Spring Football: Tuesday Practice Notes

Notes and analysis from the Horns' Tuesday practice.

One returns, another leaves: Edorian McCullough returned to practice this week after missing the first full week of practice for what a UT official termed precautionary reasons. The sophomore worked with the second unit defense at the left corner spot. McCullough's secondary-mate Michael Huff, though, is out with a left foot/ankle injury. The strong safety, wearing a protective boot, remained on the sidelines Tuesday after suffering the injury Saturday at the stadium. Redshirt freshman Matt Melton worked some at the strong safety spot in Huff's absence.

Bad day for the fullbacks: Both of the Horns' scholarship fullbacks that are participating in spring drills left the practice field because of injury. Starter Will Matthews limped off early in the workout while back-up Albert Hardy went down after a late practice carry. Hardy stayed on the turf for several minutes but finally left the field under his own power. Their status for the last two practices before the break is unknown. If either of the two must miss any action, Brett Robin, who despite his size played fullback before switching to third-down tailback, would seem to be a likely candidate to slide over from tailback and into the fullback spot.

Best day yet for punters: Tuesday represented by far the best spring performance yet for the Horns' trio of punter candidates. Walk-on Taylor Landin continues to work as the first-unit punter, which Tuesday didn't win him any favors. During early practice special teams work, he punted into a fairly strong (approximately 15 mph) southerly wind while Justin Smith and Richmond McGee got the benefit of punting with that same wind. Landin, though, acquitted himself quite well on his first two attempts, hitting for 40 yards and then a whoppin' 48 yards with a near-five-second hang-time. His third attempt traveled 33 yards while his fourth, possibly due to a wide snap from DS Cullen Loeffler, went just 25 yards in the air (with another 10 yards on the roll). After flipping directions, Smith boomed a 51-yarder, a 49-yarder and two 48-yarders, plus a 44- and 39-yarder. McGee hit for 40, 46 and 31 yards in the air (the last punt angled towards the sideline near the goalline).

It's an option: During time typically spent working on the passing game, the Texas QBs and RBs spent a portion of their early practice drill work on the option game. Although the coaches talked about using the option last season, the team did not work on it nearly to the extent it is doing so this spring, which should translate into it actually appearing on Saturdays this fall. Both Chance Mock and Vince Young are capable of effectively running some option football and have demonstrated that ability so far this spring. Matt Nordgren's skill set isn't as conducive to those type of plays and he has been less involved in the option implementation during scrimmage situations.

The O-line shuffle: With Tillman Holloway out for the day, Justin Blalock stepped into the starting left guard spot Tuesday. Trey Bates, Kasey Studdard and even C Lyle Sendlein took snaps with the second unit at the position. Brett Valdez worked some at back-up right guard.

Highlight reel play of the day: Wideout Robert Timmons, after hauling in the ball on a left-to-right crossing route, turned on the jets and streaked toward the right sideline before turning upfield and outdistancing the secondary. One teammate that he did not outdistance was Cedric Benson. The junior running back, who had released from the backfield into the secondary on the play, ran stride-for-stride with Timmons as he approached the end zone. At about the 10, Timmons flipped the ball to Benson, who quickly pitched it back to Timmons as they crossed the goal. How that would look in the stat sheet I have no idea. I do know that it would get Timmons benched if it happened in a game, but hey, at least these guys are having a little bit of fun out there along with all the hard work they're putting in.

Highlight reel reaction of the day: After Selvin Young took an option pitch and sprinted up the left sideline approximately 40 yards to the end zone (he probably would have been forced out in a game-like situation, but he still showed great burst to the edge on the play), O-line coach Mac McWhorter took off downfield and greeted the sophomore running back as he began the jog back to the huddle. While McWhorter smiled and congratulated Selvin, DT coach Mike Tolleson had anything but a smile on his face as he, shall we say, chided his charges for their effort.

Horns Digest Top Stories