Notes: DBs A Cut Above The Rest On Day Two

Sophomore Drew Kelson opened at SLB with the first team D in 11-on-11 drills along with WLB Robert Killebrew and, of course, MLB Aaron Harris. RS-sophomore Eric Foreman, who finished atop the depth chart this past spring at SAM linebacker, took the field with the twos. Most consider Kelson a prototypical SS but he will be called on this season to shore up depth at SAM linebacker.

"He's such a great kid and such a selfless player," Co-Defensive Coordinator Gene Chizik said. "We approached him and threw some ideas out to him and asked how he felt about this move. He said, 'Coach, whatever you think is best for the football team.' Of course, he increases your element of speed. We're trying to get as much speed on the field that we can. He was great with the move and it's been a really good two days for him. We're very pleased with where he's at. Obviously, he has a long way to go, along with the rest of them."

Yet, it's apparent that the seasoned Longhorn secondary is a bit further along than the rest of them. (I tell ya, the first-team DBs look like big, fast linebackers.)

"There's tremendous talent and tremendous speed out there," Chizik said. "Those guys want to play physical and they want to play fast. I'm really impressed with them. It's been great watching them so far."

The secondary returns three starters and 11 letterman. FS Michael Griffin is the new kid on the block.

"Michael Griffin is just a guy that keeps getting better and better and better," Chizik continued. "He's played since he was a freshman. He got thrown into the fire early but he keeps getting better. He's got great speed. He's a physical football player. He's one of those guys that I'm really looking forward to seeing what happens in camp."

Junior LCB Aaron Ross was with the first-team. Junior Tarell Brown, who started all 12 games last season, was on the field with the second-team D along with RCB Brandon Foster, FS Marcus Griffin and Matt Melton at SS. The third team DBs consisted of RCB Erick Jackson, LCB Ryan Palmer, SS Bobby Tatum, while true freshman Ishie Oduegwu held down the FS spot. (The kid brings a reputation for laying the wood. We'll see what happens when pads are strapped on this weekend but the true frosh is staking his claim to the three-deep chart.)

Sophomore Frank Okam was the starting RDT instead of incumbent Larry Dibbles, who missed spring ball for academic reasons. Five-star freshman Roy Miller took snaps at LDT on the third-team D.

RDE Brian Robison came up with a diving INT after LDT Rod Wright deflected a Vince Young pass at the LOS.

Play of the day? There are a couple: RB Ramonce Taylor bounced outside left end and stepped away from two would-be tacklers in a way that would remind you of the way Eric Metcalf hesitated and darted deer-like into the open field. RT turns the corner and races down the left sideline for 15 yards, literally laughing all the way. Later, true freshman Jerrell Wilkerson took the ball on a zone read right play and then took it to the house. Granted, the guys were in shorts and it was against the third-team D, but, oh my!, the speed!

Seven-on-seven drills opened with (big surprise) a Vince Young completion to TE David Thomas in the right flat for about 20 yards. These drills presented some intriguing matchups, including Oduegwu going one-on-one against WR Quan Cosby. This one was no contest. QB Matt Nordgren found Cosby about 25 yards down field after Cosby got about three yards separation from Oduegwu and then took it to the house. Seven-on-sevens concluded with red zone drills, beginning with WR Tyrell Gatewood's leaping grab of a Vince Young pass at the back of the end zone for the score.

WR Coach Bobby Kennedy led his unit on inside blocking drills while DB coach Duane Akina drilled the secondary (over and over) on their zone blitz responsibilities (a staple of the Gene Chizik defense). And as for FL Jordan Shipley? Well, the RS-freshman makes it look easy.

What about the quarterbacks? Friends, all the coach-speak of Vince Young's progress since the Rose Bowl looks legit. Poised, comfortable, confident and relaxed, the trajectory on VY's deep tosses was a work of art Tuesday. His intermediate throws on slants and crossing patterns were crisp and on the money (he didn't throw a duck all night). This time last year, his tosses on shorter routes were too often behind receivers; on Monday, most of his mid-range passes were down low (not necessarily an easy grab but less likely to result in a pick).

Freshman QB Colt McCoy got more work for a third-teamer than I had seen in four previous preseasons. (Just another sign that he loses his 'shirt in 2005.) He's got a nice touch but, with just two collegiate practices under his belt, McCoy's tosses clearly do not have the velocity that we saw when Young or fifth-year senior Matt Nordgren were letting them fly.

Right now, Selvin Young and Ramonce Taylor are the top punt return specialists.

With all the talk about shoring up depth at outside linebacker and DE, the one area on the two-deep chart that concerns Brown the most is TE. The combination of sophomore Steve Hogan's back injury and Bo Scaife completing his eligibility after what seems like 11 seasons currently leaves senior David Thomas with Neale Tweedie and Peter Ullman as his only understudies. Tweedie was a backup DE, RT and TE in 2004. It means coaches may switch a couple of DEs over to TE in short yardage situations.

"We would look at moving Brian Robison or Tim Crowder over in goal-line and short-yardage to help us," Brown said.

Backup RDT Derek Lokey attended practice on crutches and his left foot in a boot. He is expected to miss practice until the September 3 home-opener.

The Horns are slated to practice in shoulder pads and shorts, 6:45 p.m., Wednesday at Denius Field.

Horns Digest Top Stories