Here are some scattershots on the first open practice.
The day after Mack Brown's Mom died he went right back to work. The man is committed. He seemed a little subdued but former Longhorns Justin Blalock, Rod Wright, and Colt McCoy kept his spirits up.
It was odd to see Colt in street clothes and no Jordan Shipley carving up the secondary. The defense will still kick ass as a unit but there will be some games we miss Kindle and Houston in the front seven. Duh. I felt better about losing Earl Thomas after watching Christian Scott for about ten minutes. If Acho Ocho Uno lets him, Scott will lead the team in forced fumbles.
A legitimate attempt at a power running game has officially arrived on the 40 acres. You have all asked and our democratic coaching staff has listened. Change is here! Hopefulness! 80% of the snaps were under center with two tight ends, usually some combo of Barrett Matthews, Dominique Jones, and Greg Smith. Extra blocking surface Iahmard Harris-Howard also saw some action. They really spent some time on one particular play that saw Matthews or Jones go in motion and drop back in the I as lead blocker. The starting OL of Hix, Allen, Snow, Huey, and Mitchell looked much more physical at the point of attack, particularly in the middle behind Snow and Huey. Allen is an obvious upgrade over Tanner but he got lost on space on one play pulling around Hix until Christian Scott knifed through and sent Allen flying into the backfield on top of Vondrell McGee. 6'1", 215. That's a safety.
Scott was active throughout practice in the run game and also came up with the only pick of the day on Gilbert when he jumped a lazy route by one of our lazy receivers (Kirkendoll or Chiles). He also delivered a devastating hit in traffic that wiped the RBs name off his jersey so I couldn't see who it was that got his ass knocked out. Get used to this from #6.
Timmons looks great physically but didn't see many balls thrown his way. He has some extra motion in his stride that prevents him from quickly getting up to top speed. He attacks the ball in the air and uses his body well to shield the DB. Possession guy, imo.
Malcolm Williams had a typically solid practice. Great burst, catches everything, looks like a 10 yr NFL guy. Because it's practice, man. Practice.
DeSean Hales did some nice things in scrimmage work, leading the team with five catches, mainly on underneath routes and one deep corner route on Curtis Brown that Hales pulled in with one hand for a big gain. NFL throw from Gilbert. Hales also dropped three balls against air earlier in the scrimmage. Similar to Curtis Brown's slow development, I suspect Hales needs live reps to round into form. I also doubt either guy has gained more than five pounds since arriving at UT. They need a midnight date at Player's every Tuesday and Thursday.
Brock Fitzhenry saw a lot of reps with Goodwin out and they like him on reverses. So does Keenan Robinson. The Giddings dynamo has shed some weight and looked plenty fast in and out of his cuts. That said, if he's one of our top five receivers we're probably in trouble.
Kirkendoll now holds the mantle of best route runner with Shipley gone but he's prone to lapses in concentration and playing like a fag across the middle. He gator armed a short pass across the middle with Christian Scott in pursuit that led to a tipped ball and near pick. The book is out on #11 -- he'll post big numbers against shitty defenses and disappear against OU and Nebraska.
Walk-on Cade McCrary is the next Jeremy Nunez. Look out, Baylor! The upside potential is a poor man's Todd Blythe. The downside is a lifeguard at Shipe Park.
Is that all we have at WR? Good thing we have Garrett Gilbert chucking the rock. Hopefully Goodwin doesn't take off to Switerland to run hurdles or some shit.
The witchforce in Aaron Williams only grows stronger by the day. He could leave tomorrow for the NFL with a fake birth certificate and go first round, especially after Joe Haden crunked his way to a 4.57 40.
Chykie Brown looks like a first round pick but plays like a day two guy. The football smarts Earl Thomas possessed are precisely what Chykie lacks, preventing him from becoming a legit All American. Just hope the inevitable (pump fake) "Chykie, nooooooo!" happens against Colorado instead of OU.
Curtis Brown walks like a duck. I've been wanting to type that for years. So it's out there ... CB had two nice PBUs on quick outs to Kirkendoll that Curtis simply wanted more. We saw a lot of balls completed against #3 last year on comeback routes where he was slow to react and left a 7 yd cushion on the WR. If this practice was any indication (and it probably isn't) that number is down to 3 which is in the window for reacting and making a play on the ball. Hopefully more pick sixes.
Eryon Barnett is sporting the green non-contact jersey, which also apparently causes one to get lost in space on every play. The kid has a nice frame but it hasn't come on yet. It's awesome how much a random fan can tell about a guy from just one practice looking into the sun from 80 yards away! Nice frame though.
Kenny Vaccarro should just start training for MMA. I think it fits him better than a less violent sport like football. He's wearing a green jersey too but I don't think it's because he's injured. It's to protect our own players. Love him as a gunner after a pre-game cocktail of red bull and Doperbo's brand of legal meth.
Roberson looks like a fullback. He plays like a fullback. We play him at Linebacker. I guess there's not a huge difference as both positions are trained to hit people but I don't see the lateral quickness others do and he could be a liability against a good spread offense. Tariq Allen will light your ass up and when he hits the right guy it's a sight to watch. I would love to see him, Norton, and Robinson out there against power running teams we play twice a year.
Patrick Nkwopara got his ass lit up on three consecutive plays in the Texas Drill, which puts 3 OL and a RB against 3 DL/LBs in a tight space. 3 downs to get ten yards. The players and coaches get pretty fired up as it's smashmouth football at it's best. The offense surprisingly controlled the LOS for most of the drill and this was the one minute in the whole practice where Chris Whaley looked effective. (I have no doubt the kid will contribute to this team. In 2012. On kickoff coverage.)
Keenan Robinson was everywhere as usual and along with Eddie Jones will be the vocal leader of this defense. He knows where everyone should be and calls most of the pre-snap reads. Muschamp loves him for a reason -- the kid has a nose for the football.
I didn't get to watch these guys much during individual drills as they were camped out in the shady, colder north endzone. The main purpose of going to practice was to work on my Scottish tan, not to freeze my ass off watching Derek Johnson hump garbage cans in line stunting drills. But it's nice to see we have a big load inside that plays pissed off and likes to throw offensive linemen at running backs. Man Strength.
If Kheeston Randall and Calvin Howell can play low and clog their respective gaps, this DL will wreck shit. When they don't, bad things happen quickly. Tyrell Higgins might have more upside than I initially thought. Or maybe we just have coaches on defense that look for a way to maximize each player's talent. Anyway, we have good depth on the DL but it's young.
In fact, most of our depth is young across the board but the witch potential is strong in many of them. Huckleberry is working on a formula that perfectly correlates our odds of going to Pasadena with the coefficient of witchiness on any given team. Unfortunately, you'll have to wait until fall before he reveals our post-season destination. After watching one practice (arrived late, left early) I can safely say a BCS Bowl is a realistic goal.