Three observations from Texas' eighth spring football practice


Football

Quarterbacks Sam Ehlinger, Shane Buechele both rotating with first-team offense as Tom Herman staying mum about both

Posted April 5th, 2018

During Thursday’s spring practice, the best action appeared to happen before reporters were allowed in the gates.

The Longhorns were engaged in one-on-one drills on the far edge of the field. Typically, the coaching staff offers no updates on who won specific matchups, but UT will sometimes release videos on their social media channels.

1. Ehlinger, Buechele battle is close

After reporters were allowed in, the offense came onto the field to run several plays against air. Quarterback Sam Ehlinger opened with a deep ball to Devin Duvernay in the middle of the field. Then, he fired a long pass to Collin Johnson down the right sideline, a ball that fell incomplete.

Shane Buechele came in and executed some running plays with Toneil Carter, who was wearing a green vest to indicate light contact. UT coach Tom Herman has not previously indicated that Carter suffered any kind of injury.

Then, it was freshman Casey Thompson’s turn. Thompson threw a low dart to the right side, which Davion Curtis plucked off the ground for a completion. The offensive players then broke up into position drills during the 12-minute portion of practice open to reporters.

Overall, Herman has been muted about the quarterbacks, other than offering mild praise for the group. He has not indicated whether Ehlinger or Buechele has the upper hand, although Ehlinger has constantly been the first quarterback onto the field. It does not appear this coaching staff is remotely close to naming anyone a starter.


Texas receiver John Burt goes through passing drills as Texas football spring practice continues Thursday afternoon April 5, 2018, at Frank Denius Field.
RALPH BARRERA / AMERICAN-STATESMANSTATESMAN

2. Herb Hand getting after it

New offensive line coach Herb Hand has received almost universal praise for his coaching ability. With almost three decades of experience, Hand has practically seen it all. His vocal presence is unmistakable.

“That’s lazy football!,” Hand shouted at backup Tope Imade on Thursday. On the next play, Hand liked what he saw and praised Imade’s form.

There’s been little change in the first-team offensive line. Denzel Okafor, Patrick Vahe, Zach Shackelford, Elijah Rodriguez and Derek Kerstetter (left to right) have been together for most of spring drills.

3. Running backs hitting the sled

The defensive players usually conduct their drills on the far reaches of the practice field, where reporters are not allowed to roam. That makes it difficult to see, although most drills are position specific and wouldn’t really interest casual fans. From more than 100 yards away, it was easy to spot defensive lineman Chris Nelson wearing a green vest. He’s still wearing a massive left arm brace to protect his healing elbow injury. 

But the running backs were front and center Thursday hitting the two-man sled. When one player asked assistant Stan Drayton about the instructions, Drayton barked, “Don’t make this rocket science!”

The position has been front and center on Herman’s mind since camp started. He’s been unimpressed with Carter and Danny Young’s ball security, even going so far as to call for “open tryouts” at the position.

Linebacker Cameron Townsend moved over to offense to give it a go, but he got hurt in last Saturday’s scrimmage. Injured running back Tristan Houston (hyperextended knee) was at practice leaning on one crutch. 

Briefly: Offensive coordinator Tim Beck and defensive coordinator Todd Orlando are scheduled to meet with reporters after Thursday’s workout. The team typically practices on Saturday, but that workout is closed to reporters and the public.

Contact Brian Davis at 512-445-3957. Email bdavis@statesman.com.

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