Spring Football: Practices start to answer questions
By Chris Tavarez – Daily Texan Staff
Running back Vondrell McGee carries the ball during spring practice Tuesday. Texas looks to improve its run game this spring.
After Saturday’s scrimmage, Texas head coach Mack Brown and the rest of the staff were able to figure out a few more things about next year’s team.
“We had a great scrimmage on Saturday,” Brown said. “It was very physical. We got a whole lot done, and it answered some questions for us.”
Today, Texas will have its last scrimmage before spring break, which will serve as the midway point between the first and second halves of the semester. Today’s scrimmage will be a unique one, though, because it will only be open to select faculty.
“The guys have invited one of their favorite professors to the scrimmage tomorrow, so they’ll watch the scrimmage and then have dinner with the guys,” Brown said.
After this afternoon’s scrimmage, the players will be free for spring break, and they return to practice the Monday after the break. The spring game is scheduled for 4 p.m. Sunday, April 4.
On the road again
Earlier this offseason, the NCAA created a new rule that would put the same recruiting restrictions on a designated head coach-in-waiting as a current head coach. That means Texas’ current defensive coordinator and head coach-in-waiting, Will Muschamp, won’t be allowed to make more than one off-campus visit, and it can’t be done during the spring evaluation period.
This came as a huge blow to Texas because it was Muschamp’s aggressive attitude on the recruiting trail that helped bring in Jordan Hicks and Jackson Jeffcoat, two of the top four recruits in the nation.
But Tuesday, the NCAA gave a one-year reprieve from that rule, freeing up Muschamp for the next year.
“We still would like to see the rule changed back to like it was, where, in our case, coach Muschamp can do his duties as a defensive coordinator,” Brown said. “We don’t think it’s fair for him and our staff to be hurt because of something in the future.”
The NCAA’s rule on designated future head coaches only affects two schools: Texas and Maryland. The other schools who had coaches-in-waiting, such as Oregon, Florida State and Kentucky, all hired their coaches-in-waiting.
“The people that brought it up, I’m sure, don’t understand that it would be a detriment for [Muschamp] will not to be able to go out and recruit,” Brown said. “There’s not an advantage for him going out to recruit. We feel like that, probably, there was a misunderstanding with the people that put it forth.”
Bowling over the defense, that’s where.
Chris Whaley signed to Texas as one of the most sought-after running backs in the class of 2009 but struggled with injuries last year and never saw the field. At Tuesday’s open practice, he shared why he drew so much hype.
Multiple times he sent the fans in attendance into choruses of “oohs” and “ahhs,” with big stiff-arms and punishing hits to would-be tacklers. His performance certainly caught the eyes of Texas coaches, who are looking to establish a more dominant running game to help take some pressure of first-year starter Garrett Gilbert.
“Chris [Whaley] is doing a good job,” Brown said. “We’re trying to play him and Cody [Johnson] at tailback and a little at
the H-back. We’d like to see what both of them have this spring at tailback. Chris had some good runs. All of our backs are in better shape right now because we’re giving them a better chance with downhill runs. We just have to see how Chris progresses.”
Back to the Future
Just like Doc Brown, coach Brown’s focus is on the future. While he’s certainly concerned with the current state of the team, he also emphasized the importance of looking at who can contribute two years down the line.
Brown especially focused on the future with the offensive line, which will be down three starters next year because of graduation.
“Both offensive lines are getting better. They’re doing a good job,” Brown said. “We see some progress, and we would like to play two deep because we’ll lose a lot of the first-team guys next year, and in two years, we need to be ready for guys to step in. We feel like two deep in that position is very critical.”