Tom Herman’s first complete recruiting class in 2018 was nearly an ideal group for competing in the Big 12. There were multiple promising athletes on the offensive line, weapons like Keaontay Ingram and Brennan Eagles, edge-rusher Joseph Ossai, and a horde of impressive defensive backs that included 5-star safeties Caden Sterns and B.J. Foster.
In the Newbery Medal winning short story, Recruiting for Dummies, I mentioned the myth of the rainmaker recruiter. These supposed rainmakers are in much shorter supply than Dummies realize. Most recruiters are beholden to circumstances that are largely out of their control, namely program perception. This excludes head coaches, of course. A position coach killing it on the trail for Ohio State isn’t going to be the same recruiter at other schools, even if he was selling a good and somewhat similar product like Michigan. Or even Notre Dame.
Calling defense at the Power 5 level is a performance-based business. Todd Orlando’s 2019 regular season as Texas’ defensive coordinator resulted in his dismissal from Tom Herman’s program due to poor performance.
Cross your fingers as Texas begins phase 1 of reopening the state. We need this to go well not only for important reasons, but also extremely important reasons like the return of Longhorns football, preferably with a punctual start. We’ll cover that potential start more in the coming days.
Chris Ash is entering a brutal world taking on Big 12 offenses. The conference is a graveyard for defensive coaches that has laid low many a rising star who’d shown so much promise in stopping the run at previous stops. Coach after coach has fallen into the trap of thinking that the crucial point of conflict with these offenses is at the line of scrimmage only to see their schemes undone when former 3-star quarterbacks have repeatedly chucked it over their heads and dropped 40 points on the scoreboard.
Normally spring would bring practices and the orange and white game, offering up a lot of clarity on the depth chart and pecking order on the team. Assuming they didn't do another of those terrible drafts, a spring game would have been fascinating this year for revealing how well the defense was trading off routes in the new quarters scheme. They could have just thrown everyone off the scent by playing mostly cover 1 for the spring game but there’s a good chance we would have seen Chris Ash’s revamped defensive backfield executing the base coverages that will define the defense this season.
The coronavirus and corresponding responses by public officials have impeded Tom Herman from accomplishing his spring task of fully installing new offensive and defensive systems. Thanks to modern technology and work accomplished prior to UT’s closure and various stay-at-home orders, the install was greatly disrupted but not fully derailed.
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.
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.