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Spring Football: Texas
April 30, 2010
By Wendell Barnhouse | Correspondent

2009: 13-1 overall, 8-0 in Big 12.
Starters returning: Offense (6), defense (7)

There was a good news/bad news spin for Texas' 37-21 loss to Alabama in the BCS National Championship game. The bad news was the Longhorns were vanquished with their best player, Colt McCoy, sidelined by a shoulder injury on the fifth play. The good news is that McCoy's replacement, Garrett Gilbert, proved he could handle the heat of the spotlight.

Texas went into spring practice with a confident Gilbert taking over for the winningest quarterback in college history. The Longhorns spent the spring working on improving their running game and looking for a go-to receiver. The offensive line must replace two starters but has changed its blocking philosophy. In 2010 Texas will be a drive blocking instead of zone blocking.

The defense returns seven starters but the players that must be replaced were key contributors to last year's unit that finished third in total defense. Coordinator Will Muschamp has proven that he can replace top contributors will keeping the defense playing at a high level.

The spring proved that UT's secondary might be one of the best in the nation. Coach Mack Brown believes that this group of defensive backs is the best he's had during his time in Austin.

Who's missing
In addition to McCoy, the offense must replace wide receiver/punt returner Jordan Shipley, who is the school's career leader in pass receptions. The defense must replace defensive tackle Lamarr Houston, linebacker/defensive end Sergio Kindle and ball-hawking safety Earl Thomas. Also, clutch kicker Hunter Lawrence has graduated.

Who's new
Sophomore receiver DeSean Sales had an impressive spring game and could be in position to take up the slack left by Jordan Shipley's departure. Freshmen Mike Davis (wide receiver), Jackson Jeffcoat (defensive end) and Aaron Benson (linebacker) are among the first-year players who could see playing time.

You'll hear about
Chris Whaley. The redshirt freshman running back sat out last season but he has wowed coaches with his athletic ability. At 6-3, he weighed nearly 260 pounds in the spring. He had an impressive spring game but the coaching staff wants him to trim down. With the emphasis on the running game, Whaley could be a factor if he gets his weight down in the 240s.

Spring buzz
* While Garrett Gilbert entrenched himself as the starting quarterback, there are concerns about the backup situation. Senior Sherrod Harris is No. 2 on the depth chart but he has yet to throw a pass in five career games. Freshmen Connor Wood and Case McCoy both enrolled early and participated in spring drills. "We've got to make a decision there," Brown said of the No. 2 spot. "Let the young guys have their summer work with seven-on-seven and come back and see if they can get in the mix to push Sherrod, because we're still not consistent at the backup quarterback like we need to be."

* Kheeston Randle, a 6-6, 295-pound junior, figures to be a solid contributor in the middle of the defensive line. Texas needs to find another starter at tackle and improve the depth at defensive tackle. Calvin Howell, a 290-pound redshirt freshman, had an impressive spring. "Calvin's shown some flashes," defensive coordinator Will Muschamp said. "He just has to be more consistent in what he does."

* Kicker Hunter Lawrence, who made 24-of-27 field goals and all but one of 62 extra point tries must be replaced. Justin Tucker, who handled punts and kickoffs last season, showed he was capable taking over as UT's kicker. Senior John Gold, who has averaged 44.6 yards on 36 career punts, might take over the full-time punting chores to allow Tucker to concentrate on kick scoring.

Coach speak from Mack Brown
"We did not run the ball well last year ... at all. I think we actually got worse as the year went on. Last year, Colt was so good we just threw it every time. We can throw it every time with Garrett, but we want to go back and be more balanced. We're going to be good in the running game."
- On the Longhorns' running game.

"The team trusts him. They think he is the guy, he is the starter and at his age, having not started a game, that's pretty impressive."
- On sophomore quarterback Garrett Gilbert.

"We as coaches have to be honest with the kids, telling them exactly what they're doing well and what our concerns are. I really believe it's a difficult thing to have great young players coming in, some who will take older guys' jobs possibly, and keeping the chemistry of your team going. It's a tough thing for an older guy to lose a spot to a freshman."
- On mixing a talented group of freshmen into the roster.

"We may be a different team. We'll run the ball more. We're going to have to kick it differently and play defense more. It may not be a team that runs out there and runs up and down the field and scores as quickly as we have."
- On the type of team the Longhorns might be in 2010.

2010 Schedule
Sept. 4 at Rice
Sept. 11 Wyoming
Sept. 18 at Texas Tech*
Sept. 25 UCLA
Oct. 2 Oklahoma* (in Dallas)
Oct. 16 at Nebraska*
Oct. 23 Iowa State*
Oct. 30 Baylor*
Nov. 6 at Kansas State*
Nov. 13 Oklahoma State*
Nov. 20 Florida Atlantic
Nov. 25 Texas A&M*
* - Big 12 game
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