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Thx for this @Hiphopopotamos

IT:  One minor position change has already occurred. Sophomore safety Jerrin Thompson has moved to first team nickel just ahead of Chris Adimora. For now, this clears up what will happen between seniors BJ Foster and Brenden Schooler. Rather than competing for the same spot, they’ll play alongside each other.

 

Gonna be really interesting to see how PK and Company shuffle around  these DB's.   Cook needs to find some reps too...

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Finding a nickel defender among highest positional priorities in camp for Sarkisian, Texas

By  JEFF HOWE 6 hours ago

AUSTIN, Texas¬†‚ÄĒ The change in coordinators as a result of¬†Steve Sarkisian¬†prying¬†Pete Kwiatkowski¬†away from Washington to oversee a Texas defense that finished among the best 30 units in the country in yards per play allowed (5.22) in¬†Chris Ash‚Äôs lone season on the Forty Acres has impacted every position group. As the Longhorns hit the field for their first preseason practice on Friday, 29 days away from the 2021 opener with Louisiana on Sept. 4, how Kwiatkowski and Sarkisian are going to manage an intriguing group of safeties and nickelbacks to put the best mix of back-end defenders on the field came into focus as one of the most significant areas needing to get sorted out in the weeks to come.

Ash saw the nickel position (the Spur in his defensive scheme anchored by a four-man front) as an extension of the linebacker group to the extent that the Spurs worked were grouped with the inside linebackers. Kwiatowski’s time in Seattle can lead one to assume he wants a nickelback who excels in coverage situations as opposed to serving primarily as a box defender.

After playing with four of the best nickel defenders produced by former defensive backs coach¬†Duane Akina¬†‚ÄĒ¬†Quandre Diggs,¬†Earl Thomas,¬†Kenny Vaccaro¬†and¬†Aaron Williams¬†‚ÄĒ over his tenure,¬†Blake Gideon¬†is now the position coach in charge of the group from which Kwiatkowski will attempt to find someone versatile enough to man the position the way¬†Duke Thomas,¬†P.J. Locke III¬†and¬†Brandon Jones¬†did over a span of five seasons before heading off to the NFL. The safeties and nickelbacks worked together with Gideon putting them through drills during the portion of Friday‚Äôs practice that was open to the media, which should help facilitate the cross-training Sarkisian and Co. need to see throughout camp to make the appropriate personnel decisions.

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Adimora and Cook exited spring in a battle for the No. 1 nickel job, but other candidates have emerged in camp.   (Photo: Jay Janner, USA TODAY Sports)

‚ÄúWe're really trying to find the right combination with our safeties and our nickel and then including that into the corner,‚ÄĚ Sarkisian said after practice. ‚ÄúNothing is set in stone with those guys.‚ÄĚ

As for who Sarkisian, Kwiatkowski and Gideon want to see working where throughout practice to get a thorough evaluation, Chris Adimora and Anthony Cook are going continue to work in the nickel after battling it out throughout the spring while also getting a look at safety (Sarkisian said specifically he doesn’t want to pigeonhole Adimora and Cook as strictly nickelbacks, which is why they'll cross-train). Additionally, safety Jerrin Thompson is going to work at the nickel position along with Brenden Schooler, who started his collegiate career as a safety at Oregon before moving to wide receiver, where he caught 12 passes for 140 yards and two touchdowns in 2020 after leaving Eugene with a brief layover in Arizona before getting to Austin.

Ending 2019 with an impressive showing in an Alamo Bowl win over Utah while replacing an injured Jones in the nickel role, Adimora went through his share of struggles while trying to learn the nuances of Ash’s system on the fly after the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out spring practice and led to a truncated summer before the season started. According to Pro Football Focus, Adimora had the lowest coverage grade of any member of the Longhorn secondary with a grade of 44.7 on 293 snaps in coverage, opposing quarterbacks completed 73.8 percent of their passes while targeting Adimora (45 completions on 61 targets) and his 11 missed tackles trailed only linebacker DeMarvion Overshown (20) for the most by a Longhorn in 2020.

Cook, who entered the transfer portal last offseason only to come back to the program before the start of camp, had his own struggles after spending his first two seasons with the Longhorns as a cornerback. Adimora and B.J. Foster (46.1) are the only members of the Texas secondary who posted lower PFF coverage grades than Cook (47.7 on 109 coverage snaps), who was responsible for allowing 16 receptions on the 19 times in he was the primary defender targeted on a throw.

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Jerrin Thompson played well at safety when pressed into duty late in the 2020 season, but he didn't get many snaps in the slot. (Photo: Scott Sewell, USA TODAY Sports)

Thompson showed a lot of promise late in the 2020 season, especially when he recorded an interception and a pass breakup that could’ve easily gone down as his second pick in a road win over Kansas State on Dec. 5. Thompson got the start at safety in the victory over the Wildcats due to Foster dealing with an injury and Caden Sterns opting out of what was left of the season after a loss to Iowa State eliminated Texas from contention for a berth in the Big 12 title game, finishing the season with a grade of 70 on 81 coverage snaps according to PFF.

Schooler’s one season at Oregon was a good one, recording 74 tackles and four interceptions in 12 games while posting a PFF coverage grade of 88.3 on 419 coverage snaps (no Texas defender has posted a coverage game above 80 since Holton Hill's 83.4 and DeShon Elliott's 82.5 led the 2017 defense). With that said, Schooler only logged 42 snaps in the slot and 65 inside the box (627 of his snaps came playing at safety depth) while Thompson’s 2020 snap alignment saw his reps at safety (102) far outweigh those inside the box (30) and in the slot (24) with Adimora and Cook gobbling up the snaps in the slot based on data collected by PFF throughout the 2020 season (Adimora's 392 snaps in the slot led all Longhorns with Cook's 154 ranking second).

Playing nickelback in the Big 12 became the hardest position to man defensively over the last decade because space-and-pace offenses rooted in the Air Raid (there was a time when Art Briles, Dana Holgorsen and Kliff Kingsbury were in the same league calling plays with Lincoln Riley and Sonny Cumbie, all of whom were on a coaching staff with and/or played in Mike Leach’s cutting-edge, innovative offense) would put their best receiver in the slot, providing a big-play threat with a two-way go off of the line of scrimmage and putting slot defenders in a world of conflict.

With West Virginia’s Neal Brown, Iowa State’s Matt Campbell and Kansas State’s Chris Klieman running more hybrid-spread offenses with multiple tight ends and/or multiple running backs in a formation and Baylor’s Jeff Grimes expected to utilize a similar offensive style coming over from BYU, a Big 12 nickelback truly needs to be a player who can hold their own in man coverage against both size and speed, zone coverage, blitzing or playing inside the box to devote an extra body to the stopping the run.

The nickel position helped Kwiatkowski and Jimmy Lake team up to make Washington’s defense one of the nation’s best over the last decade. Similar to the Texas lineage, Budda Baker, Kevin King, Myles Bryant and Elijah Molden got to the NFL after playing at an elite level while primarily in the nickel role for the Huskies with Kwiatkowski sending in the defensive signals: Baker is a two-time All-Pro with the Arizona Cardinals, King is a starter with the Green Bay Packers, the 5-foot-8-inch Bryant played for the New England Patriots as an undrafted rookie free agent in 2020 and Molden was picked in the third round of the 2021 draft by the Tennessee Titans.

It’s far too early to tell if Texas has anyone destined to be a high draft choice like Jones (No. 70 overall by the Miami Dolphins in 2020), a Pro Bowler like Diggs (a first-time selection in 2020) or a five-time All-Pro like Earl Thomas among the current group. For now, Sarkisian wants to take it one day at a time and figure out how to make the pieces fit so the Longhorns can adequately defend opponents between the hashes.

‚ÄúJust trying to find that right combination for us moving forward,‚ÄĚ Sarkisian said. ‚ÄúIt's probably going to take us a minute to nail that down because we've got to give guys some reps at it and work at it because it is a little bit new. That's probably the biggest thing, quite frankly, of just some of the positional stuff.‚Ä̬†

 

 

 

Edited by LTtxfan
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Thx  @CastHorn  for this Jeff Howe update

‚ÄĒ Heading¬†into the first scrimmage, it seems as though the picture is starting to come into focus at middle linebacker (the dime linebacker in¬†Pete Kwiatkowski‚Äôs defense) in terms of who‚Äôs going to challenge¬†Luke Brockermeyer¬†for the No. 1 job on Sept. 4. When the inside linebackers and running backs lined up for one-on-one drills,¬†Ayodele Adeoye¬†was out first with¬†DeMarvion Overshown. The two guys, based on how the linebackers are grouped when the media is allowed on the field and what sources have said through the first week of camp, Adeoye and¬†David Gbenda¬†are the two most likely contenders to push Brockermeyer.

‚ÄĒ¬†Devin Richardson¬†is that conversation as well, but he‚Äôs also a candidate to be Overshown‚Äôs primary backup at WILL¬†linebacker because of his length. Showing off his athleticism Richardson held his¬†own in one-on-one drills where he when covering the running backs, but he was stonewalled by¬†Bijan Robinsonin a pass protection drill, prompting¬†Jeff Choate¬†to holler, ‚ÄúDon‚Äôt quit!‚ÄĚ in Richardson‚Äôs direction and showing that¬†everyone has to turn it up a notch now that the team is in full pads. Expect Richardson¬†to be a major factor on special teams for the Longhorns, at the very least.

‚ÄĒ Two guys who I continue to be impressed with the more I see them on the practice field are a pair of true freshman,¬†Morice Blackwell¬†and¬†Terrence Cooks. Blackwell‚Äôs athleticism overwhelmed¬†Daniel Young¬†on a swing pass in one-on-ones, the same thing Cooks did to walk-on Anton Simieou on an angle route (started to the flat and broke back inside). Blackwell also mixed it up in one of the best pass protection battles of the open window when he and Johnathon Brooks went toe-to-toe in a physical clash. I don‚Äôt know how ready either of them will be for game reps, but I like the future of that position with those two guys in the fold if they can get on a nice trajectory.

‚ÄĒ While Card and Thompson threw to the wide receivers in one-on-ones, the rest of the quarterbacks were throwing to the running backs. That created a few situations where a back was thrown an uncatchable ball, like one that was nowhere near the vicinity of¬†Keilan Robinson¬†after he got a step on Gbenda down the field. The same was true of a throw where Brockermeyer had blanket coverage on Young, but the running back had no chance to make a good play on the ball.

‚ÄĒ Some of the other notable reps in one-on-ones were¬†Roschon Johnson defeating¬†Jett Bush¬†and¬†Bijan Robinson getting by¬†Jaden Hullaby¬†on angle routes and Overshown staying on top of Johnson and denying him a catch, to the delight of Choate who could be heard shouting, ‚ÄúWe‚Äôll take that all day!‚ÄĚ

 

‚ÄĒ In pass protection, Adeoye blew up Johnson one rep before¬†Bijan Robinson and Richardson clashed. Johnson rebounded later in the period delivered a nice blow to Cooks before¬†Keilan Robinson¬†ended the period (and our time on the field) by putting up a good fight against¬†Jaden Hullaby.

 

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After yesterday's practice...  IT

Kitan Crawford has had some limited reps with the ones. Only health is standing in the way of Josh Thompson and D’Shawn Jamison from playing but Crawford is really good.

Thompson has been very sticky in coverage and the feeling is Xavier Worthy is making the corners dial in their technique because he’s so athletic. 

******

DeMarvion Overshown has been back but he could have been playing the whole time. They just like to rest him because they already have a good feel for what he is. He’s making plays in practice, shooting gaps or making plays in space.

Resting him does help get Luke Brockermeyer and David Gbenda on the field together. Even with Overshown back, Gbenda does get limited reps with the ones but it seems like Luke has a good handle on the starting spot. Like Ojomo, he’s built on a quality spring.

They could use another linebacker stepping up. Jaylan Ford has been pretty solid. 

 

Edited by LTtxfan
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Thx for this @satyanash 

Scipio Tex       LBs and DBs vs Louisiana 

LB

I was very pleasantly surprised by their competent play. Overshown led the team in tackles with 13 and Luke Brockermeyer was flying around with 10 of his own. Overshown is much better coached now and Brockermeyer didn't look out of place to me at all. Just understand that they are finesse linebackers and pretty much the guys that TCU starts every year. Nice job from each running the crosser blitz that led to the sack above and Brock notched 1.5 tackles for loss including a nice pop on a Cajun back on a run stunt in the 1st half. Gbenda was the #1 substitute off the bench and he notched five tackles of his own. Jaylan Ford had three tackles, but the hierarchy feels like Gbenda is LB3 at the two interior positions.

DB

Texas played everyone on the two deep when the game was still being decided which likely informed the simple game plan and the Keep-The-Ball-In-Front approach. Overall play was solid. Josh Thompson had a few poor moments and I'm not talking about the personal foul. He needs to increase his play awareness and keep his feet. D'shawn tackled well and wasn't challenged much. Kitan Crawford and Jahdae Barron very much look the part and they look really quick to me. Probably the best cornerback play all day was Darion Dunn's hard 1 on 1 tackle where he got low and put his helmet right on the ball tackling a receiver in space, forcing a fumble. I understand why Anthony Cook got the starting nod at nickel. He showed good awareness and prevented some early read throws.

I didn't see the Horns drop Schooler or Foster into the box much at all. The plan was clearly to teach, keep it pretty simple, and play everybody. 

 

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11 minutes ago, Texasrocks said:

I forgot about Richardson. He was supposed to be pretty good at New Mexico (or wherever he was) wasn't he?

Yeah, he was a beast there which is why we went after him. I can't imagine a world where Luke Brock is better than him, yet here we are living in a nightmare where PK can't seem to understand how shitty Luke actually is as a football player. 

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Yeah, he was a beast there which is why we went after him. I can't imagine a world where Luke Brock is better than him, yet here we are living in a nightmare where PK can't seem to understand how shitty Luke actually is as a football player. 

Why not?

Is it cause he’s a walk on? Is it cause he’s white?

Yards and points have been much easier when Brockermeyer is not in there. And he has no experience either so he should improve.

This has been the oddest non-9.95ers issue this summer. The woe is us the walk-on is playing. Set aside whatever biases there are and give him a chance.
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45 minutes ago, Had Enough said:


Why not?

Is it cause he’s a walk on? Is it cause he’s white?

Yards and points have been much easier when Brockermeyer is not in there. And he has no experience either so he should improve.

This has been the oddest non-9.95ers issue this summer. The woe is us the walk-on is playing. Set aside whatever biases there are and give him a chance.

Because he's white? Wut? He's no longer a walk-on, and he shouldn't be missing that many tackles against Arky. He's been good against lower level teams, but he's absent when it matters. Shit, I hope that dude balls out, whether he's white, black, pink, yellow, or the color of my turds every morning. But he's just not there yet. He plays with a lot of intensity, but he's not some irreplaceable player. 

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Surly is more fixated on race than just about anywhere, as was TOS and Hornfans before that. Worse than fan bases we tend to ridicule. Every team we’ve lost to over the last 20 years has had more white players than us, and so has every team we’ve beaten. Some things never change. 

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Because he's white? Wut? He's no longer a walk-on, and he shouldn't be missing that many tackles against Arky. He's been good against lower level teams, but he's absent when it matters. Shit, I hope that dude balls out, whether he's white, black, pink, yellow, or the color of my turds every morning. But he's just not there yet. He plays with a lot of intensity, but he's not some irreplaceable player. 

Dude go back and read your comment. Talking about a guy is not only starting his 2nd game but it was only his 2nd game playing any substantial snaps. But also, there were others that just seemed in disbelief that he could be worthy of playing. Before they‚Äôd ever see him play. There‚Äôs never been a dude anywhere that was anything other than ‚Äújust not there yet‚ÄĚ in his second start. So give him a bit more time. It‚Äôd be hard to find any guys who played great versus Arkansas.

To an extent, once a walk on always a walk on. And I’m not certain how we can assume the son of a former NFLer with a very highly recruited brother missed the family genes entirely because this off season that’s the way a lot of comments come off.

I don’t recall him missing many tackles versus ArKansas. Even if he missed a few, he was not alone.

And funny enough one of the plays shown and discussed here from the ArKsnsas game is critical of Bush when his play is not terrible there but totally misses the backside defender cutting under a block and taking himself 100% out of the play. Absolutely terrible yet nary a mention.
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33 minutes ago, ImissWallyPryor said:

Surly is more fixated on race than just about anywhere, as was TOS and Hornfans before that. Worse than fan bases we tend to ridicule. Every team we’ve lost to over the last 20 years has had more white players than us, and so has every team we’ve beaten. Some things never change. 

Everyone is fixated on race. Surly is, if nothing else, a microcosm of the world, the US, Texas, etc… Get the fuck outta here with that shit. 
 

Surly sees Burnt Orange.
And , tits. We also see tits. 

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28 minutes ago, Had Enough said:


Dude go back and read your comment. Talking about a guy is not only starting his 2nd game but it was only his 2nd game playing any substantial snaps. But also, there were others that just seemed in disbelief that he could be worthy of playing. Before they‚Äôd ever see him play. There‚Äôs never been a dude anywhere that was anything other than ‚Äújust not there yet‚ÄĚ in his second start. So give him a bit more time. It‚Äôd be hard to find any guys who played great versus Arkansas.

To an extent, once a walk on always a walk on. And I’m not certain how we can assume the son of a former NFLer with a very highly recruited brother missed the family genes entirely because this off season that’s the way a lot of comments come off.

I don’t recall him missing many tackles versus ArKansas. Even if he missed a few, he was not alone.

And funny enough one of the plays shown and discussed here from the ArKsnsas game is critical of Bush when his play is not terrible there but totally misses the backside defender cutting under a block and taking himself 100% out of the play. Absolutely terrible yet nary a mention.

Good points 

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Scipio Tex --  2021 Texas-Rice Postmortem: Defense

LB

Rice attacked our linebacker's desire to drift and vacate with the little pitch power wrinkle that screams outside toss but is actually designed as an inside power run. That's good coaching identification by Rice and it led to multiple big gains. This was their longest:

The two interior DTs get blocked. Luke is coming on a run stunt. Overshown blocks himself by drifting and never reads his blocking keys. BJ drifts to a bad spot, loses depth and sight of the ball, and doesn't really see what's happening. I don't know what Jamison is doing. Dude's backpedaling at a power run. This play really messed with our keys and I'm curious as to why. We'll see multiple forms of it again.

DB

Rice had three completions >10 yards and averaged 6.7 yards per completion. Not a lot to evaluate here in the passing game. Jerrin Thompson forced a fumble putting his shoulder pad right on the ball and Josh Thompson was there with a hustle fumble recovery. Up 37-0, Josh was selling out like it was a 0-0. I appreciate that. Anthony Cook is good 

 

Thx for this @satyanash

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