Inside Texas Photographer Will Gallagher's Photo Gallery
Also, for even more coverage from Saturday's spring scrimmage, see:
Spring Game Observations
Mason Walters is UT-Bound
Face-to-Face with Devon Kennard
Calvin Howell: 'Texas is No. 1 on the List'
JaMarcus McFarland Update
John Chiles led all rushers with 75 yards on nine carries (8.3 ypc) but was just 1-of-6 passing for 20 yards. Foswhitt Whittaker added 43 yards on eight totes. Safety Earl Thomas and WLB Roddrick Muckelroy each posted a days-best six tackles. Colt McCoy was 4-of-9 passing for 22 yards. Meanwhile, Texas may have found a punter. Sophomore walk-on John Gold contributed a pair of booming 46-yard punts on overcast afternoon.
Unlike previous spring scrimmages, the First-Team offense battled the First-Team defense. For what it's worth, the North team (First team offense, second team defense) was credited with a 14-10 decision. But keep an eraser handy. Brown intends to maintain his hard-line stance following the Texas A&M that opened all positions in the two-deep chart.
"We're not going to have a depth chart until (the home opener)," Brown said. "We learned between the Texas A&M game and the bowl game that guys need to understand every day that if you don't do your job you move back down. We don't think anybody earns the right to be a starter between now and next fall since they're not practicing. The players know that every day we're going to move them. They know that we're going to do whatever we need to do to win games. It's not a popularity contest. We're going to play the best players."
Even so, senior Chris Ogbonnaya opened at RB with the Ones, but sophomore Vondrell McGee stepped in the very next play.
"Chris has got the most experience," coach Mack Brown said. "He's been out there for two years as a third-down back. We know Chris can play. That's why he didn't play as much as the younger backs. I thought Vondrell did some really good things today."
Although he generally faced the second-team defense, Whittaker showed enough burst and shiftiness to indicate that Texas will have more than just a semblance of a running game this season.
"Fozzy has had a great spring," Brown continued. "He's looked really good. In fact, today was not Fozzy's best day after watching him throughout the spring. We're excited about him for the fall. But those three backs will still be competing in the fall to see who will step up."
Mushamp kept it simple but gave Horns fans a glimpse of things to come with multiple looks, late shifts, man defense and safety blitzes . Muschamp's DBs bit a couple of times on Jordan Shipley's and Quan Cosby's double-moves, but the young secondary flew to the ball and gang-tackled for most of the afternoon. Now, CB Ryan Palmer is the lone senior on a unit that replaces three starting DBs from what was the statistically worst pass defense in program history.
"It's going to be fun this season," Palmer predicted. "We're going to be a lock-up, press, man-to-man defense. It's going to challenge us, but we've got to step up to the plate."
Early enrollee Justin Tucker kicked things off with Ogbonnaya and Malcolm Williams in deep return. The Colt McCoy-led Orange team operated from its own 42 following Williams' 34-yard return up the right sideline.
The defense opened with a 4-2-5 look on the first snap from scrimmage with Ryan Palmer, Deon Beasley, Earl Thomas, Christian Scott, Blake Gideon in the secondary.
"It was based on personnel," Muschamp said. "If they go with three wides, we're going to match personnel and get the best people in the field. If they stay in a regular offense, or what I'd call a '21' or a '12' personnel, we're going to match personnel. There are going to be some situations, because of our strong corps of linebackers, that we'll leave the linebackers in the game. We're going to play the most productive guys. If it's four ends or four tackles, I don't know. We're going to look at the end of every practice and ask who are the most productive guys for Texas. I don't care what year they are or where they're from."
CB Deon Beasley came up with the first big defensive play of the day, a terrific PBU of a slant on McCoy's first attempt. A questionable pass interference penalty against Beasley sustained the drive before FL Jordan Shipley dashed for 29 yards on a reverse. McGee cashed-in one play later on first-and-goal from the one to cap a six-play, 58-yard drive.
A beefed-up Chiles -- the sophomore told me he now tips the scales at 215 -- took over on Texas' next offensive series and is, by far, Texas' best runner. His passing game, however, remains a work-in-progress. His early attempts included an overthrow ball, a short-armed toss on a swing route and a ball thrown behind his intended receiver (Then again, McCoy overthrew a wide open Jordan Shipley in the second quarter). The offense lost five yards on a poor exchange between Chiles and Whittaker, but Chiles got nine of it back on a QB draw. His third down toss was batted away by RS-freshman SLB Keenan Robinson (A Parade All-American from Plano East, Robinson would force the scrimmages only fumble late in the fourth quarter).
"My passing game is coming along," Chiles said, "but each day I've got to work harder and harder to become more accurate and more consistent. It's about technique and decision-making. Timing is a big thing to be on the same page as your receivers."
Texas' offensive line, youth and injury-riddled in 2007, has probably shown the greatest improvement in its pass protection. The Ones featured LT Tray Allen, LG Charlie Tanner, C Chris Hall, RG Cedric Dockery and RT Kyle Hix. (Note: starting RT Adam Ulatoski spent the spring rehabbing).
"Our offensive line has done a great job this spring of forming a pocket where I can step up and throw," QB Colt McCoy said. "Last year, we had some penetration. I had to run. I had to get out of there and scramble. I've really focused on staying in there."
But Orakpo would blow past Allen on bull rush to sack McCoy on a 3rd-and-11 play on the North team's next series. It would be the first of two sacks for Orakpo on the day.
Chiles orchestrated a scoring drive just before halftime. He collected 16 yards on a play-fake before tucking-and-running around left end. RS-freshman FB Cody Johnson checked-in as Texas went with the I-formation. Chiles scrambled out of a collapsing pocket and scrambled for 28 yards to the 19-yard line. From there, Whittaker carried for 13 off left tackle before darting untouched into the endzone to put the finishing touch on a six-play, 60-yard march.
The North (Second team) defense flexed its muscle to open the third quarter: DE Sam Acho held his ground when he sniffed out a revisers, throwing WR Brandon Collins for a six-yard loss.
Chiles got the White team moving on his next possession, avoiding a safety blitz and going down field to WR James Kirkendoll for 22 yards. Whittaker ran for 14 before Chiles collected 12 more yards with his feet. His nine-yard attempt on 3rd-and-six was broken up in the end zone. The quarter ended with Ryan Bailey's 26-yard FG.
Backups Sherrod Harris and G.J. Kinne, the subject of rumors this week of a possible transfer, shuttled at QB during the final 10 minutes of play. SE Dan Buckner gave a sneak preview of why why he'll be Texas' next big-time receiver. CB Curtis Brown had tight coverage, but Buckner got just enough separation to boast the longest play of the day with his 39-yard reception from Kinne. Harris capped the scoring -- and the afternoon-- with his 17-yard run off the zone read.
"We've got to come back next fall with the same type of attitude that we finished with today," Brown concluded.