Despite some concern on the part of head coach Tom Herman and perhaps in part thanks to the best efforts of the staff, the Texas Longhorns survived spring break without incident and resumed practice on Monday.
The fourth practice of spring featured some rust and some gassed players, as expected following the nine days off since the Horns donned pads for the first time. However, Herman expressed satisfaction with his team’s mental makeup.
“I really like the effort level of this team,” Herman said. “They’re very professional. There’s not a lot of rah-rah, which is okay right now — we don’t need a whole lot of it, but there’s a lot of guys who are leading by example.”
One exception is junior quarterback Sam Ehlinger. Last season, Herman said, Ehlinger was mostly focused on himself and solidifying his role as the starting quarterback. Behind him, Shane Buechele wasn’t in a position to lead as the backup to Ehlinger. Now, that’s changing.
“I think he’s confident that his guys believe in his ability to play and now he can take that next step as a leader, which is mentoring some other guys,” Herman said.
Remaining with the quarterback position, Herman said he’s pleased with the work of redshirt freshman Casey Thompson, who moved from fourth to second on the depth chart with the departures of Buechele and Cameron Rising. The goal for the staff in the coming practices is to get Thompson some work with the first team because the second team often struggles with execution, from snaps going over the head of the quarterback to unblocked defenders shooting gaps.
As always, there were several injury updates. Redshirt freshman right tackle Christian Jones injured his ankle late in practice, but returned to drills. After taking a knee to his helmet, sophomore defensive back BJ Foster is undergoing evaluation.
Several players also returned to practice, including senior wide receivers Collin Johnson (knee) and Devin Duvernay (pubic bone), as well as sophomore cornerback Anthony Cook (hamstring). Those three players were all limited to individual work. Redshirt freshman nose tackle Keondre Coburn was also limited — Herman said that his blood levels are good, but the medical staff will continue testing him after each practice.