Longhorn defense lines up starters for coming season

Christian Corona

Like the rest of the team, Texas’ defensive line disappointed last season but should be greatly improved this year. Bo Davis comes from Alabama, where his front four played a significant role in the Crimson Tide’s victory over the Longhorns in the national title game two seasons ago. He takes over a Texas defensive line that’s prepared to improve on the 31 sacks and the 138.6 rushing yards per game it allowed last season. Here’s a breakdown of Davis’ defensive line.

Position Leader — Kheeston Randall
In the Longhorns’ five wins last season, they gave up 69 rushing yards per game. In their seven losses, they surrendered a whopping 188. As Texas’ run defense improves, their win-loss record will too. Randall, the lone senior defensive lineman, should be the focal point of a better Texas run defense. His contribution of 13 tackles for loss last season was second on the team only to All-American Sam Acho, and his 39 tackles were among the best of the Longhorn defensive tackles. Senior linebacker Emmanuel Acho summed it up when he said, “Kheeston [Randall] is one of the best in the nation.”

Most to Prove — Taylor Bible
Bible was one of the most sought-after members of Texas’ most recent recruiting class, but was somewhat overshadowed by fellow 2010 signees Jackson Jeffcoat and Jordan Hicks, especially after Bible redshirted last season. Now he’s back, and the No. 2 defensive tackle spot is up for grabs. “Taylor is definitely coming along, he’s been putting in work in the weight room,” Acho said.

Stock Rising — Jackson Jeffcoat
The majority of games are decided by whose quarterback performs the best, making essential those who can make a quarterback’s life difficult. Regarded by many as the No. 1 defensive end prospect from the recruiting class of 2010, Jeffcoat recorded 15 tackles last season, six for loss during a freshman year that saw him miss four games after suffering an ankle injury. But head coach Mack Brown claims “Jackson’s healthy,” and Jeffcoat should be up to the challenge of assuming the role of a starter in 2011.

Top Backup — Desmond Jackson
There are plenty of other worthy names that could go here, but Jackson, also a highly regarded defensive tackle coming out of high school last season, seems poised to see playing time despite being a true freshman.
“Desmond is benching 455 pounds,” Acho said. “He came in with a humble mind and was ready to work hard.”

Position Battle — Calvin Howell vs. Ashton Dorsey
Randall is the defensive line’s most reliable returner, but the question as to who will line up alongside him remains answered. Howell and Dorsey, both sophomores who recorded a pair of tackles last season, figure to be the two most likely candidates to break into the starting lineup.
“Right now, they need to separate themselves,” Acho said. “I don’t know if anybody has earned the No. 2 spot, so it’ll be their job to do that in camp.”