Friday Practice Notes and Analysis

Notes and analysis from the Horns' Friday afternoon practice.

Lightning Forces Practice Into The Bubble

For the second day in a row, the weather was a major story at Longhorns practice. What appeared to be a gift from the gods turned into a cruel joke on Longhorn fans, as lightning fears forced practice indoors into the safety of the Bubble.

Temperatures were again in triple digits when practice began at 3:00 p.m. However, by 3:30 heavy clouds and a gentle breeze had cooled things off considerably for fans and players alike. At 4:10, shortly after quarterback/receiver throwing drills began, lightning was spotted west of Denius Fields. Head Coach Mack Brown broke the news to fans in the bleachers that the outdoor practice had to be canceled.

Because of the abbreviated practice, today’s report will be considerably thinner.

Punting

Much of what was completed on the main field was punting, kicking and other special teams drills.

The drills began with PAT/FG execution. Two different units rotated in quickly, with each attempting one short kick from the left hash, then the middle of the field and, finally, the right hash, with token pressure from the defense. The coaches seemed pleased with the execution, though PK David Pino had his last kick bang off the left upright.

Punting drills were next. Two punting units divided up on the east and west side of the field and worked one after the other. On the east side, Richmond McGee and Justin Smith traded absolutely booming punts to Nathan Vasher and Dakarai Pearson. On the west side, Taylor Landin and transfer Greg Johnson punted to Selvin Young, Aaron Ross and Tarell Brown.

In this drill, it was McGee that was the most impressive, nailing two towering, deep punts. Cornerback Cedric Griffin, walk-on WR Josh Graham-Chapman and freshman DB Erick Jackson worked as gunners during the drill.

The punters then split up again, and traded deep and pooch punts to Vasher and Young. Landin and Johnson looked very good as they repeatedly drilled high, deep punts.

A day after extremely inconsistent efforts across the board, the Texas punters looked much, much better. If Mack Brown can bottle what we saw today, then the Horns will be in better shape than expected at punter this season.

Top Recruit Shines Again

Mack Brown’s best recruit this off-season was in top form today. No, not any of the blue-chip freshmen, but defensive backs coach Duane Akina, who turned down the defensive coordinator position at UCLA to remain at Texas. Once again, Akina was all over the place on special teams and cornerback drills, alternately chewing out and cheering on his players.

While the punters worked on their last drill, he ran herd over a punt/kick blocking speed drill on the east side of the field. Players lined up two at a time, sprinted five yards forward to the cone and then cut quickly to the middle to a screaming, grinning Akina. His energy, enthusiasm and almost constant talking livened up the entire field.

Quick Hits

Sloan Thomas was not wearing any brace on his leg today. Yesterday, he wore an elastic band just below his surgically-repaired knee. He seems to be at 100 percent and is showing no ill-effects from the injury and his hands are as good as ever.

B.J. Johnson looked excellent for the second straight day. During drills, he appeared to be catching more with his hands, made sharp cuts and looked extremely focused throughout the short practice.

All three quarterbacks looked more relaxed, fluid and accurate today during drills.

Vince Young throws a wonderful deep ball. It just glides through the air and drops right in the receivers’ hands. It is still his most consistent throw.

Chance Mock throws the post like Nolan Ryan. The ball just hums to his receivers and is usually right on the money.

The QBs worked on play action, faking a hand-off left before firing a 15-20 yard post, and a 50 yard deep ball. Mock was the most consistent and accurate on the post route, but Young was more accurate on the deep ball.

Play of the Day

On a lightning-shortened day, Roy Williams came up with the play of the day. While running an out route, Williams stumbled on his break, recovered, accelerated, bent down and made a sterling two-handed shoe-top grab of a Mock pass on the sideline. Perhaps in preparation for next year, he made sure to get both feet down.


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