Full Contact: Horns Strap on Pads

Texas donned pads Wednesday for the first time this spring and now the real work of evaluation can begin, Longhorn football coach Mack Brown said.

"What jumped out to me today," Brown said, "is we've got a lot of work to do. We've got so many young guys at so many different positions who haven't played a lot that this is going to be a fun spring. Our coaches are going to have to do a great job of evaluating and coaching to get the young guys to improve."

Texas returns six defensive starters and six on offense (seven, if you count RB Jamaal Charles as a starter with four career starts). The Horns, of course, are replacing three starters in the secondary, three along the offensive line and both DEs. The battle is especially competitive at linebacker where backups Sergio Kindle and Roddrick Muckelroy are expected to push incumbents for playing time.

The Horns have already had a couple of workouts in shells. But playing football without pads, Brown has always said, is like to trying to teach swimming without water. Brown met briefly with members of sports media following Wednesday's workout. Here is Brown's assessment of what he's seen, thus far, at key positions this spring:

ON THE PROGRESS OF TEXAS' YOUNG SECONDARY
"You've got a lot of guys there who haven't played, so you see good-play, bad-play. We've got to get some consistency back there. You've got (SS) Erick Jackson and some older guys who haven't played a lot because of the last five (DBs) that we've had. You're also looking at (FS) Marcus Griffin without (twin brother) Michael Griffin back there. You've got (SS) Drew Kelson) working back there. So, you've really got the old with the young."

ON THE COMPETITION AT LINEBACKER
"(RS-freshman) Dustin Earnest has stepped-up and made some plays today by blitzing. I've always thought Roddrick Muckelroy is really good. And Sergio Kindle) looks better and better and better. It's an exciting time because there are a lot of guys who haven't played very much who need to be coached really hard and really well this spring, and who we need to bring along fast."

ON RB JAMAAL CHARLES
"Jamaal wants to be the guy now. That's why he's gotten stronger and given up indoor track. He's really working to step his game back up. It will be interesting to watch him, but he's got a great attitude. He's had three really good days of practice."

ON ESTABLISHING A ROTATION ON THE O-LINE
"They're the slowest to come along. You can play good defense better than you can play offense. You can see (DEs) Brian Ellis, or an Eddie Jones, and Dre Jones, or Lamaar Houston, you can see those guys pop-up quicker than you do offensive linemen. One of the great things about our film work (Wednesday night) is watching the offensive line. You can have four guys doing things perfectly and one guy takes the wrong step and it throws the play off. One of our biggest question marks would be the offensive line and them getting better from now until the end. (O-line coach) Mac McWhorter is back, so we're going to be pretty good."

ON THE BACKUP QBs
"Like the offensive line, the two young quarterbacks (RS-freshman Sherrod Harris, true freshman John Chiles) will have a big learning curve this spring. They'll have a good play and then a bad play because they're still learning. It's going to take them some time and we're going to have to keep bringing both of them along. They're talented but young. When they make a good play, then that's good, but they're going to make some mistakes. We're going to put all the stuff in for the young quarterbacks this spring and then narrow it down in the fall to what we feel like they can do."


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