Preseason Practice Notebook: Day 2

Michael Shapiro

Preseason Practice continued for the Longhorns on Tuesday, as Texas once again eschewed pads in favor of t-shirts and shorts for morning drills. Here are four notes from day two of fall camp.

Johnson held out of practice:

Running back Kirk Johnson missed practice today with a hamstring injury after feeling discomfort in the area during Monday morning’s practice. The sophomore from San Jose, California appeared in six games for texas in 2015, but missed the entirety of last season after undergoing knee surgery. Head coach Tom Herman said he hopes to see Johnson back on the practice field early next week.

“We had a minor setback yesterday, and didn’t want to have (Johnson) push through it and have a four-week setback,” Herman said. “Hopefully we can get it back to full strength by Monday.”

Improved energy in day two:

Herman said he saw a bit of a nervous vibe from his team during the first day of fall camp. That wasn’t the case today, however, and the head coach noted the high amount of energy displayed from his team throughout the morning.

“Just from a positivity standpoint … 10 times better than it was in the spring,” Herman said. “It’s much better than any place I’ve ever been. The guys are buying in and going really hard.”

Texas will spend two more days in shorts and t-shirts before beginning padded practice on Friday.

Vahe looks to bounce back:

After a tumultuous 2016 campaign in which he was benched for three contests late in the season, junior offensive lineman Patrick Vahe is seeking a fresh start in 2017. And two days into fall camp, he’s already drawing rave reviews from Herman and Co.

“Pat has had a great summer, and I expect when we put the pads on, we’ll see more of that” Herman said. “He’s our starting left guard right now, and he’ll be tough to beat out.”

Much of Vahe’s offseason success can be attributed to his improved health. Vahe said he cut out sweets in the offseason and has slimmed down, losing 15 pounds of fat and adding eight pounds of muscle. He added that the lost weight has increased his stamina, and made him lighter on his feet against opposing defensive linemen.

Longhorns’ sport crowded secondary:

Junior safety DeShon Elliott earned praise from Herman on Tuesday, but he’s not the only member of the Longhorn secondary who’s impressed this offseason. Herman highlighted the depth of Texas’ defensive backfield on Tuesday, especially at safety.

“(DeShon) is walking the walk in terms of work ethic,” Herman said. “That safety room is pretty jammed up right now.”

Elliott expressed confidence in Texas’ defensive backs following Tuesday’s practice. While the Longhorns held the fourth-worst passing defense in the Big 12 in 2016, Elliott said newfound communication will help bring the burnt orange secondary back to prominence.

“As a whole defensive back unit, we’ve all come so far,” Elliott said. “Now everything is clicking. Communication can fix a lot of things.”