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Texas-KSU Defensive/Special Teams Postmortmem

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Abbreviated version

Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

Texas held down a very limited offense in terrible weather conditions.  No one is going to complain about surrendering 9 points, particularly when the Longhorn defense spent most of the first half of the season surrendering altogether. There was good and bad in the Longhorn performance, but the weather conditions and opponent didn't give us a true picture of whether this was continued post OU improvement or a mirage before the next offense drills us for 500 yards. I suspect it's the former more than the latter, but a road trip facing a desperate ISU team with a dangerous offense will clarify a lot.

DL

Hassan Ridgeway played very well despite a modest box score, particularly in the second half.  He brought pressure, demanded double teams constantly and generally made himself a problem.  We need more of that against Iowa State. Paul Boyette gave us some nice late pressures and a higher activity level than we certainly saw in the September heat, but nothing like the inspired effort we witnessed against OU.  Shiro Davis played sparingly, did a solid job when lined up inside against the run and once again demonstrated zero ability to pass rush.  Cottrell replaced him for a large number of series and he had a productive outing notching a sack and two tackles for loss. Expect that job split to continue to favor Cottrell.

I wasn't delighted with Poona Ford, but he seemed to be having traction issues - maybe the weather and conditions didn't favor a smallish DL who succeeds and fails based on his first step.  Desmond Jackson continues to see his snap and game impact wane, but he's certainly first on my All-Celebration Team.

LB

Peter Jinkens had a nice second half and even showed some of his old blitzing ability, demonstrating excellent closing speed on a sack and a pressure.  He wasn't the rock between the tackles he was against the Sooners, but his level of play is clearly elevated.  Malik Jefferson was forced to play more traditional LB than I would have liked and the soggy conditions seemed to sap his burst on blitzes and coming off of the edge. The box score showed 2 tackles and that was a fair approximation of his game impact.  He still struggles as a conventional LB when teams run right at him.

We saw a bit of a rotation with Anthony Wheeler (3 tackles, including a couple of decisive fills inside) and Tim Cole who saw plenty of snaps and very little game impact.

Naashon Hughes has probably been the most consistent Longhorn defender to date, but this was his least impactful game of the season.  The weather conditions seemed to stifle our greyhounds and I'm sure Hughes, Jefferson and Ford (he's more of a French Bulldog) can't wait to get to dry ground, pass rushing, and lateral movement instead of trying to slog with jumbos in the mud.

Charles Jones rushed for 122 yards on 18 carries, had no negative runs and his longest run was only 22 yards.  In short, KSU ran the ball decisively between the tackles when they wanted and a good bit of that was on the backers.

DB

We played about 90% man coverage in slick conditions and didn't concede anything down field.

Jason Hall had one of his better games in recent memory, filling early with abandon and knocking Joe Huebner out of the game (Huebner got knocked out twice).  He contributed 8 tackles overall and prevented some long Jones runs. When Jason Hall hurts people and supports against the run, he offsets his limitations in coverage and provides real positive value.  Dylan Haines nabbed a key interception (going 1 for 3 on opportunities) and he was a coin flip in run support.  You'd like to see a better effort from him on the goal line fighting through a rub route - let's queue up some Malcolm Butler Patriot-Seahawks footage from the Super Bowl.  You can't just accept the pick and hope for a call from the official.  This is the type of game we expect from him, but as we continue to play the young corners and linebackers, anyone who thinks he'll be replaced is missing the larger picture of the defense.  He's the back 7 security blanket and arguably the only player who really knows what's going on schematically.  The onus is on the Deshon Elliotts of the world to match the mental side and then beat him out with physical ability.

Duke Thomas led the Horns with 8 tackles (largely playing nickel) while being placed in man coverage with little help in treacherous conditions.  One slip can decide the game.  So he conceded some frustrating short catches on simple pick routes, but KSU's inability to make any big plays in the passing game was directly attributable to Duke.  Nice job.

Holton Hill has cemented his role at starting CB and I'm pretty impressed with his play thus far.  Bonney was quiet, which is how I like him.

Special Teams

Deep snapping auditions are now open.

Michael Dickson saved the game off of a terrible Kyle Ashby snap (Ashby also botched an extra point snap) and redemption is sweet.  That was a pretty athletic, cool-headed feat with his feet and I'm glad he got the chance to shine. Australia's transformation from prison colony to the nation everyone loves proves that the potential for rehabilitation is in his blood.