Bowl Week Blueprint in Place

If it worked during the bowl season, then it should also work for spring football. At least that's Texas coach Mack Brown's stance as his Longhorns began spring training Friday afternoon at Denius Fields.

Part of the blueprint for success in Texas' 52-34 thumping of Arizona State in the 2007 Holiday Bowl was a get-tough emphasis that demanded accountability and opened all positions on the depth chart. It came on the heels of Texas' embarrassing 38-30 loss at Texas A&M.

"We got the players' attention," Brown said Friday. "We have got to go back and do the little things 'right' again. We did that for the bowl game, and we're going to continue to do it. That's the way we're going to coach them. What happened at the bowl game is who we want to be."

Just like during bowl week, coaches will impose a curfew, schedule additional scrimmages, while maintaining the NOS (Not Our Standard) up-down drills that hold all players accountable for individual lapses.

"There would have been a problem if we had lost the game because of all the things we changed to put into," Brown continued. "If it hadn't worked it would have been a problem. We would have had to start all over again."

It's a carry-over that QB Colt McCoy welcomes because of the potential to guard against the type of complacency that results in sub-par effort.

"Each player is going to have to earn his position," McCoy said. "It makes it a challenge every day at practice. It makes it a challenge to do your best. You're going to have to have the mindset every day going into practice that you have to do the best you can because who knows what's going to happen. It's going to make this team perform at a higher level."

The Horns will conduct seven sessions prior to UT's Spring Break (March 10-14) and then conclude with the final eight practices. The first half will focus on fundamentals while first-year defensive coordinator Will Muschamp will gradually install the schematic elements that would particularly shore up Texas' porous pass defense and get more pressure on the quarterback. In particular, Muschamp will install one blitz package Friday afternoon and another Saturday morning.

Texas dons pads on Tuesday, but coaches do not intend to make personnel decisions until the second half of spring football. Brown does not expect sweeping personnel changes but noted there are at least five spots where a position change is probable.

"We've got five names that are potentially (a position change), but we haven't talked to the kids yet about it," Brown said. "We want to watch them first. We feel like that's only fair."

Despite rumors of backup QB Sherrod Harris moving to WR, the RS-sophomore will continue to work behind center throughout the spring, Brown noted. The same goes for sophomore QB John Chiles.

"The most important thing right now at quarterback is that both John Chiles and Colt McCoy continue to grow together," Brown said. "You have to have 'team guys' at the quarterback position. You cannot have selfishness, and those guys did a great job of handling that last year. That needs to continue to work because we felt that playing them both in the bowl game really helped us. John's ability to run the Zone Read puts a lot of pressure on the defense. We want him to throw better and, with Colt, we want him to run the Zone Read better with his ability to throw."

Tyrell Higgins has withdrawn from Texas this semester, citing family reasons, and is expected to return this summer. CB Curtis Brown is expected to miss the entirety of spring ball after undergoing arthroscopic sugery on his right knee, which he injured Wednesday during off-season workouts. RS-freshman safety Christian Scott fill miss the first three days of spring football to focus on academics.

Coaches expect to build depth along the defensive front by cross-training Henry Melton at both DE and DT and true freshman Dravannti Johnson at both DE and LB. Safeties will also cross-train at both FS and SS since both former starters (Marcus Griffin, Erick Jackson) have completed their eligibility.

The RB spot is in good hands, Brown believes, despite the fact Jamaal Charles opted to forgo his senior season to enter the NFL Draft. A chiseled Vondrell McGee (5-10, 205) is expected to carry load after posting 297 yards and eight TDs on 75 carries as a RS-freshman in 2007.

"Vondrell played half the time a couple games at mid-season," Brown noted. "We felt really good about where Vondrell is going. I don't know that Vondrell got all the credit he deserved last year."

RS-freshman Cody Johnson will also get a look at FB.

"Cody is one of the intriguing players of this spring," Brown said. "He's big (5-11, 255). He can play one-back, he can play tailback on the goal line and he can play fullback. He was impressive during bowl practice. He'll be a guy that we watch very closely."

The Horns return to practice 9:00 a.m. Saturday morning. It will be the last session open to the public prior to the March 29 Spring Scrimmage.


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