Friday morning practice notes and analysis

Notes and analysis from the Horns' Friday morning practice:

In the early practice special teams session, three different pairs worked in kick return: Sloan Thomas and Anthony Johnson, Cedric Griffin and Michael Huff, and Selvin Young and Ivan Williams. Absent from that list is Nathan Vasher. Vasher and Ivan Williams teamed up with the first-team kick return unit in Thursday's scrimmage, but Mack Brown recently said that Vasher, who will start at corner and at punt returner, will be used sparingly as a kickoff returner.

In blocking-pass rush drills between the running backs and the linebackers, Mike Williams demonstrated, at least on one head-to-head rep, why Carl Reese continues to rave about his pass rush ability. The true freshman SLB made a move that sent Brett Robin, one of the team's best backfield blockers, to the grass and sent Williams on his way to what would have been a QB sack in a game situation. In Thursday's scrimmage, Williams registered two sacks, one of them a 10-yard drop of Chris Simms vs. the first-team offense.

Dustin Miksch has faced what looks to be a snowball effect during two-a-days. A few drops early seemed to build upon themselves as August progressed, and once started, the momentum -- particularly mentally -- looked hard to stop for the true freshman wideout. It certainly wasn't for a lack of effort. Matter of fact, in Thursday's scrimmage, Miksch did all he could (including barreling over defender Phillip Geiggar in what would almost certainly have been called pass interference in a real game) to haul in an underthrown Vince Young deep ball. Perhaps Friday at Denius Miksch turned in the play that will change his pass catching (or lack thereof) fortune. During receiver vs. defensive back one-on-ones, the speedy Westwood product, running with Rufus Harris, made a great adjustment on a Chance Mock toss that came in on his inside rather than outside shoulder. Harris had great inside position, but Miksch timed his jump perfectly and, with his arms extended over the cornerback, plucked the ball out of the air. A small victory, no doubt, but one that Miksch may have needed to break the cycle of drops.

During scrimmage work Friday morning, Harris played some corner. With Dakarai Pearson and Kendal Briles both playing solid football at free safety and with the current lack of depth at corner (back-up corners Cedric Griffin and Michael Huff are also the team's top two strong safeties), the coaches are experimenting with different personnel on the edge (like safeties Harris, Geiggar and true freshman Matthew Melton). Harris had a tough time on one play during 11-on-11 work, drawing the unenviable task of trying to stay with B.J. Johnson. The Horns' starting flanker blew by Harris and streaked down the middle of the field, allowing Simms to place a perfect in-stride strike to Johnson, leaving Harris chasing in a vain attempt to catch the wideout before he crossed the goalline for a 50-yard-plus TD catch-and-run.

Shortly after that Simms-to-B.J. TD, Larry Dibbles turned in a play that had the defensive coaches running on the field to congratulate the true freshman. Dibbles, squaring off against the first-team OL, blew up a Simms dump off attempt for Cedric Benson. Dibbles and Stevie Lee worked together at DT on the series. Tully Janszen and Thursday night scrimmage star Rodrique Wright also teamed at DT with the back-up defensive unit.

On the play before David Pino nailed a 41-yarder field goal to close practice, Selvin Young hauled in a Matt Nordgren pass in the left flat where he made an amazing cut to avoid walk-on LB Brad Price. Price, trying to stop his motion and stay in front of Young, crumpled to the turf with a left leg injury. Paramedics, for the second time in under a week, were forced onto Denius to deal with Price's injury. After approximately 10 minutes, the sophomore squadman from Copperas Cove was lifted onto a cart and taken to a waiting ambulance. We'll update his condition when the information becomes available.

Injury update: Although wearing a green jersey, Kalen Thornton returned to practice for the first time since before the Holiday Bowl (see Hot News). Roy Williams, after suffering a bruised quad in Thursday's scrimmage, wore both a red jersey and a wrap around the upper part of his left leg on Friday morning. Kyle Shanahan wore a boot on his right ankle and foot after suffering a sprained ankle Thursday. Dakarai Pearson's Thursday afternoon ankle sprain must have been far less serious than Shanahan's because the junior free safety practiced Friday morning. The rest of the Horns' walking wounding -- Brian Carter (hamstring), Brock Edwards (quad), Aaron Harris (concussion), Marco Martin (knee), Jonathan Scott (hamstring), Terrance Young (shoulder) and Clint Haney -- remained sidelined.

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