Each day, as a countdown to fall camp opening Aug. 2, we are going to provide you with a number that was important in 2011 and let you know why it will be important in 2012.
Adrian Phillips was a stopgap player in 2011.
If Texas needed a corner to take a few snaps, he was there. In nickel situations, Phillips was at the ready. Take over at safety? Yep, he had that covered too.
Inside the number
In all Phillips, who only started when someone was injured or when Texas went nickel right off the bat, played in 12 games and made 43 tackles. His tackle total put him 10th on the team.
In 2012, he should rise to the top five. That is, if Phillips fulfills the role that most have him pegged for.
Where it counts in 2012
The defense returns three of four starters in the secondary. Phillips is expected to be the player that rounds out the quartet. Provided he beats out Mykkele Thompson, Phillips will start at safety alongside Kenny Vaccaro.
Phillips is much more of a coverage safety than Vaccaro. He can still come up and make the tackle but is more likely to blanket someone than bring him down with a bang.
The move to Phillips should be an upgrade for the secondary. While losing four-year starter Blake Gideon hurts in experience, Phillips has more intuitive skills and the athletic ability to act on those skills.
He also has makeup speed so that on those occasions he does bite on the play action -- it’s going to happen -- he can recover quickly enough to, at the very least, bring down the receiver just after the catch and before the long run.