Most indispensable player: Texas
Next up, the Texas Longhorns.
Find more indispensable players here.
Most indispensable player(s): DEs Alex Okafor and Jackson Jeffcoat.
2011 stats: Jeffcoat: 63 tackles, 17 TFL, eight sacks, three PBUs. Okafor: 52 tackles, 12.5 TFL, six sacks, three PBUs, two forced fumbles.
Why Texas can't afford to lose them: There's no differentiating between these two. Without one, the other is less effective. Jeffcoat is a physical specimen that becomes unblockable all too often for Big 12 offensive coordinators' liking. Okafor's no physical slouch, but his experience paid off in big-time production in 2011.
This year, the duo is probable the No. 1 and No. 2 defensive ends in the entire Big 12. With the high-quality passing offenses that populate the Big 12, their worth is immense. There's nobody else on the roster who can duplicate this kind of production and disruption, and their presence gives the Longhorns a luxury few other Big 12 teams possess.
Texas gave up the fewest passing touchdowns of any Big 12 teams, and surrendered 17 fewer yards per game than any other team in the Big 12. Does that secondary, which is already very, very talented, look anywhere near as good if the pass rush up front isn't solid with what's sometimes just a four-man rush? No way.
DC Manny Diaz loves his blitzes, but if he wants to back off, Okafor and Jeffcoat assure him that quarterbacks will be rushed and will face pressure. That's only going to be more true in 2012.
No doubt about this one: Texas can't afford to lose this duo. If it does, the defense will suffer.
103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS
Play Podcast Kirk Herbstreit joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss Bob Stoops' recent comments about the SEC and the pending college football playoff, what appears to be an unpredictable Big 12 in 2013, how the Aggies will handle expectations and more.
Play Podcast Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin talks about the improvements being made to Kyle Field, what those improvements will to for the program, the success of last year, Johnny Manziel's offseason and the expectations for the Aggies in 2013.
Play Podcast Scott Van Pelt and Ryen Russillo talk about Texas A&M's decision to expand its stadium and say although the Aggies had a fantastic year, the school must also be careful not to overextend its resources based on a single hot stretch.
Play Podcast Baylor head coach Art Briles joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss what kind of player the Cowboys are getting in Terrance Williams.
Play Podcast Arlington and Texas A&M product Luke Joeckel, the potential No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft, joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Richard Durrett to discuss the draft, coaches and advice from his dad.
Play Podcast Florida Gulf Coast athletic director Ken Kavanagh joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss his school's Cinderella story and playing in the Sweet 16 at Cowboys Stadium.
Play Podcast Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby joins Fizsimmons & Durrett to discuss Cowboys Stadium as a venue, the state of Big 12 basketball, the new 2014 college football format, why there's no hurry to have a Big 12 football championship and much more.
Play Podcast Jay Bilas joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the remaining 16 teams in the NCAA tournament, the intrigue surrounding the Northwest Region and the excitement over FGCU, even though a similar story happens every year.