This will be much more brief than the wandering diary that was my post on our Offense. Scipio Texicanus already addressed depth concerns, or lack thereof, and how we are just a few overachieving seniors away from owning BCS Crystal. Can a podcast with Russell Gaskamp and Matt Nordgren be far away?
The only footage we have of the spring game is some highlights commentated by former Nick at Nite host Lowell Galindo. He gets to sit around a cush studio across from the old Franklin BBQ trailer and flirt with Samantha Steele while we pay computer geeks in the RLM to find us a torrent of the game.
IF ONE DOESN'T EXIST JUST MAKE ONE, RAJ.
These are humbling times, Texas fan.
But then you watch highlights of Kenny Vaccaro, Alex Okafor, Sir Carrington Byndom, Steve Edmond, and Jordan Hicks wreaking havoc on Case McCoy, an ill-equipped OL, and KA pledges at wide receiver and all is right in the world again. I'm not one for hyperbole, but this defense would shut down Aaron Rodgers and the Packers in similar fashion.
So if there is anything to get excited about now, in early April, it's what our defense will look like this fall. The term bad-fucking-ass comes to mind. And this conclusion isn't based on anything we necessarily saw in the spring game, but more from how we finished last season, the expected leap we'll see from key players in year two under Diaz, and depth chart realities -- we're balls deep at DL and DB and have three complementary freaks at LB in Edmond, Hicks, and Cobbs.
Desmond Jackson and Brandon Moore were doing most of the work inside and Jackson in particular was a load to keep blocked due to his lower body strength, excellent leverage and quick first step. If he gets his pads under you it's probably not going to end well. Moore really moves well for a guy his size and has great feet. He had a few pressures and TFLs in the first half but faded down the stretch, no doubt due to the heat and the fact he's 330 lbs. Moore's weight is well distributed, unlike say, Larry Dibbles, who carried 80% of his body mass in his ass.
Alex Okafor continues to stack on muscle without losing any speed. Hopefully the experiment stops at 280 but we can expect another year of double digit sacks for #80. TFL machine, imo.
Cedric Reed has a nice frame and showed a good first step but wasn't able to finish any plays. He still has limited pass rushing moves but the effort and hustle remained high throughout the game and he logged a ton of snaps. We're all waiting for Reggie Wilson to come flying off the edge, log multiple sacks in a row, and perform a blood sacrifice on the field. For a guy with that much natural athleticism he has a lot of trouble getting off blocks or even using his speed to get outside an OTs grasp. His most impressive play might have been after the whistle when he picked up a football with his feet, soccer style. Time to take Didier Drogba posters down off the dorm room wall and focus wholly on sacrificing QBs. Otherwise, Hassan Ridgeway and Torshiro Davis have an open spot on the two deep if they arrive in shape. I don't know many programs that go three deep at DE with that much athleticism. Now it's time to photoshop pictures of Landry Jones with their girlfriends...
You probably already know this but there are six kinds of defensive backs:
The Loving Convert - Mykelle Thompson, Adrian Phillips
The Angry Convert - Ben Wells, Robert Joseph
Doc Holliday - Aaron Williams, Nathan Vasher
Unbreakable Sam - Blake Gideon, Blake Gideon
The Greased Wheel - Carrington Byndom, Aaron Ross
The Jackrabbit - Curtis Brown, Rod Babers
I will add one more: The Machete - Kenny Vaccaro
Replacing Blake Gideon and his 52 starts might be the best thing that happens to this secondary, other than the fact that Byndom and Diggs are now veteran sophomores. We have elite young depth behind them in Josh Turner and Duke Thomas. And we go two deep in afoletes at safety with Adrian Phillips, Mykelle Thompson, Sheroid Turner, and Leroy Scott. We still don't really know what we have in Turner (perpetually injured hamstring) and Thompson (raw, loving convert) but they can both fly. Size, speed, good looks. Yes, this secondary has it all.
We saw some of these talents on display during the spring game, but Byndom babered his pick six, Diggs and Phillips were out due to injury, and Mykelle Thompson chose to dazzle us on special teams instead. Just put all the pieces together and trust us when we say this puzzle will be hard to crack for opposing quarterbacks. Gone are Weeden, Griffin III, Mizzou and A&M. Their replacements won't fare as well. If we give up more than one receiving touchdown this season, I am disappoint.
Even just playing base defense, Diaz threw a few pre-snap wrinkles with overloading pressure on one side by blitzing Hicks and Cobbs and dropping the playside DE into coverage. That one led to a sack and a few other back foot Uncle Rico tosses by McCoy, who still has a tendency to self sack and create his own pressure even when it's not there (another hallmark of a Diaz defense!). We're not deep at LB, and there's a noticeable dropoff from Hicks/Cobbs/Edmond to the second line of Tevin Jackson, Aaron Benson, and Kendall Thompson. Jackson had one of the better hits of the game when he sent the latest LHN YouTube sensation Heath Hohmann five yards in the wrong direction on a savory open field hit. Hicks has put on a Batman layer of muscle, similar to what Keenan Robinson did between his sophomore and junior year.
Prediction! Steve Edmond will lead all LBs in takeaways, including forced fumbles and interceptions. He will also one day be inducted into Canton and The Smithsonian on the same day. Observe and enjoy while he's here. A rare specimen indeed.
Thoughts? Critiques? Personal problems that we may be able to assist you with?
We have four months to figure it all out.