A closer look at Texas' defensive issues 

October, 31, 2012
AUSTIN, Texas – Quandre Diggs talks like he plays -- fast, hard and with an edge.

So when the question as to why the defense has not lived up the hype was put to the Texas cornerback he came back with a quick punch: "You think everybody who comes on the field is automatically an all-American."

[+] EnlargeQuandre Diggs
AP Photo/Reed HoffmannCornerback Quandre Diggs, who has three interceptions on the season, has been arguably Texas' top defender this season.
Well, true. That is the perception of Texas because Texas does recruit and sign so many high school all-Americans. Over the past five years, Texas has had 51 ESPN top 150 players sign. For perspective, Baylor has had three. The Bears are only 25 spots worse in overall defense than Texas this season.

Where the real difference is that Texas was expected to be better. Check that, Texas was expected to be among the best. The players, the ones Texas brought in front of the media in the spring and fall camp, said the defense was better than the 2011 version that finished 11th in overall defense. Linebacker Steve Edmond moved like no big man they had seen before, they said. Defensive tackle Brandon Moore could block out the sun and throw aside offensive linemen with ease, the players said. And the secondary would be better due to a year of experience and the addition of a healthy Adrian Phillips, was the claim.

Then they played. And it was clear from the first 82-yard touchdown pass allowed against Wyoming this defense had issues.

Here then is a breakdown of why Texas has broken down on defense:

Linebackers: To pin all the issues on Jordan Hicks’ injury would be wrong. He was the leader of that group and the leading tackler before injuring his hip flexor against Ole Miss. But not even his play would have been able to mask the deficiencies present in the other players.

First off, Texas had no adequate backup for Hicks. It tried to play with three linebackers and put Demarco Cobbs in Hicks’ spot while bringing Kendall Thompson in to play the other outside linebacker. But it became apparent Cobbs’ speed, his greatest asset, was wasted due to his inability to use that speed to go in the right direction.

In addition, with the proliferation of spread teams Texas needed more defensive backs on the field and therefore would have to play more nickel and dime. So despite Cobbs being a former safety, he had to come off the field. (He did play more of a floater linebacker/safety role against Baylor on some plays and actually was not all bad.)

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