In large part because of monster seasons by defensive ends Jackson Jeffcoat and senior Cedric Reed, the defensive line was a clear area of strength for the Longhorns last year. With Jeffcoat now gone and Reed surely to garner extra attention from offensive lines, junior defensive tackle Malcom Brown has the chance to emerge as the latest standout along this Texas line.
Brown was a force in Saturday’s spring game, maintaining a constant presence in the backfield and preventing sophomore quarterback Tyrone Swoopes from feeling comfortable in the pocket. Swoopes finished the day being tackled five times, hurried once and tackled for a loss once in the first glimpse at the beginnings of the Charlie Strong era.
This kind of production should be expected out of Brown. At 6-foot-4-inches and 320 pounds, he was ranked the second-best defensive tackle in the country when he came to Austin.
After a solid season last year in which he helped clog the middle of Texas’ defense, he appears primed to make the leap into a more dominant role this year.
On Saturday, Brown embarrassed the interior offensive linemen on several plays, looking every bit like a player on the cusp of a breakout season, which will only be bolstered by Strong’s reputation for molding great defensive players.
The offense looked anemic and disoriented at times Saturday, and, while defenders typically play better in these games anyway, it still is clear that this defense will be the dynamic, playmaking unit for this team.
If Brown wasn’t excited about Strong taking over before, he is now. Texas fans know that Jeffcoat and Reed combined for 23 sacks last year, which was the second highest number of sacks by two players on the same team in all of Division I in 2013. The only players to beat out the Jeffcoat-Reed duo were Marcus Smith and Lorenzo Mauldin, who had none other than Strong as their coach at Louisville.
And, although Brown is unlikely to have a double-digit sack season because of the position he plays, he has the potential to emerge as the poster boy of the defensive-minded Strong era.