Apr 1, 2012; Austin, TX, USA; Texas Longhorns quarterback David Ash (right) hands the ball off to running back Jeremy Hills (5) during the second half of the spring game at Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brendan Maloney-US PRESSWIRE
My favorite part of every spring is the crowd. Why cheer for a long TD, when it's your own defense getting sliced up, and then stay quiet when Jordan Hicks takes on a lineman and a fullback and still makes a TFL? Why get so happy for long punt returns against what basically amounts to a DIII team? Kills me every time. Anyway, don't read too much into anything and you'll be OK. The game looks a lot different when you aren't playing a defense than knows all your calls already.
With that in mind, here are some short thoughts that I thought while watching:QB - Ash is the man now, but isn't totally ready yet. Texas probably won't waste much time on Case McCoy moving forward, Brewer is Kellen Moore 2 and needs to be pushed from day 1. If Ash gets the job done, try to redshirt him, if not, Brewer needs to be the next option. He's legitimately exciting as a prospect.
RB - Joe Bergeron runs angry, like old Nebraska tailbacks used to. Lets hope he doesn't take it out on his girlfriend, like old Nebraska tailbacks used to. Congrats to Jeremy Hills, he stuck it out and deserves your respect. He's not as smooth or strong as Johnathan Gray as a runner, but if Gray redshirts and Hills is your RB3 for a year, are you complaining? Can't imagine Gray redshirting, however.
TE - M.J. McFarland, Grant, and Terrell will give Texas what they need. McFarland looks the part but is a passive blocker. Grant is active in the run game and will probably start because of it. The two of them will give Texas a solid TE position, but Harsin will still probably have to be deliberate with blocking assignments. Terrell looks leaps and bounds better than he did last year, which I believe was his first as a TE.
WR - As a group, still not good enough. Outside of Jaxon Shipley, nobody is a strong enough route runner to help out the QBs in any meaningful way. Mike Davis seems to have no passion whatsoever about catching the football. McCoy's pick in the endzone was a bad decision and bad throw (and good coverage on both routes), but Davis didn't even make an effort on the ball. Josh Turner's INT was also in front of him. He's a good player, but is he a starter? Maybe he's tired of having to go get the ball in the first place. I'd be surprised if a freshman or two didn't play here. Congrats to DeSean Hales for becoming a football player. DJ Monroe continues to be faster than everybody.
OL - Interior had ups and downs, but played more solidly than they did last year. The DL made plenty of plays in the backfield, but that's just as much about how good they are than anything. The first team offense ran very well, but protection was still an issue, mostly from the offense's right side. Donald Hawkins will be good at LT, he's as big and athletic as advertised, but Josh Cochran will be a question mark until the fall. He will have issues controlling the stronger DEs in the league.
DL - Brandon Moore is a beast, but will need to learn to be a beast every down. The Internet says he's not in shape yet, but a month of practices will get you there pretty quick. He's probably not used to needing to put in the effort every down. I still expect him and Ashton Dorsey to start in the middle and be wildly effective come September. Alex Okafor is a joke, how do you even get that athletic and tall? Cedric Reed certainly looks the part, and should calm any depth fears you might have at DE.
LB - Took some bad angles which led to big runs, but made plays behind the LOS, Hicks mostly. He made the aforementioned play on the power, and had success blitzing. one of the long runs was his fault, getting trapped inside, but he looks like the best LB at the moment. Demarco Cobbs, Steve Edmond and Jackson all looked good, but didn't have a chance to do much. Cobbs looks like a blend of Keenan Robinson and Von Miller, in terms of football responsibility. Go cover, come blitz.
DB - Josh Turner would start on almost any other team in the country. He is not only good, but standout good. Carrington Byndom plays like a poor mans' Derrell Revis. He's an expert and keeping leverage and anticipation, but doesn't have Revis' quickness or strength (but who does?) yet. Manny Diaz deserves some credit with his schemes, he's allowed the corners to play aggressively without worrying about getting roasted every play Leroy Scott and Michael (my white brain can't remember the correct spelling) Thompson aren't ready yet, but Scott is getting there. He's not as fast as I thought. Duke Thomas got Mossed on a fade into the end zone, but had good position and timed his jump well. He makes that play in a year.
K/P - Will Russ killed it as punter. He might have averaged 55 a kick, even with most kicks into the wind.
Returners - whatever. You know Texas can beat Trinity now.
I try not to make any grand assumptions based on an hour of practice, as I didn't see the other 16 before it, and don't have access to play sheets or film. Some things, however, are evident, and others jive well with what we already know and have heard.
The important thing is that Texas appears to have long term solutions where there are areas of weakness. How far along those youngsters are in the fall will determine how far along this team gets into the post season. I could see 10 wins and I could see 8, but gun to my head I say 10-2, with a real chance at glory in '13 and '14.