Observations: The Offense

Here are a few observations from today's practice.

Sophomore-to-be Jaxon Shipley had another strong day of practice.

Overall

- I felt like the offense played much better today, specifically the quarterbacks.

- The offense seemed to have a little better rhythm - the quarterbacks were more on point with the ball and the receivers and tight ends did not drop nearly as many passes.

Wide receivers

- Jaxon Shipley makes it look easy. He has great hands, runs terrific routes, plays with excellent speed and is clearly the team’s best receiver. He even high points the ball on down field throws in warm-ups just like you’re supposed to.

- Something I noticed today is that Shipley has a different gear when the ball is in the air. It’s like he’s running 95-percent going through his route and then when the ball is in the air, he has that extra 5-percent of juice that allows him to create separation. He’s tremendously talented and well-schooled in the finer aspects of being a receiver.

- Marquise Goodwin looked good again, albeit in limited work. Goodwin performed well in red-zone one-on-one work. But there was one play that was a little worrisome. Goodwin and Duke Thomas tangled legs in the end zone and Goodwin came up limping slightly. He eventually returned so everything appears fine.

- Mike Davis made several tough catches but dropped an easy one in the end zone during the red zone one-on-one work.

- Two catches of Davis’ stood out to me. The first was a route against Quandre Diggs that he stopped short of the goal line on but still shirked Diggs for a would-be touchdown. The second came on a deep ball down the middle where it was a virtual jump ball from Ash that Davis came down with over Kenny Vacarro.

- Desean Hales had another solidday. He had one drop, but generally speaking he was the fourth best receiver on the day by a fairly large margin in my opinion.

- Miles Onyegbule saw his playing time with the 1s reduced on Saturday after dropping at least seven passes on Friday. He dropped a couple on Saturday, too, but he also made a nice play down the seam in team drills in front of Mykkele Thompson.

- Bryant Jackson made a nice catch on a slant for what would have been a 20-yard gain in front of A.J. White.

Tight ends

- D.J. Grant had an up-and-down day. Consistency seems to be a recurring issue. He made a nice catch from David Ash on a 7-route and then came back and made a nice catch-and-run on a drag route from Case McCoy. But he got beat at least twice in the run game to the inside.

- Barrett Matthews and Darius Terrell played the next most snaps at tight end. Matthews sat down in the middle of the field on one play and made a catch for a nice gain. Then, on a third-and-three scenario he converted on a pass from Ash.

- Darius Terrell, like Grant, was inconsistent as a block. He was beat inside by Cedric Reed on a nice play by Reed.

- M.J. McFarland made the best catch of the day of the tight end. McFarland climbed the ladder to snare a pass from Ash over Jordan Hicks and in front of Kenny Vacarro. Otherwise, it was a quiet day for McFarland.

Running backs

- Malcolm Brown fumbled on the first play from scrimmage during team drills. After catching a swing pass from Ash, Brown cut upfield for what would have been a 5-to-7 yard gain before Kenny Vacarro popped Brown and caused a fumble. Vacarro’s pop started the practice off with a bang.

- On the very next play, Steve Edmond knocked Brown to the ground on a play off of left tackle. The Texas D gave Brown a rude welcome to start practice.

- Jeremy Hills appears to be getting action as the third-down back in blitz pick-up.

- Joe Bergeron had a couple of nice runs but like yesterday the defense was not taking the RBs to the ground so it’s hard to tell just how much yardage the backs would gain.

- Like Brown, Bergeron got popped pretty good one time thanks to Quandre Diggs.

- Bergeron missed a blitz pick-up against Alex Okafor during team drills that would have resulted in a sack (and possible decapitation) by Okafor.

- There’s a back-up running back who is a walk-on that the coaches refer to simply as “Woodhead”, in reference to the New England Patriots star.

Quarterbacks

- David Ash had command of the team and the practice much better today than yesterday. Ash connected on a couple of nice intermediate throws and scrambled well when the opportunity arose.

- I liked that Ash asked for a re-do on a pass play he missed that he had simply mis-timed. The second group was going to go in, but Ash asked for the opportunity and Bryan Harsin allowed it. Ash showed right there that he’s committed to getting it right and that’s something you have to like.

- Case McCoy is a better dink-and-dunk quarterback than Ash on just about all of the underneath stuff. His timing is better and his reads are quicker. But the negative is that dinking-and-dunking will likely bring eight guys into the box from the defense and that will likely hurt the Texas run game.

- Connor Brewer played one full drive with the 3s. Brewer looked ok on the drive but I thought he looked very good during the red-zone one-on-ones. In that regard, I thought he looked just as good as Ash and McCoy during those opportunities. Don’t take that comment the wrong way – he’s not going to battle Ash for the starting job, but he is made for quick decisions in the red zone in the future.

Offensive line

- The starting five and back-up five remained the same today as it was yesterday.

1st team
LT Donald Hawkins
LG Trey Hopkins
C Dominic Espinosa
RG Mason Walters
RT Josh Cochran

2nd team
LT Paden Kelley
LG Sedrick Flowers
C Garrett Porter
RG Thomas Ashcraft
RT Luke Poehlmann

- At various times during the practice, the Horns worked on one-on-ones and combo blocks in pass protection. I felt like Sedrick Flowers may have performed the best of any offensive lineman during the pass protection drills.

- Mason Walters had a better day in the run game and pass protection today.

- Dominic Espinosa also performed better today, except for one time when line coach Stacy Searels was upset about Espinosa not giving Trey Hopkins more help on a inside pass rush from Chris Whaley.

Coming up: we'll have observations on the defense, a general practice report and more news and notes from the day's events.

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