Practice has begun. The season opener is on the horizon. Football is back.
To preview Texas’ impending season, we’re spending part of August by asking 20 burning questions in 20 days.
Today’s question, which will be handled by columnists Kirk Bohls and Cedric Golden and beat writers Brian Davis and Ryan Autullo:
No. 17: Will Cedric Reed’s 2014 stats be better, worse or just as good as 2013’s?
Maybe we should call this “The Jeffcoat Effect.”
First, the stats.
Playing opposite Jackson Jeffcoat on the other end, Reed was second on the team with 10 sacks (Jeffcoat had 13), third in tackles (79) and led the Longhorns with five forced fumbles, and was second in quarterback pressures (16) and tackles for loss (19). He was one of only two players in the country who had at least five sacks, four pass breakups and five forced fumbles — Buffalo linebacker Khalil Mack, the fifth overall pick of this year’s draft, was the other.
Reed was on the coaches’ All-Big 12 second team.
This year, Reed will be Texas’ alpha male on the line. Shiro Davis moves into the other spot.
Reed’s on the preseason watch lists for the Bednarik Award (the nation’s top defensive player), the Lombardi Award (top lineman or linebacker), the Hendrickson Award (top defensive end) and the Nakursgi Trophy (top defensive player).
Reed’s stats so far, year by year:
2011: 7 games (no starts), 3 tackles, 1 pass breakup.
2012: 13 games (6 starts), 46 tackles (8 for loss), 2.5 sacks, 13 pressures, 1 pass breakup, 1 fumble recovery.
2013: 13 games (13 starts), 79 tackles (19 for loss), 10 sacks,, 14 pressures, 4 pass breakups, 5 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries.
Total: 33 games (19 starts), 128 tackles (27 for loss), 12.5 sacks, 27 pressures, 6 pass breakups, 5 forced fumbles, 3 fumble recoveries.
How will Reed’s season pan out compared to his 2013 — better, worse or just as good?
“I’ll say worse. Reed will have fewer sacks than the 10 he had last season because he won’t have Jeffcoat to siphon off attention. Jeffcoat, remember, led the Big 12 in tackles for losses, with 95. You have to believe Reed could play as well, but not have the numbers to show for it. It will be up to Caleb Bluiett and Davis at the other end to keep Reed from constant double-teams.”
GOLDEN: JUST AS GOOD.
“Reed had the benefit of an All-American playing at the other end of the line. Jeffcoat often drew more attention from opposing linemen. Now that Reed will be the focal point of the Texas pass rush, he’ll enjoy fewer one-on-one matchups on passing downs with Jeffcoat now in the pros.
“With that said, Texas has enough talent around him that it shouldn’t put a major dent in his numbers this fall. Look for Reed to finish with 12 sacks, 75 tackles and four fumble recoveries. He’s playing for an NFL contract now, and that provides just as much incentive (if not more) than winning college football games.”
“In college football, it’s easy to neutralize one or two defensive players. Look at how teams played South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney last year. They simply ran away from him. I expect teams will do that against Reed this year, too.
“If you really think about Reed’s junior season, he benefitted from having Jeffcoat on the opposite side. Teams probably tried to steer clear of the Hendricks Award winner, but they ran smack into Reed. He took clear advantage of his good fortune. Jeffcoat still produced standout numbers himself, which speaks to his talent (and why he wasn’t drafted is still a mystery to me).
“But this season, I’m betting Reed doesn’t have similar numbers simply because Texas’ opposite defensive end position is unknown. If Shiro Davis and Caleb Bluiett form a powerful 1-2 punch, then Reed will likely benefit. But if those two players struggle, teams will continue to run at them all day long. That’ll force Reed to chase, never an exciting proposition for a big defensive lineman.”
AUTULLO: JUST AS GOOD.
“I’m tempted to say the loss of Jeffcoat will mean more opportunities for Reed to get his hadns on the quarterback, thereby resulting in more sacks than last year. But Reed had 10 sacks in 2013, and 10 is a big number. Improving upon that will be hard, especially if Reed suffers an injury and misses time. He started every game last year.
“I’ll say he reaches 10 again, which will put him in consideration for All-America honors. I do not see Reed making 79 tackles again. That’s an awfully high number for someone at his position. Then again, Jeffcoat had 86 last year to lead the team …”
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