More Wednesday scrimmage notes and analysis

Here are more notes and analysis on Wednesday's final two-a-days scrimmage at the stadium:

Along with five-wide, empty backfield sets, the Horns also continued to work out of a lot of two tight end sets. The formation obviously can be a short yardage set (like on both of Ivan Williams' short TD plunges) but it also showed promise Wednesday in longer yardage situations, with Brett Robin ripping off 11 (before his fumble) and Ivan taking consecutive handoffs eight and seven yards out of the set. . . .

On the first D's opening play from scrimmage vs. the second O, Maurice Gordon, starting beside Marcus Tubbs at DT, sacked Major Applewhite. For the Horns' senior second-team QB, that play would be a sign of things to come. Starting SAM 'backer Tyrone Jones got to Major on the second O's next series. Kalen Thornton chased Major down from behind for a sack on the No. 2 O's next possession. And Cory Redding, not to be outdone by his fellow DE, registered a sack of Major later in the scrimmage. My play-by-play notes are filled with "Major pressured" and "pocket collapsed" and "Major forced to scramble." Both QBs are throwing the ball away frequently if they can't quickly find an open man while they are being pressured. Major has always done that, but Chris Simms is far more likely to toss it into the seats now than he was last season. Along with the pressure he faced, Major also worked with a receiver group that often included walk-ons Michael Ungar and Richard Hightower (plus Tony Jeffery and Montrell Flowers), two solid special teams players, but also two who will never be mistaken for Roy Williams and B.J. Johnson. Quite a turnaround from last August and early fall, when back-up QB (sorry, co-starter) Major worked with then back-up wideouts Williams and Johnson. . . .

Marcus Wilkins, who will probably see action in game one at both left defensive end and, with Lee Jackson now expected to miss at least the New Mexico State game, SAM linebacker, made another strong defensive play against the first-team O and Mike Williams Wednesday night, rushing around the RT for a near sack of Simms. Matter of fact, it looked like Wilkins would have had Simms in a game situation, but the senior had to hold up, allowing Simms to hit B.J. for a 13-yarder that set up a score two plays later. . . .

A couple of back-ups suffered shoulder injuries late in Wednesday night's 100-play scrimmage. No. 5 tailback Sneezy Beltran had three carries for 21 yards before spraining his shoulder and DT Kaelen Jakes, one of the five guys competing for time in the rotation along with Tubbs at DT, left the scrimmage with a sore shoulder. Their return dates are unknown. . . .

Tony Jeffery totaled 29 yards rushing on two quick WR handoffs. His 12- and 17-yard gainers on the play came against the first-team defense, not a good sign that the Horn D has eliminated its problem with giving up big chunks of yards on misdirection or, as the coaches call them, "off-schedule plays." The redshirt freshman wideout also caught one ball for 25 yards. Jeffery has shown a knack recently for getting open (and catching the ball) across the middle. . . .

With a little help from the wind, Dylan Becker booted one kickoff attempt to the goalline. Aside from Dusty Mangum, who sent his lone kickoff attempt into the end zone, James Baker also gave one a ride into the end zone (with the wind). . . .

The Horn D racked up several offsides penalties, but Brown said he felt like they were simply a case of aggressiveness, which he doesn't want to stifle in his defenders. The head coach said the staff will look at the film, though, to determine if those penalties can be better avoided. . . .

Nathan Vasher, Dakarai Pearson and Phillip Geiggar worked in punt return, fair catching all of their attempts. . . .

UT's two high profile freshmen squared off mid-way through the scrimmage. Cedric Benson, taking a handoff from Simms, darted left and looked destined to turn the corner for a solid gain, but true freshman teammate Derrick Johnson slid down the line of scrimmage and then outside, forcing Benson to continue running east-west. When Benson finally turned it upfield, Johnson had enough of the RB to bring him down for just a three-yard gain. . . .

Derrick Dockery played both right and left guard with the first-team O. . . .

At one point, the second O-line consisted of LT Alfio Randall, LG Will Allen, C Beau Baker, RG Trey Bates and RT Jonathan Scott. Bates also worked some at center later in the scrimmage, and true freshmen Terrance Young (RG) and William Winston (RT) also got some snaps. . . .

Brown said the team worked some on New Mexico State during the scrimmage. Thursday morning's practice will include full scout-team work.


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