Receiver Jones' acrobatics highlight second open practice for Longhorns

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


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Malcolm Brown (Texas Sports Photography)

It was a better day at the office Saturday for QB David Ash following his previous day’s spotty performance, as Texas capped its second week of spring football at DKR.  It obviously helped to have WR Mike Davis back in action, and Jaxon Shipley was his usual, Velcro-hands self.  But the Horns may have found another legitimate, deep ball threat.

What’s more, he wears No. 4.  Sophomore Caleb Jones (listed at 6-3, 211 pounds) does not quite fit Roy Williams’ profile, and that may not be a bad thing.

It seems that for every physics-defying grab, Williams also played as if he was afraid to break a nail or hurt a DB’s feelings.  Jones made the highlight reel receptions during Texas’ two ‘open practices’ this weekend that will remind many of a young Roy Williams.  But where Jones seems to be ahead of Williams at this stage in his career - and certainly light years ahead of where Jones was last season – are in the intangibles best described as moxie, confidence and bravado.  When that ball is lofted into the brisk breeze, it’s as if an internal voice is activated inside Jones’ helmet that insists ‘My ball! Mine!’  He’ll make the adjustments on the route, and he’ll elevate, and he’ll get separation from the DB, and the partisan crowd sequestered in the north end zone roars its approval and…

…and it’s just spring football. To be sure, there have been those who could have earned first team All-Spring Training honors during the Mack Brown era (DeSean Hales and Barrett Matthews come to mind) only to toil in relative obscurity when it counts.  So, let’s put an asterisk next to Caleb Jones.  For now, the latest No. 4 looks legit.

Early on, the DE’s worked on collapsing the pocket and then on tipped-ball drills. At the same time, the DTs ran through a series of drills emphasizing footwork, balance, hand placement and gap control. Meanwhile, the linebackers focused on dropping back into coverage. Offensively, Friday’s focus on the zone read shifted to an emphases on a perimeter rushing and passing attack.

Jones came up with the day’s most acrobatic catches in one-on-ones as well as seven-on-sevens.  Third-year WR John Harris has proven dependable the past two days, while sophomore Kendall Sanders’ star is on the rise.  Collectively, Longhorn wideouts compensated for Friday’s across-the-board erratic outings from all of Texas’ QBs.  (For the record, even Shipley had a rare drop Friday when the passing game was hit-or-miss).

Ash was much more poised Saturday and backup Connor Brewer was notably more efficient than Friday’s dazed-and-confused performance. It was about what you’d expect from Case McCoy (he’s pinpoint one play before tossing a WTF throw the next).

Seven-on-seven drills emphasized goal-line situations.  First snap, Ash’s perfectly placed ball from a five-wide set found WR Bryant Jackson streaking across the back of the end zone. Ash then failed to connect with Davis on a fade but, next snap, Sanders made the snag on the same play.  CB Duke Thomas had a couple of nice PBUs when it was McCoy’s turn to run the goal line offense with the twos.

Ash rolled right on the first snap of 11-and-11s and found Shipley just beyond the pylon for a TD toss.

S Adrian Phillips chalked one up for the defense with his PBU on Ash’s next attempt.  The defense added a feather to their caps by stuffing a ‘zone read’ run but, next snap, Jonathan Gray bounced outside for a good 20 yards. (Note:  it’s been a helluva fine two days for J-Gray).

Brewer did a nice job directing the threes, but the drive ended poorly with Nick Rose’s missed FG attempt from about 36 yards out.

Ash immediately went up top on a post route and hit paydirt after Davis who put the moves on sophomore DB Kevin Vaccaro.  Gray added another 11 yards off RT before the defense shut down the ‘zone read’ on the next snap. RB Joe Bergeron rumbled for eight yards but, next play, his collision with LB Steve Edmond was of such magnitude that Bergeron remained sprawled on the turf for nearly one minute while Whaley clearly was seeing double. Play continued while both Bergeron and Whaley collected themselves.

The play seemed to galvanize the defense.  S Kendall Thompson made a teeth-jarring stop of Gray for no gain. DE Bruce Cottrell was credited with a sack of QB Tyrone Swoopes.  The defense also held Daje Johnson to a minimal gain off a reverse. 

Malcolm Brown got the last word when he bounced outside left tackle and scored from 20 yards out, becoming his own blocker once inside the five.

The first half of Longhorn spring drills concludes Friday when the university begins spring break.  

 

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