|Michael Thomas / Associated Press|
|Jackson Jeffcoat is showing his potential under Texas' new defensive coordinator Greg Robinson.|
Texas' defensive woes had taken pass-rush specialist Jackson Jeffcoat out of his comfort zone, forcing him to react instead of attack. That changed in a big way Saturday against Kansas State, with Jeffcoat finally posting his first two sacks of the season in a stabilizing 31-21 win to open Big 12 play.
Jeffcoat, the son of Dallas Cowboys and Buffalo Bills defensive lineman Jim Jeffcoat, hadn't dropped the quarterback twice by himself in a game since the 2011 Holiday Bowl against California, though he missed most of last season with a torn pectoral muscle. But the 6-foot-5, 250-pound senior turned Wildcats left tackle Cornelius Lucas into a turnstile, barreling over quarterback Jake Waters in the fourth quarter for losses of 3 and 8 yards.
Jeffcoat came into the game with only 1.5 tackles for loss as he and the Longhorns were manhandled at the point of attack against BYU and Ole Miss. But the second game under new defensive coordinator Greg Robinson yielded dramatic improvement.
"We're starting to get familiar with him, starting to understand his defense, understand what he wants for us," said Jeffcoat, the 20th-ranked senior on Gil Brandt's Hot 100 seniors list.
Kanssas State averaged just 3.0 yards per carry and finished with 115 rushing yards after Texas had allowed 829 yards on the ground against the Cougars and Rebels, struggling mightily with quarterback runs. Backup quarterback Daniel Sams (eight carries for 48 yards) was actually effective running the ball, but his limited passing skills forced him off the field as Texas built up a sizable lead.
That advantage allowed Jeffcoat to do what he does best, something Texas will need against the more explosive offenses in the Big 12, especially with reports linebacker Jordan Hicks (2.5 tackles for loss against K-State) will miss the season after tearing his Achilles tendon.
Follow Dan Greenspan on Twitter @DanGreenspan.