What You Need To Know About The Texas Defense
– Yes, there was a massive defensive improvement under the new coaching staff and coordinator Todd Orlando. However, to be fair to the old regime, 2017 was the year the D was supposed to gel.
And now, top two tacklers Malik Jefferson and DeShon Elliott are gone, Poona Ford is gone from the interior, and corner Holton Hill will be missed.
The defense was terrific, allowing 366 yards and 21 points per game – highlighted by a rock of a run defense – and now it needs to do a little rebuilding.
– The secondary takes a big hit. In all, 11 of the 16 interceptions have to be replaced, with Elliott and Hill two fantastic parts of the resurgence.
Kris Boyd is the next star corner ready to shine – making 57 tackles last season and two picks – and leading returning tackler Brandon Jones is a good one at free safety.
There’s a step back happening, but the other two spots will be fine considering the strength of the established starters. And there’s a little bit of depth to play around with, too.
– Malik Jefferson led the team with 110 tackles from his outside position, but Gary Johnson is a good one who can more than fill the talent role. He was fourth on the team with 60 tackles, showing off the size, athleticism and upside to grow into one of the team’s biggest defensive stars.
Anthony Wheeler should do more in the middle after coming up with 47 stops, but it’ll be a fall camp fight for the outside job on the other side of Johnson.
– The defensive front has to come up with the right combination, but it should be terrific. Malcolm Roach is part linebacker, part end, with 270-pound size and great pass rushing upside – now he actually has to get to the quarterback.
Breckyn Hager is also a hybrid type, only a little smaller, He tied for the team lead with four sacks and came up with nine tackles for loss. The numbers aren’t eye-popping, but he’s effective.
6-2, 310-pound Chris Nelson will try to take over for Ford on the nose, and Charles Omenihu is like another tackle working on the end – he’ll be a part of a rotation with Roach, depending on where he lines up.
Biggest Key To The Texas Defense
Keep the third down success going. The 2016 defense wasn’t all that bad on the money downs, but it allowed teams to convert 38% of their chances after the 2015 defense gave up the key plays 44% of the time.
Last year’s D? It finished third in the nation, allowing offenses to connect on a paltry 27% of their attempts.
However, there was a problem when opposing offenses had even the teeniest, tiniest bit of success. By any reasonable measure, the Texas D was amazing. Kansas, oddly enough, had the best day converting 37% of its tries in the loss.
In the six losses, Texas allowed offenses to convert more than 27% but under an also-great 34%. In the six other wins other than against the Jayhawks? Under 27%.