The Longhorns started fall camp with depth issues at wide receiver and got that much worse with the news on Monday that Jaxon Shipley has a pulled hamstring.
Strong said he wasn’t sure on an exact timetable for his return. HornsDigest is hearing it could be as much as 4-6 weeks.
“He was out there running around, which it's good to get him back at wide receiver because right now we're concerned about the depth,” Strong said. “Overall, just very pleased with day three, getting that workout behind us.”
Strong mentioned that receiver – along with defensive backs – was a position that he thought freshmen could make an immediate impact at. It appears now more than ever that he’s going to need them to.
Early returns on Armanti Foreman and Lorenzo Joe are what we expected – they’re good and should be able to contribute as true freshmen. Sophomore Jacorey Warrick is a name Strong frequently mentions so look for him to get plenty of early looks too.
“With Shipley being out, you look at the freshmen, they are in rotation as well,” he said. “Warrick is getting a lot of work and [John] Harris is getting a lot of work. Now we get Marcus back and get him back in the swing of things.”
Ah, yes, Harris. Could this be the year that he finally breaks out?
He only caught five passes for 141 yards and two touchdowns last season, which were actually all career highs. But those all came in the first five games. If anything, he should get the Chance Early on to make an impact.
Strong confirmed HornsDigest’s report that he and the coaching staff were living in the dorms with the players. He said this is something he’s done before.
“Anytime you want to build a team you have to build togetherness,” he said. “The reason why we stay in the dorms is now we have the whole team around with the offense on one floor and the defense on one floor. Then, during the day, each of them have a roommate so they can open up their doors and have guys walking down the hallway.
“It's about teamwork and working together and just getting guys together where they can find out who one another really is, because we don't really get that opportunity. A lot of older guys don't get a chance to know who the freshmen are, and now the freshmen can feel comfortable where they can walk into an upperclassman's room and feel good about it.”
One of the more startling sights from Monday’s camp was the fact that none of Texas’ helmets had the Longhorn decals on them.
Strong was asked if he would leave the Longhorn logo off the helmets into the season if he didn’t think the team had earned them.
“There's a lot of pride in this program, and a lot of tradition in this program and the players understand that,” he said. “There's a lot of guys that came out here and they poured sweat and everything they left on this field and that's what we're going to do and until we get that done, I'll let you know just how far we come, I'll decide to put it back when they understand the logo and just how important it is.”
The last time I saw Jake Raulerson line up at tackle was at Valley Ranch during a Dallas NFTC the summer before his senior season.
Raulerson wasn’t the biggest tackle by any means and more often than not was smaller than the defensive ends he was going up against.
But he won with sound technique. Even when the best defensive linemen there were calling him out, he won.
He’s had to have shown similar capabilities to Joe Wickline in order for Wick to move him – however temporary it may be – to RT. That is such a big money position that he can’t afford to just slap someone in there for the heck of it to “prove a point” to Kennedy Estelle. Not this close to North Texas.
There is trust in Raulerson with this coaching staff that he can get the job done even if they have to overcome a few bumps along the way.
All that being said, I asked Strong about Raulerson on Monday and he said he thought the redshirt freshman was doing a nice job.
Jake is so versatile where he can play center, he can play any position, center, guard, tackle, so he's doing a really good job.
I’ve said it on this site and on Chip’s morning radio show that I think the coaching staff is going to find it really hard to move Kent Perkins from left tackle once Desmond Harrison’s suspension is over. I just think he’s that good.
Strong touched on just how dominant Perkins can be when he gets his hands on a defender.
“Perkins is so strong, I think in the weight room he's the strongest person we have,” Strong said. “He's such a big body inside and he can engulf you. If a guy tries to run inside, he can latch on. If he ever latches on, the defensive linemen don't have a chance.”
Cohesion between offensive linemen can’t be underestimated and if Wickline thinks that the group he puts out against North Texas is finding that trust within each other I’m not so sure he’d be so quick to change that up.
We’ll see but Harrison – and Estelle – could have a bigger fight on their hands to get their starters reps back than many first thought.
I remember going over to Mansfield High School to write a feature story on Hassan Ridgeway during his senior season and being forewarned that he didn’t say much.
His coaches exaggerated a bit. He didn’t say anything.
He was so soft-spoken in his responses that I could hardly hear him when I played back our recorded conversation.
He’s not the most boisterous or energetic defensive lineman on UT’s roster and sometimes, as Chip Brown touched on in HD Only, he need’s to be scolded to play to the level you’d think he’s capable given his monstrous 6-foot-4, 315-pound frame.
When that does happen you can see just how dominant he can be. As a reserve in 2013 he was fourth on the team in QB pressures with five. Two of those came against BYU’s Taysom Hill. He had six tackles that game.
Strong is starting to see more of the Ridgeway he hoped he see early in fall camp.
“Ridge is doing well,” Strong said. “He’s a really strong guy, a powerful, really a powerful pass rusher also. He has so much strength that he can take guys, once he gets locked on them he can just throw them out of the way.”
Strong laughed on Monday when he said he called Ridgeway the “green mile.” He also made reference to Ridgeway as “my big guy.” So there are clearly big things in store for him this season.