Horns practice in pads

The Horns had their first full pad practice of the spring Friday on a drizzly afternoon at Denius. The wet weather conditions led to a lot of slip-sliding players and an equal number of balls on the grass but overall, <B>Mack Brown</B> liked what he saw in Longhorn spring practice No. 3.

"Traditionally, the offensive line is too high and the defense whips the offense and there was some of that today, but I saw Cedric (Benson) hit some creases and I thought the protection was good with the ones and the first defense looked good and the kicking game did a good job," the head coach said following the team's two-plus-hour practice. "Overall, I felt like there were a lot of good things out there today. The attitude was great and the guys had a lot of fun."

Benson, who hadn't participated in full contact work since before the Big 12 Championship Game, got right to it Friday, taking the first two hand-offs in 11-on-11 work. On his second attempt, the sophomore tailback slipped through the right side for a nice seven-yard gain and then later in practice ripped of a gravity-defying 35-yard TD scamper. On the long gainer, Benson plowed through the middle of the line and looked to be lurching forward to the ground but somehow kept his legs moving downfield and kept his knees from touching the turf before balancing himself and sprinting to the endzone. If Benson is feeling any lingering effects of his December injury, they were not apparent today despite the full contact work.

That alone made Friday's workout a success.

Football practice notes: Aside from Benson's long run and a 25-yard hook-up between Matt Nordgren and Brian Carter, the offense turned in a pedestrian performance in 11-on-11 from an execution standpoint. Benson and back-up tailback Brett Robin (plus Nathan Vasher in punt return) fumbled and the ball squirted out on the center-QB exchange several times. Chance Mock, after throwing several crisp passes early in the practice session, had a couple of attempts picked during 11-on-11. Back-up RDE Chase Pittman stepped right in front of a Mock ball intended for walk-on WR Richard Hightower on a quick slant and CB Michael Huff intercepted a Mock over-the-middle attempt for walk-on Joseph Ashton. . . . Earlier in practice during one-on-one drills between the wideouts and the DBs, Kendal Briles registered an INT of Chris Simms when B.J. Johnson slipped on his cut on the wet field. B.J. (and the wet field) got the best of Briles a short while later on a stop-and-go route, leaving the redshirt freshman a couple of strides behind on his way to hauling in a deep catch-and-run TD. Briles and fellow redshirt freshman Rufus Harris were both beaten a couple of times after falling (literally and figuratively) for head fakes from the receivers, prompting DB coach Duane Akina to implore his charges to focus on the hips down rather than the chest up. . . . Two DBs who seem to have that technique down are Rod Babers and Vasher. Both provided mainly shutdown coverage of the receivers during the drill. . . . DT Marcus Tubbs made his first practice field appearance of the spring after missing the first two workouts to be with his father, who had surgery recently. Tubbs worked with the second unit in what will most likely be a temporary measure while Stevie Lee and Adam Doiron remained with the first team. Kaelen Jakes continues to get look at both back-up DT and back-up RDE. . . . According to Carl Reese, the current first team 'backers are Derrick Johnson on the weakside, Reed Boyd in the middle and Lee Jackson on the strongside, backed up by WLB Aurmon Satchell, MLB Eric Hall and SLB Braden Johnson. We'll have more interesting notes from IT's talk with Reese in a future report. . . . High school coaches literally surrounded the Denius practice fields Friday. "We've had a tremendous high school football coaches clinic," Brown said. "We've had the most numbers we've ever had. It's fun to see those guys out there." . . . Brown's best quote of the day: "Joe Jamail told me one time you can't learn to swim without a pool and therefore you can't learn to play football without pads. Shorts are days where guys look pretty, pads are where you learn your football players . . ." The coaches will see the guys in pads again Saturday at the stadium in a scheduled 2:00 scrimmage.

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