The themes for the Texas Longhorns on offense since Major Applewhite took over as playcaller have been tempo and speed, areas of emphasis that are intertwined.
Since the defense will have to face that tempo in practice, just as it does during the season with the proliferation of no-huddle spread offenses both around the country and having been entrenched for some time in the Big 12, two Texas middle linebackers have dropped weight this offseason.
In the opening remarks of his press conference, Brown called this offseason the best of the last four years, saying that the team is stronger, faster, and more confident after spending over a month with the strength and conditioning staff following the win over Oregon State in the Alamo Bowl.
Later, Brown mentioned sophomore Dalton Santos and junior Steve Edmond as players who have made advancements with their conditioning. While Brown didn't give a specific weight for Edmond, he did say that Santos is down more than 20 pounds, dropping from 256 last season to 235 now.
Santos looked like he was on the way to becoming a Longhorn cult hero because of his early play on special teams, but that all died down as the number of big hits decreased and the true freshman looked lost at times himself when playing middle linebacker.
For Edmond, this spring is the most important stretch of his career as there's an increasing sense among Texas fans and those who cover the team that he could be better served by playing another position -- he's not far off from being a defensive tackle and Chip Brown of Orangebloods believes that he could play tight end because of his hands.
It's questionable whether his instincts and ability to play quickly can return or develop, but losing some weight could help him play faster. Since Edmond is always going to be a jumbo linebacker, he has to give himself an edge both in conditioning and reading plays quickly.
And though it was just an aside, Edmond may be making strides in the former.
The open practices may provide some glimpses of how well both players are moving, but it won't be until the spring game that it becomes apparent if there is any overall improvement in their respective games.