I want to spend some time each week over the next few weeks critiquing some of the young superstars that UT has on its defense right now. Before the Baylor game last Saturday, I chose to follow DT Rodrique Wright. In hindsight, I probably should have spent the space this week on Bryan Pickryl. However, I want to give some insight as to why so many people are so high on Rodrique Wright.
Wright is a special player and an impact player. He still has some rough spots to work on, but he has done some things very well this year. Here are some things I've noted from the Baylor game and the Nebraska game:
- Rodrique Wright has already developed one of the most important skills for a defensive lineman: sensing the double team. All of the individual drills and skills you learn in practice are pretty much thrown out the window once you are getting double-teamed. There are too many variables to have rehearsed moves at that point. Some linemen never develop the ability to immediately know when they are getting double-teamed. Only when they are skating past the free safety do they realize too late.
- Wright can also handle the double team once he senses it. Several times in the Nebraska game, he was doubled at the point of attack. He handled it extremely well. At that point you have a few options, but they all boil down to one thing. Make your blocking surface as small as possible. Whether you try to split the double team or ball up on the ground, you just don't want to get driven out. (I'm not saying he does this perfect every time — no one does. He just gets it right more often than not.)
- His pass-rushing repertoire seems to be limited to a strong bull rush and an average swim move. Those skills will come with time as he gets stronger, and they are not the most important skills to have in the Big 12 right now.
- If Wright would get just a tad lower, he would be able to utilize his leg strength more to help him get separation. Right now, he tends to get too high which limits his leverage.
- He needs to work on his consistency. I have no doubt that he will improve here greatly with each successive play.
All in all, Rodrique Wright is one of the two best freshmen defensive tackles in recent memory (and Tommie Harris is not the other one). In my opinion, he is light years ahead of where Marcus Tubbs was at this point in his career.
Mark Kissinger has coached high school football in Texas and Tennessee, coaching OL, TE, WR, DT, DE, and serving as both an offensive coordinator and defensive coordinator. In high school, he was coached by the legendary G.A. Moore. Mark recently retired from coaching and received his M.B.A. from Rice University. His 'Technical Analysis' column will appear each week on InsideTexas.com.