Texas Defensive Coordinator Vance Bedford Addresses Longhorns Defense

Vance Bedford faced the media for the first time since the 2015 season and addressed where things stand with his defense. Here's what you need to know.

Bedford is expecting the incoming freshmen DTs to be ready to play because the defense needs them.

"I tell them to get ready to play. If you are 300 pounds, you are going to play for us this next season coming in as true freshman. Whether you are big or not, we are trying to develop guys to become big. 

"If you look at our defensive line right now, most of those guys were not naturally big guys. Poona [Ford] is not a naturally big guy, we had to put weight on him.  Chris Nelson  is not a naturally big guy, Jake [McMillon] is not a naturally big guy. They were 280 coming out of high school. We had to bulk them up in the weight room, and make sure we put a lot of food in front of them to get them to 300. 

"We are now bringing in guys here that are naturally big. They are already at 310 or 315 so because of their weight. They can hold a point. For my expectation of those guys, probably 20 snaps a game. I am not talking about the fourth quarter. I am talking about the first quarter, second quarter. You are going to go out there and play. We need you today. We don't need you six weeks from now. We don't need you the next year. We need you to come play for us right now."

 

When asked about the defensive woes from 2015, Bedford said there were a number of issues the team faced and it wasn't simply inexperience.

"It's a lot of things that happened last year. We had some key guys all knocked up inside. We had guys in position to make plays that didn't make a play. There's nothing you can do about that. 

"You have a guy sitting right there in the hole, one-on-one, make a tackle. You gotta get him down. We missed too many tackles last year.  One thing about going up against spread teams is sometimes you're going to have one-on-one plays, and when you do, those guys need to be in position to make those plays. 

"You go to our first year here and Quandre [Diggs] made those plays. Malik made those plays. Jordan Hicks made those plays. This past year guys in the same position, they didn't make those plays. So we need to be better in space this year, and I think we are. 

"I think we are because the guys are going to be a little bit older. I think we are because we're going to have little bit more depth. We gotta develop more depth. We gotta keep the guys a little bit fresher by playing more guys. 

"We have some young guys going in. You know, I look at a guy like Jordan Elliot, an incoming freshman. He's 320 pounds. He has to play as a freshmen. He needs to give us 20 good snaps a game. We have those kind of guys coming in here. 

"[Jeffery] McCulloch coming in. I think he's 225-230 pound linebacker. We need to get 20 snaps from him this year.  He needs to be able to rest Malik, or rest Wheeler, or rest Tim Cole, or rest [Breckyn] Hager. 

"So we need those guys to come in and give us some depth, because in the fourth quarter, if you're into game and your defensive player is in place for 70 plays going into the fourth quarter, you're in trouble. I listen to the guys who want an up-tempo offense and they're whole philosophy is this - we need to get 90, 80 to 100 plays a game. We just need to get them tired so that in the fourth quarter we can run them because now they're legs are going to be tired. 

"That means for us defensively we can't let our guys go out there and play 80 snaps. We've got to cut that down to 60 snaps. So how do you do that? You have to play young guys."

 

How does the DC handle young guys who make mistakes? Simple. He treats them the same way as if it were a veteran making a mistake.

"It doesn't matter whether you've been here for one year or four years, I'm going to chew you out just because. The name of the game that Coach Strong wants to stress in practices is that we want to make practice so hard that when you get to the game, there's no pressure. So if you make a mistake, they already know. 

"I didn't see this, but somebody said they saw a play going on and I was on the field when the play was going on - sometimes I have flashbacks. I don't have them too often, but every once in a while I do. 

"So whether you're a freshman or whether you're a senior, I treat them all the same. If you're out there playing, you're experienced, period. Learn what you do and play hard and fast. And that's what we tell the guys right now - there are no excuses. Find out what to do when you go out onto the football field and play like you've been here for three or four years."

 

The defense has taken spring practice one day at a time when it faces the Longhorns new offense. One thing Bedford has done is make sure guys are easing their way into playing more reps.

"We started with learning how to practice and start off. With the one defense you get three plays and then we rotate out. I have increased it to five plays, so I am building it up to condition the guys to play away. 

"We had a scrimmage Saturday. I think we had a 14-play drive. Twice on third down and off the field we had two penalties. You rest by getting off the football field on third down. So we turn around guys to play against up-tempo and be conditioned to fight through it."

 

Bedford thinks the Texas offense is very similar to the offenses TCU and Baylor run.

"It is a lot like both of those teams. It is fast. The biggest thing we are stressing as a defensive staff is our sense of urgency. 

"The first thing you do is get the call. The next thing you do is get lined up. The third thing you do is go play hard. 

"We have gotten better as we have gotten into practice and I think it's starting to pay dividends. We must have a sense of urgency and play fast."

 

Having the defense face Sterlin Gilbert's new uptempo offense will get the unit ready to face the explosive Big 12 offenses this season.

"This gets us ready for the season. Now when we're not going against the offense and our individual period and our group work is working on fundamentals. So when we're going against the offense in an up-tempo thing, I think it's going to benefit us. I really do. 

"I keep going back to the things we've been stressing, is this, and I say with a sense of urgency, 'Get your butt out there, get set, communicate, play with great discipline, and get to the football.' 

"The guy we're talking about it Jason Hall  the last two practices, one was a scrimmage and one was yesterday. He did a great job at stripping the football, and that's what I've been trying to stress. 

"You know, when we have this type of offense one of the things you've got to do a great job of is getting turnovers. You gotta get takeaways. 

"I look at the University of Oregon the past several years, and I look at them defensively and offensively, they have one of the top teams in the country, on and off for the past few years, in takeaways. 

"It gives you a chance to play better defense because you need to get takeaways to get the ball back for the offense, and those are the things that I see that we're trying to get better at, at this time - stripping the football, interceptions, those types of things."

 


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