Coaches talk scrimmage, standout players

Notes from interviews with offensive coordinator Greg Davis and defensive coordinator Will Muschamp.

* Pleased with Wednesday's scrimmage

Both coaches said they were pleased with the results of Wednesday's scrimmage, though Davis joked about evaluating the team against each other.

For instance, the Texas defense failed to generate any turnovers in the scrimmage. Davis wondered aloud whether that was that an indication of great offensive play, or is it an indictment on defense?

* Defensive standouts

"I think the biggest emphasis we have right now is consistency in performance," Muschamp said.

Muschamp said the defense saw production from each position in the scrimmage. On the defensive line, he singled out ends Sam Acho, Reggie Wilson, Jackson Jeffcoat, Dravannti Johnson and Eddie Jones. He pointed to Keenan Robinson and Emmanuel Acho in the linebacking corps, with Robinson leading the scrimmage in tackles.

"All of our linebackers, I thought, did a nice job," Muschamp said. "In the secondary we did a nice job covering down."

* On Randall

Muschamp credited junior defensive tackle Kheeston Randall with taking the steps to become a top defensive tackle, working on everything from quickness, pad level and get-off to changing his body.

Muschamp also said that while Randall was a great person off the field, he demonstrated a mean streak on it. But he called Randall a "top-notch" person, and said it was interesting how those sorts of qualities often caused players to be successful on the field as well.

* Ahead of the pack

Davis said that, looking back, the Alabama game was huge in the development of Garrett Gilbert and his confidence. Starting in the spring, Davis said he could see a difference in Gilbert, and it has continued to carry over.

Davis said that freshmen taking redshirts often failed to prepare themselves as if they were going to play, leading to an adjustment period after the redshirt season ended. Colt McCoy had one of the few great redshirt seasons, he said, putting McCoy ahead of most second-year players.

Davis said Gilbert was also ahead of most second-year players because of his experience. That has led to excellent performances so far in scrimmages, with Davis lauding Gilbert's ability to hit the check down receiver while not relying too much on his considerable arm strength. Chris Simms had similar arm strength, Davis said.

"(Gilbert) can spin the ball," Davis said.

* The big three

Texas is working with three primary running backs in Tre' Newton, Fozzy Whittaker and Cody Johnson. Davis said each brought something different, with Johnson joining the mix as an every down back. That was a challenge the coaches posed to Johnson before the season started, to make himself an every down back.

Davis said Johnson worked hard to trim his weight to 247 before camp, and added that the bruising junior now weighs around 245. But more importantly, he's dropped key body fat, meaning he's more agile and equipped to carry the ball more times per game. Davis said Johnson also had soft hands out of the backfield.

Traylon Shead is spending time as the fourth running back, and received a high number of carries in the scrimmage. Davis said Chris Whaley was enjoying his time at H-back, where Whaley believes he has a bright future.

* Double that at receiver

Davis said Texas typically liked to field a six wide receiver rotation, with three players rotating in the slot -- the most important position according to Davis -- and three rotating on the outside.

John Chiles, Marquise Goodwin and Mike Davis are currently working in the slot, with James Kirkendoll rotating between receiver positions. Malcolm Williams and Darius White are the other two receivers on the outside. Additionally, Davis said Texas liked to employ a seventh receiver who could bounce between the positions, and said that DeSean Hales was performing well in that role. Additionally, Texas was working on a package with D.J. Monroe, though Davis said the Longhorns had to disguise those plays better than a year ago.

Davis said he wasn't sure that any of the receivers would have near a 100-catch season since the group was so balanced. But he said that four receivers could top 50 catches this next year.

Horns Digest Top Stories