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Texas HC Charlie Strong recaps Longhorns spring practice

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The Longhorns are at the halfway point of spring practice after completing the eighth workout on Monday.

Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Following Saturday's scrimmage, Texas Longhorns head coach Charlie Strong shared insights on his team with less than two weeks remaining until the annual Orange-White game closes spring practice on April 18.

-- The Longhorns ran about 120 plays in Saturday's scrimmage, which featured the first-team offense taking the ball up and down the field for scores. Since the Horns are without multiple prospective starters at each level of the defense and given the offensive changes, that's probably a heartening development -- it would be much worse to hear that the depleted defense was getting the best of an offense that is close to full strength. However, Strong characterized Monday's practice as "sluggish" following the weekend break for Easter.

-- Strong on redshirt freshman quarterback Jerrod Heard: "With Jerrod, he's still getting better. What you like about him is that he competes. You watch him today, he went out there and made some really good throws. He just needs to develop and continue to be consistent -- it's all about consistency with him right now. And just continue to pick up the offense, he's a guy if the play breaks down, he can run away from you, but we'd like for him sometimes to sit in there and just make a throw to see if he can make them."

-- Since junior quarterback Tyrone Swoopes took all the first-team reps in Monday's practice, as he did during the opening spring practice, one beat writer wondered if Heard was working with the first team at all. Strong said that both would receive equal reps during the spring and did confirm that Heard spent some time with the starters during the first eight practices.

-- Swoopes has been "consistent and doing what we ask him to do," though Strong wants both quarterbacks ready to play by the time the season starts.

-- Senior offensive guard Sedrick Flowers didn't practice on Monday -- the school described him as one of the limited players entering spring practice -- so junior college transfer Brandon Hodges worked with the first team offensive line at left guard. Expected to compete for the starting left tackle position, Hodges has instead worked at guard and at this time looks unlikely to play tackle at Texas.

-- The starting offensive line from left to right on Monday went Marcus Hutchins-Brandon Hodges-Taylor Doyle-Kent Perkins-Connor Williams, though Strong said that the team is still mixing and matching some players there, mostly at the tackle position since junior college transfer Tristan Nickelson works with the ones at times.

-- Sophomore running back D'Onta Foreman drew praise from Strong as an emerging player this spring after breaking off a long run during Saturday's scirmmage:

-- Strong also mentioned sophomore wide receiver Dorian Leonard again as a player doing a lot of good things. Leonard wasn't completely healthy on Monday, as Strong mentioned that he would have come down with some catches against sophomore cornerback Antwuan Davis otherwise. Sophomore wide receiver Lorenzo Joe drew some praise as well on offense. Defensively, Strong likes what he's seen from redshirt freshman nickel back John Bonney and sophomore defensive tackle Poona Ford, who worked some with the first team on Monday just so the coaches could see how he responds.

-- The Longhorns continue to add some different looks to the offense by installing new plays.

-- Early enrollee linebacker Malik Jefferson started out at the Fox position in opening practice, but when the team goes to a four-down look, Jefferson plays inside because Strong wants to get a look at him in there with the injury to senior linebacker Dalton Santos. Strong praised the instincts of Jefferson and said he picked the position up quickly, even though Jefferson's high school position was much closer to the way Strong and his staff use the Fox end.

-- Senior wide receiver Marcus Johnson hasn't received much praise from Strong this spring, but the head coach called him the standout at wide receiver during Saturday's scrimmage and said he's been good during spring practice, as has senior Daje Johnson, even though Johnson didn't take any first-team reps on Monday.

-- At linebacker, redshirt freshman Edwin Freeman is battling junior Tim Cole, who is having a good spring, according to Strong. When the team uses four defensive linemen, the two linebackers on the field are smaller guys because defending spread offenses doesn't require a thumper there.

-- Strong said that wide receivers coach Jay Norvell and tight ends/special teams coach Jeff Traylor have been great fits so far because they've come in with good ideas and no egos. On the other side of the ball, defensive line coach Brick Haley is still learning the defense since there aren't going to be major changes there.

-- Redshirt freshman Duke Catalon is an every-down back because he's explosive, but he can also get physical with linebackers, as Strong recounted a previous story about Catalon running over a linebacker in practice during a drill. The all-around skills of Catalon could help him find a significant role in 2015 because Strong said that his soft hands make him a reliable target in the passing game and his ability to pick up blitzes would allow him to play on third down.