Select players met with the media earlier today. Here are a few quick notes (we'll have a more detailed report later today).
Kenny Vaccaro: Says he's playing nickel and safety. Playing corner for depth and can play some linebacker if neded. He's the nickel guy and they bring in another CB in that situation. Said they call Quandre Diggs "Quandre the Giant."
"He's short, but not small. He plays big for us."
Adrian Phillips mentioned that he's been watching a lot of film of players like AJ Williams and Curtis Brown.
More from Phillips: "Last year was unacceptable. We just needed to grind every day."
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Phillips is the first guy at safety when Vaccaro is at nickel. Phillips is working at every single spot in the secondary.
Jackson Jeffcoat said there is less read and react this year. Every player has rushed passer, every single one has dropped into coverage.
None of the players on hand were giving any info on the quarterback position. John Harris was clearly coached by those to avoid as he mentioned that he "doesn't even pay attention to the quarterbacks" on several occasions.
Jeffcoat feels like he's better this year against the run and pass, and has added seven pounds to his frame. Also said he's much stronger than he was at this time last year.
Jeffcoat said his match-up with Tray Allen has been tough all camp. Gave Allen a lot of compliments, particularly about his hands, he's feet and his strength. Also, mentioned that the offensive line is much tougher and that they did a lot of toughness drills this summer to get better in that department.
Jeffcoat said he has complete faith in the defensive tackles and they saw that this summer with the DTs competition.
Dominic Espinosa is another guy that Jeffcoat and Alex Okafor praised, mentioning his toughness and raw strength. Okafor said Espinosa plays with "control and confidence." When Espinosa got his chance, "he snagged it," Okafor said. Okafor also highlighted Espinosa's ability to make the right pre-snap reads and call out what needs to be picked up.
John Harris on Darrell Wyatt: "He brings the fire with him. He packs a might big punch and he has lots of energy to him."
On the QBs, Harris said it's the job of the WRs and other guys on offense to make the QB's job easier than it was last year. "As long as we're making plays for them, we're fine. We just need to catch the ball and help them out," Harris said.
- Vaccaro said Joe Bergeron blew him up with a block earlier in the fall camp, but Vaccaro paid him back with a pretty good pop in Tuesday's practice.
- Adrian Phillips said Jaxon Shipley has "snake eyes" that really throw the DBs off. When he's running his routes, Shipley stares the DBs right in the eye rather than looking at the ground or downfield. Makes it hard to figure out what he's thinking or where he's going.
- I asked Alex Okafor which OL has given him the most fits. He said they've all been great, but he's had some really good battles with Trey Hopkins. "His versatility and he's a great player. I really like going against him," Okafor said.
- Okafor and Jeffcoat both said they've been trained from day one to play on both sides of the line. They said there's a lot of movement and freedom in the new scheme at all the defensive positions. If a team goes hurry up and they need to line up quickly, they could very well flip sides from time time and just line up wherever allows them to get ready for each snap. Lots of freedom.
- Okafor on the team's mindset this year ... "All the egos we might have had after playing in the national championship game are out the window. There are no egos after 5-7."
- Okafor said at first he didn't feel very comfortable dropping into coverage from his DE spot (Jeffcoat said he feels fine). Okafor had never done that at Texas or even in high school. He really worked on it during the off-season and in 7-on-7 (or full-team drills) and he feels much improved. He said former LB Dravannti Johnson is the best at the DEs in this area.
- Jordan Hicks said he returned home to Ohio for a bit during the summer and, as always, heard it from the Ohio State fans. Hicks said he pretty much just stays quiet on that topic and doesn't throw it back at people. "Texas was the best place for me. I've felt that way since I made my choice," Hicks said.
- All the guys said they're ready to play the season opener and see someone other than their teammates. "If they said let's go tomorrow, the defense, the offense, we'd be ready. But we do still have work to do," Hicks said.
- Hicks said he understands Texas is a "sleeper" this year "but we like our position."
- Hicks really talked highly of Quandre Diggs. Said Diggs has had the hardest hit of pre-season camp (he couldn't remember the unfortunate recipient). Diggs is short, but he plays much bigger than his size. He's physical, he can really jump and "he looks like he's been there before."
- Hicks on the defensive playbook ... it's a lot smaller than it was under Will Muschamp but there are so many variations off of each play.