There’s construction being done at Darrell K. Royal-Memorial Stadium in Austin. Rebuilding. Football season is still months away, but certain aspects are a wreck.

This is not a metaphor.  

The work meant UT fans who came out to the Longhorns’ two public spring practices this past Friday and Saturday were restricted to one end zone, not that it mattered: the low emotional temperature of the football fan base combined with UT’s disappointing hoops season had a Twitter follower of the San Antonio Express-News‘ Mike Finger and the Cedric Golden of the Austin American-Statesman making the same joke one day apart.

The tweets:


And Golden:

So I went to Royal-Memorial Stadium for a spring football practice, and judging from the fan count, a UT basketball game broke out.

All jokes aside — and it’s a joke that just over 1,000 fans ventured out to watch their football team practice — the Horns are confronting a major problem this spring. 

The problem? Tackling, as everyone who watched more than a minute of last season knows. Golden’s column floated the idea that Mack Brown and defensive coordinator Manny Diaz may yet have enough linebacking talent to improve in that are.

Eventually. As Golden’s colleague Randy Riggs reported, Diaz threw his cap to the ground in anger four times during Friday’s session even though the defense also had its moments. My favorite was one Riggs also cited, when the 6’3, 225-pound linebacker Steve Edmond went one-on-one in pass coverage with five-foot-ten, 184-pound running back Daje Johnson . . . and made the play.

Meanwhile, the Statesman‘s Kirk Bohls devoted his first column to the wide receiver corps, which he termed “absolutely stellar” and “magical” even w/o senior Mike Davis–or particulary impressive work by QB David Ash and his many back-ups (but they are back-ups).

On Twitter, Finger retorted that what Bohls saw had more to do with the opposing defense (he was maybe half-joking).

But after Saturday, Bohls seemed even more enthusiastic, adding that that he was impressed with the more up-tempo, new-look offense in general, and with the physicality of the tackling drills. Mack Brown told the media the team’s new offense should also mean he has a better defense. 

We are really trying to work on our tempo, which I think will be better for our defense than even our offense. In this league you have to practice against it everyday to be able to play against it I believe… We know we’ve got to tackle better at linebacker and we know we’ve got to tackle better in the secondary. We are working really, really hard on it because this league is becoming a space league. We are working on those issues every day. 

The rest of UT’s spring practice is closed until the Orange-White Game, which is the evening of March 30.