Evans, secondary must bounce back from poor showing in California

Tyler Horka

Historically, Texas football breeds players for the National Football League at one of the highest rates in the nation. 

Even as Texas has struggled to win games and produce professional players in their last six seasons, it still sits No. 13 among all universities, with 42 former Longhorns suiting up on Sundays.

Senior defensive back Sheroid Evans has played with several of those players. He’s seen Kenny Vaccaro of the New Orleans Saints and Quandre Diggs of the Detroit Lions transform from former teammates to starters for their respective professional teams.

 But Evans isn’t projected to represent his alma mater at the highest level. The cornerback from Sugar Land, Texas, has seen the turf in only 28 games in his six seasons in Austin.

California torched the Texas defense to the tune of 507 yards and 50 points in an upset victory Saturday night. Evans found himself on the wrong end of one of senior quarterback Davis Webb’s four touchdown throws — a critical score that gave California a 35-33 lead late in the first half.

“I should have been over the top,” Evans said. “And I know that. I know better as an older guy.”

Even though Evans is an “older guy,” he’s started only one game in his time at Texas. But he’s been around to watch guys like Vaccaro and Diggs earn Big 12 honors, and he’s won two bowl games at Texas — most players on the team have won zero.

At the moment, Texas isn’t playing the type of defense to land a spot in a marquee bowl game. The Longhorns trot out the 73rd-ranked passing defense in the nation, surrendering 235.7 yards through the air per game.

Some college football enthusiasts know Texas as “DBU,” or “defensive back university,” but Evans and the rest of the secondary aren’t quite living up to that mantra.

“Our performance wasn’t DBU,” Evans said. “Our performance wasn’t DBU at all. That’s something we have to pick up, that’s something we have to adjust and we have to come back better next game.”

Webb and California’s second-ranked passing offense exposed Texas’ secondary. And if it doesn’t improve, the unit might get used to being exposed — the Big 12 features three of the nation’s top 11 passing offenses, including Texas Tech’s at No. 1.

Senior linebacker Timothy Cole said he expects Evans and the defense as a whole to be much better than they were against the Golden Bears.

“He’ll be fine,” Cole said. “He’s not going to let this loss get to [him]. We’re all [putting] that in the back of our minds as we correct the things we did wrong. He’ll be fine starting up Big 12 play.”

Evans’ stay at Texas doubles that of head coach Charlie Strong in terms of tenure, six years to three. But Strong may never have the opportunity to reach his sixth season at Texas if his defense doesn’t improve.

He said he’ll do whatever it takes to make sure the defense doesn’t give up one big play after another, but ultimately it comes down to execution from Evans and his fellow defensive backs. 

But Strong isn’t worried about the unit improving — he expects it.

“He’s a smart player,” Strong said. “So it’s no much that [we’re] just losing confidence in him. He’s been around a long time, and he knows that he can play much better than what he did.”