Before Charlie Strong became the head coach of the Louisville Cardinals before eventually becoming the new head coach of the Texas Longhorns, he had built a reputation as an elite defensive assistant. His work with the Florida Gators as their defensive coordinator helped them win two BCS National Championships in a three year span and his defense helped Strong build a winning program with the Cardinals. You can bet that Strong will once again put his stamp on the defense with the Horns in 2014 and that his defensive gameplan will center around defensive end Cedric Reed.
Reed had a magnificent junior season in 2013, finishing second on the team with 10 sacks behind Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Jackson Jeffcoat. Reed and Jeffcoat combined to lead the nation’s eighth-best pass rush this season, racking up 39 sacks as a team, and were the only pair of teammates in 2013 to record double-digit sacks. He finished the year with 79 tackles, 19 tackles for loss, and a team-high five forced fumbles. He decided to come back to Austin for his senior season, saying he “can fit into Coach Strong’s scheme well” and wanted to help Texas build the program under their new regime.
Strong will definitely welcome Reed back with open arms in 2014 and utilize him in the Texas pass rush. The 6-foot-6, 258-pound Reed has the length, athleticism, and drive to be a consistent threat in the opposing backfield. At Louisville in 2013, Strong predicated his defensive success on getting after the quarterback as the Cardinals finished second in the country with 43 sacks on the season, led by defensive end Marcus Smith who finished the year No. 2 in the nation in sacks with 14.5. Reed is a more prototypical edge rusher with his length than Smith was and could break out for a monster senior season under Strong.
For Texas to find quick success under Charlie Strong, their defense will have to lead the way. That is the mark of Charlie Strong team, and Cedric Reed will be the centerpiece of that philosophy. Can he capitalize and dominate in 2014?