Strong not please
You could tell from Strong’s body language and the look he had on his face that he wasn’t at all pleased with Tuesday’s practice. And he let us know why.
“During preseason camp there's going to be days where you hit a wall. You're just going to have to be able to just push through it,” he said. “Mentally, you're going to have to have some toughness to you. Today we hit that wall and we were unable to push through it. We just weren't very pleased with today's practice.”
Strong spread blame all around, including to himself and his staff.
“When there's bad days, there's bad days with the coaching staff,” he said. “We didn't do a good job of pushing the guys and getting them prepared. The sun is going to be there, the heat is going to be there, but still it's all about working each and every day to get better. We're not a good enough football team to just waste days. We only have so many opportunities and we've got to take full advantage of the opportunities.”
The lack of intensity was there from the beginning, according to Strong, who said there were plenty of dropped balls, missed blocks, not getting off blocks, etc.
“The thing about it is it's got to come from the leadership at some point, it's got to come from the coaching staff but also from the players,” he said.
Strong has repeatedly stated that he’d like the seniors on this team to assume leadership responsibilities, and has said they have for the most part. But that wasn’t the case on Tuesday as Strong was noticeably upset that those seniors didn’t step up with practice unfolding how it was.
“Well, you'd like to think you have enough seniors within your program, someone would have said something,” Strong said. “You look at your defensive front, you look at your two seniors there in your secondary. You have enough seniors on offensive line, you have [Dominic] Espinosa, you have a running back in Malcolm Brown, so you like to see them at some point take over the team.”
It’s somewhat status quo for teams to hit a wall during the second week of fall camp. They’re bodies are trying to work through the soreness and many are trying to wrap up summer school with final exams this week.
But that’s where you’ve got to be mentally and physically equipped to handle the pressures of being a Longhorns football player.
“You're going to hit a wall at some point but still you're going to have to look to your seniors on the team to provide leadership so you're able to bounce back. It's going to be a grind,” Strong said. “This week is a grind. It's all about who has a voice and who's willing to step up.”
First the good news: Offensive lineman Darius James, who was seen with a boot on his right foot at practice on Sunday, will be back to practice in the “next couple of days.”
Some more good news: Freshman running back Duke Catalon, who RB coach Tommie Robinson raves about, has a slight hamstring pull and will be back soon. That’s great news for UT, which is already thin at the position.
Now for the bad news.
First, as we’d reported, senior quarterback Miles Onyegbule has suffered a season ending torn ACL. His career is over at UT.
We’ve heard from several sources that senior cornerback Sheroid Evans is severely limited and not moving well as he continues to work his way back from a torn ACL injury suffered last season. Strong somewhat backed up our report on Tuesday.
“The main thing with him is when he feels comfortable enough in himself to be ready to go.”
The biggest surprise on the injury front was the news that tight end Greg Daniels is going to have a knee scoped at some point in the near future. That’s not great news for a position that already severely lacks proven depth.
Daniels, a converted defensive end, has only caught eight passes in his career – 3 for 28 yards in 2013 – but he is valuable in run-block and is needed for what the Longhorns want to do in the running game.
Starting kickers named
Two positions that haven’t been talked about all that much yet were brought up on Tuesday when Strong named the starting kicker and punter jobs.
Rose was the team’s No. 1 kickoff specialist last season but didn’t see any time as a place kicker.
Will Russ, a senior, is in line to open the season as the No. 1 punter.
Russ hasn’t done much of anything since coming to Texas in 2010 as one of the nation’s best out of Shreveport (La.) Evangel Christian. He didn’t see any game action last season and only posted two kickoffs during his redshirt freshman and sophomore seasons.
Both have big shoes to fill as Anthony Fera put together one of the best seasons a Texas kicker/punter has ever had.
We’ve probably talked about Armanti Foreman more than any other freshman this fall, and with good reason.
The four-star receiver out of Texas City has been that good and is taking full advantage of the opportunities presented to him with the dismissals of Montrel Meander and Kendall Sanders, the injury to Jaxon Shipley and the suspension of Daje Johnson.
Strong has even noticed a difference in the freshman.
“He's a player that has a lot of speed and the thing you like about him is he's one of those guys that can take a 5-yard hitch and take it to a 20-yard gain,” Strong said.
Strong hasn’t made any position switches right now but could look at making some changes to help with depth at tight end. Andrew Beck is a name we are hearing that could be an option.
The Longhorns will have a new captain each week. Strong said he won’t announce team captains until after the season.