HornsCorner: Way Too Early 2020 Texas Defense Depth Chart - NinosCorner™ Sports | Efficient Sports Analytics...Successful, Relevant Data

Thursday, December 19, 2019

HornsCorner: Way Too Early 2020 Texas Defense Depth Chart

HornsCorner: Way Too Early 2020 Texas Defense Depth Chart
by Nicholas "NinosCorner" Battle
Earlier this week, Texas officially hired former Rutgers' head coach, Chris Ash, as the Longhorn's defensive coordinator (DC) following the recent firing of former DC, Todd Orlando.  Prior to his brief stint as Rutgers' head coach, Ash served as co-Defensive Coordinator for Ohio State from 2014-2015, resulting in the Buckeyes winning a National Championship at the end of the 2014 season.

Ash runs a base 4-3 defense...something Longhorn fans have been clamoring for this entire season as a result of a lack of quarterback pressure from Todd Orlando's 3-man base front.  Although a 4-3 defense was Ash's go-to defensive base in the Big 10 Conference while at Ohio State, his defensive scheme will have to be slightly modified in the "pass-happy" Big 12.  Instead of a 4-3 defense, Ash may have to incorporate a 4-2-5 defense, substituting a hybrid linebacker/defensive back position in place of a traditional 4-3's outside linebacker.

Position 1st String 2nd String 3rd String
DT Ta'quon Graham Moro Ojomo Vernan Broughton
DT Keondre Coburn T'vondre Sweat Daniel Carson
DE Marqez Bimage Jacoby Jones Myron Warren
DE Joseph Ossai  Byron Vaughns Peter Mpagi
OLB Juwan Mitchell David Gbenda Marcus Tillman Jr. 
MLB Ayodele Adeoye Marcus Tillman Jr. Jaylan Ford
Hybrid B.J. Foster Chris Brown Chris Adimora
CB Anthony Cook D'Shawn Jamison Kobe Boyce
CB Jalen Green Kenyatta Watson Marques Caldwell
SS Caden Sterns Tyler Owens Josh Thompson
FS Demarvion Overshown Montrell Estell Xavion Alford

In Ohio State's 2014 championship run and follow-on 2015 season, the outside linebacker position manned by former Buckeye and current Kansas City Chief, Darron Lee, will be the position that will need to be transitioned to a more hybrid-like role.  Lee was a very productive player for the Buckeyes in his two years under Ash's tutelage; amassing 146 tackles, 27 tackles for loss, 11 sacks, and 3 interceptions.  He was a true sideline-to-sideline linebacker with exceptional size and speed; measuring in at 6'1" and 230 pounds, while clocking a 4.46 40-yard dash at the 2016 NFL combine.

When you look at Lee's tape, you quickly realize he was an amazing blitzer who also excelled in zone coverage. The one Texas player that resembles Darron Lee, especially in his skill as a blitzer, is sophomore safety, BJ Foster, who tallied 79 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, 5 sacks, and 2 interceptions over his first two years on the 40 acres.  Although Foster concedes 20 pounds to Lee, he does not have to be as large of a linebacker in the Big 12 due to the heightened need for his coverage skills.  Entering his upcoming junior season, I believe Chris Ash can maximize Foster's potential to make him a true game-changer for the 2020 season.

With 4 lineman soon to be the norm, I also expect a better pass rush from the defensive line.  Linebacker, Joseph Ossai will spin down to a more natural defensive end position.  Junior defensive end, Ta'quon Graham, will move to defensive tackle alongside Keondre Coburn; and Junior defensive end, Marqez Bimage, will man the other defensive end position.  Both ends can rush the passer exceptionally well, while also defending well against the run. Both defensive tackles will possess the strength and quickness necessary to match-up very well against interior lineman.

The "hybrid" position and base 4-linemen alignment are the major changes in the new defense that warrant highlighting.  It will be interesting to view and assess the changes that will occur along the defensive side of the ball throughout the upcoming season.

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