Saturday Scrimmage Key For Younger Horns

Saturday's scrimmage at Royal-Memorial Stadium will give younger player a chance to take a big step forward in the two-deep charts, while head coach <B>Mack Brown </B>talked to media for the first time Friday about the injury to one Texas' most promising newcomers, freshman FL <B>Jordan Shipley</B>.

Texas athletic officials had yet to release an official word by Friday afternoon on Shipley's status. He injured his right knee on the last play of Thursday morning's practice when he turned for a pass from QB Vince Young.

"We're still waiting on the doctors to get a report," Brown said.

UT sports information officials would not confirm reports of a torn ACL, but stated that Shipley's knee was still swollen, that preliminary tests were conducted Thursday afternoon and that he was "still under evaluation."

Until Thursday, Shipley and WR Nate Jones had emerged among the five true freshman WRs signed last spring. All appearances were that Shipley was well on his way to contributing this season and in a battle with Eric Enard as Tony Jeffery's primary backup at flanker.

"Jordan did great," Brown said. "He had a great camp."

The Parade All-American, who holds the Texas state record for receptions (264), touchdown catches (73) and receiving yards (5,424), was on crutches Thursday with his right leg in a brace.

"What you do is that you coach the ones that are well," Brown said.

The team practiced in shells from 11 a.m to 1 p.m. Friday, following an early morning special teams meeting as well as film review from the previous night's workout. It was the final tune-up before the first scrimmage of the 2004 season. Fan Appreciation Day kicks off with a scrimmage at 8 a.m., followed by a player autograph session. Fans, however, probably should not expect to see much of the established players or be particularly concerned with offensive wrinkles or the much-hyped defensive schemes that Co-Defensive Coordinator Greg Robinson has been teaching his troops.

"It's not going to be about schemes," Brown said. "It's going to be about players."

The scrimmage will feature between 90-100 plays with each of the three teams logging approximately 30 snaps.

"We're trying to decide on some of the younger guys," Brown said. "So (Saturday), we're trying to see which freshmen have grown up enough, which guys on the second team should have more of a chance to play, and trying to divide up special teams. We've had such an emphasis on special teams this fall. We've gone beyond where we've been in the past. We're trying to get our best players on special teams, so if one of those young guys can be a great player on special teams, we'll put him on it. If not, then we won't.

Coaches will look primarily at the untested receivers (no current Longhorn WR has logged a single start) as well as at players fighting for key backup roles at DE, DT and linebacker.

"We're established in the offensive line and at tight end," Brown said. "We're established at fullback, at least with Will Matthews. We're established at the two tailbacks (Cedric Benson, Selvin Young) but we don't have a third or a fourth yet that have played in games. We're established in the secondary."

In fact, Texas has so much in the defensive backfield that coaches "are not even looking at recruiting a secondary player right now for next year," Brown added. "We feel like we're in great shape with our secondary, probably more than anywhere else."

Despite the question marks on the defensive front and at receiver, the old adage is that it all starts up front with the offensive line. A line that returns four starters from a unit that showed signs of progress toward the end of last season should be the foundation for offensive success this season, Brown noted.

"If you've got an offensive line that is intact, that can stay healthy and keep working, and some experience at quarterback, that gives you a chance to be good on offense," the head coach said. "That's the basis for where we're starting."


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