Brown: Now Is Time For Horns To Establish Rank

Spring Break is over, so it's time for younger Texas football players to break from the pack, head coach <B>Mack Brown </b>said, in essence, when spring drills resumed Monday. Most of the first eight days of practice focused on teaching and adding new wrinkles on both sides of the ball -- all directed at the common goal of winning those elusive pair of games next fall on the heels on consecutive 11-2 campaigns.

Now, during the final stretch concluding with the March 29 Spring Game, individual athletes are vying for coveted playing time in Brown's rotation. As such, the snack, crackle, pop of full pads in a limited-contact section set the tone for the two-hour session at Frank Denius Field.

"We're looking at personnel; it's the most important thing during the last seven days of practice," Brown said. "We came out in pads today (when) we're normally in shorts but we wanted to get right back into it. Their attitude was good today. The defense was a little sharper than the offense after you take some time off. But the attitude of the group is really, really good."

Coaches particularly wanted to look at various combinations at linebacker, an area of ample assets now that last year's top-ranked recruiting class is infusing the middle with raw talent. Reed Boyd, Garnet Smith and Derrick Johnson (who likely will be wearing No. 60 before he graduates) are mainstays in the starting lineup, while Aaron Harris, Brian Robison, Marcus Myers and Aurmon Satchell, in various combinations at various spots, saw ample snaps before the final whistle.

"We think it's important to see who can play Sam, Will and Mike," Brown added. "If we've just got four that we feel can line up and play, we won't be able to play all three places. We juggled that group a little bit."

Converted LB Eric Hall will remain at FB despite the fact that Will Matthews and Albert Hardy were back in form.

"Even though he doesn't know what to do right now, that's a good move for the team," Brown said. "We're just looking at getting better and we're particularly looking at personnel on defense."

The other "big move" so far this spring is LB Mike Williams shift to DE.

"We're really pleased with that move after eight days," Brown said. "Those have been the two moves that have helped us the best."

The ten days off allowed all walking wounded who participated in spring drills from the start to return to practice except for SS Michael Huff, injured in the March 1 scrimmage.

"He's still got the sore ankle but everyone else practiced and that was real positive," Brown said.

Otherwise, the only other excused absence belonged to offensive coordinator Greg Davis. Davis called in sick, which meant associate head coach Darryl Drake called the plays.

"That's good," Brown said, "because that may come up some time in the future."

(Just before the OU game, perhaps?)

Practice resumes 4 p.m. Tuesday at Denius Field. The team will scrimmage at Royal-Memorial Stadium, 4 p.m. Thursday.

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