Halftime: What do we know about the 07 Horns?

Texas football is at the midway point of spring training following Wednesday's scrimmage at Royal Memorial Stadium. With seven practices in the record book, coach Mack Brown already knows something about his current edition of Longhorns.

Wednesday's scrimmage consisted of about 85 plays and emphasized a crash course in blitz packages for the young offensive line and backup QBs. The team also focused on various third down scenarios. The initial verdict is that the WRs, TEs and defensive line are setting the tone while Brown has been particularly impressed with the play at DE.

"The receivers, and (QB) Colt McCoy and the tight ends are really experienced," Brown said, "so our passing game is in really good shape. We continue to work on the running game. (RB) Jamaal (Charles) is 10 pounds heavier and is running really, really well."

The Horns return their top seven pass-catchers while RS-sophomore TE Jermichael Finley appears poised for a breakout season. Even with DT Frank Okam held out of contact, the interior defensive line is solid with the return of NT Derek Lokey and the steady development of DT Roy Miller.

"The (defensive) ends look really good," Brown said. "Those guys are really competing. I'm seeing Lamarr Houston and Eddie Jones show up. A lot of the young linebackers are jumping up and making plays."

What a difference a year makes for beefed-up QB Colt McCoy. The RS-sophomore has added about 10 pounds of lean muscle.

"Colt is stronger and more confident," Brown said. "He is now the leader of the offense. This time last year he was competing for a job. We had him in a very tough situation (Wednesday). He faced a lot of blitzes with some very young offensive linemen, and he was throwing into a pretty good wind. He was against the odds today, but he hung in there and had a really great scrimmage."

Overall, Brown is pleased with his across-the-board depth.

"We're going to have more depth on this team than we've had. That's key for us. We've got to improve different areas of the kicking game. We've got to get settled on our two-deep when we get back (from spring break) but we've got a lot of young players who are really talented. We've got to figure out how much they can play and when they can play and how soon they can get involved."

The lingering questions have to do with replacing three starters in both the offensive line and in the secondary.

"Our whole defense is rotating every six plays so we can figure out who is ready to play," Brown told Inside Texas. "We've opened up all the positions on defense. We've turned everybody loose. It's great competition right now. It's fun to watch them. It was the toughest and most enthusiastic scrimmage we've had on this date. It's a difficult scrimmage because it's the one right before spring break. We have to make sure they're not drifting and wanting out of here instead of playing football. But this one was really focused and I think a lot of that goes to the competition."

Two of the key issues heading into the spring were establishing a dependable backup QB while igniting the Longhorn rushing game.

"You just have to keep working at quarterback to see when they separate. They will, at some point, but right now both (Sherrod Harris, John Chiles) are doing a good job. They are neck-and-neck."

Most of the depth-chart decisions will be finalized during the second part of spring football.

"There's no question that guys get the attention of their coaches during the last eight days of spring practice. That carries through the summer. It's not make-or-break because they have a chance during two-a-days to get your attention again. It's a pressure-packed time for some to show what they can do if they're going to be in the mix early when they get back to two-a-days."

The first half of spring drills concluded with players inviting their favorite faculty member to a team supper at Moncreif-Neuhaus.

"The team has to develop its chemistry again and, to do that, you have to have individual leaders at each position," Brown said, "We're starting to see leaders develop, and some of the younger guys that we haven't had on the field very much are starting to learn what to do. You try to keep it as basic as you can until they learn what to do and then turn them loose to see if they can handle movement, if you're an offensive lineman, or blitzing with a quarterback. A lot of those things were much better than they were seven practices ago."


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