Monday, August 9, 2010
Opening camp: Texas
By ESPN.com staff
Schedule: Practice started on Sunday
What’s new: The offense. Colt McCoy completing 70 percent of his passes meant a shift away from the Vince Young zone read to a pass-heavy spread offense that served the Longhorns well for McCoy's four seasons as starter. Now, they'll take the offense more under center to try and establish a downhill running game that's been missing since 2007, the last time Texas had a 1,000-yard rusher.
Key battle: Receiver. There might not be a more muddled group in the entire conference. Texas has a handful of receivers that could be capable of becoming the No. 1 target, but that status could fluctuate throughout the season and who ends up on top is anyone's guess. Malcolm Williams, James Kirkendoll and Marquise Goodwin are probably the safest bets, but there's a reason Texas brought in Darius White and Mike Davis, two of the top three receivers in the 2010 class.
New on the scene: Safety Christian Scott. Scott sat out the regular season because of eligibility issues, but he played as a freshman and looks like the solid favorite to replace the departed Earl Thomas at safety opposite Blake Gideon.
Breaking out: Defensive tackle Kheeston Randall. Enjoyed an impressive spring after earning 10 starts a season ago. He'll be counted on for experience on the defense's front line after the departure of Lamarr Houston. At last week's media days, coach Mack Brown called the role the "key to the defense."
Don’t forget about:
Offensive tackle Kyle Hix. He's got the talent to be one of the conference's top linemen, but a switch from right tackle to left tackle could complicate his situation in preseason camp.
All eyes on:
Quarterback Garrett Gilbert
. Gave fans a taste of what might be on the way with a pair of touchdown throws to Jordan Shipley in the second half of the BCS title game last season, and only amped up the hype with an impressive spring game performance. His development as a sophomore in camp this fall, his first as the starter, will decide how he measures up to the hype surrounding his chance to take the helm as the next Longhorn QB.
"We did a lot of self study and found out that we had more explosive plays when the quarterback was under the center in the running game as well as the tailback being right behind the quarterback. ... when you have instances come up when you lose a quarterback -- and we lost Colt in the Kansas State game his first year and the Alabama game last year -- you're putting your second quarterback, in our estimation, under a tremendous amount of pressure if you can't run the ball.
"The other reason that we feel like we need to go ahead and run the ball more and better is the last two years in the BCS we played two-back downhill running Ohio State, and this year we played two-back downhill running Alabama. And in both cases, we didn't tackle the great tailbacks very well.
"We feel like by having downhill runs and working more in the running game and against the running game in practice would help us if we go out of conference and see someone who wants to just line up and run us." -- Texas coach Mack Brown on the offense's shift