Duane Akina also continues to take a look at multiple combinations in the defensive backfield. Rufus Harris, who had largely been delegated to back-up work through three practices, worked Monday morning with the probable contributors. FS Harris coupled with SS Michael Huff during several different scrimmage situations. Dakarai Pearson and Kendal Briles remain in a battle for the start at free. "Doc's looked great," Akina said post-practice. "He's really done a nice job. I think Kendal Briles has really looked good. The best thing you've got and what I've always liked is a good, competitive situation and I think we've got that at the two safety positions." Huff and Cedric Griffin are fighting for the starting role at strong safety as well as training for work at corner and at nickel back. "In some ways, in our strong safety position there is carryover in a lot of techniques with our corner position, so I can cross train those guys and keep them alive and then I'll also sprinkle them in some team settings by playing 'em a little at corner," Akina told IT. "Teaching in the classroom I believe in teaching concept -- the whole coverage, not just your position. That way they get used to understanding why they're doing this -- because another position is doing that. It creates position flexibility."
The red jersey wearing contingent Monday included Chad Stevens, Matt Trissel, Aaron Harris, Kalen Thornton (who had an ice pack on his right knee), Terrance Young, Sloan Thomas and Marco Martin. A slightly limping Jonathan Scott suited out but did not participate in any scrimmage work. With starting RT Scott sidelined, Alfio Randall worked at right tackle with the first-teamers while Lionel Garr backed up. For the second consecutive practice, true freshman Justin Blalock rotated in with the second team at right guard. Behind starters Derrick Dockery (RG) and Tillman Holloway (LG) and rotating third guard Beau Baker, the coaches are taking a long look at Mike Garcia at left guard, Trey Bates at both left and right guard, and Blalock at right guard. Right now, Randall, who is taking snaps at both tackle spots, would be the first tackle off the bench to spell LT Robbie Doane or RT Scott, but he still doesn't project to be a "third starter" at the position. Baker looks to be much closer to that designation at guard than Randall does at tackle.
Both Justin Smith and Richmond McGee boomed their scrimmage situation punt attempts. Smith launched a long and high one 52 yards, forcing Nathan Vasher into a fair catch while starting kickoff candidate McGee hit his lone punt attempt 55 yards. Returning starter Brian Bradford, Smith and McGee are being given an August opportunity to win the punt job for '02. Consistency remains the biggest hurdle for the strong-legged Smith as well as McGee. Bradford, a second-year senior, has never exhibited the power of Smith, but his consistency has so far kept him in the starting role.
The field goal kickers finally had a strong scrimmage day after three tough workouts, with both Dusty Mangum and David Pino nailing their 37-yard attempts during scrimmage work.
Highlight reel plays: Chris Simms threw a perfect outside shoulder deep strike to Brian Carter near the left sideline to set up the offense at the five yardline during 11-on-11. Edorian McCullough, who has demonstrated the ability to remain basically stride-for-stride with most of the Longhorn receiving corps, simply could not make a play on Carter given the accuracy of the throw. Chance Mock also laid in a beauty, this one to Robert Timmons for a TD in the left side of the end zone to close out the morning workout. Greg Davis has already praised the play of both Carter and Timmons, but another member of the wide receiver corps that deserves mention (aside from obvious studs Roy Williams, who physically looks to be in the best condition of his UT career after sitting out spring, and the silky smooth yet strong B.J. Johnson) is Tony Jeffery. The sophomore's route running has been razor sharp and his hands sure through four varsity workouts.