When the sun rises orange

While it may be 45 days until we finally start the season, it's only 18 days until the Horns hit the field for fall practice.

The ESPN blog has now noted that Texas starts practice on Monday, August 4. Some Big 12 teams will start as early as Aug. 31, all will get after it by Aug. 5.

The MB-TF site has yet to release a schedule, times or how many practices the public can attend.

The last two years only two practices have been open to the public.

This came about because of an injury to a player (Jordon Shipley) which was released via some fan's cell phones before the UT staff could notify Shipley's parents. This caused the staff some embarrassment and resulted in a ban on cell phones, later modified to just turn them off, and fewer practices became available to the public.

I hated to see those restrictions, especially with what are obviously dedicated Longhorn fans. On the other hand, I know Shipley's parents. Bob would actually arrange Burnet practices so he could see a couple of practices each year and I've sat with him and his wife a couple of times; that was always entertaining and informative. But no one wants to hear about their kid being injured from the radio or TV. All these parents have such high expectations that it creates a lot of emotional turmoil.

That being said, watching practice is an invaluable tool for assessing talent and how these kids stack up with each other and the relative depth of the program. The first day, usually in helmets, shoulder pads and shorts, everyone's legs are fresh and they're so full of oats and rarin' to go.  Later in the week, when they don full uniforms, that will change to a certain degree.

Until the announcement, we won't know what days are available; usually this only occurs during the first week. I'd love to see one of the later practices where the action is more serious.

If you've never been, it's one of the easier things to do.

The practices are at Denius Field; 26th and Red River and there's plenty of free parking available across the street in the Perry Castaneda lot and there's even security guards who will stop traffic just so you, the esteemed Longhorn fan, can cross the street unimpeded in your quest. A pretty young lady will give you a sheet with the names and numbers of the players separated into orange and white sections for offense and defense and point out about cell phones if there's no larger warning.

There are bleachers on the west side in the shade, a berm on the north and east side in the sun but with a higher perspective, but you'll have to stand if you got to the upper field. There's water available and, unfortunately, the ever present traffic on IH35. As the players change stations and move, so do part of the crowd keeping up with specific units or players. The punters and returners will be on the lower field, but sometimes it's just walk-ons shagging punts, although Aaron Lewis did it last year - and did damn well despite being much larger than the others.

Because the shell passing drills are on the lower field, the always animated Duane Akina will be on full display. You'll get to make good assessments on the throwing skills of the QBs at this point. Without DBs, the receivers catch 90% plus, but as they add DBs and then the LBs that will drop towards 50-60% and Akina will heat up like a boiling pot, whether instructing or applauding. I'm eager to see Muschamp in this particular environment.

Plus there's the obligatory TV and radio filming interviewing for the first day reports in what is usually somewhat of a reunion/carnival atmosphere. The crowd can cheer and interact all they want as long as they don't interfere. And you must be heads up for overthrown or tipped passes, especially in the bleachers. You're just a few yards from the field, so that is a live situation.

There's always a great sense of camaraderie, and this event absolutely verifies that football is finally here.

If the weather should crap out, the players will go inside the covered field where's there's little room for fans, so take that into consideration.


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