Let There Be Football!

Arguably, the best thing about the first day of August camp for defending national champion Texas is that -- even in shells -- the across-the-board talent level is so conspicuously high that it took much of the focus away from the high-profile quarterback derby. But if one signal-caller had a slight edge Monday at Denius Field...

...it would be RS-freshman Colt McCoy. As advertised, true freshman Jevan Snead is plenty strong-armed. (He is so strong-armed, in fact, that there is tendency to try to throw the ball through the defender). But McCoy has plenty of velocity on his tosses and, on opening night, was remarkably accurate.

Granted, it's early. And we won't know anything definitive about either QB until they are subjected to live tackling in an actual football game. But McCoy displayed the polish that would be expected of a QB with an extra year in the system. I didn't want to put words in Offensive Coordinator Greg Davis' mouth, and so I asked a general question about whether he observed an appreciable difference in the QBs Monday relative to when he last saw them in the spring.

"I was really impressed with Colt tonight," Davis replied. "We signaled plays from the sideline at the end of the practice (during 11-on-11 drills) and we had no snafus in that situation. Just the overall running of the football team I thought was smoother than it was through 15 practices in the spring."

The biggest ovation from the sizable crowd came when McCoy hit FL Jordan Shipley in stride down the left hashmark against Texas' top DB Michael Griffin during one-on-one drills. The coverage was tight, but the ball was on the money and Shipley just doesn't drop any when it hits him in the numbers. McCoy then came right back and feathered a deep, left sideline pass to FL Quan Cosby over CB Tarell Brown which, again, elicited full-throated cheers from fans that were lined four-deep around the north end zone.

"It's really obvious they (QBs) have had a great summer," Davis said. "The retention from spring training to fall camp was unbelievable. That's a tribute to the summer that those guys had out here running and throwing and catching the football. It was obvious that Colt and Jevan are both stronger than they were in spring training. The ball was coming out quicker and with more zip on it. Their bodies are stronger. But the thing that jumped out at me was their retention. We threw a lot at them today and they did a good job."

But then Davis added a cautionary note: "The hardest thing about the situation we have right now is we can't hit them. You evaluate but one quarterback may have a blitz situation and throws the ball, understanding that he was going to get hit, and the pass was incomplete. And the next quarterback has the same situation, and maybe he holds the ball just a little bit longer because he knows he's not going to get hit, and he completes the ball. If you put them in a live situation, one of them may have been an incompletion; the other may have been a hit, a fumble or a sack. As much as we try to simulate the speed of the game, until it's live, it's hard to separate them."

Justin Blalock took some early snaps at RG, with Adam Ulatoski on the outside, before assuming his customary spot at RT. Surprisingly, true freshman J'Marcus Webb saw some action at LT behind Tony Hills. Sure, Webb is a Five-Star future stud but Mack Brown almost invariably redshirts his O-lineman (which may be still be the case for Webb. He clearly needs to add some beef to his lanky 6-8, 280-pound frame).

The gut feeling, here, is that SE Limas Sweed is set for a monster season. Except for one drop, he had Velcro-hands Monday and is (finally) consistently using that 6-5 frame to get leverage against DBs. More than anything, there is a quiet confidence about Sweed that wasn't nearly as prevalent this time last year.

Based on what we saw Monday and from what little we were allowed to watch during the spring, it appears that RB Henry Melton has emerged as a bonafide receiving threat out of the backfield. Remember when coaches realized midway through the 2002 season how effective of a receiver that FB Ivan Williams could be? Remember how Nebraska defenders bounced off of him like pinballs? The difference is that Melton is quicker out of the gate than was Williams. No one will mistake Melton for Twiggy, but he's slimmed down to a 6-3, 265-pounds. He looks faster, and he will devastate.

True freshman WR Josh Marshall looks like he's grown a foot since Signing Day. He's listed at 6-4, 207. If one true freshman cracks the loaded WR rotation, it would likely be Marshall. Sometimes, one of the ways you can tell is how much extra exhortation a true freshman gets from his position coach. For example, Marshall made a nice grab during one-on-one drills and trotted back to the sideline. That's when WR Bobby Kennedy coach got face-to-facemask with Marshall, screaming at the youngster to turn on the jets and carry it into the endzone. Every time.

Explosive RS-freshman TE Jermichael Finley would be a frontrunner for Big 12 Offensive Freshman of the Year if he wasn't overshadowed (in preseason hype) by Texas' freshman QBs. But I'm looking at opposing rosters, and about the only linebackers that I think can hang with Finley would be OU's Rufus Alexander or Texas A&M's Justin Warren. Finely continues to impress and will win his share of battles against seasoned veterans. Here's predicting his breakthrough game comes against Ohio State's unproven linebackers.

One of the more intriguing battles is at DT where junior Derek Lokey worked with Ones but will be pushed by sophomore Roy Miller (the only five-star athlete in the 2005 recruiting class). DT Frank Okam is just a beast. Five-star true freshman Eddie Jones worked with the second-team at quick-end.

"We want to get more of a pass rush out of the front four without having to blitz as much," head coach Mack Brown said. "We think we can do that better now."

True freshman RCB Chykie Brown and true freshman FS Robert Joseph also took some snaps with the Twos.

INJURY UPDATES TE Peter Ullman (right knee) is being held out of practice after having missed all of spring football and is out indefinitely. Linebacker Nic Redwine (right knee) has yet to return after missing spring drills. Back problems have led TE Steve Hogan to give up football. There was some question about safety Ishie Oduegwu's health (right foot) but the sophomore was mixing it up with the other DBs after missing spring drills.

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