Spring Fever

Austin Laymance


With the spring season in the books, Texas fans head into the summer with a bevy of questions, most notably the naming of a starting quarterback.
But it’s not just the Longhorn faithful that are unsure who will take that first snap of the 2011 season — the coaches don’t know either.
“We really don’t think anyone is ready to take over at this point,” said head coach Mack Brown.
Garret Gilbert started the Orange-White game Sunday, but turned in a rather pedestrian performance with eight completions for 76 yards and an interception. Bryant Jackson stepped in front of the first pass of the incumbent starter’s second drive, a sight all too familiar to the 45,000 in attendance.
Co-offensive coordinator Brian Harsin said all four of the Longhorn quarterbacks mixed in good plays with bad ones but didn’t seem too concerned with Gilbert’s inaccuracy — he was almost intercepted by freshman cornerback Quandre Diggs in the corner of the endzone on Texas’ opening drive. Harsin instead chose to focus on the positive.
“Those are going to happen, we’re going to take shots down the field,” Harsin said. “I thought he did a real nice job of coming back and shaking it off.”
Gilbert responded by completing his next three passes — including a flee-flicker to tight end Darius Terrell — to drive the team 46-yards down the field for a touchdown on his next series. 
With only eight offensive linemen healthy during the spring, it came as little surprise that Texas struggled on offense. But Case McCoy showed improvement and led two scoring drives, highlighted by an 11-yard TD pass to Patrick McNamara against the starting secondary.
On the flip side, defensive end Alex Okafor proved why he belongs on the outside with five sacks. While there was talk of him moving inside to the tackle position, Okafor cemented his place at end and had a field day against a porous offensive line. 
“He’s a big imposing figure out there at defensive end,” Defensive Coordinator Manny Diaz said. “He has to be that guy for us. For us to be really great on defense he’s going to have to be great all the time.”
Okafor’s track record is proven, but the spring game offers a chance for young players, such as Diggs, to establish themselves on the team and push for a starting job. The younger brother of former Longhorn Quentin Jammer, Diggs opened eyes Sunday with his vicious hit on fullback Ryan Roberson and his agility in coverage.
“Quandre is a guy that was born to play defensive back,” Diaz said. “He has a little knack for making plays.”
Brown said the coaches will sit down with players individually today to discuss what they need to improve over the summer before camp begins in August, but stressed that there wouldn’t be a depth chart any time soon.
One thing is for certain however: the quarterbacks will have their work cut out for them before returning to practice.
“They’re going to have to have a great mental summer and they’re going to have to have great physical work,” Brown said. “We will document every pass, every play, every check.”