On the first snap of the spring game, sophomore running back Jalen Overstreet took the handoff and burst outside for 22 yards. It was a poor start for the first-string defense playing against offensive backups on a drive that culminated in the only points the starting defense allowed. During this drive, the starters surrendered 70 yards, including the two longest plays it would allow all day.
But that would be the only drive during which the starting defense looked bad.
Texas, who wore dark jerseys and featured the majority of the first team players easily beat the Longhorns, who sported white uniforms and were made up mostly of second and third string players, 38-14.
Once the defensive line started to have its way with the second-string offensive line, this contest was dominated by the defense. The starting defensive line finished with 15 tackles, three sacks and five quarterback hurries. Among these were a quarterback hurry by junior defensive end Shiro Davis that led to an interception return for touchdown by senior safety Mykkele Thompson.
Senior defensive tackle Desmond Jackson, who finished with a Texas-high six tackles, thought the defense performed well after struggling the first series.
“Overall, the first series to me is the one that, to me, sticks out because we had a couple of critical errors,” Jackson said. “We had missed assignments, a couple of bad tackles, a couple of bad angles, but, overall, we had got our butterflies out, and we were able to just go in there and make the adjustments and say, ‘Everybody calm down. Just relax and have fun, but let’s get our assignments done.’ As soon as we did that, that’s when we started going out there and executing.”
Executing may be a bit of an understatement, as the defense held the second-string offense to only 32 yards the rest of the way before being pulled to start the fourth quarter.
But it wasn’t only the starting defensive linemen who dominated. Freshman defensive end Caleb Bluiett showed a lot of potential, recording two sacks and a game-high eight tackles against the starting offensive line.
One of the keys to the defensive line is communication between ends and tackles. Since assistant head coach Chris Rumph took over both positions, he’s run the merged group through the same drills in practice. This move should help the units stay in sync and avoid critical errors. It’s a move junior defensive tackle Malcom Brown thinks could help the team.
“We are all on the same page really,” Brown said. “We aren’t being taught one thing then being taught something different. We are all taught the same thing. We all do the same drills and everything. It’s nice, and it has its perks.”
After the first series, the defensive line disrupted the game. With solid outings from senior defensive end Cedric Reed, as well as Brown and Jackson, Texas’ front should be poised for another dominant campaign in 2014.