Opening statement: Another good day. Quick injury update, Tristian Houston hyperextended his knee. He’ll be evaluated. Didn’t go back into practice but I don’t think it’s ridiculously severe. Last time I said that was Gary (Johnson), and he’s out six weeks. Phillipp Moeller got dinged a little bit, so he’ll be evaluated for a concussion in the next 24 hours. Thought practice, for as humid as it was, the guys really, really tried. The thing that I look for in a practice or a scrimmage are both sides having success in certain things. I thought the offense won the scrimmage on Saturday by one point. Didn’t play great but the one thing they did was they protected the ball and they scored touchdowns in the red zone. The defense did not force any turnovers and they gave up too many touchdowns in the red zone. That will get you beat. The defense did play well intermittently on Saturday. They had 10 three-and-outs and they stopped the offense 20 of 28 times on third down. A couple of the third down conversions were long yardage and lead to touchdowns. We’ve got to get that cleaned up. Today, much of the same. We had a first down period where it was kind of back and forth. Offense had some really good plays. Defense had some really good plays. Goal line/red zone period, where the offense played well. Then we turned around and ended practice with a two minute drill where the defense dominated. I think both sides of the ball are having some success, but also when that happens in a scrimmage situation or when you’re playing against yourself, whenever one side has success that means the other side doesn’t. As long as it’s balanced, I think we’re headed in the right direction. It certainly appears that way right now.
On team ball security: Good. Zero fumbles on Saturday and none again today.
On why there wasn’t music playing at practice today: I wanted to do something different. Sometimes silence can be distracting when you’re used to chaos and noise. I wanted guys to have to bring their own energy level. Bring your own juice, BYOJ. I also, probably most importantly, I wanted to hear guys communicate. I wanted to hear what was being said. I wanted to hear what was being said when your teammates… we talked before practice about if you want to be a great teammate, the kind of teammate you are is exposed when somebody else does something really well. I wanted to be able to make sure that I heard the things that were being said both from a communication standpoint and from energy and excitement and leadership standpoint.
On Jarmarquis Durst place as the second team LOS safety spot in lightning: He’s earned that spot. Jarmarquis played quite a bit for us on special teams last year. He’s an excellent walk-on to have. It’s not that we’re waiting on anybody. He’s earned the right to be there.
On where the team is now compared to where he expected: I don’t know that we ever really have expectations. The expectations are that we go really hard. Right now, we’re on track. There’s no doubt we’re playing really hard. The coach in me a lot of times, we get done with a scrimmage on Saturday, and I want to dwell on all the things we didn’t do well. First drive, the offense came out of the gate and had a 10 play drive that resulted in zero points because we had a false start or delay of game. Something like that that set us behind the chains and we didn’t convert the third down there late in the drive. Certain things obviously didn’t go well. A couple of coaches were “Coach, remember where we were last year at this time through our first scrimmage.” Are we better now than we were then? Absolutely. There’s a lot less coaching of culture and effort, or demanding of that. A lot more teaching. The guys understand the expectations of practice which allows us to now develop our guys. I don’t know expectation-wise as far as this team is concerned. I know when you compare it to this time last year, we’re well ahead of where we were.
On how important high school coaches are to Texas coaches for recruiting: They’re incredibly important. It’s a big reason why we have had some success recruiting; because of our relationships and just our time and investment in the high schools here in the state of Texas. In my experience in recruiting, a high school coach has never told a kid “you need to go here.” What they do say usually is one of three things. “I know those men that are on that staff and I don’t think very highly of them. I’m not sure that they’re going to treat you the best.” They’re going to say “I don’t know those guys so I can’t give you a good answer.” Or they’re going to say “I know those guys really, really well. I’ve been to their practices. I’ve been to their meetings. They’ve been around for years and years and years. I’ve sent kids there before. I’ve sent kids that have played for those coaches. If you decide to go there, they’re going to treat you as best as they can and they’re going to give you every tool necessary to develop on and off the field.”
On the dynamic with 7-on-7 teams on the recruiting scene: Any time a young man has what he would consider a mentor it’s our duty if we want to recruit that young man to develop a relationship with that person. I think we’ve done a really good job as a staff, our assistants have, of developing those relationships and understanding that there’s a lot of people that have influence on young people. Anywhere from a brother, to an uncle, to a mom and dad, to a grandparent, to a pastor, to a 7-on-7 coach, to a high school coach, to a high school assistant coach. It’s our job to make sure that we find those people that do influence those young men and make sure that all of their questions are answered and that they feel good about us and their relationship with us.
On if he’s considering any more moves at RB: I don’t know. Cameron (Townsend) got hurt on Saturday. Twisted his ankle. I think we’re probably done with that. We talked about (Lil’Jordan Humphrey), we talked about Devin Duvernay, but I think that would stunt their growth at the positions we’re pretty sure that they’re going to play in the fall. Right now, it’s business as usual in that room. If it gets any worse, we’re going to have to be able to get through a practice at least.
On Devin Duvernay running with the ones: Him and John Burt are splitting reps. He takes the first snap with the ones. Like anything, you can’t have 12 guys on the field, or 13 if you put the other quarterback out there. He has had a really good spring. He has developed as a route runner. He’s caught mostly everything that’s been thrown his way. He’s understanding some of the nuances of playing receiver; getting open in zones, finding windows. Like I said, route running has dramatically improved. He’s earned the right to be there.
On if Humphrey has worked in the slot in 3WR sets: He did when Jordan Pouncey went down. He rotated on Saturday with Jerrod (Heard). Today, we put 10 personnel in so he got a lot of those reps in the slot today, too.
On what he needs from the slot position: We’ve had a lot of different ones. We really have. I think ideally you would like a guy that can motion in the backfield and do some things out of the backfield, mainly on some speed sweep type things but also be able to hand the ball off on other things. You’d like a guy that is quick and fast enough to make plays in space in the RPO game on bubbles and quick hitters, if you will. We had Linell Bonner at Houston our last year and Linell was phenomenal at that H position. We had to adapt because Linell’s a 6-foot-2, 215 pound guy. What Linell Bonner was really good at was working routes off of linebackers, nickels, things like that. We didn’t motion him as much into the backfield. I think there’s an ideal one that you’d like which is what I described first. If that guy doesn’t exist on your team until you go recruit one or develop one, then you’ve got to adapt. I think we’ve done a pretty good job of that.
On if he can find what he needs at that spot with the roster: With Jerrod and LJ, for sure.
On the development of the young receivers: Jordan really well. I think he sprained his ankle Thursday. He was coming along really, really well. Brennan (Eagles) does not look out of place out there. He doesn’t know his left from his right sometimes and he busts routes, typical things that you’d expect from a guy that’s been in the offense for seven practices. From a physical standpoint, he’s doing all the right things. He’s playing really physically, which is a lot of times a concern for young wide receivers because a lot of times they haven’t been asked to do that in high school. Just like the young quarterbacks, he does not look out of place out there.