Wide receivers beginning to separate from pack

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Michael Huey (63) looks for a block in the national championship game. Huey is one of the strongest players on the team.

Photo Credit: Stephen Keller | Daily Texan Staff

Texas is already more than halfway through with its spring practices, which means the days of Colt McCoy and Jordan Shipley are fading farther and farther away in the rearview mirror. It was no secret that Shipley was McCoy’s go-to receiver, but now the question is, who will be Garrett Gilbert’s?

“I’m not sure exactly,” wide receiver John Chiles said. “You’ll see James [Kirkendoll] make a play, then you’ll see Malcolm [Williams] make a play, and I’ll make a play. It’s sort of all over the place right now. He’s spreading the ball really well.”

While no one receiver has fully distinguished himself as Gilbert’s go-to man, those three veterans have begun to distance themselves from the rest of the pack.

“I think there’s some separation,” Chiles said. “Malcolm, James and myself. I think there’s separation, we’re definitely the starters. We’ve been working hard to push each other.”

Despite all three having seen game action and catching a combined nine touchdowns last year, they’re having to make the adjustment to catching balls from Gilbert instead of McCoy.

“I think he has a faster release a little bit,” Chiles said about Gilbert’s passes compared to McCoy’s. “It’s not exactly blazing fast, but it’s faster. It [arrives] a little bit quicker.”

Five-finger discount
Texas is stealing plays from everybody this off-season.

OK, so it’s not stealing if they give it to you, but still, the Horns are taking some pages, literally, from other teams’ playbooks. Earlier this offseason, Texas brought in some of the coaches from Boise State to help learn some new trick plays to keep defenses guessing and to keep things fun for the players.

Now the Horns have brought in someone new to help: Jim Caldwell, coach of the Indianapolis Colts.

Caldwell came in and introduced a stretch play to help with Texas’ new emphasis on the running game. The play can be used as either a run or a play-action pass, which fits perfectly in Texas’ new offensive strategy. The stretch, which is, in a way, replacing the zone-option, is nearly as versatile as Texas’ stable of running backs.

“In our system, they taught us all well how to run the play and what to look for to read the play, so we’re all capable of running that play,” running back Fozzy Whittaker said.

The players also get some extra benefit in the film room when studying the play beyond just learning how it works.

“We watch snaps on the Colts to see how they do it,” Whittaker said “It helps us realize the play a little bit better and helps us get a full understanding of how they do it in the League, which we’re all pursuing.”

Huey the hulk
Maybe they should start calling Michael Huey the “Hulk,” given that everyone seems to think he’s one of the strongest guys on the team with a nasty mean streak.

“I think Mikey Huey has been the nastiest out there,” Whittaker said. “I’ve seen him get in a couple of defensive tackles’ personal bubble.”

“I might have to say Michel Huey,” Kheeston Randall said when asked who the strongest guy on the team was. “I’d say [he benches] 500 [pounds].”
Randall’s max on bench is only 445 lbs.

Huey is not alone, though. The one area that was looking to be one of Texas’ weakest points is its strongest ­— at least in the weight room.

“They’re pretty strong,” Randall said of the offensive line. “I’d probably say they’re strongest overall.”

Despite having already made a smooth transition from right guard to left, Huey is going to need that strength to help him while he continues to adjust to the move.

“He’s fine,” said Kyle Hix, who also moved from the right side of the line to the left at tackle. “It takes a couple days to get used to it. Really, it’s not too big of a deal for him. He’s played both sides before.”