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Insider

Practice report: QBs finding confidence

3/5/2012

AUSTIN, Texas -- There was plenty of blame to pass around last year when it came to Texas’ inconsistent passing game.

Put it all on the quarterbacks if you want, but offensive lineman Mason Walters knows it wasn’t just about David Ash, Case McCoy and their receivers.

That’s the approach the Longhorns offense is taking this fall. All 11 are responsible for bringing back the confidence in Texas’ passing attack.

“I think we were the problem sometimes last year in the throwing game,” Walters said of his fellow linemen. “We weren’t giving enough time, not turning the protections when we needed to, not taking the hot routes off of David like we can this year.

“Everyone is getting more involved, and we all take it very personally. We want to be able to do whatever we want.”

Texas surpassed 200 passing yards in only three Big 12 games last season. When the run game was on fire against Kansas and Texas Tech, that stat wasn’t a problem. When defenses -- and a bevy of injuries -- slowed the rushing attack? Not pretty.

Receiver Jaxon Shipley said avoiding injuries is a priority, and he admitted after Monday’s practice he didn’t feel completely healed until a few weeks after the season ended. No matter who can or can’t play, though, the passing game can’t disappear anymore.

“It doesn’t matter what quarterback is in the game, we’ve got to have a rhythm,” Shipley said. “We’ve got to have a confidence going into the passing game. I know last year wasn’t the greatest year passing-wise, but I feel we’re getting better.”

The re-emergence of Mike Davis has helped, as has the impressive play of receiver DeSean Hales this spring. Shipley and linebacker Jordan Hicks both said they’ve seen tight end M.J. McFarland make big strides in recent practices.

But it’s not all about having weapons. Cornerback Carrington Byndom can see improvement, and there’s nothing unique about how Texas is getting there. It’s all repetition. Comfort breeds confidence.

“They’re running the same plays and doing the same things they did last year,” Byndom said. “But making sure they’re that much better.”

To the secondary’s credit, they didn’t make an air attack easy on Monday. Byndom said the Longhorns defense picked off five passes on the day.

Corner Josh Turner led the team with two, and Quandre Diggs, Duke Thomas and Brandon Moore each nabbed one.

Yes, you read that right. Defensive tackle Brandon Moore continued his impressive spring debut by pulling down an interception on a tipped ball at the line.

After forcing few turnovers in their two weekend practices, Texas’ defenders were happy to avoid defensive coordinator Manny Diaz’s post-practice punishment for not getting the mandatory three a day.

“Good day for the secondary,” Byndom said. “That’s how it should be, though. That’s how it should be.”