Likely Texas Bowl Game Starters: Longhorn Defense

Posted by    |    December 5th, 2017 at 12:59 pm

Todd Orlando’s already reduced defense (down Holton Hill, PJ Locke) will start more new faces with Deshon Elliott sitting out of the bowl game and Malik Jefferson unlikely to participate.

The DL should be full strength if the Horns can get bad advisors out of Charles Omenihu’s ear and we’ll see our customary rotations:

Defensive Line

DE Hager/Nelson

NT Ford/Wilbon

DE Roach/Omenihu

Expect the best pass rushers to get particularly heavy run against Missouri’s uptempo, productive offense. We’ll run some four man fronts as well. Texas can’t win if this group doesn’t dominate.

Linebacker

LB Wheeler

LB Johnson

The drop off from Jefferson to Wheeler at Mike is severe. Gary Johnson will have to show out in a big way as a QB spy and blitzer from the Rover spot. The game will preview a shallow 2018 group that needs Wheeler to step up in a big way and could badly use a JUCO or grad transfer talent injection.

S Brandon Jones

S John Bonney

CB D. Davis

CB Kris Boyd

Nickel A. Davis

Dime Hall/Thompson/Brown

The secondary won’t much resemble the unit that played most of the year. We’ll be down on coverage, physicality and playmaking. The dime back personnel will depend on what Orlando is looking for in that role at the moment. Hall is the best physical presence and blitzer, Thompson is an extra corner etc.

Bonney and Jones will be the traditional safeties.

Missouri’s passing game is vertical to the extreme. QB Drew Lock is averaging an incredible 16.5 yards per completion and they’ll throw downfield relentlessly. You have to watch the offense to appreciate just how aggressive they are. Any single coverage outside is an automatic go route, deep post or fade. If the Davis duo don’t raise their game in deep coverage and Brandon Jones/John Bonney don’t play fast over the top, it won’t be pretty.

New devleopment: Mizzou OC Josh Heupel has accepted the UCF job. Let’s see who handles play calling. My guess is that whoever holds the reins won’t change their fundamental approach.