The Texas Longhorns Spring Football season is slated to kickoff on Thursday, February 23, and conclude with the 2012 Texas Football Spring Jamboree presented by Time Warner Cable and annual Orange-White Game on Sunday, April 1. In between, two Longhorn practices will be open to the public - Friday, March 2, and Saturday, March 3. Both of those practices will start at 4 p.m. and take place in Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. The Orange-White Game is set to kickoff at 2 p.m. and will be broadcast live on the Longhorn Network. UT will take the field for warmups at approximately 1 p.m. on that day.
Last we heard from Coach Brown was praise of the staff and the 2012 signing class. Depending on which recruiting service you are partial to, Texas finished with arguably their strongest overall class in the last decade. Of course time will tell if the talent can be developed as that has clearly been the Achilles heel of the program the past several seasons especially on offense. We've seen flashes of what the talent can be but not the consistency necessary to climb back to championship level performance.
That consistency is what the staff will be focusing on this spring. It starts with repetition. Coach Harsin's bio suggests a rinse and repeat approach to dialing in schemes. We saw last season significant improvement in performance but untimely errors (turnovers and penalties) which thwarted the team's potential. This spring training gives the offensive staff time to work on all of the areas that led to those mistakes, but more importantly, define the requirements for not just earning playing minutes, but keeping them.
At least on paper, the Longhorns have set the table to field one of the best squads in the nation. Coming off a great performance in the Holiday Bowl ignited an offseason focused on a grand prize. Coach Diaz only lost four starters but the 2-deep played significantly in 2011. And Diaz is looking to significantly expand the depth of his bruising blitz schemes. The next 5 weeks will provide ample opportunity to further evolve his defensive brand.
Reports of another strong offseason conditioning program should have the returning players along with the early enrollees ready for take off. Coach Wylie has implemented a punishing conditioning final exam based on some of the Navy Seals famous Hell Week exercises tagged as County Fair. Don't know about you but the mention of Navy Seals and Texas Longhorn conditioning in the same sentence is very exciting especially in light of the criticism the program endured prior to Wylie's hiring.
Look for Mack Brown to congratulate those departing seniors invited to the NFL combine (Acho, Randall, Robinson, and Whittaker) and discuss any updates on attrition and players missing camp (Jeffcoat, Goodwin). He'll layout the schedule and reiterate the open practice and Spring Jamboree game dates. And don't exclude the possibility of sending a subtle message to the team affirming publicly the team leaders. There are several names that have surfaced (Vaccaro, Walters, Hicks, Cobbs) as these are the players mentioned in repeatedly as taking control of the team in the weight room, pushing their teammates and, when necessary, calling them out when underperforming. Of course there will be the proverbial journalist question of "when will we see a depth chart." Mack will kindly wink and nod like old Saint Nick but recuse any notion a forthcoming depth chart is imminent. Same song..same verse.
Like in previous seasons, we'll be posting articles on practice tidbits so be on the lookout.
We're off and running for the 2012 season. It's time to place another brick on the wall.