Young DBs shine in Thursday scrimmage

Things went so well during the first 75 or so plays of the Horns' Thursday passing scrimmage at DKR, <B>Mack Brown</B> decided to keep it going, and going, and going. Texas scrimmaged well past its scheduled play total, squaring off at the stadium for almost two full hours and over 100 plays.

"I wanted to press them a little bit and see how long they could handle it and keep in there and I thought they kept their attention span pretty well," the head coach said. "That's a tough day when you've already had six practices and all week has been really physical and they were tired but I thought that was another reason to stay out here longer today to make sure they understood that when we walk out on the field, football is really, really important. It wasn't the most enthusiastic day we've ever had. The defense started a little slow but they picked their emotion up and the offense stood a round a little bit but they picked it up also and I think we ended up with what we wanted."

What the coaches ended up with is a lot of film of both the offense and the defense in the passing game. After Cedric Benson opened the scrimmage with an up-the-middle five-yard run, the WRs and TEs took over as the play caller's target of choice. Just about every wideout and tight end that suited up hauled in two or more passes.

By my count, Sloan Thomas had five grabs (for 84 yards), followed by Brian Carter (26 yards) and B.J. Johnson (92 yards) with four each, Kyle Shanahan (eight yards), Bo Scaife (38 yards) and Tony Jeffery (10 yards) with three each, and Artie Ellis (68 yards) with two.

The QBs also threw a few to the guys in the wrong-colored jerseys. Chris Simms and Matt Nordgren each tossed two INTs, with Rufus Harris, Austin Sendlein, Lee Jackson and Michael Huff registering one pick each. Huff and Derrick Johnson also came close to interceptions on two other Simms passes. Huff, who along with Cedric Griffin saw action at safety, nickel back and corner in the scrimmage, provided blanket coverage on several other plays and even turned in a sack of the Horns' senior QB on a blindside blitz.

"Michael Huff has made plays every day," Brown said of the redshirt freshman defensive back. "He and Cedric Griffin and the other two, Kendal (Briles) and Rufus, have all been really impressive to us. Cedric and Michael have played like they're older so we're excited about seeing that."

Overall, Huff, Griffin and the rest of the defense held the offense in check most of the day. The guys in Orange, first- or second-team, didn't cross the goalline until their 10th possession when Benson raced around left end and juked Harris to the ground before scoring from 18 out. It took several more series for the offense to find the end zone again (and for the final time) on a Simms-to-Johnson 28-yard TD pass. On the play, Simms threw a perfect strike near the back right pylon and Johnson got away with a bit of a push-off that freed him from Huff's tight coverage.

"Offensively, we were a little disadvantaged because we didn't want to run the ball today," the head coach said. "We ran the ball so much in the first six days we wanted it to be a pass day and the quarterbacks had a tipped ball interception or two early but I thought they came back and did really good at the end of the scrimmage. Defensively, we gave up a couple of big plays but I thought we're getting more pass rush out of our front four and our young secondary guys are covering really, really well."

Brown said the coaches will use the next 10 practice-less days to "evaluate all the personnel, look at who's been impressive, look at some things we need to get done in the second half of spring and pretty much start over."

[Editor's note: We'll have more scrimmage coverage in our next report.]

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