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These scrimmages come every year and they are always a tease for football season. Nothing compares to game days in Austin with the food, drinks, music, friends, football, and all the pretty ladies dressed up in burnt orange Longhorn gear. But football season is still months away, and right now the Texas team is in annual process of organizing their depth chart and working to improve on last year's campaign. Below are my thoughts and reactions from Today's scrimmage. Keep in mind, it was a scrimmage. I know we all love dissecting each and every player, but remember these players are all working on certain aspects of their game and it's still just a scrimmage. Let's jump in. -Hurry Up - The first drive Texas had was entirely in hurry-up, which is what Major Applewhite wants to implement more of next season. During this drive, the offense was clicking and the ball was moving until it go into the red-zone and stalled out, forcing the squad to kick a field goal. But during the drive, two things stood out to me. David Ash was connecting with his receivers and Jonathan gray picked up right where he left off and ripped off a few nice runs. I'm a fan of the hurry-up being used at different points during a game and like that Applewhite is using this in his offense. -David Ash - I'm sure almost every person in attendance was keen on watching David Ash this evening. On the first drive he looked good connecting with different receivers on a handful of short throws. He did have a couple of misfires, like his shovel pass that was intercepted by Jordan Hicks. But he looked comfortable, was in control of the offense, scored through the air, and had accurate passes to a number of different receivers. The physical ability is there, but whether or not he can compose himself and show consistency through out and entire game and season is still a question mark. But he is the unquestioned starter heading into the fall and it's nice to finally be able to say that again regarding the Longhorn football team. -Jonathan Gray - Gray had a scrimmage to remember. He reminded everyone why he was highly touted coming out of high school and was making guys miss. You can definitely tell that he is more comfortable with the speed of play and that he is seeing holes easier. I also was impressed with his burst through the creases in the line, his success to get to the second and third levels, and his ability to make guys miss. He was the best running back on the field today and easily can be the best in the fall. -Malcolm Brown (RB) - I'm a big Malcolm Brown fan because of how physical he is when he runs. He doesn't have the body of a bruiser like Joe Bergeron, but that doesn't keep him running over and bouncing off people. But with the emergence of Jonathan Gray, it will be interesting to see where Brown fits in. I really would be disappointed if he decides to transfer (I'm not hearing that he will so don't start that rumor from me) because he can be productive for Texas in the fall. Having him and Gray is a luxury because both of those guys can be effective in any situation during the game. And it also gives Texas the advantage of having fresh legs and talented depth in case there is an injury. Tonight he ran well when he had opportunities and if he can avoid the injury bug that seems to always nip at him at some point during the season, then he could also be an impact player during the season. -Daje Johnson - Getting Daje the ball in creative ways should be a focus during the off-season. If you know me, then you know how much I harped about the lack of touches D.J. Monroe and Marquis Goodwin received during their tenure on the 40-acres. Daje isn't an every down back, but guys with that type of speed can completely change games. And each time he touches the ball, he has a chance to break it open and take it to the house. He did pretty well tonight with the few plays he saw on offense, and showcased his speed on a long kick return. Hopefully Major will utilize Daje much more than Harsin did with Daje, D.J. and Marquis. -Joe Bergeron - He's still a bruiser who gives Texas another option in the backfield when the situation calls for a power running game. He too only had a handful of snaps tonight, but he did what he always does and ran over a few players. -Mike Davis - You may not find another person as happy as I am to have Mike Davis back. Tonight he showed off the moves, speed, and skills to be the best receiver on the team and in the Big 12. Of course I think the same about Jaxon Shipley. But having Davis back gives Texas a legit downfield threat. Yes, he has had some drop problems in the past. But if he can avoid some of those miscues then he could win an award or two at the end of the season. -M.J. McFarland - On the first drive, McFarland was the starting tight end out there with the squad and he actually saw a few passes come his way. I'd love to see McFarland emerge onto the scene as a consistent option for Ash to go each game. Having a tight end as a weapon in the passing game would give the offense another element and give Ash a lifeline if he gets in trouble. I'm also a Greg Daniels fan, but McFarland was the best tight end on the field tonight. -Duke Thomas - Coming into the scrimmage I wasn't aware Duke had made the switch to receiver. I actually thought he would be seeing a good amount of playing time at corner. I was wrong, but he still saw playing time at the WR position and he looked good. He caught every ball that hit his hands and showcased nice quickness. With Cayleb Jones out of the picture right now as the 3rd wide-out, the position is open and Duke looked good in the slot tonight. It will be interesting to see how much PT he gets in the fall. -John Harris - As I just stated, with Cayleb Jones out of the picture for now the 3rd receiver spot is open for the taking. The soon to be Junior, Harris, is a guy I've been wanting to emerge ever since he walked on campus. At 6'3", he has great size for the position and he was a talented receiver coming out of high school. He saw a lot of action tonight and even scored a touchdown with one of the squads. I'd be happy to see him be a bigger factor in the offense come August. -Case McCoy - I do not see any plus to having Case McCoy as the team's backup. The only logic I see behind it is the fact that he has a lot of game experience. But he does not have a strong arm and misfired on a number of passes tonight (though he did have a nice toss down the sideline to a streaking receiver). But he's a senior who isn't getting any better. And if I were coach then I'd want one of my younger guys to be getting more reps and developing. -Tyrone Swoopes - WOW! Swoopes looked much further along in his development than I was expecting. He didn't throw all that much but he looked much more comfortable in the pocket than I was anticipating and showed off his elusiveness and running ability on a number of different plays. There's one specifically where he escaped the pursuit of Jordan Hicks and Peter Jinkens, reversed field and then had a nice gain down the sideline for what l remember to be about 10-15 yards. Though he often gets compared to Vince Young, he is nothing like VY other than the fact he can run. But doesn't glide like VY did and doesn't shy away from contact at all, which I also wasn't expecting. I still want to see more of his passing ability before I get ahead of myself with him, but he's flying up the depth chart and may not be red-shirted after all. -Connor Brewer - I see Brewer transferring. He's fourth on the depth chart but could probably start at a number of schools. He has a nice arm and threw some nice passes tonight. But he really didn't get that much playing time and if he wants to play in football games in college it likely won't be at Texas. Jalen Overstreet - GET HIM ON THE FIELD! Overstreet also didn't throw too many passes tonight but the dude has blazing speed. He escaped out of the pocket and raced down the sideline for what looked like a 40-yard gain. Like Brewer, Overstreet is stuck at the bottom of the depth chart right now. But whether it's in a wildcat package or at a different positon, Overstreet needs to get on the field. His speed is something that needs to be utilized, and right now I'm afraid he will get lost on the team like Sherrod Harris and John Chiles were. -Defense - As a unit, they played pretty well but it's always tough to really gauge the defense in these scrimmages. I was glad to see Jordan Hicks back out there getting reps. And Malcolm Brown (DT) was running with the starters, which I'm all for. Sheoid Evans is another guy who stood out to me because he didn't see much playing time last season but he saw a good amount of reps at cornerback. I did also notice that Adrian Phillips was playing the safety position close to the line where Kenny Vaccaro played much of last season, while Josh Turner and Mykelle Thompson were still the 2 deep safeties. Those three guys have to elevate their play if the defense wants to see improvements. That and stopping the run consistently has to be improved upon for this defense to get back to where it needs to be. -Nick Rose - One of my biggest question marks for this offseason is finding a reliable kicker. Nick Rose was the man who saw a lot of reps during the scrimmage with kickoff and field goal duties, so he seems to be leading that competition. Though accuracy is the concern, there's no question Rose has a very strong leg. He was killing it on kick offs. All he needs to improve on is his accuracy and he could be a solid option. Final Thoughts By the time the scrimmage was over, I felt good about the team. It's hard to really asses the team during these scrimmages because they are just that, a scrimmage. The players know one another, know mannerisms, and are all in the middle of working on specific aspects of their game. I will say that I didn't walk away thinking Texas had gotten any worse. But the questions still remain... Can David Ash show consistency in games and during a full season? Can the offensive line be more of a dominant force? Can the defense play at a high level again? Can Texas find a reliable kicker for field goals? The way those 4 questions are answered in the fall will determine Texas' season. At the scrimmage, the 2013 season was flashed onto the jumbo tron and it reminded me that the Longhorns don't have a tough schedule. 10 wins is very doable, and that should be the goal and expectation of the 2013 football season. But until the season starts, I'll be counting down the seconds to kick off much like many of us will. Hook'em
Mack took to the podium to give a rundown on where things stand after the scrimmage that took place last night. There was a ton of discussion about yep, you guessed it, the quarterbacks. Some of the mentions from Mack (not necessarily verbatim): It is time to gain continuity on offense. We have been doing this for over a year now and it is time. The defense is still ahead of the offense in terms of progress but the differential is nowhere near as great as it was last season. The Tight ends are not getting the job done. First team defense looked really good in the scrimmage last night. Nick Jordan and Ben Pruitt would be the guys to kick if Anthony Fera is not ready to go. There is still no timetable on his return. Quandre Diggs and Jaxon Shipley will be the punt return guys. Quandre Diggs, Goodwin, Monroe and the usual suspects will be the kick return guys. We probably will not use Jaxon as a kick returned to save him for his role as a wide receiver. When asked if the qb situation has paid off the way he wanted it to, Mack said "I think so. If we had to do it again we would do the same thing. With both guys competing and throwing it has only mad the team stronger." The only stat that matters is winning the game. Tight ends are blocking better now but they dropped a lot of passes last night. There were no substantial injuries last night. Brown maintained that there has not been enough separation between either guy (Ash or McCoy) thus far to name a starter. He expects there to be in the 3 weeks left before the Wyoming game. On leadership/communication he said David Ash is much better than he was last year and Case McCoy takes after his brother Colt in that department.