Under one of the best, if not the best, defensive coordinator in the country with Will Muschamp, the Longhorns look to reload after one of the best defensive seasons in their history. But after losing three defensive linemen to the NFL, Texas looks as if they may have some holes to fill.
Fear not, Longhorn faithful.
Texas' 2010 defense looks to be as dominant, if not more dominant, than their 2009 counterpart, a unit that finished third overall in total defense last year and whose defensive front ripped more lines than Rick James did in the 80's.
The key losses for the defense come more in the front seven than in the secondary, after losing DE/OLB Sergio Kindle, DE/OLB Rodrick Muckelroy and DT Lamarr Houston. The defensive line will be this season's biggest question.
The unit isn't without dominant players, though.
DE Sam Acho looks to continue off of his great 2009 campaign, a season in which he recorded 37 solo tackles and eight sacks. In order for the defensive line to dominate the line of scrimmage in 2010, Acho will have to step up and play like - get ready - an Acho, Acho man.
On the other end, sophomore Alex Okafor and senior Eddie Jones will have big shoes to fill with the departure of OLB/DE Sergio Kindle, who knocked out as many quarterbacks as he did Keystone Lites last season.
Luckily, Okafor is extremely talented, as he was the number two defensive end recruit in the 2009 recruiting class. Eddie Jones is also a good player, recording 7.5 sacks last season and playing well on special teams.
At the defensive tackle spot, junior Kheeston Randall will need to step up big after a sophomore season where he saw limited time on the field. He must replace a true man in DT Lamarr Houston, who had 8 sacks last year to go along with 38 solo tackles.
Big things are expected from Kheeston, and if the Longhorns want to have another spectacular defense, particularly in the rush defense department, he will need to get off of his blocks and make tackles.
Overall, the defensive line looks promising, but has definitely has its flaws. They should be solid in stopping the run game, but getting pressure on opposing quarterbacks, which has more importance in the Big 12 due to the multiple spread-type offenses, may be a bit more of a struggle.
The key to the defensive line is Sam Acho; if he can get to the quarterback and wreak havoc like Sergio Kindle did, then Texas' defense will continue to rank among the tops in the nation, and maybe, if everything falls into place, get another shot at a National Championship.
I also write for Sports Haze, covering the Longhorns anywhere from four to seven times a week.