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What I Learned

1. Josh Cochran and Trey Hopkins are missed

Jake Raulerson will need some time in the weight room before he's ready to contribute on Saturdays in the fall.

I mentioned the drop-off from the first offensive line to the second group is staggering. It wouldn't be if Sedrick Flowers and Kennedy Estelle were also a part of that second group.

The injury to Trey Hopkins late in 2012 and Josh Cochran's injury this week have pressed Flowers and Estelle into starting duty. It's good for both of them to be getting this much work during spring ball, but you're seeing why the Longhorns signed five linemen in the recent recruiting cycle.

Jake Raulerson isn't physically there yet, Camrhon Hughes is still on the mend, and other than Curtis Riser I didn't see one potential contributor from the group of non-starters yesterday. Desmond Harrison will help the depth problems, but now I don't think Texas has the luxury of redshirting a guy like Darius James if he's healthy.

The health of that group is grossly important to the success of the offense in 2013, and that's probably an enormous understatement on my part.

2. Ash is clearly the No. 1 QB

But what does that really mean? David Ash wasn't terrible by any means, but I felt his performance left something to be desired.

I can't quite put my finger on it, but something just seemed off with Ash yesterday. I think he's handling the tempo well, but it didn't seem like he made the best decisions at times and his ball placement was off.

He's got to take the step this spring of being a guy who can be a championship quarterback. I left the stadium feeling like he's got a ways to go in that aspect of his development.

3. Malcom Brown is the key to the front seven

Granted both sides of the ball were vanilla yesterday, but Brown consistently was able to draw a double team during the live periods on the day. This allowed Chris Whaley, Peter Jinkens and Dalton Santos to have their shots to either beat a single block or go free to a ball carrier.

If Brown can have that kind of presence on a down-to-down basis, accompanied by a scheme that allows the Texas tackles to play more straight up looks rather than twisting and stunting, I can see this defense being much better in 2013.

Whaley and/or Desmond Jackson being able to use their quickness in a one-on-one battle straight up with a guard is something you'll take if you're Texas. You also have to like either Jinkens or Tevin Jackson being able to come through a gap cleanly for a big tackle for loss.

Brown has the kind of legitimate potential to be a presence Texas hasn't had since Lamarr Houston left the 40 Acres.

4. The young defensive linemen fit the mold

I was impressed with what I saw from the likes of Caleb Bluiett, Bryce Cottrell and Hassan Ridgeway.

Bluiett and Cottrell don't appear to be that far behind Shiro Davis other than the fact that Davis has game experience and those two don't. I think in terms of scheme versatility and what Manny Diaz wants the ends to do, Bluiett might have the best long-term odds of being the best playmaker from what I saw.

You can tell Ridgeway is still learning the position but when he's able to pin his ears back and go he's hard for guards and centers to deal with one-on-one because he's so quick. He was more of a space player on the edge in high school, so the most important thing for him this spring is getting used to being hammered on by 300-pounders down after down.

Throw Davis and Malcom Brown into the mix and it's hard to imagine the Longhorns' front being anything but at least formidable in the coming years.

5. The secondary's time could be now

Last year we heard about Texas possibly having the best secondary in the country entering the season. It didn't turn out that way because the talented parts never came together, but I think this group has a chance to be as good as last year's group was advertized.

Carrington Byndom looked more like the 2011 version of himself rather than the 2012 version. When guys like Duke Thomas were in or when Duane Akina made a switch to either go to Mykkele Thompson or Josh Turner at safety, I didn't notice any drop-off. You're even seeing guys like Kevin Vaccaro and Bryson Echols flash from time to time.

All I've heard about during the first four practices is the competition on the back end will make that group better. It certainly seems it's got a chance to based on what I saw.

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