Tuesday Practice Notes And Quotes

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

We’re seven practices from kickoff, head coach Mack Brown noted following Tuesday’s early morning session at Denius Field. Most of the starting spots were solidified during spring drills but coaches are now identifying "the top 15 guys" on both sides of the ball who are expected to be difference-makers this season.

"We asked our coaches to grade this practice very closely," Brown said, "because if a player was going to be flat during the season, this would be the practice where you might could tell if that would carry over to later on."

Brown is looking for a six-man ("maybe seven") rotation among his wideouts. Right now, that group of six includes sophomore Ramonce Taylor who worked exclusively at RB during spring drills. (RT will be all over the field this fall but has excelled at all three pass-catching spots, according to Brown.)

Anyone wanna take a stab at who Texas’ most consistent WR has been during two-a-days? It’s fifth-year FL Brian Carter, Brown said, who has three career starts and three career catches.

"I don’t think Brian has dropped a ball," Brown said. "He’s really fast. He’s very mature and can play all three spots. We pull out highlight films of plays during the preseason and try to see if something jumps out, and Brian jumps out more than anybody else."

Carter started three games last season but was then hampered by a strained knee. He has played in 32 games, including special teams, and has 47 career yards.

RS-sophomore SE Billy Pittman, who battled a shoulder injury in 2004, has also shown signs that he will be a steady contributor this fall.

"Billy has had a great camp," Brown said. "Billy will play. This is the first time Billy has been consistent as a receiver."

So, the six ("maybe seven") receivers are Taylor, Pittman, Carter, SE Limas Sweed, FL Nate Jones, possibly RS sophomore Tyrell Gatewood but more likely freshman Quan Cosby. The "maybe seven" has to be in reference to FL Jordan Shipley. Coaches are "hopeful" Shipley could return to practice by the Sept. 3 opener vs. Louisiana-Lafayette.

Wednesday’s practice, the final scrimmage of August camp, is primarily intended to separate personnel and help establish the first official depth chart of the 2005 season. The Two-Deep will be released on Monday. The buzz phrase throughout August camp is that "there are no depth charts," and so I asked Brown if that approach achieved the intended response from his players.

"We really did," he said. "It’s been an amazing change in that we’ve had absolutely no pouting. Guys aren’t saying, ‘They weren’t fair to me’ or ‘I should have had more reps.’ We’re trying to build a bigger base of Ones because you’d like to think at Texas that they’d all be Ones, and some would just play more than others. So far, the guys have really been responsive. Now, when we release the depth chart on Monday, it’s going to be tougher. There are some hard decisions that are going to have to be made and some of them aren’t going to like it, I’m sure."

Players hit the weight room after practice while coaches designated Wednesday afternoon to solidify depth chart decisions for special teams. Most special teams players will consist of starters rather than backups, Brown mentioned.

Junior Greg Johnson, a freshman All-American at Vanderbilt, had started to seriously contend for Richmond McGee’s starting job at punter before spraining an ankle in practice. A DB collided into Johnson’s left (kicking) leg during a recent punt-blocking drill.

"He was really doing well," Brown said. "We’ve even thought about punting Richmond one series and Greg the next to have the difference between a right-footed and a left-footed punter. We need him to get well. He’ll be fine. I saw him walking off the field today."

Wednesday’s scrimmage is set for 6 p.m., at the stadium. The session is closed to the public. It is also intended to simulate as much of the game-day schedule as possible to help acclimate younger players. Brown recalled the last time Louisiana-Lafayette came calling (in September 2000).

"We were down 10-0 at the end of the first quarter," Brown said, "so that will make you anxious at Texas."

Major Applewhite then replaced Chris Simms at quarterback and Texas reeled-off 52 unanswered points.

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