It won’t be a true two-a-day, but Texas begins its 2008 preseason at Frank Denius Fields Monday by splitting returning veterans and incoming freshmen into separate practice groups.
Lettermen will practice at 6:00 a.m. while freshmen will work-out approximately 12 hours later. Each player is expected to attend both sessions, even if in street clothes. The split-practices, set for Monday and Tuesday, function as a de facto orientation for new players, Coach Mack Brown said.
“We feel like we can have a closer look at each individual player,” Brown said. “A young receiver or a young defensive back will get much more attention in this type of practice than he would if he were in a two-and-a-half hour practice with the older guys.”
Approximately half of this year’s freshman class is expected to factor into the two-deep chart. No final redshirt decisions will be reached until nearly mid-season; for now, Brown is asking the newbies to practice as if they are expected to play in the August 30 season-opener.
“We want to separate the two groups so we can watch them (freshmen) for two days and the coaches can coach them specifically. It will be like the old freshman practices where you’ll have 18 games. There will be more teaching than anything else. In previous years, we felt like our freshmen got bogged down in numbers and it goes too fast. Coaches tend to like to work with the ones who already know what to do. If you’re not careful, the ones who get all the attention are just the ones who can run routes and catch. We’re going to have the younger ones watch the older ones practice (for two days). We’re also going to allow the older players to coach the younger ones in Monday afternoon’s practice, and we’ll just go from there.”
It means the alarm goes off at 4:30 a.m. for Longhorns this week. The earlier session allows for players attending summer school to attend practice prior to morning classes; it also mitigates the triple-digit heat this month in the Austin area.
Players will work in shorts Monday and Tuesday before adding shoulder pads on the third day of practice. Wednesday and Thursday’s evening sessions, slated to begin at approximately 6:30 p.m., are open to the public. The Horns don pads Friday. The first true two-a-day is slated for Saturday.
Brown intends to re-instate Not Our Standard (NOS) accountability drills in which the entire team performs up-down calisthenics for sub-par individual lapses.
“We will not have NOS drills during the first week because we would like the freshmen to first learn what that means before we start having an entire team do up-downs because the young ones have never been through that,” Brown said. “We’d like for the young ones to learn how to practice and make sure they understand what’s going on.”
INJURY UPDATE: Sophomore RB Antwan Cobb (knee) will see limited action and will be held out of contact during the early going. Freshman offensive lineman Luke Poehlmann is expected to be full-speed after tweaking an ankle in last Tuesday’s Texas High School Coach’s Association All-Star Game.
“We’re coming in really healthy after having great summer workouts,” Brown said.
Meanwhile, offensive coordinator Greg Davis is recovering nicely from a recent appendicitis.