Texas defensive tackle Poona Ford against West Virginia in a game at Royal-Memorial Stadium on Nov. 8, 2014.

Football

What’s Charlie Strong’s top position priority this spring? (It’s not what you think)

Posted March 7th, 2016

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Guess which position Texas coach Charlie Strong is singling out as his team’s top priority this spring?

Quarterback? No.

Try the defensive line, which also happened to be his team’s biggest bust in 2015.

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“We gotta get us a good, solid defensive front,” Strong said Monday. “You look at us last season, people were able to run the ball and throw the ball with ease on us because you have to control the line of scrimmage.”

By the end of the season, Texas’ opponents were having their way on the ground, going off for 395 yards and two touchdowns (Baylor), 293 and five (Texas Tech) and 257 and two (West Virginia). This from a defensive front that coming into the year Strong believed had 10 guys who could contribute at a high level.

The team’s best run stuffer, Hassan Ridgeway, missed the finale against Baylor and turned pro, and two occasional starters, Tank Jackson and Shiro Davis, are also gone.

So there’s little reason, for now, to expect a major step forward, which is why Strong is hoping for big springs from tackles Paul Boyette (three sacks, eight tackles for loss), Poona Ford (2.5, 6.0), Chris Nelson (1.0, 1.0) and ends Bryce Cottrell (4.0, 6.5) and Quincy Vasser (seven tackles).

Depth will arrive this summer when six freshmen linemen move onto campus.

“The help is coming,” Strong said. “We just have to wait for it to get here and get through this spring.”

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