Lack of depth on defensive line gives players opportunity to step up

Mark Skol

Over the years, the mold for consistency on the Texas defense has been the defensive tackle position.

Last year, former Texas defensive tackle Malcom Brown was selected by the New England Patriots in the NFL Draft, and junior defensive tackle Hassan Ridgeway is projected to be a second-round draft pick in this year’s NFL Draft.

But in the upcoming season, the play in the trenches will look a lot different.

Now that Ridgeway and senior Desmond Jackson declared for the NFL Draft, there are only four defensive tackles left on scholarship. With the lack of depth comes a lack of experience, and keeping up with new offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert’s fast-paced offense has been taxing on a thin corps of defensive tackles.

“It’s tiring,” junior defensive tackle Poona Ford said. “There’s been days where I’ve found myself gassed, and I’m just worried about getting lined up.”

Even though the lack of depth on the defensive line leaves players winded, it gives many the opportunity to step up to the challenge — even if they are true freshmen.

“If you are 300 pounds, you will play for us this coming season coming in as a true freshman,” defensive coordinator Vance Bedford said. “Why? Because you are big. I’ve got expectations for those guys, I’ve got to be honest with you, [playing] 20 snaps a game.”

With the orange-white scrimmage this Saturday, the defensive tackles currently on roster will have a chance to showcase their growth.

“From what I’ve seen, I think everybody’s improving,” Ford said. “I think everybody is going to get a chance to prove they can play.”