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Texas Longhorns spring football: Coordinator availability, scrimmage notes

The Longhorns held their first scrimmage of the spring on Thursday.

Brendan Maloney-US PRESSWIRE

The Texas Longhorns are now off for spring break after having completed the eighth practice of the spring session.

Coordinators Major Applewhite and Manny Diaz both spoke with the media after the scrimmage, but didn't get into great detail about the specifics. Head coach Mack Brown did a little bit more on Friday. Here are some notes from those availabilities and some other notes from the scrimmage.

-- Mack Brown said Friday at the introductory press conference for Patrick Suddes that he'll have a report on injured Texas linebacker Tevin Jackson by some time in the afternoon. Jackson hurt his shoulder in a Tuesday collision.

-- Nick Jordan and Nick Rose are now neck-and-neck for the starting kicker position, even though Jordan worked with the ones last weekend. Both missed one field goal on Thursday and Brown set they will rep the kickers more heavily in the second half of spring practice.

-- Brown also indicated that Anthony Fera is working with the punters in part because of need, but also because he's not fully recovered from his groin/hip issue now six or more months removed from the initial injury. The hope is that he can get back to kicking field goals this summer.

-- Brown also noted that the quarterbacks received some contact on Thursday, which is rare for Texas in the spring:

We've had very physical practices. We are continuing to work on our tackling in space, because that's what this league has become. It's very difficult, even to a point that we thudded the young quarterbacks yesterday, and first time we have ever done that. So first time they actually had contact on them along with a full scrimmage on everybody else. We felt like it was a very, very physical scrimmage.

One picture shows Tyrone Swoopes delivering a stiff arm to the facemask of Dalton Santos. Another shows Ash headed into the endzone on a quarterback draw, the same play that worked so well in the second half against Oregon State and a play that will most likely be the staple of the quarterback run game in 2013. Brown also said that Ash ran for a 14-yard gain on a zone read. His best throw of practice seems to have been on a third and long scramble where he found Mike Davis for a big gain that nearly scored, a play that Brown called a "fantastic throw."

-- Johnathan Gray also scored at least one touchdown. Josh Turner was late on both

-- Applewhite indicated that David Ash still has not thrown an interception in live work throughout the first half of spring practice, an impressive feat, even though expectations are much higher for him than they were last spring, when his ability to protect the football was big and important news. As Applewhite pointed out though, that's a minimum expectation for the junior:

Where I want to improve is on our third down passing game and our red zone, being situationally aware and knowing what your answers are.

-- In the zero sum game of spring practice, Brown is happy that the offense didn't turn the ball over on Thursday, but unhappy that the defense didn't force a turnover:

I'm really happy that the offense did not have a turnover yesterday. I'm really mad that the defense didn't turn something over. So you go into one meeting and brag on them, and you go into the other meeting and jump on them, that's just the way it is for special teams.

-- The transition to the faster tempo hasn't been flawless for the offense. In fact, there are some things that the team has to clean up over the second half of spring, said Applewhite:

There are just a few things and it is everything as simple as getting the substitutions called. The kids coming onto the field [need to say], "This is a new personnel grouping. We are in red now, we aren't in blue," and just communicating so people can hear. Sometimes you are just so caught up in what you've got to do and executing your sign, that you are not relaying that information. It is all the way from that to simply handing the ball to the referee. That is something that is very big to us. If we are trying to go fast, most of those officials aren't good athletes, so you need to hand them the ball so they can spot it and we can go again. There are a lot of little things that we've got to focus on and work on to get better and faster.

-- Wide receiver Marcus Johnson made some plays on Thursday, according to Applewhite, though the other two young receivers are also making plays. Kendall Sanders was named by Brown as an emerging player and Cayleb Jones flashed on Saturday. The key, says Applewhite, is to become more consistent.

-- From the gallery, it appears that Jake Raulerson received at least one rep with the second team at center

-- Diaz has been impressed with the work of safety Adrian Phillips, who has emerged with the type of play that everyone expected from him last fall:

The first thing that stands out is Adrian Phillips is playing at a different level. What you are seeing with him is you are seeing the senior-year urgency. That's been important because somebody had to take the leadership void that [Kenny] Vaccaro left back there. You see it in his play, the way he works, in the weight room - everything he has done since we got back in January has been at full speed and a high level. That's been very encouraging.

-- Brown also singled out Carrington Byndom as a guy who has been playing with a lot of physicality.

-- There hasn't been a lot of talk about cornerback Leroy Scott since last spring, when he intercepted a pass from Case McCoy in the spring game, but he made two appearances in the gallery from the scrimmage, one time on a tackle of big tight end Greg Daniels and another breaking up a pass intended for a diving Kendall Sanders.

-- The players who have really emerged on defense are Sheroid Evans, participating in his first full spring without track, and Duke Thomas, who earned a spot in the rotation last fall:

Both [Sheroid Evans and Duke Thomas] are improving. I think Sheroid has made a move this week. He made some nice plays out there tonight. That's important because we have to have those guys to survive in this league. Both of those guys are showing good things. And what they are showing, the most important thing, is toughness. Toughness, tackling, being physical players, not just being guys that can cover.

The toughness part is important for Evans, who has been known as a raw speed guy since he's been in college. It sounds like he may finally be getting close to seriously breaking into the rotation.