The key to Texas’ success during the Mack Brown era was dominance on the defensive line. Year in and year out, the Longhorns routinely overpowered opponents with big, physical and athletic defensive linemen.
With Brown gone and Charlie Strong in command at the Forty Acres, the coach is different but the might along the defensive line remains the same. The unit is once again the strength of the team.
One guy Texas Tech should be wary of is senior defensive end Cedric Reed. Though Reed hasn't enjoyed the kind of success he did last year when he earned first team All-Big 12 honors from the San Antonio Express News, and second team recognition from just about everybody else, he is still a dangerous player along the Horns defensive front.
In 2013 Reed accounted for 79 tackles, 19 tackles for loss, 10 sacks, 16 quarterback hurries, four pass breakups, four passes defended, two fumble recoveries and five forced fumbles. That is an astounding stat line. For some added perspective, Reed was third in the Big 12 in sacks, and No. 5 nationally in forced fumbles.
Texas Tech wasn't spared Reed’s wrath last season as he posted two sacks, three tackles for loss and three quarterback hurries in a 41-16 Longhorns victory which was won up front.
The 6-foot-6, 270-pound defender has registered just 38 tackles, four tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks this season as fellow defensive linemen Malcolm Brown and Hassan Ridgeway have dominated, but the Red Raiders don’t want to be Reed’s coming out party.
As much as any other team in the Big 12, Texas Tech has been stymied by the Texas defensive line over the last dozen years or so. The Red Raiders, who will likely start the same five players on the offensive line Saturday as they did a year ago in Austin, will once again have its work cut out for it and they know it.
“I think that the guys that they have in there (on the defensive line) right now, I think they're playing for the team. They want the team to do good,” said Texas Tech center Jared Kaster earlier this week. “They always come out and play us hard. They gave us trouble last year, that's for sure, and going back and watching that game, it was tough. We want to try to limit that as much as possible this game, but they're very solid up front. They've got a bunch of D tackles and D ends. But it'll be another challenge for us, that's for sure.”
Texas Player to Watch: Cedric Reed
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