Editor’s note: first in a series that analyzes the position by position of the Red Raiders.
Projected initiators: DT Nelson Mbanasor, Sr .; NT Jaylon Hutchings, Jr. or Tony Bradford, Jr .; DE Tyree Wilson, Jr.
Main backups: DT Devin Drew, Sr .; DT Philip Blidi, So .; NT Troy Te’o, Sr .; DE LB Moore, P.
Return Statistics Leaders: Bradford, 25 attacks, 6 loss attacks; Hutchings, 23 teams 3 TFL; Drew, 21 attacks; Wilson, 10 apparatus, 1 1/2 TFL.
In a nutshell: DE Eli Howard, who made 36 starts and 16 1/2 sacks in his career, is gone. Otherwise, both depths become intact, but there has been discomfort. Coaches have analyzed Bradford, last year’s first defensive attack, on the tip of his nose. The thought: Bradford’s power could be deployed better against the centers, and Hutchings and Bradford could be a cool, formidable 1-2 with both playing in the nose. But are they too valuable to limit them to 35 snapshots per part in a position? Among the Big 12 teams, only Kansas finished with fewer sacks per game than Tech and Texas, who tied in the round of 16. Perhaps it is the year that Wilson, a powerful DE from 6 to 6 and 280 pounds, comes to his account as a runner.
Stock: No changes. Hutchings and Bradford give leadership and experience to the defensive front, but it’s a short drive for players who change the game. The Red Raiders need a breakaway season from someone like Wilson or Mbanasor, the latter returning from a season-ending injury in early September last year. Depth of two is adequate, as long as the injuries don’t force the Red Raiders to deepen. Drew entered the final month of the 2020 season, his first year as a transfer player, and defensive line coach Paul Randolph says Blidi, a true runner-up, has had the best preseason field.
Since they left: DE Gilbert Ibeneme suffered a season-ending injury for the second time in three years. The top-rated recruitment of the 2019 Red Raiders has yet to play in any games. Former Virginia Tech DE Robert Wooten, once recruited into the top 100 in Texas, joined the Red Raiders as a transfer this summer. Still, he entered the NCAA transfer portal after July 1, the deadline to change schools and play with a new team this year without resigning.
Defensive linebacker Paul Randolph says: “I feel really good. I have about six, seven guys who can play and I’m comfortable playing with. What we do is make sure we’re versatile and create depth so the guys are smart enough to play all the positions. on the front “.