Texas would benefit tremendously from sights like this more consistently from Mike Davis in 2012. (Photo by Erich Schlegel/Getty Images)
With practice reports out and Mack Brown's press conference from yesterday to continue to parse, there's plenty to talk about.
The resurrection of Mike Davis? Late last season, the Texas quarterbacks needed Davis to step up and take more of the load with Jaxon Shipley injured. Instead, it was Marquise Goodwin who emerged in the receiving corps, if anyone, and Davis spent his time dropping passes.
So he one of those players worth watching this spring to see if he could climb of his fall funk.
A Hookem247 source on Mike Davis:
"He's a completely different person on the practice field right now," the source said. "His energy level was different. He was engaged more. He was even engaged when he wasn't the one taking reps. I always thought he was a guy who did his job in practice, but it was just different today. It's hard to put in words, but I guess you could say there was a maturity there and he had good body language. I think he and (receivers coach Darrell) Wyatt are on the same page."
The formerly discontent wide receiver also received praise from Mack Brown during the presser:
Mike Davis has had a great offseason, for instance. He is back full speed ahead and doing great. I thought he got discouraged some in the fall, but he's really doing everything right. So we are going to be older at wide receiver and more experienced, along with the quarterbacks and that will help a lot, too.
It's interesting to note that the question Brown was asked referenced Davis Ash, so the reference to Davis was not spurred by anyone else. Brown probably had that comment on the list of things he wanted to interject during the press conference. Whatever his motivation though, the key point here is that the Texas career of Mike Davis is no longer teetering on the edge.
Whether he can actually fulfill the potential that his freshman seasonteased remains to be seen, of course, and is not a question that can be answered with one day of engagement at practice, but the early returns are positive, at least.
Talking quarterbacks. There's no avoiding talking about the quarterback situation, though Brown did his best to avoid naming David Ash a starter on Thursday and actually spent quite a bit of time dissembling on the matter and talking about the need for two quarterbacks:
We don't care who walks out first at any position today. You really need two quarterbacks. Everybody talks about the guy and the star. We have... had the guy and the star, and then he gets hurt, he's sick and we lose a game. So we have really got to put an emphasis on being two-deep and making sure that we improve in that area.
Blah, blah, blah.
After taking every snap during the Holiday Bowl, at the least this is David Ash's job to lose, for better or worse. I opt to believe for the better there, but the jury is obviously still out on him after his true freshman season.
Here's the report ($) out from the first day of practice on the likely 2012 starter, David Ash:
He was head-and-shoulders the best QB today. He played with confidence, he had some zip on the ball.
He had a pass play up the seam to Barrett Matthews where he looked off the safety then turned and just put it in there perfectly. You can't beat that throw.
It's just a snapshot, but it sounds like the type of play that shows evidence of the upside that Ash has -- he just needs to reach a higher level of consistency to maximize that upside and completely destroy any debate about who the starting quarterback at Texas should be.
But will it happen? That's one of the major questions of the spring.
Garrett Porter sighting? One of Hookem's sources reported that Garrett Porter worked some with the ones at center on the first day of practice. He also drew mention from Mack Brown during his press conference Thursday:
One guy I will mention that had one of the highest grades in the offseason program was [OL] Garrett Porter. He has done a tremendous job, and he was nearly excellent. So hopefully he'll be a guy that can step up now and get more playing time and do better for us in the spring than he's been able to do in his first couple of years. He's very smart, and he's a guy that hopefully will get into that mix.
Like Mike Davis, Porter was a guy who was at a crossroads in his Texas career, but if he could push Espinosa for the starting job, it certainly wouldn't hurt to have some quality depth there at center. If Porter can handle big guys lined up right in front of his facemask, than that's one fewer question that the coaches have to rely on Espinosa to answer. Always nice to have some margin for error with your depth, which the Longhorns didn't really have last spring.
More Diamond formation? More diamond formation. Last season, co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin experimented a little bit with the three-running back look relatively early, then moved away from it when the injuries started to hit. With so much talent in the backfield in 2012, it only makes sense to at least use Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron together, but it looks like Texas may include DJ Monroe as well, or possibly even Johnathan Gray when he arrives in the fall.
The practice reports indicate that the 'Horns are at least experimenting with the look this spring:
As for the running backs, Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron saw the most action, and the Horns even had them both playing simultaneously in what the Texas coaches call the "pod" formation, where the quarterback is in the pistol, with a running back behind him and another flanked on both sides of the QB.
I'm going to stick with calling it the Diamond, personally.
Spring and football and have not gone together before with Marquise Goodwin. Given his track obligation, it's not exactly easy to get Goodwin on the practice field, especially during the spring. But for the first time since he's been at Texas, the long-jumping star while participate on what appears to be a limited basis, according to Brown:
For the first time this year, Marquise will be involved some in our drills. We don't want to hurt his chances to get to the Olympics, but he's going to run at least some seven-on-sevens and pass/skilltype stuff.
What happens next fall in regards to his possible participation in the Olympics remain to be seen, but any time that he can spend developing trust and rapport with David Ash (and, obligatorily, the other Texas quarterbacks) is a good sign for Goodwin continuing his late-season emergence when he does make it onto the football field in 2012.
More Duke Thomas love. Despite his inexperience at the position, virtually every report out of offseason workouts has had early enrollee Duke Thomas as one of the spring's pleasant surprises. That continued on Thursday:
There was a play where Jaxon beat him off the line and had him by about two steps. But what he did was he closed extremely fast and they couldn't get the ball in there. He got beat off the line because he lacks technique right now, but everyone's raving about him.
The 'Horns likely won't need him to play a large role in 2012, but it's possible that Carrington Byndom could jump early to the NFL (though probably unlikely), so Thomas may provide some quality insurance earlier than expected. Not a bad development considering that Thomas wasn't even on the radar when he was invited to Texas JD1 just more than a year ago and committed on the spot.
Mack on avoiding a JUCO quarterback. Many Texas fans were upset when Bo Wallace cancelled his visit to Texas after it appeared that the 'Horns might pursue the JUCO record-breaking signal-caller, but opted out of his recruitment instead. Brown described why the staff made that decision:
You can get too many quarterbacks and we thought unless we found somebody that we knew 100% was a whole lot better than what we had, that what you do is you make what was a really confusing position last year more confusing again. We feel like that the guys that we have got and the guys coming in will be good enough, and we wanted to show confidence in them and move forward. I think one of the diseases out there in college football - and if we are not careful, we get into it as coaches - the unknown guys are better than the knowns, and that's really a dangerous thing.
Not everyone will buy that, but the thought here is that it was the right decision.
Quick hitters. Brown mentioned that he wants to find two players to run the Wildcat this fall to prepare in case of injury, as happened last season with Fozzy Whittaker...Wide receiver Miles Onyaybule is gaining weight quickly and could make the move to H-back in the fall because he is about 230 pounds and could be on his way to getting to 250 quickly...With the lack of depth at defensive end as a result of Jackson Jeffcoat's injury, Chris Whaley will play there some in addition to defensive tackle...Greg Daniels will stay at tight end when he gets healthy, but won't participate this spring...John Harris still not ready yet, but the coaches are hopeful he will be available at some point before spring practice ends...Ricky Williams is going to get his own statue next to the Tyler Rose.