"Eric Hall looked better when he moved back to linebacker," said Brown. "Really, he looked better last night and this afternoon than he did during the spring. (Co-Defensive Coordinator) Gene (Chizik) was really impressed in moving him back, and that helped us a lot."
Candidates for backup linebacker spots have shown flashes of brilliance but are looking to perform at a consistently higher level of play.
"The (backup) linebackers are showing spurts," Brown said. "(SLB) Drew Kelson can run and hit you. He intercepted a ball yesterday that was a big play. (Note: Kelson also had an INT Friday.) We're seeing a few plays from (RS-freshman WLB) Jeremy Campbell that we haven't seen before. He's shown up a couple of times."
But the one name that keeps surfacing, over and over, is RS-freshman linebacker Rashad Bobino.
"Bobino looks really good," Brown said. "He's a short guy (5-11, 235) that plays really big. I'm excited about watching him play. He really likes to play. He's just passionate. He's that way every play."
In his time on the Forty Acres, Bobino has practiced at all three linebacker spots but has taken most of his snaps lately at WILL. It's another example of Chizik's cross-training emphasis in which backup linebackers learn all three positions. Cross-training, however, is not limited to the defense. Chris Ogbonnaya, for example, is playing both RB and FB. Another example: junior Neale Tweedie played TE during Sunday's goal line scrimmage and then played DE after that. Drew Kelson takes most of his snaps at SLB but moves back to SS toward the end of practice. And even though Ramonce Taylor will remain at RB, he's also lining up at wide receiver and some slot.
"The kids are taking some pride in it," Brown told me. "The other thing it does for us is that it gives us an opportunity to judge what a guy would look like at another position and see what different options we have as coaches. I thought our offensive staff did the best job of any staff I've ever seen of taking what we had and working with it. We're trying to do the same thing this year, and it'll be different. It's a totally different thing without Cedric (Benson). We've just got to figure out who we are. One of the anxious parts of two-a-days, but one of the fun things for coaches, is trying to figure out what personality you're going to have this year. Thank goodness we're not locked in to a personality on offense where, if we don't have the players to fit that personality that year, that we would have a losing year."
"Chris Brown will probably play this year if he stays healthy," Brown said, "because he's a dominating force as a pass-rusher. And (true freshman) Aaron Lewis is playing some at power end (Note: Lewis worked with the second-team D on Friday.) We can play our tackles at power end as well. It's like having three tackles up front in running situations."
In fact, Texas has three tackles that could start today for any team playing Saturdays. LDT Rod Wright has never looked better, Brown said. Sophomore RDT Frank Okam, from what I've heard, has done nothing to deserve a demotion from the starting spot he has held since last spring while incumbent Larry Dibbles got his academics in order. Dibbles will likely start in the home opener, but he gives up three inches and 30 pounds to the 6-5, 315-pound Okam (who is not only a force but is one the smartest guys on the entire roster).
"Frank was a 4.0 student in high school and he started the same way here," Brown noted. "He wants to be a doctor. When he talks to him, (DT coach) Mike Tolleson has to talk to him differently. You're talking to a guy who may end up a brain surgeon and he's here as a defensive tackle. He's big and he's quick. Last year, he played so much on ability because in high school he just tried to make every play. Now, he's starting to play with better leverage. He's using his quickness more. He's so tall that he has a tendency to get high, especially when you're tired. We've still got to work on him staying lower, but he has a chance to be an outstanding player."
Brown is optimistic about getting an honest pass rush from his front four for the first time since the days of Shaun Rogers and Casey Hampton. Part of that assessment results from improved play he has seen from his starting DEs.
"Tim Crowder and Brian Robison are so far ahead of where they were this time last year," Brown said. "They're playing really aggressive. They're playing the run well. They have more quickness and they're better in the pass rush than they were this time last year."
Freshman WR Quan Cosby enjoyed his best practice as a Longhorn, Brown concluded. "I thought he looked his best today. He caught some balls and made a difference."
Brown officially pronounced RB Selvin Young "well" following an eight-play goal line scrimmage Sunday night.
"Selvin looks like the Selvin of old but more powerful," Brown said. "He had a couple of long runs that he broke today. It's exciting to see him do so well."
FL Jordan Shipley (hamstring) "is going to be okay," Brown said. When pressed for a return date, Brown replied the RS-freshman would be back "when he's ready." Local television images broadcast Sunday in Austin showed Shipley suited out on the sideline for that evening's practice.
Sophomore RDT Derek Lokey (ankle) will be evaluated Tuesday to see when the cast can come off and when he can return to practice.