It had been more than six months since Texas had lined up with Jordan Hicks in the middle of its defense during a game when he suited up for last month’s Orange-White Scrimmage.
“Not even gonna lie it’s so good to have @JHicks_3 lining up beside me again!” junior defensive back Quandre Diggs tweeted two days before the March 30 spring game. “The QB of our defense! #DifferenceMaker.”
Hicks, who missed the final 10 games last season with a hip injury, was accused of sexually assaulting a woman in San Antonio, along with quarterback Case McCoy, the day before Texas’ win over Oregon State in the Alamo Bowl last December.
The Longhorns are going to need him this year.
Like McCoy, Hicks was disciplined and reinstated with the team in January. No charges were filed against either of them. Texas’ spring game was the first time fans got to see Hicks in action for awhile. He didn’t disappoint. Hicks made six tackles, two for a loss, and picked off a David Ash shovel pass, during last month’s spring game.
He showed why Texas was the worst rushing defense in the Big 12 during conference play last season. They didn’t have him.
The Longhorns allowed 224.7 passing yards per game against Big 12 foes, the second-fewest in the conference. But it was Texas’ run defense that killed its chances of having a 10-win season. The Longhorns are going to have defend the run much better in 2013.
When Oklahoma pounded Texas for the second straight year last October, the Sooners’ all-time leading passer, Landry Jones threw for 321 yards and two scores. But it was the Hicks-less Longhorns letting OU run for 343 yards and six touchdowns that doomed them.
Before Hicks was knocked out of Texas’ win over Ole Miss last September in the second quarter, the Longhorns were giving up 150 rushing yards per game while opponents averaged four yards per carry. Without Hicks, they allowed 211.3 rushing yards per game as opponents averaged 4.8 yards per carry.
“Certainly our experience at linebacker has been telling,” defensive coordinator Manny Diaz said. “We are better off than we were at any point last season. What we have to do is find a way that 11 guys do their jobs and do it with a nasty disposition. If we can find 11 guys to do their jobs and do them with a nasty attitude, we’ll be OK.”
But, more than anything, it needs a healthy Jordan Hicks.