Texas reached the virtual midpoint of its spring football drills _ seven practices down, eight to go _ with Thursday’s closed scrimmage, which coaches began dissecting during film studies this morning.
Coach Mack Brown described the scrimmage session, in which the Longhorns used Big 12 game officials, as “an evaluation scrimmage” in which players would be judged on effort, attitude, toughness, body language, swagger and confidence. There was no game planning in advance of the scrimmage, Brown said, and no special teams involvement other than field goal attempts.
So, who stood out?
“It’s really hard to say,” Brown said. “Each coach had an individual goal to evaluate his players in as simple a manner as we can.”
The point, said Brown, was for each player to “show your coaches how you would respond” under pressure. Players spent much of the time working on short-yardage and scoring situations: goal-line plays, short-yardage plays, third-down situations and field-goal situations.
“It was turn it loose except on the quarterbacks,” Brown said. “We didn’t hit them. I thought the guys got after each other really well.”
Asked what pleased him most about the scrimmage, Brown said: “The effort. The attitude. We got tougher as the scrimmage went on. We’ve got to get better at the two lines of scrimmage. We’ve got to run the ball better and we’ve got to stop the run better.”
Brown indicated that the first seven practices were primarily about teaching new offensive and defensive systems to the players and that critical player evaluations would be more in evidence when the team returns for its final eight practices after spring break.
Texas is off next week, with the Longhorns’ final eight practices held between March 21 and the team’s spring game, April 3 in Austin (2 p.m., ESPN).
What issues will Brown address after spring break?
“We want to continue to develop, especially the two lines of scrimmage. We’re young at corner,” said Brown, whose top three cornerbacks from the 2010 season (Aaron Williams, Curtis Brown, Chykie Brown) are projected to be selected in the 2011 NFL Draft. “We’ve got to find some corners to step up and play well. We’ve got to continue to work at getting the quarterbacks comfortable enough with the offense that we can make a fair evaluation of them to try and separate those guys.”
As things stand, Texas’ quarterback competition is open and involves four players: incumbent Garrett Gilbert, sophomore Case McCoy, redshirt freshman Connor Wood and 2011 signee David Ash, who enrolled in January. Gilbert, a junior, is the only player who has thrown a pass in a college game. But he struggled last year in his first season as a starter, finishing with more interceptions (17) than TD passes (10).
_ Jimmy Burch