Horns scrimmage in DKR

After an inclement weather forecast forced the cancellation of UT's scheduled DKR scrimmage on Saturday, the Horns Monday finally had their first spring workout away from Denius and in the stadium. Texas turned in a 50-plus-play scrimmage, working ones vs. ones and twos vs. twos on a sunny but crisp Austin afternoon.

The scrimmage didn't offer any dramatic positional insights but it did provide a couple of highlight reel plays, beginning with a Chris Simms to Sloan Thomas length-of-the-field catch-and-run hook up on the first-team's first series. Simms lofted a perfect sideline strike to Thomas, hitting in stride the junior wideout who had gained an off-the-line step on the defending Nathan Vasher. Rufus Harris tried to close on Thomas but the veteran receiver out-raced the rookie free safety up the right boundary for a TD (although the coaches spotted the ball on the 45 so the offense could continue to work). Simms targeted Sloan and B.J. Johnson downfield a couple of times but Bo Scaife remained Simms' favorite outlet, hauling in three passes from the senior QB.

Chance Mock, alternating with Matt Nordgren with the second offensive unit, threw several beautiful looking deep balls, but after a long gainer to Brian Carter on the first play of the scrimmage, the sophomore QB couldn't quite connect on any of them, just missing Artie Ellis and Carter a couple of times each. On one, Carter seemed to let up on his route at the last minute while the others simply looked to be slight overthrows. Despite the near misses, Mock, whose first instinct in the past tended towards the run, looks far more comfortable in the pocket than at any time last spring, summer or fall. He also showed his running back-like versatility with a slippery QB sneak that turned into a seven-yard gain.

"I thought Chris Simms looked good," Mack Brown said after his team's fourth spring workout, "and Chance Mock has had four good days so we're excited about him."

Scrimmage notes: Anthony Johnson saw double duty Monday, playing at corner and at running back. The redshirt freshman, who according to Carl Reese caught the eye of the coaches last fall with his stellar scout team work, impressed Brown today with his performance at tailback. "I thought he made a couple of good moves in there even though he hasn't played very much because he's had a sore ankle." Cedric Benson saw little if any action in the scrimmage, offensive coordinator Greg Davis said, simply because the staff wanted to get a look at the back-ups, including Johnson. Davis said Benson is not injured. . . . During the early practice special teams session, walk-on kicker Richmond McGee turned in the most impressive kickoff performance, with the benefit of a slight tailwind consistently booting the ball high and to (or out of) the back of the endzone. During the scrimmage, though, the 6-4, 180-pound McGee kicked a couple of low knucklers, one to the left sideline and out of bounds at the five and another on a line to Cedric Griffin at the two. Walk-on Dan Smith also had a scrimmage kick, sending his with-the-wind attempt two yards deep. . . . Dusty Mangum and David Pino attempted three field goals each during the scrimmage (two each coming after the final drive of the day) and both walk-ons made just one of the three. Mangum made a 42-yarder with the wind but missed a 42-yarder wide right from the same spot and also pushed an into-the-wind 32-yarder wide left. Pino's make came from 44 (with the wind) but he missed his two with-the-wind, end-of-practice attempts from 42, one wide right and one wide left. Walk-on Matt McFadden missed his only attempt, coming up short on a 46-yarder into the wind. . . . Griffin and Vasher worked together with the first-team kickoff return unit. Back-up pairs included Michael Huff and Carter and Anthony Johnson and Tony Jeffery. . . . Reese's D went to nickel packages several times during the scrimmage, with Griffin, Huff and Monti Collier all getting some nickel snaps. . . . Not surprisingly given the inexperience of the contestants, Brown said the situation at safety is still unsettled. "What we're trying to do is try to look at guys back there as corners and safeties, so we're not having a first or second team right now because one day we're putting Rufus Harris and Kendal Briles in and the next day we'll come back with Cedric and Michael Huff," the head coach said. "I did see Cedric Griffin come up and make some real physical plays today and we've been really impressed with him, and Michael Huff made some good plays Friday. He had a good interception. We're excited about all of those guys, we're just not sure yet who are the corners and who are the safeties in the group." . . . Brown said RT William Winston and LT Jonathan Scott have so far this spring been the two "most impressive" members of the redshirt freshman OL group. Davis made a similar statement but added C Will Allen's name to that list. [Editor's note: We'll have more from IT's interview with the offensive coordinator in an upcoming report.] Scott, after starting out with the twos, spent some time with the first OL unit late in the scrimmage while Winston in place of Alfio Randall worked with the twos from the beginning. "I thought the ones did a good job of protecting today," Brown said. "There weren't many guys loose in the backfield." . . . Starting RDE Austin Sendlein was one of the few who did get loose. Sendlein pressured or "sacked" Simms at least twice, perhaps providing an explanation why Scott worked some with the starters in place of Robbie Doane. . . . Marcus Tubbs and Adam Doiron worked with the ones at defensive tackle to open the scrimmage alongside DEs Cory Redding and Sendlein. Kaelen Jakes worked as the second-team RDE to begin the practice before moving to LDE later in the practice, filling in for Redding with the first-team D. . . . The coaches had hoped to get Brock Edwards a lot of work at fullback in Monday's scrimmage, but the junior slightly twisted his ankle early in practice and did not play. Instead, Chad Stevens worked with the second team behind starter Matt Trissel. . . . Brian Bradford hit a high hang-time 30-yarder into the wind on his first punt attempt and then placed a 33-yard, with-the-wind angle punt out at the 15. He also lofted another high, into-the-wind 33-yarder that forced Vasher into a fair catch. Back-up Justin Smith sent three low, very returnable line drives on his three attempts. . . . Aurmon Satchell, who Reese said Friday would be the second-team weakside 'backer, worked some at second-team MLB (as did Eric Hall) flanked by Rashad Thomas/Lance McFarland at WLB and Braden Johnson at SLB.

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