Texas Longhorns head coach Charlie Strong met with the media on Wednesday evening to provide updates on the team after the fourth of 15 spring practices.
Here are the high points of the press conference:
-- Despite positive reports from recruits about the intensity of Saturday's practice, Strong thought his team "went through the motions" a little bit. Given the recruit video that showed linebacker Tim Cole and tight end Blake Whiteley mixing it up, it's clear that Strong has an extremely high standard for his team in that area. In a positive sign, though, Strong was more pleased with the practices on Monday and Wednesday, the latter of which included some goal line and short-yardage work.
-- Emphasis on protecting the football for the quarterbacks, but Strong said that redshirt freshman Jerrod Heard is improving every day. Junior quarterback Tyrone Swoopes "is a lot better football player" than he was at the end of last season. Of course, Strong admitted that it's yet to be determined just how much better Swoopes is right now. Strong estimated his weight at 250 to 255 pounds right now (he's listed at 243).
-- Strong called junior wide receiver Jacorey Warrick the most consistent player at the position. On one notable play Wednesday, Warrick caught a third-down pass, made three or four defenders miss, and scored a touchdown. With sophomore Armanti Foreman battling through consistent injury setbacks, Warrick's emergence could help him secure a starting role in the slot on the post-spring depth chart.
-- Sophomore Dorian Leonard also received praise from Strong for his consistency. Known as a talker, Leonard brings a lot of energy to practice every day and comes out with a smile on his face. in contrast, Strong has to challenge seniors Marcus Johnson and Daje Johnson to show him something because they have more low-key personalities.
-- Strong wasn't happy with the defense because the offense dominated in the goal-line work to start practice and then let it impact them the rest of practice. Separating off blocks is a particular point of emphasis for that unit, though Strong wasn't willing to say that the offense is clearly ahead of the defense at this time.
-- The offense's tempo is causing problems for the defense, which is getting worn down by the fourth play in a series and allowing the running backs and quarterbacks to find some open seams. "It's been fun and it's been exciting to watch," Strong said. However, installation of the entire offense might not be complete by the end of spring practice, a notable comment since Strong previously described the changes as "tweaks" instead of a wholesale overhaul.
-- The starting linebackers right now are seniors Peter Jinkens and Dalton Santos right now, with redshirt freshman Edwin Freeman and junior Tim Cole working as the back ups. Freeman drew the most praise for his athleticism, explosiveness, and ability to come out of his hips to run through tackles. Still not big enough to play in the middle, Freeman will play outside.
-- At tight end, sophomore Andrew Beck is still competing with sophomore Blake Whiteley. Beck drew praise for this athleticism, while Whiteley is still working to improve at the point of attack, but is good in the open field at making defenders miss, so he could have a versatile role in the offense.
-- Redshirt freshman Duke Catalon was described as a slasher who can get on the edge, but he can also get behind his pads and run over linebackers in tackling drills.
-- Storng confirmed that early enrollee Malik Jefferson is still working as a Fox end because it allows the coaches to move him around and disrupt offenses, while still possessing the athleticism to drop in coverage.
-- Along the defensive line, senior Shiro Davis is the biggest surprise, while junior Bryce Cottrell has taken advantage of more opportunities to step forward. Sophomore defensive tackle Poona Ford is quiet, but Strong said that every time he looks up, Ford is making a play.