DE Alex Okafor
The Horn continues its position analysis of the Longhorns with an in depth look at the Defensive Line.
During this off-season, head coach Mack Brown has been trying to inject a renewed sense of toughness into the Longhorns. Down in the trenches would be a good place to start. With a year of Manny Diaz’s system under their belt, the defensive line looks to be the anchor of a stout Texas defense for the 2012 season.
The Longhorns are projected to have one of the top defenses in the country as they return a dynamic defensive line that ranked seventh in rush yards allowed per game last season. Let’s take a look at the 2012 Texas defensive front four.
DE: Alex Okafor
DT: Brandon Moore
DT: Ashton Dorsey
DE: Jackson Jeffcoat
With 2012 Preseason All-Big 12 Football selections Okafor and Jeffcoat, the Longhorns boast tons of power on the edge. After switching back to defensive end from defensive tackle, Okafor was awarded Big 12 preseason defensive player of the year for this upcoming year and for good reason. He finished the year with seven sacks and 58 tackles and only looks to improve in his last year as a Longhorn.
A fan favorite since he came to Austin, Jeffcoat looks to add another strong year to his resume. Leading the team in tackles for a loss, Jeffcoat along with Okafor look to stabilize the Longhorns on defense. In the 2011 season, the pair combined for 32 tackles for loss and 13 sacks as they wreaked havoc in the backfield all season long. With both Okafor and Jeffcoat, the Longhorns boast one of the top DE tandems in the country.
With the loss of DT Kheeston Randall, the Longhorns must fill a huge void in the middle of the line. Having earned limited duty last season, Ashton Dorsey will have to continue to develop to help shore up the line.
However, the Longhorns received a huge boost from JUCO transfer Brandon Moore. The 6’6”, 330-pound transfer has received glowing reviews from his practices during the early spring and has reportedly been dominating the pass rush. Moore will provide the strength up the middle to go along with the power off the edge.
Chris Whaley, Desmond Jackson, Reggie Wilson
With one of the top-heavy talented defensive lines in the country, the Longhorns only have selective depth to back up their line especially after the promotion of Ashton Dorsey to fill the void of Kheeston Randall.
Before last season, Whaley and Jackson had very limited experience. However, both were high-end recruits coming out of high school with a lot of talent. During the 2011 season, the two experienced valuable playing time combining for three sacks and four tackles for a loss. Both Whaley and Jackson can provide consistent, reliable minutes for Texas.
The Bottom Line
At the end of last season, most critics agreed that the Longhorns needed to improve their offense to compliment their championship level defense. With seven returning starters on the defensive side of the ball, the 2012 Longhorns present a defense that hopes to rank as one of the stingiest in the country with the defensive line as its base.
With stalwarts on the defensive end in Jackson Jeffcoat and Alex Okafor along with JUCO transfer Brandon Moore filling up the middle, Texas boasts one of the more complete and dominant defensive lines in the country. Jeffcoat and Okafor can provide an All-American outside rush while Moore plugs up the running lanes up the middle.
Although not incredibly deep, Texas has the wherewithal to withstand a couple injuries with backups Whaley and Jackson ready to take the helm. All in all, the Longhorns defensive line will be a force to be reckoned with.