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Major Applewhite on physical practices: "The risk is worth the reward"

Texas running backs coach and co-offensive coordinator Major Applewhite weighed in yesterday with his thoughts on tackling in practice. Texas has prefered to practice at a thud tempo to reduce opportunity for injuries.

"Most coaches, if they're honest, will tell you when you start flying around and it's full contact during the season, you start to worry - it's a double edged sword," Applewhite told "We're helping our team learn how to play with better pad level. We're helping our team learn how to fly to the ball and be more physical at the point of attack. The defensive players are getting better at their tackling. The offensive players are getting a better feel for the pad level they're going to have to block at. The running backs are getting a better feel for the pad level when they're approached by a tackle."

The topic has become a subject of conversation around Austin after the Texas defense, which was expected to be among the best in the country, surrendered nearly 50 points per game through its first four Big 12 games. But to Applewhite, physical practice benefits the enitre Texas team and not just the defense.

"Personally, as a running backs coach, I like those shots because I can't, in certain periods of practice, emphasize pad level enough," Applewhite said. "The only thing that's going to teach you how to get your pads down is when someone is coming at you. 

"I think it helps us across the board."