Before the season started we knew that Texas would be starting a couple of youngsters at safety. I set my expectations accordingly. Same as I would if I sit down in a restaurant and find that my waiter is a dude wearing skinny jeans. But unlike hipster waitstaff, our safeties have upside.
Earl Thomas received some much deserved criticism this season for looking lost at times. No, he was lost. But the dude has athleticism out the ass so you knew that as soon as he got the reps, he would be wrecking shit. He's well on his way, leading the team in passes broken up and forced fumbles and second on the team in interceptions.
Blake Gideon never received the same criticism as Thomas, and I think there were a couple of reasons for this. First, his screwups weren't as spectacular as Thomas'. Deon Beasley knows what I'm talking about. And second, Gideon had exceeded anyone's expectations by starting in the first place.
Gideon has been solid. He understands the defense, and that is important. But Gideon hasn't made very many plays. He'll make a solid hit on Dezmon Briscoe, but it comes after Briscoe has already dropped the ball. Recognition is one thing, but getting there quick enough to do something is quite another. Duane Akina can teach any defensive back the defense (albeit glacially), but what he can’t teach any of them is how to run a 4.4.
Gideon got trucked by Kansas Angus Quigley on Saturday and was knocked out of the game. Enter Christian Scott. Kansas runs the same play again, but this time Scott knocks the fuck out of Quigley right in front of the Kansas bench. That’s reckless abandon against a guy who outweighs him by at least 20 pounds. Later he stands Quigley up in the hole, forces the fumble and recovers it himself. Contrast that to Gideon’s forced fumble when he gets run over by Quigley but manages to strip the ball as he’s falling backwards.
Scott physically looked like a vintage University of Miami safety out there. He’s big and physical against the run, but he's also fast enough to cover receivers. In only a quarter and a half he broke up two passes. My favorite play of his, other than earholing Quigley, was on Kansas' 1st and goal play with 2 minutes left in the game. That's the recognition and reaction we've been missing.
Let’s not pretend that Scott didn’t make his share of mistakes though. He missed at least 3 tackles by my count. That’s 3 tackles in a quarter and a half of play. This was also gainst an overmatched Kansas that had no running game so Scott didn’t have to worry about any play action. But the dude made plays.
Am I saying that Scott should start? No. The coaches must have a reason for him not starting. But what I am saying is that Scott deserves more snaps than what he's been getting.