Practice Report: Brown Talks Benson, Penalties

One thing that was evident even in a 66-7 blowout is that the areas where Texas did well most of last year (passing offense, pass defense, the return game) Texas will do very well this season. And the areas where Texas was deficient (rush offense, penalties) may still be a concern. Or, are they? Here&#146;s what Texas head coach <B>Mack Brown </B>had to say following Wednesday&#146;s practice at Denius Field.

With all of the off-season emphases on the running game, one might have expected RB Cedric Benson to do a little more damage than 40 yards on 12 carries through three quarters of work -- even with New Mexico State stacking the line with up to nine defenders. That’s part of the reason why Texas starting going up top a little more in the second and third quarters.

But Benson looked fine, Brown said. Overall, Brown’s reaction to a running game that was averaging three ypc until QB Vince Young significantly padded those stats in the final frame sounded very much like his response last season.

"He (Benson) only touched it 12 times, there was a guard who missed a block here, there was a fullback who was too wide here, but most of the time when he carried it, he carried it pretty well," Brown said.

In other words, it sounds as if it was the error here and the boo-boo there (that never gets corrected) that keeps the running game so sluggish.

"But with the (Benson) fumble, we lost a possession and with the penalty we lost 15 yards for a personal foul," Brown added.

There was actually a couple of personal fouls, and more than just a few questionable officiating calls, that resulted in eight flags totaling 85 yards. The most ridiculous whistles of the night were directed at QB Vince Young (unsportsmanlike) for pounding his chest following a 10-yard run, plus the running-into-the-kicker foul against SE Roy Williams that negated PR/CB Nathan Vasher’s 52-yard return in the first quarter.

It could be argued that the inconsistent whistles had more to do with hypersensitive refs than it did a carry-over of Texas’ newfound aggressive spirit. At the same time, Texas led the league in penalties for most of last season. Is that a problem?

"It’s always a concern," Brown said, "but I looked every year when Florida State won the ACC and they led the ACC in penalties every year. So, if they’re aggressive penalties…"

And then Brown made some off-the-record remarks about some of the calls that were (shall we say?) highly questionable. These were Big 12 officials, and so we will see them again.

Obviously, they weren’t the kind of flags that would hurt Texas in a 59-point route. But some of them were eerily reminiscent of that offensive pass interference call against Roy on Texas’ last possession while clinging to a 27-24 lead at Nebraska last season. The blown call (and the ref did later admit to Brown that he did not fully see the play) resulted in DeJuan Groce’s punt return to the Texas 16. It was one of those instances where an official damn near decided the outcome.

But rather than sweating it about the penalties and Benson’s rushing totals, Brown was more concerned about what he thought was a lackluster practice session.

"We did a lot of good things, but we did not do the things we needed to do with the attitude today to win the football game (against Arkansas) in two weeks," Brown said. "That’s what I told them. I didn’t think they had the spirit today that they’ve had throughout camp…When you’re a good football team, you go out and practice every day to get better. I thought we did okay today, but I’m not sure that we took the step that we needed to today. We didn’t have a bad practice, but the standard’s been set really high. Today was back to those 11 wins, and we’re trying to do better than that."

The Horns will practice Thursday afternoon at Denius Field and then break until Monday.

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