Texas was back on the practice field on Tuesday for the team’s 10th spring workout. The weather conditions were terrific.
Defensive back P.J. Locke III was not participating. He suffered a neck injury during Saturday’s workout and was being held out for further evaluation.
1. Fundamentals again and again: The Longhorns finished last season as the second-best defense in the Big 12. Part of that was due to defensive coordinator Todd Orlando’s obsessive detail on fundamentals. For the 15 minutes open to reporters on Tuesday, UT defensive players focused on nothing but bread-and-butter football skills.
One by one, defensive linemen worked on proper head placement and wrapping up ballcarriers. The linebackers worked on stripping the ball out with one arm. Demarco Boyd ripped the ball away from one player while Anthony Wheeler got the ball to flip into the air.
Every day, defensive backs work on staying low in their crouch and backpedaling underneath steel bars. Raise up too much, and that player’s going to have a serious headache.
The Longhorns do all of these drills every practice. Granted, it’s repetitive at times. But that’s how teams ultimately get better.
2. Who really won?: Reporters aren’t allowed to see many one-on-one battles during the spring. However, the offensive and defensive linemen clashed on Tuesday under the watchful eye of Cory Redding, the former UT defensive tackle and 13-year NFL veteran.
Coach Tom Herman has said he likes when both the offense and defense have success. On the first play, right guard Elijah Rodriguez stoned Charles Omenihu. In fact, Rodriguez and right tackle Derek Kerstetter had success on several plays double-teaming their intended targets.
But on one play, Omenihu took on the double team, and defensive end-turned-linebacker Malcolm Roach worked around the pile-up and got into the backfield untouched. Omenihu did his job by taking on blockers and allowing a teammate to make the play.
3. Tight ends working: By the end of last season, those who could fog a mirror were eligible for consideration at tight end. Injuries decimated the position. This spring, the tight ends are plugging along under assistant Derek Warehime, who was the offensive line coach last season.
Andrew Beck is back for a fifth season with a surgically repaired foot. Cade Brewer is working his way back from a torn knee ligament. Reese Leitao has full clearance to play after redshirting last season. Defensive lineman Max Cummins was also moved to tight end to bolster depth.
Herman and offensive coordinator Tim Beck have both indicated the offense has more options now that it has more capable blockers.
Contact Brian Davis at 512-445-3957. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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