Practice Report: Defense

Who stood out at Friday's open practice? has the scoop on the Texas defensive players.

Top Player: Brandon Moore, defensive tackle

Our first introduction to Moore really came at the 50-yard line in a contact drill versus Sedrick Flowers. The drill, which rewarded players for getting low, figured to be a good one for Flowers. But Moore fired off quicker than Flowers and drove him into the turf. In a drill that saw a lot of good matchups, and several dominant ones, that one stood out, not just for Moore's level of dominance, but also because of the talent level of both guys. Later, in scrimmage situation, Moore was dominant, sacking Case McCoy up the middle on one play, batting down a pass with a ton of penetration on another and generally causing way more havoc than you typically see from a 330-pound guy. Texas is stacked at defensive tackle, but Moore will find plenty of reps there.

Other Thoughts

As a whole, I think this year's defense is significantly faster than last year's version. You can see it in the way they flow to the ball. On outside run plays, there were often four-to-six defensive helmets around first contact. And the defensive line was awfully tough to move off the ball.

One of the more dynamic one-on-one matchups was defensive tackle Desmond Jackson versus Mason Walters. Jackson won, and Walters threw his helmet. Nice to see that kind of fire.

Alex Okafor also looked good in that situation, pushing Donald Hawkins off the ball. Given how Hawkins looked the rest of the day, that was an accomplishment.

Steve Edmond is huge. Having him in the middle almost looks like having another defensive lineman out there … until you see him run. Let's be honest: most of the athletes at Texas were among the best in high school football when they came out. But even among those, there are some players who are freaks of nature. Edmond is one of those. He blitzes like a madman, and even when he was picked up, he seemed to cave in half the line from the resulting contact.

Tevin Jackson is another big-looking player, though not as big as Edmond. Jackson is explosive coming forward, which makes me think that he could make some plays when his number is called as a pass-rusher.

Alex De La Torre had a nice run in inside drill, where he made several tackles. De La Torre really has a nice nose for the football, and despite some people worrying about whether he can grow into a true middle, he appears to still be able to find the football and make the tackle at this level.

It isn't news, but Carrington Byndom and Quandre Diggs are really, really good. And both of them seem like they know it. Both players had excellent pass breakups on Friday, and displayed the swagger of All-America cover cornerbacks. Byndom might have had the hit of the day, when he blew up Joe Bergeron (that's not a typo) on an inside run.

He obviously has development to do, but Orlando Thomas has the look of a really good cornerback himself. Just watching him in drills, Thomas appears to have an ideal cornerback build, really quick feet and fluid hips. He also displayed some nastiness in contact drills.

Josh Turner struggled for most of Friday, though a lot of that could have had to do with his assignment: Mike Davis. Davis looked like an All-Big 12 player, and Turner seemed helpless to stop him. But that matchup should only make Turner better in the future.

The defense is supposed to be looking to force three turnovers per practice. But the only one I saw came after the whistle. The whistle blew, and shortly afterward Bryant Jackson was stripped of the football. To their credit, the defensive players hit the turf searching for the football, but I'm guessing Manny Diaz would rather see the ball come out earlier. Of course, that could happen in more full-contact situations.

Leroy Scott might be a better fit at safety than at cornerback. Scott has some physicality to him, but struggled at times in man coverage. He was just recently moved to safety, and it's a move that should fit his skill set well.

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