After two weeks of spring practices, multiple Longhorns have begun to shine and grow accustomed to the new coaching regime.
At a press conference last Tuesday, head coach Charlie Strong named multiple players, including defensive tackle Malcom Brown, linebacker Steve Edmond cornerbacks Quandre Diggs and Duke Thomas, safety Josh Turner and running back Malcolm Brown, as rising leaders that continue to compete at a high level throughout the offseason.
“Running back Malcolm Brown is a really solid player,” Strong said. “I told our defense, at times, they didn’t want to tackle him because of the way he runs. He does a great job of just running behind his pads. He’s a punishing runner. When he hits, he’s always falling forward.”
Brown said he is continuing to work on all aspects of his game during the offseason and focus on the smallest details such as his footwork during zone read plays.
“I’ve always tried to be a complete back,” Brown said. “It’s just the fact that it is a different year, and you got to focus a little bit more on something that you might not have accomplished last year.”
The Longhorns are getting used to Strong at the helm of the team and describe their new practices as grinding and extremely physical.
“He wants that to be our mentality,” Brown said. “I mean, it’s working. You can tell the guys are getting used to just hitting and going at it, lasting longer at the end of practice and grinding it out.”
Late last month, the team had one of its first scrimmages. Strong said he was pleased with the way quarterback coach Shawn Watson and offensive line coach Joe Wickline called the plays on offense and the aggressiveness of the defensive. But, he said, the longer the scrimmage went, some of the guys just quit competing.
“I always talk about [how] we have to finish,” Strong said “I didn’t see that there at the end. We still have a lot of work to do, and we have a chance to go. Just finish it out the right way. When I say quit competing as the scrimmage went, it’s not so much a competition. It’s all about, when you have a chance to go make plays, go make plays.”
Diggs said he is starting to emerge as a leader on the team and believes it’s his time to step up.
“It’s coming along slowly,” Diggs said. “I’ve always thought I had a voice on this team. So I can say some things that some of the young guys can’t say, but I feel like guys respect me on this team.”
The annual game between the Longhorns and the rival Sooners is also going through a rebranding. The annual Red River Rivalry will now be known as the AT&T Red River Showdown. The 109th game of the rivalry series is scheduled for Oct. 11 in the Cotton Bowl.