If there’s any team that feels just as bad as the Iowa State Cyclones when it comes to defending the run, it’s the Texas Longhorns. But perhaps a new defensive coordinator at the helm will give the team a rejuvenated boost in Big 12 play.
As shocking as it may be to see a prominent school like Texas down after all the success its had during its tenure in the Big 12 and under head coach Mack Brown, it’s been a dismal start defensively for them. They gave up a school record 550 yards on the ground against BYU in their only road game this season, 259 of those picked up by Cougars quarterback Taysom Hill.
It didn’t get much better when the Longhorns fired defensive coordinator Manny Diaz and returned home to eventually get smoked by Ole Miss and gave up 272 more yards on the ground.
Under new coordinator Greg Robinson, the defense tended to shore things up by responding to Kansas State’s attempt to run the ball over them like the others had. They gave up just 115 yards on 38 attempts; no team has attempted less than that against Texas so far this season.
[Also see: Texas vs ISU - By the numbers]
If Iowa State wants to recreate what they did offensively against Tulsa, they’ll need to battle a 4-3 defense led by defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat. He already has 3.5 tackles for loss and two sacks, hoping to keep on pace with his amazing sophomore totals (17 TFL and eight sacks) two years ago.
Cedric Reed will be on the right (strong) end of the defensive line, who also has two sacks and three TFL on the season.
At linebacker, Jordan Hicks is the current leader with 35 total tackles (19 solo). Unfortunately for Texas, he suffered a torn Achillies tendon during the Kansas State game and is out for the season. That means Steve Edmond at middle linebacker will be the new leader of the group.
However, sophomore Dalton Santos will be in for the first half. Edmond has to sit due to being ejected in the second half of the Kansas State game for targeting.
Texas is pretty solid on defending the pass, so don’t expect Sam Richardson to be able to throw it to 11 different receivers like he did against Tulsa. The Longhorns give up a little over 200 yards in the air per game, but they’ve only given up three touchdowns, which is tied for 12th best in the nation. They aren’t threatening to throw on though, only picking the ball off twice.