The spring focus was obviously important, but not as important as the post-spring focus of DT/DE Delvon Simmons deciding to transfer from Texas Tech. I don't want to diminish a player's importance, but I also don't want to place too big of a value on a player either. Ultimately, when a player does leave, transfer or is dropped, it is usually best for all parties. Simmons was important to this team, there is no denying that, but if he wasn't happy at Texas Tech, then the best thing that could have happened was for Simmons to find happiness somewhere else. If Simmons was a true difference-maker then he would have had a bigger impact than he did, but he certainly could have grown into that sort of player. He just had not done this by the time he left Lubbock.
From a depth perspective, I think that this team can handle Simmons' loss, but it is next year that concerns me. Of course, with a 3-4 defense, you are only worried about three down linemen, so between eight or nine players, if you include Wright, you've got to fill three spots. The first group, I'm actually pretty comfortable with, but it's after the first group that is concerning.
So the focus of the spring was learning yet another defense. We'll get into the X's and O's a bit later in the summer, but I'm not so worried about what these guys are trying to learn this year because most of these guys have seen everything. Literally, they've seen it all. I think they'll be able to adjust.
I don't know how you fix the depth after signing day and after the spring and players have left. It's going to have to be one of those situations where the players that are here are going to have to get things done. no excuses, just get things done.
Like I said above, scroll down to that depth chart and it is a bit worrisome after the first group. Simmons was the starting tackle and Richards was backing him up. I do think that Wallerstedt is going to keep these guys rotated and inter-changeable. Hyder will be able to go up and down the line and now you sorta thank your lucky starts to have a guy like Phillips, who was an under-the-radar recruit that will provide a ton of depth at the end or nose or tackle position. He could line up at all three.
This could also mean that Hyder flips back to tackle rather than end and this team is still okay up front.
I will be keenly interested in how players stack up after the summer. I'm guessing that Richards, Evans and Phillips will all have vastly different weights after they weigh-in in August.
The purpose of this chart is to demonstrate the depth and eligibility remaining for returnign players. Any year marked black is a year that the player has available. A true freshman has five years of eligibility to include a possible redshirt year.
|Defensive Line Eligibility Remaining
|DE Kerry Hyder
|DE Dartwan Bush
|DE Kindred Evans
|DE Cameron Wright
|N Dennell Wesley
|N Donte Phillips
|N Anthony Smith
|T Jackson Richards
|DE/T Demetrius Alston
KEY TO 2013
The wildcard is obviously Alston, who could also help plug a ton of holes defensively, from a quasi-tackle spot to defensive end. If Evans isn't ready then Alston is the guy that can step in, hopefully, immediately to play.
These weights are from the beginning of the 2012 season and this is only including three positions, defensive end, nose tackle and defensive tackle.
With this position, moreso than the offensive line, they just cannot afford any injuries. If Alston, Phillips, Smith, and Evans all step up their game and are ready to receive significant snaps along the line, then this looks much better. Richards, Evans, Phillips and Smith had better be ready to be the leaders of this group past 2013 and I've mentioned that Kingsbury is allegedly looking to fortify this group with some JUCO players for the 2014 class.
As to the actual play on the field, so much of what we learned last year about defense was just getting lined up in the right spot and playing with leverage. If this group can do that, then I'm comfortable that they'll be compentent. Hyder is one of the more disruptive players on the defensive line in the Big 12 and I think that Scott, Wallerstedt and Smith want to get Hyder in the best position possible to be problematic for opposing defenses. In fact, I think that they are keying their defense around Hyder and I think that's smart.