I know the eyes of Texas are in Houston, wondering whether Texas can stay with the basketball buzzsaw that is Memphis, but.... on the eve (well morning actually) of the Orange White Jamboree, I thought I would weigh in with a few comments about spring practice...
Since practices are closed, all most of us can see is what constututes highlights on the video clips on MB-TF. Lots of guys running around in shorts, whacking tackling dummies and foam pads, right?
I noticed a few things I didn't expect...
- Colt McCoy is on video throwing several deep balls that had nice, tight spirals and for which the receivers did not have to slow down, including one to Malcolm Williams that eerily reminded me of Colt's classic throws to Limas Sweed in 2006. Where were those throws last year?
- Jordan Shipley's speed is back.
- John Chiles' footwork as a passer is vastly improved. One particular play impressed me - He dropped back three steps out of the shotgun and looked to a deep receiver and pump-faked, then looked underneath and delivered a strike to the open shoulder of a tight end (not sure who it was) in close coverage. Say what you want about Greg Davis' playcalling, he is a good teacher of quarterbacks. I think the offense in general will be more aggressive next fall, with more Colt runs, because if he has an injury, Chiles is looking more and more like a viable option at quarterback.
- Fozzy Whitaker is scary quick out of the gun. If he can learn to pick up blitzers, he could be an exciting option as a change of pace and on third down.
- Brandon Collins and James Kirkendoll repeatedly get open with their quickness and positioning. I watched one play where Kirkendoll completely outquicked Deon Beasley to the inside, slipped, but used his hand to keep from falling and then stood up to catch the pass with his hands out away from his body. That's a big league play.
- Even on "highlight" completions by the offense, the DB's are right on the play virtually all the time. You don't see receivers in open space against the defense like we did for much of 2007. I think safety Ishie Oduegwu will have a tough time getting into the lineup next fall. I think the Horns are OK at safety.
Prediction for spring game. The defense is clearly ahead of the offense right now. The game should have few touchdowns, and little in the way of sustained drives. I expect a few big plays, such as a long pass to Williams or Kirkendoll, and no consistent running attack.