No. 9 Longhorns find comfort in new defensive scheme, young depth

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Photo Credit: Joshua Guenther | Daily Texan Staff

Texas’ defense may not have executed perfectly in its season opener against the UT-El Paso Miners this past weekend, but its players are finding comfort in the new defensive scheme.

The Longhorns have been supportive of the new scheme by first-year defensive coordinator Chris Ash since he took over the Texas defense in the spring. Sophomore nose tackle Keondre Coburn said he likes the change in defensive schemes from last year’s 3-3-5 defense to a 4-2-5, and he feels Ash’s defense puts him in a position to make more plays.

“It feels so much better being in this system,” Coburn said in a Tuesday teleconference. “(There’s) better opportunities to make plays, (I) get to get after the quarterback and (don’t get) double-teamed every play like I was in the (3-3).”

Coburn said the new defense allows the defensive line to have more one-on-one matchups with offensive linemen, though he recognizes his job as a defensive tackle is not necessarily to make plays but to create lanes for others to do so.

“Just stay in your gap. That’s what coach Ash preaches to us all the time,” Coburn said. “Just do your job. You do your job and everybody can do their job, and that makes the defense better.”

Junior linebacker DeMarvion Overshown was one of the players who benefitted from the defensive line’s dominance Saturday night, making his first start at linebacker after moving from safety over the summer. Overshown said his position change came after several discussions with Ash about where he would be most valuable to the defense and where he could best succeed at the next level.

 

Overshown said the transition felt natural in the season opener, and his pregame jitters flushed away once the opening whistle blew. 

“We have one heck of a (definisive) line, and then we have one heck of a coach with coach Ash,” Overshown said in a Tuesday teleconference. “They make the transition so much easier. Going out there Saturday night, at first I had (some) nerves, but it felt so natural once I started moving around and doing what I was over fall camp.”

The players said one thing they noticed this year is depth, something that wasn’t present in years past. Coburn said sophomore backup nose tackle T’Vondre Sweat and freshman backup defensive tackle Alfred Collins are both capable of starting. Collins is already showing signs of being a special player, and Coburn said his 6-foot 5-inch, 305-pound frame doesn’t remind him of other freshmen. 

“His body (doesn’t) look like a freshman, but his face (does),” Coburn said. “We call us, the (defensive) line, the big dogs and stuff like that. (Collins) is a big dog for real. The fact that he (got a sack) in his first game was amazing to me.”

The Longhorns’ depth along the defensive line has its pros and cons for Coburn. On the plus side, it allows him more breaks and to better rotate linemen. On the downside, Coburn said he worries about losing his position, though it's not necessarily a bad thing.

“If I get off the field, I’m going to have to be nervous if somebody else is getting in to take my position to where I feel like he could do better than me,” Coburn said. “It’s so amazing, though.”