Texas Practice Report

I attended the two hour Texas practice tonight. There was a lot of youth and fresh faces out there, particularly at wide receiver and in the secondary. There is experience in key positions though, like linebacker and the O-Line. Here are some observations.

Make no mistake about it, Colt McCoy is the man. He showed great touch on the deep ball and displayed leadership skills when yelling at freshmen receivers for giving up on their routes. There is still some work to be done on the intermediate passing routes, but he has complete command of this offense.

John Chiles still has some work to do in the passing game, but his skill at running the zone read continues to impress me. He has great ball skills and was able to keep the ball hidden from defenders extremely well, and his agility and feel for improvisation was impressive on a couple long runs. He also lined up at wide receiver on several occasions, one of which he ended up motioning into the backfield with McCoy.

Sherrod Harris has to be one of the better third string quarterbacks in the nation. If he was forced into action for any reason, there wouldn't be too much reason for panic. Harris looked sharp on the intermediate routes. He doesn't have the arm strength McCoy does, but he definitely plays with enough confidence to run the offense.

Running Backs & Offensive Line
It was hard to get a read on the offensive line since there wasn't much contact, which also meant the running backs weren't going to be absorbing much contact. Redshirt freshman Fozzy Whittaker did manage to show off his low center of gravity though by refusing to go all the way down in some of his scrimmage runs. He did get blown up by Sergio Kindle on a blitz though, so I'm guessing you'll see Chris Ogbonnaya most of the time in passing situations. Ogbonnaya took the majority of the snaps with the first team offense by the way.

Wide Receivers
Quan Cosby is most definitely the go-to target on this team. He was by far the most confident route runner and most consistent pass catcher tonight. Jordan Shipley will be the #2 guy.

After those two it looks like the depth chart is wide open. Sophomore James Kirkendoll got first crack as the third receiver, but redshirt freshman Malcolm Williams was the most impressive of the group. He has great size and displayed excellent soft hands and should develop into a very good receiver. Sophomore Brandon Collins got several key reps as well.

Sophomore tight end Blaine Irby also gave hope that there won't be much of a drop off after losing Jermichael Finley early to the NFL draft.

The only surprise here is that redshirt freshman Keenan Robinson (#1) was taking all the snaps with the first team defense. Rashad Bobino and Roddrick Muckelroy were the other two starting linebackers, which left Sergio Kindle and Jared Norton - two impressive prospects - working with the second team defense. This is probably part of the reason the second team defense destroyed the second team offense during the short scrimmage session.

This unit seemed to get the most work during tonight's practice. They worked on a number of different zone and man coverage schemes in an effort to learn Will Muschamp's new defense. The cornerbacks (particularly Ryan Palmer) looked noticeably smaller than the Texas DB's of the recent past.

The safeties seem to be in a state of flux at the moment. Redshirt freshman Earl Thomas and true freshman Blake Gideon seemed to be getting the majority of the first team snaps with redshirt freshman Christian Scott coming in as the nickel back. Scott passes the "eye test" and was one of the more impressive performers in the practice session. He also delivered the biggest hit of the night. He's one to keep an eye on this season.

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