Spring position preview: Defensive ends

For weeks the constant question surrounding Texas’ defensive ends was about production.

Jackson Jeffcoat had no sacks in the first six games of 2011. Alex Okafor had just two. Those were not the numbers anyone expected from the new Manny Diaz pin-your-ears-back defense. That the pair finished with 15 combines sacks is a testament to the fact that they finally started to understand the defense. Really that Texas finished with 30 sacks, 29th in the country, is testament that they all started to figure it out.

But the keys were Jeffcoat and Okafor. Texas has to have pressure from one or both for the defense to be good in 2012.

The other thing Texas needs for the defense to be good in 2012 is for Okafor and Jeffcoat to have backups. Right now, they don’t. But that is what spring is all about.

What Texas has …

While defensive tackle is one of the deepest positions on the field, defensive end is extremely thin. Behind the starters, Jeffcoat and Okafor, Texas has one player, Cedric Reed. Reed played in six games as a true freshman and had three tackles.

Reggie Wilson, a rising junior, was a moderately successful defensive end last season. He played in every game, had nine tackles and a couple of fumble recoveries. But there is some debate as to whether or not he will stick at defensive end or be given a shot at tight end.

What Texas has to develop …

Depth. Until the fall rolls around and players like Torshiro Davis, Bryce Cottrell, Caleb Bluiett and Hassan Ridgeway are on the field, Texas is without many options at defensive end. One option, and this is only if things become extremely desperate, is to move Chris Whaley from the defensive tackle back to the end spot. Whaley has played both and has the athleticism to be a defensive end. But his body style might be better suited for the tackle spot.

But Texas is one injury away from being in dire straits at the defensive end spot.