There are 28 seniors on Texas’ roster – 12 are starters. Head coach Charlie Strong called out those veterans at his weekly press conference Monday.
“I told the seniors it’s all about their leadership,” Strong said. “Their senior year, you like to see them go play their best football, and some of our seniors aren’t playing their best football. It’s not going to change until we start developing pride, and we have pride within ourselves and pride within the team.”
While the Longhorn seniors have managed to pull out the occasional big win over the course of their careers, they have, for the most part, struggled in big games. Although the matchup with Kansas won’t be considered a big game, Texas needs its seniors to lead by example if it wants to contend for a Big 12 championship.
DT Hassan Ridgeway
Texas lost senior defensive tackle Desmond “Tank” Jackson during its game against UCLA when he broke his ankle. Since then Jackson has undergone surgery that will likely sideline him for the rest of the season. Sophomore defensive tackle Hassan Ridgeway is expected to fill Jackson’s void.
Ridgeway will have to step up as he has “Tank” sized shoes to fill. Jackson was an important piece in stopping the run, and his absence was noticeable against the Bruins, as they were able to run the ball with ease after he was carted off.
It may be difficult to replace Jackson, but the coaching staff expects Ridgeway to come in and have success.
“The thing about Ridgeway is he is so strong and so powerful,” Strong said. “And he’s big and strong where he can get off blocks and make plays. You just see him engulf people and just throw them back and then reach over and get sacks.”
The key to a good defense is a formidable linebacking corps. Texas has solid linebackers in seniors Jordan Hicks and Steve Edmond. The Longhorns also rotate a handful of other guys into the second tier of their defense. But, at times, the veterans have faltered.
During the UCLA game, Hicks whiffed on a tackle that led to a big run by the Bruins. At other times, Edmond failed to fill his gaps. Some of the rotational guys have also been caught out of position.
For Texas to be successful against Kansas, and the rest of the Big 12 for that matter, it needs its linebackers to step up.