The Number One Priority For Texas This Spring

By Corey Elliot
Tim Heitman-US Presswire

The focus of the Texas Longhorns spring practice needs to be centered on defense.

Specifically tackling.

It’s one of the earliest taught fundamentals of football; wrap up.

I’m so tired of seeing defensive backs lunge their entire body at the ball carrier like a human torpedo with their heads down attempting to lay the human version of the Madden video game “hit stick”.

“But, Corey, the game is so fast the only way they can play is the only way they’ve always known.”

Spare me. Break down, wrap up and drive through your opponent—I can hear a little league football coach somewhere telling his six-year-olds who have never played right now so why can’t Manny Diaz get his top talent to do the same?

This terrible tackling was a direct correlation to the Longhorns finishing 2012 with the second most missed tackles in division-I with 112—only seven behind Vanderbilt who led the NCAA. More than missed tackles, the Longhorns need to stray away from missing players.

Missing players?

Yes, missing former-Longhorns on the field. Courtesy of current Longhorns its been obvious, through sub-par efforts, that impact players have moved onto the NFL. In 2011 the Longhorns had the 11th ranked defense led by Emmanuel Acho and Keenan Robinson.  In 2012 it was obvious they were gone as the Longhorns finished the year with the 67th ranked defense. I understand not having Jordan Hicks almost all season hurt the Longhorns last year, but I’m not here to make excuses. Steve Edmond, along with Hicks, have to be a problem for opposing offenses this year in open field and in the backfield.

The defensive backs have underachieved, for the most part. Despite being a first round projection in this April’s NFL Draft, Kenny Vaccaro didn’t make it past the Thorpe Award watch list—an award that was synonymous with Texas DBs for a while. And despite the clever nickname, if that is as big as Quandre “The Giant” Diggs plays for an entire season then he may be following suit.

But just like I do every spring, I will invest my optimism and confidence into the Texas Longhorns. Don’t get me wrong, Diggs has the talent to be a Thorpe Award winner, Edmond and Hicks could be as potent a LB duo as anyone else in the country. Honestly, despite the uncertainty at the DT position on the field, there is an abundance of four and five star talent on this roster with a lot of upside.

And it’s about time they start playing like it.

But before we get into more discussions about who is or isn’t living up to potential, why don’t we just start with wrapping up and finishing plays by making tackles and getting off the field so David Ash and company can wow us with this new up-tempo offense.

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