Zone read, up-tempo mindset mark first open practice for Longhorns

View Small TextView Normal TextView Large TextView Extra Large TextPrinter-Friendly Article

By Bill Frisbie, Inside Texas Lead Writer
Posted Mar 2, 2013
Copyright © 2014 InsideTexas.com


News Image
QB David Ash hands off to RB Malcolm Brown (Texas Sports Photography)

The zone read and up-tempo offenses were the themes at Texas’ first open practice of the 2013 spring football season Friday.  It was a nondescript passing afternoon for QB David Ash, who worked primarily with young receivers, but Longhorn RBs ran with enough abandon that defensive coordinator Manny Diaz threw his hat on a couple of occasions.

 

Initially, DT Malcom Brown and freshman QB Tyrone Swoopes pass the eyeball test.  Brown has beefed-up during the off-season and Swoopes is a specimen.  He’s got a cannon of an arm, but his accuracy is about what you’d expect for an early enrollee.  Swoopes took snaps with the threes during 11-on-11s later in practice.

Meanwhile, MLB Dalton Santos worked with the Ones (alongside fellow ‘backers Peter Jenkins and Tevin Jackson).   Steve Edmond started every regular season game in 2012 and did enough to land a spot on the Honorable Mention All-Big 12.  But Santos has worked with the ones all week, according to reports, and the middle linebacker spot may be his to lose.  Edmond has been known to bring the lumber one play and then take the next one off.   (In fact, Edmond found himself on the receiving end of a Pat Culpepper tongue-lashing last year for that very reason when the former all-conference linebacker visited practice).

Edmond also struggled to shed blocks through the 2012 campaign.

Even so, DB coach Duane Akina was in Santos’ grill early in the session when the sophomore took the wrong pursuit angle.  DE coach Oscar Giles drilled his unit on defending the zone read, with emphases on assignments and shedding blocks. DT coach Bo Davis worked with his bunch on the opposite of the north end zone, focusing on hand placement and fighting through double-teams.

The team divided into three groups for one-on-one drills (toughness drills often referred to as Bull In The Ring).  The O-linemen won most of the early individual battles until DE Shiro Davis, on successive occasions, rocked TE JC-transfer Geoff Swaim (welcome to big time college football, Mister Swaim).  Moments later, O-lineman Mason Walters got leverage on Tevin Jackson, standing him up like a fence post and driving him back as teammates went ballistic.  The play was not blown dead until Jackson lost his helmet.

Eleven-on-eleven Red Zone ‘thud’ drills began with back-to-back Jonathan Gray TD runs, before DE Cedric Reed blew up a zone read attempt.  Next snap, Ash scored against the twos when he kept off the zone read.

QB Case McCoy worked with the twos but, early on, the first team defense came with a stunt and stuffed the zone read for a loss. 

RB Malcolm Brown ran untouched up the middle, resulting in Diaz’ first tossed hat of the afternoon.

A few snaps later, the defense recovered a loose ball when QB Jalen Overstreet and RB Joe Bergeron fumbled a zone read rush.  Next play, Swoopes scored on the zone read after DE Cedric Reed lost containment.

Next time Overstreet ran the offense, the RS-freshman threw behind the intended receiver on a slant.  He came right back with the same play on the opposite side of the field and, this time, it was a perfectly placed ball to Daje Johnson.  The successive plays are a current snapshot of Overstreet:  he has a rapid-fire release but is hit-or-miss in his accuracy.

Edmond did enjoy a solid afternoon dropping back in coverage.  He had a terrific goal line PBU against Daje Johnson on an otherwise solid toss from McCoy.  Next play, Akina lauded S Mykkele Thompson for his PBU against Jaxon Shipley inside the five (frankly, it appeared Thompson arrived early).  Not to be outdone, Santos later made a great play when dropping back in coverage and breaking-up a ball from Ash intended for Jonathan Gray.

Ash’s best ball of the day was a 25-yard completion to WR Kendall Sanders on a post.  He followed by finding WR Caleb Jones over the middle when linebacker Aaron Benson was completely lost in coverage.

The biggest hit of the afternoon belonged to DT Chris Whaley, stuffing a run for a loss of a couple.

DE Jackson Jeffcoat and linebacker Jordan Hicks spent much of the drills as partisan bystanders, allowing the youngsters to get the reps.  Vince Young was also in the house.

Bottom line:  little can be concluded from the first half of spring ball but you can see where a program is trending.  For now, it won’t be the level of play at quarterback nor the defense that elevates this team in 2013, but you should a much nastier, deeper offensive line and punishing ground game.

Saturday’s open practice is slated for 2 p.m. (CST) at DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium.

 

New to Inside Texas?