Spring Practice Notebook

The Texas Longhorns are in the final stretch of Spring Ball and things are starting to sort themselves out. Some areas of concern continue where others seemed to be shored up. Mack Brown spoke Monday about the 12 practices in the books and the three remaining.

The Texas Longhorns finished practice #12 of the spring on Monday and have three practices remaining, including the Spring Game on Sunday.

Great depth on the offensive line and defensive backfield - On the offensive line, there was really only one starting spot to fill, right guard, when Cedric Dockery graduated, and everyone expected Michael Huey to fill that role without missing a beat. Coach Brown seems very pleased with the depth on the offensive front. Starting right tackle, Kyle Hix, has missed all of the practices after Spring Break with a shoulder injury, but Kilgore's Britt Mitchell has really impressed in Hix's stead. Mitchell is also being cross-trained at left tackle while back-up left tackle Tray Allen is being cross-trained at left guard as well. Sophomore David Snow is considered the interior swing lineman as he can play both guard spots and center.

In a pass-happy league like the Big 12, it is imperative to have depth in the defensive backfield and Coach Brown seems very pleased with the work there. When asked about the most impressive guys this spring, his first three answers were all DBs in Christian Scott, Aaron Williams, and Nolan Brewster. Later, Coach Brown indicated that he would be fine with any of the top 8 in the defensive backfield. Those eight are corners Chykie Brown, Aaron Williams, Curtis Brown, Deon Beasley, and safeties Earl Thomas, Christian Scott, Blake Gideon, and Nolan Brewster.

Areas of Concern - The tight end and running back positions seem to be the areas of greatest concern for the team, and those were the two biggest areas going into spring. At tight end, D.J. Grant was playing well before hurting his ankle before Spring Break, and Ahmard Howard has stepped up and played well. But Ian Harris has been limited with a stinger. Howard and Greg Smith are atop the depth chart right now at tight end. Similarly, the running back position has seen its share of missed repetitions due to injury. Cody Johnson was playing well, but will have missed 7 or 8 practices by spring's end. Both Brown and Greg Davis have mentioned that they want one guy to step up and take the position, but does not appear to have happened. Coach Brown said yesterday, "We've had the same issues coming out of spring at running back. Vondrell's been the most consistent and the most healthy. If we lined up to play today, Vondrell would be our starting tailback."

Special Teams Return Men - Jordan Shipley will return punts while Curtis Brown backs him up. Shipley and Christian Scott will handle kickoff returns, backed by Malcolm and Aaron Williams. In an effort to keep Shipley fresh, they may rotate the back-ups in a little more as needed.

Remaining Spring Practices - There will be a full scrimmage on Wednesday. Thursday's practice will be in shorts as mandated by the NCAA (three of the 15 must be in shorts), and Sunday's Spring Game will be a full scrimmage in the stadium.

Wants a big crowd - Coach Brown would really like a big crowd for Sunday's Spring Game to simulate a game experience for a lot of the younger players who have never experienced that type of crowd. In addition to almost all of the committed players, the staff is expecting 100-200 sophomores to attend. There will also be many former Longhorns there due to the Texas Relays, Texas Letterman Golf Tournament, Michael Huff's Charity Benefit, and Aaron Ross' charity event. The team is dedicating the spring game to the US military forces.

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