1. A TIGHTER TEAM
Then RB Joe Bergeron was taken out of spring football over an academic issue. He and Daje Johnson do everything right academically in the spring, but violate team rules by breaking one of Charlie Strong's core values. Bergeron is dismissed as a multiple offender. Johnson is suspended along with senior OT Desmond Harrison and senior S Josh Turner. All will miss at least one game, Strong said.
Every time Strong is asked if the seven player dismissals are depth-crippling, because four were likely to contribute a lot (Sanders, Meander, Bergeron and S Leroy Scott), Strong says no.
"We have young players and other players who haven't gotten a chance to step up," Strong said. "It's up to us coaches to develop them. We have good players. We have enough players to do what we want on offense and defense."
2. COACHES LIVING IN JESTER EAST
Charlie Strong isn't just having his upperclass players move back onto campus. He's having his coaching staff - all of it - assistants, GAs, you name it, move on campus (into the Jester East dorm) to live with the players and build a team.
For strong it's about doing everything together. He doesn't just say it. He means it. Just ask the coaches' wives, who will be without their husbands around the house for the next two weeks.
3. PLAYERS RETURNING FROM INJURY
There were 10 players who missed some or all of spring practice due to injury who have all been cleared with the exception of freshman LB Deoundrei Davis (knee).
The rest are good to go (in order of importance - callous, I know):
Junior QB David Ash is all clear after having Jones fracture repair surgery in his left foot in April.
Sophomore OT Kent Perkins is back from surgery to repair a knee injury and could end up as your starting left tackle.
Senior LB Tevin Jackson is back from a torn ACL.
The coaches have never seen Gray, Hicks, Daniels, Jackson or Evans in pads with their own eyes. All of those players need to be impact players either as starters or on special teams or both.
4. COACHES WON'T BE SURPRISED IF ...
Any of the suspended players - WR Daje Johnson, OT Desmond Harrison and S Josh Turner (as well as OT Kennedy Estelle) - fail to make it to the season.
The track record of slip-ups or poor attitudes by the four are so long that the coaches will believe they can do it when they see it.
That's why you'll see other players in their starting positions as camp starts.
William Wilkerson of HornsDigest.com is reporting that you could very well see Kent Perkins at LT, Sed Flowers at LG, Dom Espinosa at C, Rami Hammad at RG and Jake Raulerson at RT as UT tries to find reliable replacements if needed.
Look for Jacorey Warrick, whom Charlie Strong mistakenly called "Peter Warrick" at Sunday's presser, to move up as well in the absence of Kendall Sanders.
In what could become the biggest unintentional tribute to the story of Charlie Strong, a walk-on defensive back at Central Arkansas, look for walk-on Dylan Haines to be the other starting safety along with Mykkele Thompson.
Haines is no ordinary walk-on. He's the son of former Texas DE John Haines, a member of Texas' 1983 defense - UT's best defense in the last 35 years (9.5 ppg, shut down Auburn's Bo Jackson and Georgia's Herschel Walker).
Dylan was hardly recruited out of tiny Lago Vista HS, but he knows the game. He plays fast and takes good angles. It's early, but it looks like it's Haines' job to lose while senior Josh Turner serves his suspension and figures things out.
5. BREAKING DOWN WILL GIVE WAY TO BUILDING UP ...
Charlie Strong will use the early stages of camp to really push players. And the breaking down of the team will continue for a week or two. This is the time of year that Charlie Strong calls "Fourth-and-1 every day."
But once he's identified the starters who are giving him max effort and producing, he'll start to build those players up.
In some cases, that's already happening. The coaches have told players such as WR Marcus Johnson to carry themselves with more confidence because they have the talent to go with the work ethic.
The players know the tempo the coaches want, so that better not be a problem.
From now on, "It's Fourth-and-1 every day."
"It's fourth-and-1," Strong said. "We can't get knocked back. We have to go get it."