If offense wins games, then defense does what? For Texas, it'll be helping them claim a Big 12 title in the first season under Steve Sarkisian.
For Texas, this will be the third defensive coordinator in three seasons. Todd Orlando is with USC and Chris Ash was not retained when Sarkisian was hired. Now, it will be up to Pete Kwiatkowski to find the right 11 to start in his 4-2-5 system.
The Longhorns' expectations have not changed despite the hiring of a new staff. Both sides of the ball have pieces in place to win a conference title for the first time in over a decade. The fanbase will not accept less than what was expected from Tom Herman.
Especially with Sarkisian fresh off a national title under Nick Saban in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Can the defense live up to the challenge?
In our new series on Longhorn Country, we will be breaking down the top 10 names to watch for during the 2021 season. Some will be role-players, others will be full-fledged starters. Either way, each will be a benefactor to the success found in DKR.
Check out our other profiles already shown entering the summer months:
No. 3 - DL Keondre Coburn
You don't earn the nicknames "Snacks" for eating kale on cheat days.
Coming in last season at 350 pounds, Coburn's size allowed him to win most one-on-one battles in the trenches. His bulldozing technique, plus hand placement usually gave him the advantage when it came to shedding blockers and reaching the backfield.
Since arriving at Texas, Coburn has started in 22 games, recording 51 total tackles, nine tackles for loss, three sacks, one forced fumble. Those numbers are fine, but the 6-foot-2 nose tackle is looking to boost those numbers in come December.
That starts by shedding weight for Kwiatkowski's new formation. During interviews in the spring, Coburn said his plan and diet will hopefully have him down to 330 come Week 1 against Louisiana.
“I’m around 339 (pounds) right now,” Coburn said in April "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.”
Kwiatkowski's formation is designed to be interchangeable. Based on pass or run, the Longhorns DC will elect to go with speed or size to make his play come to fruition.
That likely won't affect Coburn's role, who seems content playing both a three-tech and nose tackle based on the number of linemen on the play.
On size alone, his impact will be warranted. It's also led to high praise from the new staff.
"I love that guy," Sarkisian said "He brings it every day."
The Texas defensive line is one of its strengths for 2021. Names like T'Vondre Sweat, Sawyer Goram-Welch, Moro Ojomo, Jacoby Jones, and Collins all could be key contributors early on.
Will they have the same impact as Coburn? Perhaps, but likely not.
As a multi-scheme fit, Coburn should be in for a role that allows him to be the most dangerous player on the defensive. That could be enough to earn him all-conference honors entering his third season as a starter.
CONTINUE READING: Way-Too-Early Predictions Week 2: Texas Vs. Arkansas
Do you think Coburn can be the x-factor on defense? Comment and join in on the discussion below!
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