Spring Football: Friday Practice Notes

Notes and analysis from the Horns' Friday practice.

And the second-team QB is . . . : Still Matt Nordgren. Chance Mock continues to take the first-team snaps, followed by Nordgren and then Vince Young. Mock showed off his cannon of an arm, with accuracy, on most of his passes (the QBs and WRs worked on a large variety of routes -- stops, outs, slants, crosses, posts) and he looked extremely comfortable running the Texas offense. Nordgren displayed nice touch on some balls but simply doesn't yet have a mastery of either the throws or the offense to challenge Mock. And Young looked, well, let's call it unpolished (but his potential still shines through). Aside from a couple of sweet keepers, Young's highlight play of the day came on a deep over-the-middle completion to TE Neale Tweedie. At 6-5, 255, Tweedie presents a big target and, for an offensive lineman, he can move.

Who's this No. 4 kid: Roy Williams found a deep seam in the UT secondary's zone coverage during scrimmage work and hauled in a well-placed Mock toss, taking it in stride and turning in one of those Cotton Bowl-like runs where he made multiple defenders miss. Ain't it nice that Roy is running through the Texas secondary this spring rather than getting ready to do the same in the NFL?

Let the young DTs play: Much like the coaches used to do with recent DL stalwarts Casey Hampton, Shaun Rogers and Cory Redding, fifth-year senior Marcus Tubbs is seeing less reps than most of the other first-teamers, allowing young, inexperienced guys like Tully Janszen, Larry Dibbles and Marco Martin to get much-needed reps alongside another young'un, returning sophomore starter Rodrique Wright. Tubbs, of course, benefited greatly from those additional reps several years ago as Hampton and Rogers sat, allowing him to be a significant contributor as a redshirt freshman and beyond, and the coaches hope Janszen, Dibbles and Martin follow that same path (a path that Wright is already well down). An aside: Martin is huge with a capital H. The redshirt freshman is listed in UT's spring media guide as 310, but he seems to dwarf sophomore Dibbles, who is generously (on the low side) listed at 280. Just from an eyeballin' perspective, Dibbles looks to be in better condition than he did in the fall. Janszen is by far the baby (size-wise) of the bunch at a listed 250. Given the Horns' situation at DE, it wouldn't be a surprise to see the redshirt freshman slide out to the edge at least some during spring. As of today, the situation at DE looks like this: Austin Sendlein gets the nod at LDE while Kalen Thornton owns the RDE spot. Kaelen Jakes, Eric Hall and Chase Pittman worked as back-ups on both sides while former LB Mike Williams saw snaps on the left.

O-line depth: The first-unit OL Friday consisted of RT William Winston, RG Mike Garcia, C Jason Glynn, LG Tillman Holloway and LT Jonathan Scott. The back-ups at each spot looked like this: RT, Stevie Lee, Justin Blalock (See Hot News for more info on those two); RG, Trey Bates, Kasey Studdard, Brett Valdez; C, Will Allen, Lyle Sendlein; LG, Blalock, Studdard; and LT, Terrance Young. "Right now, we don't have any starters," OL coach Mac McWhorter said Friday (also see Hot News for more from McWhorter). "I'm trying to find five football players and put them on the field. I'm really plugging in a lot of people at different places right now. What I'm trying to do is find the best five we can get and then the next best one and the next best one and go from there."

Kickers knock 'em through: The Texas field goal kickers consistently knocked 'em through all day with Dusty Mangum, David Pino and Richmond McGee going a perfect five-for-five in the early session, full squad special teams work and then Mangum (although on an ugly kick) and Pino each knocking one through near the end of practice during scrimmage work. Tony Jeffery will handle the field goal and extra point holder duties this fall after backing up Beau Trahan last season. FYI, McGee continues to display the (by far) strongest leg on kickoffs, and his field goal attempts showed promise, although he drives the ball extremely low, which of course makes his attempts susceptible to being blocked.

Punting problems persist: Early in the day, sophomore walk-on Taylor Landin was the most consistent punter with three straight 40-plus yarders followed by a 35-plus yarder. Junior Justin Smith hit three 40 yarders (the last due to a fairly substantial roll) but he then had one blocked by the down-the-depth-chart punt block team. He simply looked to have held the ball too long on both of his last attempts, including the block. During scrimmage situations over the second half of practice, Landin got the most opportunities but mis-hit several of his punts, knocking 22-, 24- and 34-yarders along with 40-, 37-, 40- and 42-yarders. One of Landin's short punts was the result of a way-wide snap from Cullen Loeffler and another looked to result from his bobble of the ball just before his kick. Smith, though, didn't fare any better. Matter of fact, he turned in the shank of the day on his first scrimmage attempt with a wobbler that bounded across the sideline just 13 yards past the line of scrimmage. Smith's next punt traveled 33 yards in the air with about a two-second hang-time (it rolled for a 44-yard overall distance) before he closed the day with a 22-yards-and-out-of-bounds boot on his third scrimmage situation punt.

Highlight reel play of the day: In first-team offense vs. first-team defense work, Mock took an under center snap and moved left down the line of scrimmage looking for either the option keeper or the pitch to Cedric Benson (who, by the way, looked as quick as I've seen him on the Forty Acres, perhaps because he is again healthy). The defensive line push forced Mock to flip the ball back to Benson, but starting SAM 'backer Garnet Smith had the play blanketed. But for the rules of engagement ("Stay up," as the coaches continually yell), Smith would have flattened the Horns' junior running back. As it was, he stood him up a good five yards behind the line of scrimmage to the loud approval of his defensive teammates and coaches. Behind Smith and fellow LB starters Derrick Johnson at WILL and Reed Boyd at MIKE are Brian Robison (SLB), Marcus Myers (WLB) and Aaron Harris and Aurmon Satchell (MLB).

Effort Award: On a missed exchange between Vince Young and Tony Jeffery on a reverse (a play, or a variation thereof, that the Horns ran multiple times Friday), Young made a diving effort to retrieve the loose ball. He did.

Feisty first day in pads: Tillman Holloway and defenders Garnet Smith and Dakarai Pearson had the beginnings of a little post-play rumble but teammates stepped in before a true battle ensued.

Walking Wounded: Bryan Pickryl, Bo Scaife, Edorian McCullough and Kendal Briles wore red jerseys Friday. Pickryl is recovering from two off-season shoulder surgeries, Scaife is recovering from major knee surgery last August, and Briles is out due to shoulder issues.

A Crowd of Coaches: UT's annual coaching clinic drew approximately 500 attendees. High school coaches from last fall's state championship teams spoke Thursday night while former Arizona head man Dick Tomey addressed the group on Friday. Is it any wonder that Brown and staff have a great relationship with the state high school head men?

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