Football season will be here before you know it. Through the dog days of summer, we’re going to get you prepared with a series on some of the best players Texas will face in 2018.
Who is he?
Big 12 ball-carriers, before you enter the middle of the field, beware: David Long is coming for you. Nobody in the Big 12 patrols their zone quite like the West Virginia middle linebacker. After missing the first four games in 2017, he finished the season with 76 total tackles, 16 ½ tackles for loss, four sacks, four pass breakups and a fumble recovery.
Against Oklahoma State, Long made 18 tackles, including 14 solo and seven tackles for a loss. His highlight reel feels like the same play on repeat — a blue-and-yellow blur streaking past a hapless offensive line to drag down an opposing player in the backfield. He sat out the spring following shoulder surgery, but should be ready come fall.
What should the Longhorns watch for?
That blur is bound to break through once or twice. Long is simply too good to contain for an entire game, as evidenced by his at least ½ TFL in each of the Mountaineers’ final eight games of 2017. At the minimum, Texas should aim to keep Long away from its quarterbacks. A full-steam Long headed toward a defenseless quarterback is a dislocated shoulder waiting to happen.
Long had 10 tackles and 1.0 TFL against the Longhorns in 2017, and 10 tackles and a sack as a redshirt freshman the year before. If you’re counting at home, that’s 20 times Long has put Longhorns on the ground in two meetings.
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