More Saturday scrimmage notes

With just six practices remaining during two-a-days, the Horns' scrimmage Saturday in DKR gave the coaches a chance to look at a lot of players vying for back-up jobs (plus the few still unfilled starting roles). Here are more notes, observations and analysis from that scrimmage:

The starting OL Saturday consisted of LT Robbie Doane, LG Derrick Dockery, C Matt Anderson, RG Antwan Kirk-Hughes and RT Mike Williams. As I've written before, Dockery, Tillman Holloway and Kirk-Hughes are all considered "starters" regardless of who actually lines up at the two guard spots. All three work with the first-team on a regular basis. The bigger question is whether Dockery may get the start, or at least substantial playing time at left tackle in place of Doane. Near the end of the scrimmage, Dockery worked with the second-team O at left tackle. Alfio Randall also took snaps with the second-team O, and despite pre-two-a-days predictions that the juco transfer would win the job from Doane, Doane's better than expected play has rendered that scenario unlikely until later in the season, if at all. . . .

The first-team O's opening drive covered 66 yards in 11 plays culminated by a virtually unstoppable play, the quick slant from Chris Simms to Roy Williams. From the three, Roy broke inside on defender Ervis Hill and Simms fired the ball past linebacker Derrick Johnson for the TD. On the drive, Simms completed four of his five attempts for 27 yards (I think that yardage total from that one drive is about the total that Dallas Cowboys rookie QB Quincy Carter posted in the entire game last night against the Saints -- pity the poor 'Boys). Simms did not throw a deep ball, relying on the controlled, short-yardage passing game to move the ball easily down the field on the No. 2 defense. His first attempt, which fell incomplete, was a swing pass to Victor Ike coming out of the backfield. Simms' longest completion of the drive came on that same play, but to Ivan Williams, who scampered for 11 yards. Simms also completed a seven-yarder to B.J. Johnson (from a four-wide set) and a four-yarder to Roy (from a five-wide, empty backfield set). RBs Ike and Williams also both made nice runs on the drive. Ike ran three times for 14 yards, eight of those coming from the 15 where the junior followed his blockers right, waited for the hole to develop and then darted toward the goalline. That play exemplifies the improvement Ike seems to have made as a running back this fall. And speaking of improvement, Ivan has demonstrated a truckload as well, and when that truckload is coming at ya, watch out. Derrick Johnson, who already has a reputation for popping folks from his LB spot, was on the receiving end from Ivan on the sophomore RB's 14-yard run on the opening series. Williams, running right, made two good moves to get outside (read: he moved laterally well, keeping his balance but turning his hips, something he seemed to lose after spring of '00) and then sped up the right sideline where he collided with Johnson. It may go down as a tackle on the stat sheet for Johnson, but Ivan definitely got the better of that encounter. . . .

The kicking game woes continued Saturday with another blocked field goal by Tien Van Nguyen, several short kickoffs, and poor punting by both Brian Bradford and Justin Smith (and one of those punts came darn close to being blocked as well). The blocked field goal came on a 45-yard attempt by Dusty Mangum, within his proven range but also a distance that requires a low-trajectory kick, hence the block by Nguyen. Mangum made attempts from 31 and 36 yards but hit the right upright and missed on another 36-yarder. Mangum's one kickoff traveled to the six with the help of a pretty strong tailwind. Dylan Becker and James Baker also kicked off, Becker sending one to the 15 into the wind and the other to the seven with the wind (along with trying an on-side kick) and Baker knocking his with-the-wind attempt to the nine. Ike, Ivan and Nathan Vasher returned kicks, Ike going 19 yards, Ivan nine and Vasher 41. Vasher has been one of the kicking game bright spots during August, adding what looks to be another lethal return weapon to the Horns' already deadly duo of Ike and Williams. Punt returns are a different story, though. Vasher was expected to easily win the job, but he hasn't yet, with Dakarai Pearson, Phillip Geiggar and true freshman Aaron Ross still vying for the job. Both Vasher and Pearson fair caught their attempts Saturday. "We're not very far along in that area right now," Brown said last week. And then there's the punters: Bradford had three punts for an average of 36.6 yards (two 37-yarders and a 36-yarder) and Smith had two for 35.5 (a 37-yarder and a 34-yarder that went just 25 yards in the air with the wind). Certainly not championship level performances from the two. . . .

In the you-probably-won't-see-this-again category, Montrell Flowers actually had a step on Quentin Jammer on a go route up the right sideline on the second O's first drive vs. the first D. Major Applewhite put the ball on the outside shoulder of Flowers, but the pass went through Montrell's out-stretched hands. . . .

The true freshmen linemen -- Jonathan Scott (at LT), Will Allen (at both LG and RG), Mike Garcia (at RG), William Winston (at RT) and Terrance Young (at LG) -- saw a good deal of mid-scrimmage snaps when the offensive back-ups squared off against the defensive back-ups. . . .

Sneezy Beltran worked with the back-up offensive unit, mostly QBed by Chance Mock, and totaled 31 yards on nine carries. Kenny Hayter did not play (more later on Hayter's situation). . . .

B.J. Johnson hauled in a 38-yard TD pass from Simms near the right pylon for the offensive highlight of the day. In a real game, though, the play would have been coming back. Johnson pushed off defender Hill just before the catch. . . .

LB Derrick Johnson led all Longhorn defenders with 11 tackles. The true freshman is already living up to his reputation as a sideline-to-sideline, ball-hawking 'backer. . . .

Third-team fullback Will Matthews had his most productive pass-catching scrimmage in the Orange and White, gaining 25 yards on his two receptions. "Matt Trissel would be the starting fullback today and Chad Stevens has had his best camp," Brown said Saturday. "Matt and Chad have had a great camp but we feel like we need a third fullback and Will is 252 pounds and he has a tremendous amount of ability so we want him to get more comfortable at the position."


Horns Digest Top Stories