I asked Brown what, after he reviewed the film from last week's scrimmages, would be the focus of these final six practices of two-a-days. "We need to tackle better on defense in the open field and that's something that we work on every day," the coach said. "We want our backs to be better protectors. They're running the ball better than they have (with this group of backs) since the season was over last year but we still need to work on our protection. We want our receivers and tight ends to be more consistent. They did really well on Saturday. Thursday, they weren't as consistent and dropped some balls, so we want more focus out of those guys on a day-to-day basis. The defensive backs and receivers run more during two-a-days than anybody so they (tend) to be more tired. We're trying to shore up our kicking game. We put in the return today on defense. We're working hard to make sure that we have the right people in place that have worked on the punt two-deep. Because of our situation with NC State two years ago when we lost three guys (to injury) in the opening game and our back-ups weren't as prepared as our starters, we're working hard to make sure that that never happens again to us. And we've still got some issues at kicker. Dusty (Mangum) has done a good job but you've got to watch him throughout to see if he'll stay consistent because he's never played in a ballgame." . . .
During this morning's end-of-practice field goal kicking, Mangum made one of his three attempts from 36 yards, Matt McFadden missed his 36-yard attempt short and David Pino blasted his 36-yard attempt at least 45 yards but wide left. . . .
Rover Lee Jackson remains sidelined with the "dinged toe" he suffered last Thursday. Jackson continues to wear the large protective boot on his left lower leg/foot. RDE Reed Boyd did not practice this morning because of a sore hamstring but Brown said he hopes to have Boyd back by tonight's workout. Kyle Shanahan, who just over two weeks ago suffered a deep leg gouge, has already begun to jog. Greg Davis said Sunday that Shanahan would "probably not" be ready for the opener, but added that the junior wideout is "way ahead of schedule. I don't want to count him out, but it's a stretch to think he'll be back by the opener." Davis said the original prognosis had Shanahan back by the Houston game (on Sept. 22), but Shanahan says he'll be ready for the North Carolina contest (on Sept. 8). The offensive coordinator also said Sunday that before Shanahan's injury, the Horns' top group of receivers was Roy Williams, B.J. Johnson, Sloan Thomas and Shanahan, with Montrell Flowers and Tony Jeffery coming off the bench. Until Shanahan returns, that six-man rotation will simply fall to five. True freshman Brian Carter would be next in line, but Davis said he is "cautious about putting (Carter) in early" and potentially wasting a redshirt season. Barring further injury, it's unlikely that Carter will play early, with the final redshirt-or-play decision coming later in the year. FYI, Roy, Sloan and Jeffery are being double trained at both flanker and split end. . . .
During spring and again this August, the Horns have worked a lot on and the coaches have trumpeted the addition to the offensive arsenal of what might be called "gadget" or "trick" plays (like today, when B.J. Johnson took an end-around 50-plus yards to the house). The head coach said he wants to see them used, and used often, this fall. "What we'll do is take one or two ("trick" plays) into each game," Brown said. "We need to throw deep a minimum of four times during a ballgame to our speed at receiver and we need to use the toys, the different-type plays, the misdirection-type plays just to slow down the defense. I'd like to see us throw deep four times and have four of those (toys) a game." . . .
For those of you concerned that the coaches will keep Cedric Benson on the bench if he's unable to quickly master the tailback's protection responsibilities, fret not, at least according to Davis. "In pass protection, because of the multiplicity of schemes, it's tough for a freshman, but Cedric is mature, he's really studied, and we will not let pass protection keep him from playing," the coordinator said. "If he's the best player . . . we can't let that stop him from playing." . . .
Davis said Sunday that the two true freshman linemen most ready to play this fall are Will Allen and Jonathan Scott. Davis emphasized that that isn't necessarily a prediction of who will be the best players of the group, rather the guys who are mature enough (and are at a need position) to play immediately. Davis added that the coaches would like to redshirt the whole group, but Allen and Scott are the two most likely to be "ready in case of an emergency." . . .
Sunday, D-coordinator Carl Reese said, aside from Derrick Johnson, the two true freshmen who currently look most ready to play are CBs Aaron Ross and Michael Huff. Reese and Brown have both said that the coaches are looking for at least one (and possibly more) of the young DBs to contribute this fall. Ross and Huff might be the guys, particularly with second-team corner Monti Collier still out with a hamstring injury.