Todd Orlando is no longer the defensive coordinator at Texas in no small part because in 2019 he squandered some of the best pass-rushing personnel Texas has fielded in years. Despite having a dream 3-technique on the roster in Malcolm Roach and an emerging star edge rusher in Joseph Ossai, Texas rarely leveraged their talents together in their ideal positions.
At the outset of the 2019 National Championship game between Clemson and LSU, the main storyline was how the Dabo Swinney Tigers had adopted Auburn’s 3-1-7 system as their main deterrent for the potent Joe Burrow offense. They spun down big safeties Isaiah Simmons and Tanner Muse into linebackers, removed a defensive tackle from the field, and played some tight matching cover 3 and bracket quarters schemes without fielding a single player in the backfield lacking some training and ability as a defensive back. It worked for a while, stymieing the LSU passing game by confusing Joe Burrow and the offensive line.
Tom Herman had to make one of the most important decisions of his career this offseason after “reassigning” Tim Beck from offensive coordinator. The obvious narrative that Herman has encouraged was that Texas needed an OC that could handle more of the play-calling and gameplanning load in order to free up the head coach to oversee overall program quality and culture. That’s certainly true, but Herman had a bigger challenge for 2020, which was to find someone to help the offense fully unlock their potential in a make or break year for his tenure and to make the most of being the flagship program in a state known for offense.
Going into 2019 there were varying expectations for the Texas offensive line depending on who you asked. Herb Hand had a pair of stalwarts back in LT Sam Cosmi, coming off a brilliant RS freshman season at RT, and four-year starting center Zach Shackelford. Then Texas added Georgia Tech two-time All-ACC Parker Braun to play LG and build potentially the best tackle/guard tandem of the decade.
Back in 2017, Mike Yurcich was one of the early victims of the inverted Tampa 2’s initial pass through the league. Iowa State threw the scheme at Texas, who struggled mightily with it, then used it while upsetting Baker Mayfield and the playoff-bound Oklahoma Sooners. Not long afterward, Texas incorporated the scheme into their own defense and ended up relying on it to take the Mason Rudolph Oklahoma State Cowboys to overtime in Austin.
In Super Bowl LIV, the San Francisco 49ers nearly took down Pat Mahomes’ Chiefs thanks to a dominant base pass rush that allowed them to restrain the lethal Kansas City passing game. Nick Bosa looked like the MVP of the game up until the 4th quarter, when KC started employing tempo and Mahomes made a few plays, leading to the sapping of energy from the pass rush and the inevitable avalanche of Chief scores.
It’s really easy to simply look at the calculators on 247 and get a numeric representation of which recruiting classes are winners and which are losers. Texas fans know a little better after a decade of finishing first in the Big 12 every February and maybe fourth in December.