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