Coach Brown working on team toughness. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
The first week of the 2012 Texas Longhorns fall camp has come and gone. So far so good according to most every report provided. Coach Brown will provide a review of how camp has progressed so far, some news on dings and bumps, and how the freshman have initially responded to the rigors of camp.
Regarding the latter, there is clearly separation and it pretty much falls along the recruiting ranking lines. Our highly recruited running back will not, repeat, will not redshirt. His talent is too well know, and obvious, to sit a year. He won't start but expect him in some brainiac Harsin schemes currently in Area 51 development. Beyond that, two to three other freshman skill set players have made the reports. Both the highly-touted receivers Kendall Sanders and Cayleb Jones are said to have the right stuff. They have made some acrobatic plays during the first week (ie. one handers, high-point leaps, diving back shoulders, etc.). They are tall, agile, and have superior hands.
Wyatt is really doing a nice job with the entire receiving group. These freshman are making the upperclassmen work that much harder and giving our preseason all-star DB group fits. Lastly, a person that will make his mark know early and loud is Daje (Da-Jay) Johnson. To a person, according to reports, he has what they call good football burst. His giddy-up is turning heads, his explosive first few steps are creating a real buzz, and his ability to get north-south off the edge has got Applewhite licking his chops. In other words, he is every bit the hypotenuse to Gray's Euclidian terrorism. I hope he continues to fly under the radar and sneaks up on many of our opponents.
The obvious areas of concern going in are still the hot topics. At quarterback, Bellmont continues to report a neck-and-neck struggle to separate between David Ash and Case McCoy. The position really is David's to lose and through all Sunday evening he was fairing pretty good at that. But reports late Sunday, and then again last night after the initial scrimmage, revealed that Ash appears to have made a considerable leap in taking the reins having shown good decision making instead of forcing a play. Inside reports reveal that McCoy is still gambling, pressing, and making too many mistakes. These are the intellectual intangibles that will wind up being the difference in the coaches decisions. And this is what they are referring to in speaking about the need for a "game manager".
The other hot topic area that I'll briefly touch on is the offensive line. Again we see where under the tutelage of All-World strength and conditioning coach Bennie Wylie our guys have taken a big step. There is no bad weight evidenced at all among any of the players best I can tell. They look stronger, leaner, more agile, and hungry. Searels has got the starting five in good shape (Hawkins, Hopkins, Espinosa, Walters, and Cochran) with the big question mark of Espinosa's build no longer that. He looks like he belongs. But that does not necessarily mean that the center position is locked down with reports that Espinosa has had his struggles in the blocking game. This is one of those situations which is hard to judge down line given we're talking about him blocking all-conference type players in practice. I'll withhold judgement. In the mean time, Coach Searels has the guys playing different positions to work through possible platoon options as the situation may warrant during the season. And yes, that mean the likes of Walters and even Flowers, playing some at center.
As for freshman, we've got playmakers up and down the roster. I'm not going to attempt a prediction of who Mack highlights during his press conference but all you have to do is look to the stars for the names. There really is no magic dust to this at this point in their short tenures.
A note on special teams. Alex King has a BIG TIME leg and youthful Nick Jordan does as well if his practice kickoffs are any indication. Diggs is getting the early look at punt return receiving. Also, true freshman Daje Johnson has been getting a look at kickoff return along with Thompson, who if you recall smoked our walk-on kickoff team in the spring game for a kickoff touchdown return.
Don't expect any details of the injury list as he will not release a name unless Kenny Boyd declares one season ending. But, there are a few to note her outside of the highly publicized transfer Penn State kicker Anthony Fera.
Freshman quarterback Connor Brewer is suffering from a twisted ankle as he was seen limping/favoring the leg during Saturday morning's live practice show on the Longhorn Network. He refuses to sideline himself claiming it is not a worry as the kid is competing and wants as many reps he can muster prior to an all but certain red shirt season. I appreciate the guile and says a whole lot about his character.
Ashton Dorsey was another player of note that was absent from Saturday practice. His injury was not revealed but back on the practice field Sunday he was seen wearing an obvious large wrap around his left wrist. That was not keeping him out of drills as Coach Davis was working our big D-Line as hard as ever.
The other, and larger news, was the absence of assumed starting linebacker Demarco Cobbs. It was reported late last night that he was held out of Sunday's team practice due to a lower leg injury. He, too, like Brewer wanted desperately to show he could play through the pain but trainers urged caution and the coaches acquiesced sidelining him for the evening session.
And what of David Ash hamstring injury worry? More scare than reality as there has been zero news reported on any lingering consequences of the tweaked muscle. That is great news, imo.
What is is refreshing to hear is how all of these guys want desperately to show they can play through pain, something that Mack Brown challenged his team with during the offseason. The team toughness factor increases with each positive report as these.
BONUS NOTE: A couple of names I'll throw out there who are really separating. Steve Edmond is said to be a very special player. No less evidenced when he and Mean Joe B locked horns in last evening's practice. The thunder clap was said to have been heard clear to the top of section 101. On offense, the one-hundred-and-eighty degree turnaround in Mike Davis is getting a lot of street noise. His energy, want-to, finish, and self-critique is said to be intoxicating and infectious. Here are two young leaders stepping forward to assume the mantel.
Finally, a note on how the team looks. AWESOME! These guys are in shape, cut, and electric. They appear to all be working hard. I'm sure the grind is tough on focus but that is what coaches are for. Call me impressed.
T-minus 18 days until football at DKR.
Join us here for live presser action.