Longhorns' Coburn Believes in Conditioning to Prep for New Defense

Texas Longhorns DT Keondre Coburn is looking to be in the "best shape" before the start of the new season.
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Texas nose tackle Keondre Coburn might be more mountain than human. Standing 6-foot-2 and weighing nearly 350 pounds, Coburn body slams offensive linemen in a similar way to meeting his appetite. 

Coburn now looks to shed some pounds before the start of the 2021 season. Although he'll stay up the middle as the team's bull-rushing defender, he'll look to become faster off initial snap. 

That starts by cutting out the snacks and losing a bit more weight. 

“I’m around 339 (pounds) right now,” Coburn said Thursday. "Trying to get down to 330, 320-something, 325. Right now (coaches are) just trying to keep me on the field instead of taking me off the field. Each day I’m getting better at that.”

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In Chris Ash's defense, the heavier one weighed, the better. Coburn used his 340-plus size to pulverize opponents, leading to a successful start to his Texas career. 

In two years, he's started 22 of Texas' past 23 games, recording 51 total tackles, 9.0 tackles for loss, 3.0 sacks, one forced fumble. 

In Pete Kwiatkowski’s 4-2-5 set, size is important. So is speed. Taking away an extra man up front adds pressure to the starting six to work well in both the run and pass rush. 

It's a challenge that both "Snacks" and the other defensive lineman have enjoyed learning. 

"Technique is what he really worries about and tackling," Coburn said of the Longhorns new DC's philosophy. "That what he really wants us to work on the most. Tackling and getting to the ball."

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The Longhorns front-seven will lose the likes of pass-rusher Joseph Ossai and defensive end TaQuon Graham. All that means is names such junior T'Vondre Sweat and redshirt freshman Sawyer Goram-Welch will need to expand their realm. 

For Coburn, adjusting to life in Kwiatkowski’s multiple looks should be easy after spending the start of his time in a 3-4 set. 

“Last year when we got introduced to the four-man front it was actually pretty exciting and fun,” Coburn said. “And this year it’s pretty much getting into odd and into four-man. So it’s mixing both of the years I played into one, and I think that’s amazing. So that’s really exciting.” 

Texas will also be adding a multitude of names on the defensive side via transfer. Former LSU linebacker Ray Thornton was the highlight addition for Steve Sarkisian's first transfer portal. 

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Thornton, a native of Killeen, played 41 games with the Tigers before electing to leave this offseason. Primarily used as a pass-rusher for the Tigers, the 6-foot-3 defender will now have the chance to terrorize quarterbacks in the Big 12. 

Thornton is a senior still, so expectations are high. Joining Coburn, defensive lineman Jacoby Jones and cornerback Josh Thompson, the quartet will need to be the bulk of the defense for 2021. 

In just several days, Coburn has seen the upside in Texas' standouts entering the midway point of camp. 

“Jacoby, every other play he’s getting a sack of some type of TFL,” Coburn said. “Ray, too. And then Josh every day is getting a pick for some reason. I don’t know how he’s getting picks every day, but he’s doin’ it and it’s exciting because it’s helping us get off the field faster. And David’s [Gbenda] communication skills are very good and I think he’s going to be a very exciting player.”

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