Thursday Practice Notes and Observations

Notes and observations from the Horns' Thursday practice at Denius.

Freshman Jermichael Finley has made the move to TE and brought the crowd to its feet during the last five minutes of practice with his 60-yard TD toss from freshman QB Colt McCoy. (It was against third-teamers and fellow freshmen, but it's starting to look more and more that Finely will lose his 'shirt this season.)

"We've seen him at wide receiver in high school and saw him at the (Texas High School Coaches Association) All-Star game and we saw him for two days here," Brown said. "We put him at tight end and, very honestly, we're looking for the next David Thomas. We're looking for the guy that can spring down field. He's got great speed. He's 6-5, so if his speed is even better at tight end than it is wide receiver then it's something we need to look at because it's such a valuable spot in our offense. He's got great hands."

Freshmen scrimmage against each other during the final 15 minutes of practice.

"We want to work freshmen-against-freshmen so that they're not overwhelmed by the other guys they're working against," Brown said, "but they're also getting some quality work so we can try to see if they could be a factor in the first game."...

Without pads, the Horns are basically limited to passing drills. Vince Young and his wideouts put on a sharper display than the Twos and Threes, Brown said.

"Part of that could be the defense, too," he said, "but I did think the Ones looked good."

The play of the day, however, may have been backup SE Brian Carter's diving TD from QB Vince Young during red zone drills. VY laid in a perfect throw at the back left pylon, and Carter extended for the catch, his body touching the turf just inside the back line of the end zone...

Sophomore Frank Okam again opened with the first team at RDT while freshman LDT Roy Miller, the only five-star athlete of the 2005 recruiting class, took snaps with the second team.

"Roy Miller has done some really good things," Brown said, adding that it's a matter of days before his two-deep is settled at DT. (Personally, I think it's settled. Senior Larry Dibbles, who missed spring drills for academic reasons, will nudge Okam aside after the pads have been on a few days. Okam and Miller are the backups and are the future stars of the D-line. An injury-free year likely means first-team All-Big 12 honors for LDT Rod Wright.)...

RS-freshman Brian Orakpo "looks quick coming off the corner," Brown mentioned...

Drew Kelson, who opened at SLB with the first team D on Tuesday, took some snaps at SS. His move to linebacker is not permanent, Brown said.

"You've got to have great safeties and we're signing three linebackers, hopefully, next year," Brown said...

Co-DC Gene Chizik promised last spring that he was going to extensively cross-train his linebackers to mitigate the effects of injury. So, for example, if the SAM linebacker goes down, Chizik will sub the next best guy regardless of position. On Thursday, RS-freshman Rashad Bobino played both SAM and WILL linebacker. Nic Redwine also saw several snaps at SLB.

"We're trying to always prepare for injuries so we're trying to crosstrain everywhere we can," Brown told me. "It's something that we're looking at in the offensive line, and at linebacker. We've got some running backs that we may start looking at fullback, too. We just feel like that it's a sign of the times now. One thing you can't control in this business is injuries. And if it jumps up and bites you, you can have a really bad year. We just can't afford that here. We can't say, 'He got hurt; we don't have a player.' We've got to continue to work to do the best we can do to prepare for the worst that can possibly happen. We can't say, 'How awful.' We have to say, 'We already thought about that.'"...

Part of Thursday's offensive emphasis was working out of the I-formation. (Brown told me Wednesday that he wasn't sure if Texas could effectively run out of the I, but he was eager to find out.) First play out of the set, Vince Young completed it for about 15 yards downfield to TE David Thomas sprinting along the right hashmark. Next play out of the I, RB Selvin Young went untouched on the deep handoff for about 35 yards...

During Thursday's early practice special team's sessions, the Longhorn field goal kicking candidates had a bit of trouble getting the ball through the upright in 11-on-11 kicking drills. David Pino missed four consecutive attempts from inside 40 yards, and Greg Johnson (1) and Richmond McGee (2) followed up with three straight misses of their own before the team moved on to simulate game-like punting and kickoff situations. Selvin Young, Ramonce Taylor and Jordan Shipley handled the punt return duties while Quan Cosby, Jerrell Wilkerson and Taylor shagged kickoffs...

The Horns will strap on the pads for this first time this season, 2 p.m., Friday at Denius Field. The session is open to the public.

"The next week really separates a lot of guys probably as much as anything else because of being able to endure the pressure and the pounding and the time constraints that they have in two-a-days," Brown said.

On tap is an emphasis on tackling drills and the running game, Brown added.

There is a good chance that Saturday's practice at Denius, originally scheduled for 9:30 a.m., will be moved to 7:30 a.m. to accommodate UT final exam schedules.

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Note: Clendon Ross contributed to this report.

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