Let’s begin with the position that has most Longhorn fans choosing sides like Capulet vs. Montague or Hatfield and McCoy, no pun intended. The Asset tells us that Garret Gilbert had a solid day tossing the rock against the Longhorns’ young secondary. The real news however, shines an uncomfortable light on the second slot of the QB depth chart. The Asset tells us that David Ash had a fantastic day in both drill and team work.
In drill work, Harsin asks his charges to literally throw to a bull’s eye and Ash was stellar compared to the other two.
In team work, Ash was clearly better than McCoy and at least as good as Garrett Gilbert. When I asked The Asset to be more specific he said the following, "Based on every measurable-- arm strength, pre-snap calls, accuracy, plays with his feet, he was superior to McCoy and has been for the most part this month. In fact, if Gilbert falters or goes down with an injury, it’s hard to envision Ash not getting the starter’s nod if this camp and especially this practice is any indication. I can’t see him redshirting barring injury. He’s that good."
What’s wrong with McCoy?
"McCoy can check into the right play, but if it’s a question of execution, he either needs to guess right and catch the defense, or he has to have the receiver make a superior play to bail him out. If not, he’s throwing bad interceptions or throwing it into the turf."
Let's just say it wasn't a good day for the current backup QB.
As for the running backs, Whitaker, Brown, and Bergeron split carries with the ones today. Brown and Bergeron are the bruisers who move piles and find hidden yards. Fozzy seems to be the change of pace back who can get behind the big OL and get lost right before he pops out of nowhere for yards. Quentin Griffin comes to mind. But the real story is Bergeron and Brown as hammers running behind this revamped Oline. We haven’t seen a pair like this on the 40 acres for a while.
Cody Johnson had a great day at fullback as a threat catching the ball out of the backfield. Harsinwhite loves his hands and he’ll be used to keep defenses honest. They hit him on a nice wheel route down the field today which should give opposing teams nightmares. Johnson has also done yeoman’s work to become a credible lead blocker. He knows where his NFL bread is buttered that's for sure--it's obvious Cody's in a contract year. Jamison Berryhill knocked some heads today as well and did some nice things in the running game.
At wide receiver, Mike Davis and Jaxson Shipley put on a show in team work today. Harris, White, and Onyegbule got some ancillary run, but today it was all about Ship and Davis.
It was a quiet day at TE. Actually it was an ugly day, as The Asset tells us the group didn’t do much in the passing game, but struggled executing their assignments in the run game. Harsin was pissed, and rightfully so. The tight end position in Harsin's scheme that includes so much motion has to be good or the jig is up before it can get started. Credit some great individual efforts by Brown, Bergeron and Fozzy to find some running room or make something out of nothing at times, but the tight ends have to be better.
On the Oline the star of the day was, who else, Trey Hopkins. He held his own battling Okafor, who Manny Diaz thinks is a Sunday-type of defensive end. Hopkins is the only OT that can hang with Okafor at this point. The disappointment of the day was Dom Espinosa. He struggled with Randall a bit, and Desmond Jackson gave him fits in pass pro. More on that later. Allen, Snow, and Walters round out the starting Oline group. When Allen was left on an island with Jeffcoat and especially Reggie Wilson, he was beaten more times than not.
On the defensive line, Randall remains the most important player on the team. He’s unblockable one on one. He frees up so much along the Dline as long as his motor is running. Getting him some rest will be key in September and October. The other DT Calvin Howell made some plays in the backfield today but he is not as consistent as he needs to be. Desmond Jackson had a giant day in pass rush, getting a few clean escapes that would have been easy sacks in team situations. The kid has found his niche to be sure.
At linebacker The Asset says ho-hum. The top four linebackers Hicks, Acho, Robinson, and Cobbs had rock solid performances individually and as a unit. In fact we ran mostly base 4-3 today. This will be a tough group to slow down once the lights come on. Their talent is on display virtually every practice.
In the secondary, it was Vaccaro and Gideon deep, with Byndom and Diggs at the corner. Phillips got most of the snaps, however, because he played in all the nickel looks and subbed in liberally with Diggs and Byndom in base. Phillips may be the best player in the secondary because he’s versatile, great in coverage, and a physical force in the run game. Texas can go nickel and is still able to compete in the box with Vaccaro, Gideon, and Phillips out there.
Overall, The Asset tells us the team is upbeat and ready to go to battle against Rice. Chemistry is markedly better than it was this time last year, and the boys have a little swagger based on a desire to prove all of the pundits wrong. To say this team has a chip on its shoulder as compared to last season would be an understatement. Hopefully we can keep that going throughout the week and into game day.
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s report. Hook ‘Em!