Fall camp is under way for the Texas Longhorns, and while it has not been a great first week, first-year head coach Charlie Strong is not panicking.
"I just like the way we're working. There's still some work to be done," Strong said. "The first week it's still all new to them, and they want to push, push, push. Next week will be the real test. You go into how much drive and passion do they really have and can they go out there each and every day and go back to work."
The Longhorns have many areas that need to be addressed before the season starts. There is a new coaching staff, a new scheme and a lot of youth on the roster. But one of the most pressing concerns is at wide receiver.
Shipley Injures Hamstring
Senior wide receiver Jaxon Shipley hurt his hamstring in the first day of practice, and there is no timetable for his return. This is nothing new for Shipley. He hurt his hamstring in fall camp last year, but he was ready by the time the season started.
But the reason Shipley's injury is more significant this year is a lack of depth.
Without Shipley, Texas is left with two receivers with game experience in Marcus Johnson and John Harris. Johnson caught 22 passes for 350 yards and two touchdowns last season. Harris has just 23 receptions for 190 yards and three touchdowns in three years.
Compare those numbers to Shipley's 159 career catches for 1,933 yards and 10 touchdowns, and there is a lot of ground that needs to be covered.
The Longhorns lost two other receivers when Strong dismissed Montrel Meander and Kendall Sanders from the team earlier this month.
Sanders started seven games in 2013 and had 37 receptions for 361 yards and a touchdown. He was expected to be a key player for the Longhorns this season.
The Longhorns signed five wide receivers in the 2014 class, and those freshmen are going to be needed, especially if Shipley's injury cuts his playing time.
Offensive Line Coming Along
One of the major position concerns for Texas heading into the 2014 season is the lack of experience from the offensive line. The Longhorns entered 2013 with one of the most veteran lines in college football, but 2014 is a different situation.
Aside from senior center Dominic Espinosa, the offensive line has just 10 starts among 11 scholarship athletes.
But Strong appears to be pleased with the growth he has seen from sophomore Kent Perkins.
"Our whole offensive line is doing a really good job," Strong said. "Perkins is so strong; I think in the weight room, he's the strongest person we have. He's such a big body inside, and he can engulf you. If a guy tries to run inside, he can latch on. If he ever latches on, the defensive linemen don't have a chance."
There is still work that needs to be done from the offensive line, but Strong's comments are the most positive ones he has made about the group since taking the job at Texas.
Staff Experiencing the Dorm Life
Strong understands the value of team chemistry on and off of the field, which is why he wants the team to live together in the dorms during fall camp.
"The reason why we stay in the dorms is now we have the whole team around," Strong said.
"It's about teamwork and working together and just getting guys where they can find out who one another really is, because we don't really get that opportunity. A lot of older guys don't get a chance to know who the freshmen are, and now the freshmen can feel comfortable where they can walk into an upperclassman's room and feel good about it."
But it doesn't just end with the student-athletes.
Strong is also requiring his staff to live in the same dorms.
"What? Y'all don't think I stay in the dorms?" Strong said. "There's no suites over there. Our rooms are just the same as the player's rooms. There are two beds, and the bathroom is down the hall. It's good; we need that."
Strong and his staff are using this time to build relationships with the players.
With only three weeks to go, Strong and the Longhorns still have plenty of work to do before what will certainly be a heavily scrutinized season-opener.
Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand.
Taylor Gaspar is Bleacher Report's featured columnist covering the Texas Longhorns. Follow her on Twitter: @Taylor_Gaspar.
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