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How Does Texas Improve on Defense/Special Teams During Bye Week?

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Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

DT

Tank Jackson wasn't the most talented player on the Texas defense, but the role he played in freeing up Malcom Brown to line up outside the guard and attack one gap while he lined up in the 1 gap and tried to demand a double team won't be easy to fill. Hassan Ridgeway is a serious physical talent, but he's best playing the attacking Malcom Brown role - he hasn't held up well against double teams and the chaos at NT makes him hesitant. If fear is the mind-killer, hesitancy drives you to a bad neighborhood with $100 bills and crack taped to it. Paul Boyette and Alex Norman have played snaps in relief, but how will they do playing 60?

Right now Texas is looking for a DT to step up and do dirty work.  Or we're going to see more 3 man DL with Brown, Ridge, Reed.  That's a plus against the passing game - particularly when we're blitzing off of our odd front - but it gave up a little too much in the running game for my tastes against the Bruins and asks the LBs to make a lot of reads.

LB

A week of good old fashioned fundamentals will help.  Our LBs were too frequently victimized by false steps and drifting when no key or indicator told them to move a muscle.  Blocking them was as simple as gently screening so they couldn't cut back to correct their mistake.  Steve Edmond still struggles in space and Santos may got a longer look inside, but he's not going to help address containment problems.  Jordan Hicks had moments of greatness and goatness against UCLA, but he's still our best LB.  The coaches are looking for ways to get Jinkens on the field more, but if Hicks can't credibly play ILB for us in certain spread-busting sets, it's not going to happen.  Same for Cobbs.

DB

Getting Duke Thomas to have a short memory is the main task.  Thomas was playing an A- game until his F moment. Diggs showed better physicality against UCLA than he did against BYU - I think less receiver blocking effort level played a role in that.  Jason Hall flashed excellent physicality and it'll be a pleasure to watch him develop.  His challenges against OU and Baylor will be different though.  Still waiting for Thompson's big moment.  Teams haven't really challenged us deep yet.  It's coming.

Scheme

Don't be surprised if Tank Jackson's loss forces us into a re-tool of the front 7.  In fact, the best NT on the roster right now is....Malcom Brown.  Brown and Ridge paired, with Brown taking the NT role?

I love that we've freed our DL to make plays, but I'm starting to suspect that we get a little blitz happy when things aren't going our way.  I have some worries about how that's going to play against better offenses. Similarly, teams have demonstrated that you can run inside on Texas if you spread the D out, create some stretch with misdirection or the quick screen game and force our LBs and safeties to get run fits between the tackles and fight through the chaff.

On regular downs against conventional offense - particularly early in games - the Texas D has been fairly devastating. However, the Big 12 is largely built around the idea that you press every advantage.  There's no gentleman's agreement to play "correctly" or conventionally.  Holgo, Briles, Kingsbury, Snyder and Stoops aren't signing that treaty.

Special Teams

Punt coverage could clearly use a little work.  Honestly, I just don't know enough about our options, but it's clear we're putting a lot on our gunners to make the play.  Similarly, our punt returns aren't really effective.  Even when the punt block isn't on, Shipley is clearly being instructed to fair catch.

What do you think?