Horns Set for Final Scrimmage Before Break

The calendar doesn't necessarily agree, and the Austin weather certainly doesn't show it, but spring is almost halfway over with. Actually, spring <I>football</i> is almost halfway over with. But as a chilly North wind and frequent drizzle will attest, spring has yet to sprung.

With the team spending another day in the "Bubble" Wednesday afternoon because of the threat of bad weather, the Horns have now been forced inside for four of their first seven practices. And with the "Bubble" practices closed to both fans and the media, the ability of anyone but the coaches to consistently eyeball the players has been severely curtailed.

So, from head coach Mack Brown's first-hand perspective, what has stood out to him over the first two weeks of practice?

"On fear of sounding like I did this time last year, the running game looks good again," Brown told IT Wednesday. "I'm pleased with the aggressiveness of the young offensive linemen. And this is the most physical spring we've had so far, (the players) are responding to it and we're working hard every day. We had a lot last year, but we're working more misdirection and we're working more play action because but that's the best place to get your explosives and those are critical for us. We're playing more base defense to try to get back to fundamentals more than we have. We're playing more zone to help our offense and to put our defense in positions where we can disguise more and have more change-ups. So things that we've talked about over the last year-and-a-half we're doing better right now and I'm really excited about that."

The coach also pointed to another exciting, but scary, statistic. He said this fall's team will consist of 60 freshmen and sophomores out of 85 scholarship players. (By my count, Texas has 57 eligible freshman and sophomores -- that number includes the 18 incoming true freshmen, 15 redshirt freshmen and 24 sophomores -- plus 12 juniors and 13 seniors.) Brown called it "unbelievable how many young players" will suit up for his sixth UT squad.

Thursday's practice session at the stadium, the eighth of 15 spring workouts and the last before the Horns break for over a week, will be a chance for some of those young players to make an impression on the coaching staff, which Brown said will still be looking to "separate personnel." When the team returns from Spring Break, a break that will allow the coaches to completely break down the film from the first eight practices and develop (they hope) a two-deep of guys that are capable of winning all the games, the focus will shift a bit from personnel to scheme over the final seven workouts.

So Thursday's scrimmage will be a time to particularly watch the back-ups as the coaches search for depth. That includes at quarterback, where Vince Young is quickly playing himself into the No. 2 role; at center ("We've got great competition there right now" between Jason Glynn and Will Allen, Brown said Wednesday); at guard, where Justin Blalock is easily in line for a spot in a three-guard rotation with Tillman Holloway and Mike Garcia; at left defensive end, the spot that must give DC Carl Reese nightmares; and at linebacker, where youngster Garnet Smith has earned a starting spot ("He's doing good," Brown said of his soph SAM 'backer. "He's talented and he gets there fast and he'll hit you when he gets there.") but where the other freshmen and sophomores are still battling for PT.

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