick (Dockery) work there because Derrick has been to the battle a bunch of times and what we want to do is find a way to get our best five guys on the field at the same thing and then find where the next group comes from.

[IT notes: Right now, that best five includes Dockery, Tillman Holloway, Matt Anderson, Antwan Kirk-Hughes and Mike Williams. The problem, of course, is there are really only four spots for those five guys unless Dockery moves to left tackle. If Dockery plays at left tackle during practice, he's taking snaps away from Doane and Randall who need them to improve. And if Dockery doesn't take left tackle snaps, he may not be prepared to play the position once the season starts. That's the Catch-22 that faces Davis. He needs to get the less experienced left tackles ready but he also wants his best five on the field, which would mean (right now) putting Dockery out there. And a move of Dockery to the outside weakens the depth on the inside. What we'll probably see for the remainder of two-a-days is Doane continuing to work with the first line at left tackle, Randall working with the second line, and Dockery getting some snaps when available. Then, when Sept. 1 rolls around, Davis starts the best five.]

IT: Was some of the success we witnessed tonight a result of the spring simplification of the running game?

Davis: We tried to come into this scrimmage and say we were going to run the gap scheme and the zone play and we were going to mix the draw in as it was effective. The idea was to go through the first scrimmage and really give those plays -- the zone play and the gap -- a bunch of work. Put on the back burner some of the other plays. We tossed it a couple of times but the focus of the deal was the gap scheme and the zone.

[IT notes: Davis heavily emphasized the fact that the Horns' are going to run more counters. Davis also said the coaches are "constantly looking, philosophically, for that '98 mentality where we were able to mix it up and do both (running and passing). . . . We will continue to spread people out but I think our line is a little more experienced now so we've got to be effective when we want to run the ball and I think that's important. There's not a magical (percentage) that we've set but there is a magical feeling that when we choose to run the ball, especially in short yardage and the end of the game changing the tempo, we've got to be effective running the ball."]


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