Mack talks about the QBs, the wideouts, and more

Here are a few of the head coach's recent comments on the offense and offensive players from the last two weeks that we weren't able to work into our twice-daily practice reports, along with some <I>IT</I> analysis:

On how the coaches plan to use the QBs this fall: "What we're going to try to do is win the game with Chris and Major and after the game's over put Chance in to get him some reps in spots. Hopefully we'll be ahead when we do that by quite a bit and then the situation you get in nowadays, you've got to get your back-up quarterback ready to play so even if you're way ahead, you still have to throw the ball some. Everybody gets mad about running up the score, I think those days are over. Chance is one play away from being in the mix of playing to help us win a ballgame so we've got to get him some good snaps and some live snaps in a game."

[IT note: Barring a total collapse by Simms, look for the junior QB to play through the first half and into the third quarter of the Horns' early season games. Anything less than that could reignite the QB distractions of last fall. Major will deservedly get some snaps, probably in the third quarter of games where Texas is comfortably ahead, after Simms retires to the sideline. Mock will be the mop-up man, but with the uncertainty at QB in '02, the coaches want the redshirt freshman prepared to step in and lead the team next fall if that need arises, so he should see the field often late in games.]

On Derrick Dockery and how he fits into the fall OL rotation: "Derrick is real good. What we've got to do is help Alfio along because he's behind, Robbie Doane's got a sore knee and hasn't played a whole lot so we've got to look at the combination of Derrick playing both places simply because we have more experience at guard than we have at tackle, so if Derrick can help us at tackle some and Tillman and Antwan be inside at guard, that's combination we would look at. We've finally got some older offensive linemen so we've got more combinations than we've had in the last two years."

[IT note: As I've written before, the bet here is that Doane starts at left tackle and Holloway starts at left guard, allowing Dockery to come off the bench and spell both of those guys, plus Kirk-Hughes at right guard and Mike Williams at right tackle. With Doane stepping up his level of play over the last week or so, the Horns' OL situation is looking solid, with six guys considered starting-caliber players. For two years now, though, the Texas offensive line has been a unit where the whole has been less than the sum of its parts. We won't know if that's finally changed until they take the field Sept. 1. So far, in scrimmage work, the OLs have faced off with the Horns' second-team D, a group not nearly as formidable as most of the defenses UT will face this fall.]

On the wide receivers and whether they can perform at a higher level than they did last fall: "As well as our receivers have done, they're on the cutting edge of where they can go. It's amazing to us every day how many things we see and they see that they can improve. They are so much further along than they were this time last year but they're not even close to where they can be and that's one of the things that we think can really improve before this season is finished with. With Ricky Williams and Hodges Mitchell out of the lineup, a new back has to step up an we're seeing some backs come and that's gotta happen for us. But we feel like Bo Scaife coming back, Brock Edwards being older the tight end spot should be better than it was last year at this time and we feel like the receivers can get better.

"We feel like it will take pressure off our running backs if our receiving corps can continue to improve and our tight end can become a weapon. People are going to have to spread out to cover those guys and maybe double team one or two of those guys and that opens it up for the running game.

"I would say the Holiday Bowl challenged those guys. It sends a message to them that they are just starting and there are so many more things they can do. Their work ethic has been so much better through spring and the start of two-a-days and I'm sure that (the Holiday Bowl) was a motivating factor. If everything had finished well, our team probably wouldn't be as hungry."

[IT note: Brown hit on the one thing I believe will make the most difference in the consistency of the offense this fall: the tight end. I don't think we can overestimate the importance of a healthy Scaife and Edwards. Someone mentioned recently that the Simms-Scaife/Edwards combo could be similar to the Aikman-Novacek combo for the Cowboys in the early- and mid-90s. That may not be a stretch. And if that's the case, the outside receivers and the running backs will reap the benefits with one-on-one coverage and more running room, respectively.]

On the running back situation coming heading into the final week of practice leading up to the New Mexico State game: "I'm really pleased right now with the running back situation. We feel like all three of the guys that are playing in the rotation situation plus Brett in the one-back situation are doing really well . . . We've seen the life there we need. . . . Right now we'd play four backs in the first ball game if we were playing today. Victor Ike would start and (Cedric Benson and Ivan Williams) would play when we're in two backs and when we're on four-wides and one back it would be Brett Robin."

[IT note: Now that we've seen what the top three guys can do against the Texas second-team defense, it's time to see if one of them separates when facing a live D-I D. Until then, the projection of a rotation seems valid.]

On the change in the Horns' practice schedule this August: "We've probably spent about as much time on the field as we have in the past but we've been more physical this preseason camp than in any we've had. We've run the ball a lot more, we've worked on stopping the run a lot more than we have in the past and at the same time we've been very fortunate to stay on our feet a lot and avoid the injuries, so we're very pleased from that standpoint. You worry about this time of year because guys get tired and they fall into each other because they'll never be more tired than they are right now at the end of two-a-days."

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