An uptick in fan interest wasn’t the only notable difference between Tom Herman’s first and second Orange-White spring games.
Texas used a different format Saturday for its annual scrimmage, which the White team won by a 23-13 score. Last year’s game pitted the first-team offense against the defensive backups and the offensive backups against the first-string defense. The Longhorns split the roster on Saturday, so offensive and defensive standouts faced each other.
Head coach Tom Herman conceded the switch was made, in part, to appease an estimated crowd of 35,000. Last year’s scrimmage featured a complex scoring system and a 52-51 final score. Aside from the three points that were awarded for a pre-game Bull in the Ring drill, no gimmicks were found on Saturday’s scoreboard.
Noting that the offensive linemen did not choose sides and some walk-ons had to play, Herman said the new format showcased a lack of depth. He said he preferred last year’s arrangement, but “I do understand if we’re going to ask our fans to come to the game, we need to also make it enjoyable for them too.”
Players, however, applauded the new format. White team tight end Andrew Beck said he enjoyed going against teammates like linebacker Malcolm Roach. Roach said the split rosters also created competition within the team’s position groups.
“Competition is always good,” Roach said. “Last year it was competition, but it was competition against the offense and defense. This year, it’s competition within the people in your room. I’m looking at (Anthony) Wheeler, every day I’m like, ‘We’re about to kill y’all.'”
Brother vs. brother: On the fifth play of the scrimmage, Sam Ehlinger connected with Devin Duvernay for a 29-yard pass. The play set up a short field goal for the White team.
— Texas Football (@TexasFootball) April 21, 2018
The first of Duvernay’s two catches came at the expense of his twin brother, Donovan, who was the assigned cornerback. (Duvernay also withstood a hit from Chris Brown on the play). Donovan Duvernay later broke up a pass intended for his brother in the end zone.
The Duvernays are one of three sets of brothers on UT’s roster. Wide receiver Collin Johnson had six catches, but running back Kirk Johnson missed the game with an ankle injury. Cornerback Kris Boyd recorded a scrimmage-high two pass break-ups while linebacker Demarco Boyd laid a bone-crushing hit on Devin Duvernay in the second half.
“Demarco, he gets a hit like that every day. He always comes with it,” Roach said. “That’s nothing new to us. Demarco, he’s going to be one to watch this year.”
Punting the torch: Michael Dickson joined Malik Jefferson and DeShon Elliott as NFL-bound Longhorns on the sidelines. During the halftime break, Dickson was also recognized for winning last year’s Ray Guy Award.
Dickson got a front-row seat as his replacement averaged 41.1 yards per punt over eight attempts. Ryan Bujcevski, who is Dickson’s cousin and Australian countryman, got off a 59-yard punt on his first kick.