The Importance of Being 'Urgent'

A fiery new defensive coordinator, the task of replacing seven defensive starters and the first day in pads combined to create a sense of 'urgency' that few would ordinarily expect from spring football. But Texas head coach Mack Brown said Tuesday that his players, so far, have approached spring football with the same resolve and intensity characteristic of its recent bowl season.

"Our guys understand the urgency," Brown said. "Every job is open. We've told the players that some of them may not immediately get another chance (for a starting spot). They're trying to get the coaches' attention right now. If they don't get our attention now, then the guys who come in during the fall will get the next look."

Brown reiterated a previous statement that there will be no position changes until the second part of spring football but, generally, starting jobs are finalized by the annual Orange-White Scrimmage (set for March 29).

"When you have an older team and things are settled, sometimes you need to stir it up some," Brown said, "but this team has only got four starters back on defense. We have guys fighting to get on that field and competing for jobs. We've told them not to take a lazy step because you may not get back out on the field. If a guy does not produce in the spring, he may not have that opportunity in the fall."

Part of the urgency, Brown believes, is an extension of the team's shift in attitude and performance following its debacle at Texas A&M. Coaches, of course, announced that the depth chart was 'open' just before the Holiday Bowl while re-instituting accountability drills that penalizes the entire team for substandard individual performance. The so-called Not Our Standard drills first surfaced in 2004 when defensive coordinator Greg Robinson and DE coach Dick Tomey spent their only season in Austin. Brown did not reinstate the drills until after Texas' 38-30 loss to the Aggies.

These days, Brown is making a list (and checking it twice); he wants to find out who's performing at a substandard level -- even if it's just for one snap.

"We write down every time a guy takes a wrong step, or his head is on the wrong side, or if he drops a ball, or get s a penalty, or maybe he's loafing. We'll show these to the team each morning so everybody understands who should be playing. Then we'll go through the process of having an up-down for every NOS. So, if we start practice Friday with 15 NOS drills, the guys are not very happy. It's their responsibility not to have them; it's not like (coaches) are doing them."

SPECIAL GUEST: Former Pittsburgh Steeler great WR Lynn Swann was a guest at practice Tuesday. Swann talked to the team about "building a foundation and doing all the things that need to be done while you;re in school," Brown reported. "That way when you look back, you're not sorry for anything that you didn't finish."

SCHEDULE SHIFTS: Brown had a couple of things to say about moving the Texas A&M game back to Thanksgiving Day (for the 2008 and 2009) as well as Arkansas postponing its 2009 home date with Texas for five years. "I've never coached on Thanksgiving before. Like most of America, I grew up watching Texas and Texas A&M play on Thanksgiving. It's something that's been a tradition here for many years. Hopefully, we'll be involved in the (Big 12 Conference) Championship Game the following week, and this would give us an extra day to rest." Brown acknowledged that it will be difficult to replace the Razorbacks in two seasons with a quality opponent because "once we went to the 12th (regular season) game, everybody started to find somebody to play and it filled up. This puts (Mens Athletics Director) DeLoss (Dodds) in a tough spot. He's got to go out and find a game against a quality team. It's difficult this time of year."

COACHES CLINIC SET FOR FRIDAY & SATURDAY: Brown expects anywhere from 1,000 to 1,300 participants on hand at Texas' annual high school coaches clinic, set for Feb. 28 - Mar. 1. Teaching seminars will surround high school coaches observing Texas' practice Friday session and its first scrimmage of the spring on Saturday. Neither session is open to the general public.

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