Thursday Practice Notes And Quotes

Notes and quotes from the Horns' Thursday morning practice at Denius.

Thursday morning’s practice was indicative of the current State of the Longhorn Union: the DBs absolutely dominate, while head coach Mack Brown is still looking for separation among both his WRs and place-kickers.

"Our defense had a really good morning," Brown said. "They forced more turnovers. I think we have a chance to be better on defense than we were, for sure, at the start of last year."

LCB Aaron Ross worked with the Ones and shows little evidence of conceding his spot to Tarell Brown, even though Brown started all 12 games there last season while Ross nursed a hamstring.

Brown "had a great interception" Thursday morning, but his head coach reports "(Ross) is playing like he was before he pulled his hamstring. He’s having a great camp. He returned a punt (Wednesday) for a touchdown. He caught it well and did a good job with it. He’s just so confident. He has great hands. We’ve got five guys in the secondary who are all starters. We’ve rolled Michael Huff to corner and then back at safety, and we’ve rolled Cedric Griffin to safety and back to corner. We’re trying to get those five to be interchangeable."

Two weeks before the home opener, Brown is still looking for a reliable WR.

"We just need to have more consistent play from each one of them because they all have ability," Brown said. "One will look great one day and come back the next day and drop two balls. We’re looking for consistency at a high level."

Same goes for the PKs. For example, David Pino and Greg Johnson will "look great and then miss one." For example, the pair "made all but one" on Wednesday and were "more inconsistent" Thursday morning. Senior Richmond McGee is holding on to his starting job on both the punt and kickoff teams but "Greg Johnson is kicking off really well with Richmond, so that’s a fight right now. Greg’s punting well. He’s doing much better. We’re excited where Greg is headed, but we still haven’t decided on a field goal kicker."

Coaches are charting every kick in pre-practice, during practice and during scrimmages but "right now there is no separation," Brown said. "That’s going to be a close battle. We’re not consistent enough right now to say who’s going to be the starter."

Although he got a late start due to NCAA clearinghouse issues, freshman Jamaal Charles has shown some separation from the other RBs in his class.

"Jamaal Charles is probably ahead of the others," Brown noted. "He’s playing really well. Henry (Melton) has made some great plays. And Jerrell (Wilkerson) has made some great plays. We’ve got to figure out where they fit with Ramonce (Taylor)."

Brown does not make final redshirt decisions until mid-season but the next two scrimmages (Saturday, Wednesday) will help solidify which freshmen will play in September.

"I’d like to get through Wednesday because, about the time I say a freshman would be ready to play, he might quit and not show up for practice. I’ve been doing this long enough to know you never know about freshmen until you’re ready to start."

RB Ramonce Taylor has a pulled muscle and saw limited action Thursday. ("He’s still practicing every day but you can’t go every snap in this heat with a pull," Brown said.)

DT Derek Lokey has begun rehab on his left ankle (a fracture suffered in late July during voluntary workouts).

Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch writer Tim May has been on campus all week and expressed surprise that Longhorns were only willing to talk about Louisiana-Lafayette instead of the September clash at Ohio State.

"If you don’t win the opener, the second one is not as important," Brown said. "In fact, we (coaches) wouldn’t be here for the second one."

Brown continued: "When people ask, ‘Is this your year?’ they said it last year, too. They’ve probably said it for the past 30 years but I know the last seven. Our guys live with that pressure every day. We’ve got a chance to win every game, and that’s exciting, but it sure doesn’t mean you’re going to. You still have to prove it on the field. We have to quit talking about the end of the season and start focusing on day-to-day practice."

The Horns will practice in pads Thursday afternoon and again Friday morning. The Fan Appreciation Day scrimmage is set for 9 a.m., Saturday, at DKR, followed by an 11:30 a.m. autograph session. It will be the last chance fans have to see the Horns before the September 3 home opener against Louisiana-Lafayette.

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