Four years ago, defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat came to Texas with a goal. That goal was to win a BCS game.
However, now his class is the only class in a decade at Texas to not be part of a BCS team. But this year Jeffcoat is playing better than he ever has, setting Texas and his defensive line up for that goal.
“I feel like maybe my senior year in high school I was playing this well, I was getting a little bit like that,” Jeffcoat said. “But nothing like this before.”
This season alone, the senior from Plano has 36 tackles, six sacks, an interception and a fumble recovery. He was named the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week after his contribution against TCU and was also named one of 16 semifinalists for the Bednarik Award, honoring the nation’s best defensive player.
One of the biggest changes for Jeffcoat, which propelled him to the level he is at, is his concentration and focus.
“The plays are slowing down,” Jeffcoat said. “Everything slows down. That’s how when you play the game for a while, you start seeing things a lot faster, but the plays go a lot slower.”
Jeffcoat, who came to Texas for the family atmosphere, has helped the defensive line turn into the powerhouse it is. He helped foster the change that was needed after back-to-back losses against BYU and Ole Miss.
“I think our guys are comfortable now,” defensive end Cedric Reed said. “Everybody knows what they have to do. Everybody knows their assignments. The defense is just clicking. It’s amazing actually. If we don’t get there, we know there’s going to be a pass breakup or something like that. It’s a great feeling. It’s great to watch.”
While Jeffcoat and the defense has turned the corner since they were outscored 84-44 in those two losses, Mack Brown thinks there is still room to improve if they want to detain a BCS title.
“Jackson Jeffcoat [and the others] are rushing the passer as good as anybody in the country,” Mack Brown said. “To hold a team like TCU to 40 yards rushing is a great compliment. We can still get better. We had some mess-ups Saturday night. We got beat on the trick play. We have some things we can continue to improve.”
The goal for Texas is to win out and capture the Big 12 title. To do that, its first goal is Kansas.
“It’s funny how things have changed [since the losses],” Jeffcoat said. “We’re still just as hungry. This is a big game anyways because it’s a conference game. These are must-win games. We have to win it. We have to approach this game, be prepared, ready to go. In this conference, you really don’t have bad teams.”