On Monday, the Texas Longhorns held their first scrimmage of fall camp. For the first time, head coach Mack Brown and his staff decided to split it up, having the special teams work separately in the morning for roughly an hour and a half, and then working the rest of the team in the evening, running roughly 100 plays and focusing on personnel and redzone work, with the kickers attempting a handful of field goals.
Here are some notes on what happened:
- According to Brown, "no one was hurt badly" during the scrimmage, a good sign for anyone who spent the early afternoon fretting about the health of starting right tackle Josh Cochran after news broke that he had suffered some type of leg injury on Monday night.
- There were, however, a handful of players who were not able to go during the scrimmage -- Anthony Fera, the new kicker from Penn State who aggravated a previous groin injury last week, junior defensive tackle Ashton Dorsey (who will practice today), junior linebacker Demarco Cobbs (will also practice today), freshman defensive tackle Alex Norman, and freshman defensive lineman Hassan Ridgeway (hamstring). Senior Marquise Goodwin also did not participate as the coaches cautiously work him back into football shape, with Brown also citing the heat as a factor. It seems that Goodwin was also dinged a bit over the weekend.
- Obviously, there needs to be some discussion of the quarterbacks. The good news is that the only turnover came on a ball that was tipped by a tight end and intercepted. There were no other interceptions other than that one, so clearly both quarterbacks are doing a better job of inculcating the teachings of co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin, who wants them to first protect the football, and then after that deliver the ball with accuracy.
- Is there any separation between the quarterbacks? Most scrimmage reports had Davis Ash as slightly better, as opponent Case McCoy is still struggling to work the intermediate game to the outside because of his arm strength, despite the fact that he physically got stronger. Brown played coy as usual, but the allocation of first-team snaps in practice (65/35 Ash), along with what happened in the spring, and this tweet from former Daily Texan writer Trey Scott, indicate that Ash may be ahead, even if Brown isn't willing to say so publicly. The way that Brown was talking on Tuesday, though, there's basically no separation. If there was, would he admit it? That is probably open for debate at this point.
- There were multiple reports that Ash used some good ball-handling on a fake on a boot that allowed him an easy completion when the defense got sucked in to the run. Sounds like Peyton Manning would be proud of that one.
- Overall, however, every report has the defense dominating most of the scrimmage, with neither Ash nor McCoy able to get vertical much in the passing game, though it seems that was not the emphasis on Monday.
- The team only ran the Wildcat formation twice and neither play worked, but it's still early in the installation stage for that personnel grouping. Brown said that it if isn't working, they won't use it. But it seems hard to believe that freshman running back Johnathan Gray won't show a knack for it when he gets more opportunities.
- Sophomore Malcolm Brown was the best running back and scored what would have been a touchdown on a pass to the flat after breaking two touchdowns, but Ash was ruled as sacked on the play. Head coach Brown cited running back Brown for improving in pass protection/blitz pick up.
- Gray wasn't really singled out by his coach, but there were reports that he flashed at times in the scrimmage, which is good since Brown said he received the most reps of the running backs.
- There were no passing touchdowns, but the offense did well in the redzone against a stout defense, which is a good sign for a team that has struggled terribly inside the opponent 20 for each of the last two seasons. The offense converted three of four opportunities there.
- Doesn't sound like it was a good day for the receiving corps, but sophomore John Harris did stand out as a blocker, as expected.
- The tight ends dropped a handful of passes, though former defensive lineman Greg Daniels is coming along well there even though he's only 13 practices and the scrimmage there. He missed the spring with a shoulder injury. Can someone page MJ McFarland and ask him to step up?
- Redshirt freshman offensive tackle Garrett Greenlea got some work with the second team, although the first tackle off the bench will probably be senior Luke Poehlmann, who received some significant praise from his head coach.
- In the absence of Cobbs, there were some breakdowns at the linebacker level that Brown wants cleaned up, but sophomore linebacker Steve Edmond had some collisions. Those collisions were most likely painful for the recipient.
- Brown said that sophomore cornerback Leroy Scott flashed for the first time in fall camp. Scott had been playing safety for his first year in the program, but made the switch to corner this fall after playing there in high school.
- The freshmen overall did not have a strong day. Sounds like some growing pains happened there. Brown expected them to come out and have a much better practice on Tuesday evening.
- Brown has been impressed with the strong legs of both Nick Rose and Nick Jordan, the two incoming kickers.