Dallas Colleges: Vance Bedford

Stats, sacrifices testing Texas DE Reed

October, 31, 2014
Oct 31
AUSTIN, Texas -- After a couple games, it’s just a slow start. At midseason, a bit concerning. Three-fourths of the way through, it’s getting frustrating.

 Cedric Reed came back for his senior season at Texas to get his degree. He came back for the new coaches. He wanted a chance to leave the program in better shape. He wanted to improve on his 10 sacks as a junior. He wanted trophies and wanted to be an All-American.

The defensive end didn’t expect 1.5 sacks and five losses through eight games. He didn’t come back for that. And there’s nothing you can say about it that Reed hasn’t already thought himself.

“I beat myself up over it every night,” Reed said.

Have those senior-year numbers -- 37 tackles, four tackles for loss, two pass breakups, the sack and a half -- cost the preseason All-Big 12 end some pro money? “Yeah, definitely,” he says. Of course it’s crossed his mind. He knows who’s keeping score.

“It’s football, you know?” Reed said. “Stats got a lot to do with it. My stats aren’t there.”

There are a bunch of good reasons why, and Reed knows most people won’t understand them. Texas’ new defensive scheme has asked Reed to play a new role. He’s had to make sacrifices.

Nobody gives Reed credit, for example, for handling two gaps to clear room for linebackers Jordan Hicks and Steve Edmond to rack up a dozen or more tackles, which they’ve done nine times this season. The stat sheet has no love for keeping a blocker off a ‘backer.

“We tell him go fall on a grenade for us,” defensive coordinator Vance Bedford said.

Reed is playing more on the field side and playing more 4-technique in an odd front this year. That’s a far cry from what was asked of him in 2013, when Reed teamed with end Jackson Jeffcoat, the Big 12’s Defensive Player of the Year. He’s taking on a guard and a tackle. He’s stopping the run more.

“There’s a lot of stuff that, on the outside looking in, it’s a little different,” Reed said. “I’m a team player. Always been a team player. I’ll do exactly what the coaches ask me to do.”

That’s not to say he hasn’t had chances. Texas’ manchild at defensive tackle, Malcom Brown, is the one playing like an All-American. Brown is getting double-teamed now. Texas still has a Big 12-leading 26 sacks as a unit. Reed is in backfield like everyone else. He’s just not getting his usual takedowns.

But look across the Big 12, Bedford says. The ball is coming out fast. Three-step drop, read and fire. The window for sacks closes quickly.

“So people are saying ‘Ced's not doing this, Ced's not doing that.’ When we sit and watch the video, the ball is out quick and he's not going to get the sack,” Bedford said. “Sometimes we need to cover better in the back end. That's all part of it.”

The nuances behind Reed’s quiet senior campaign, while helpful, don’t bring him much peace. They can quell some of the disappointment, but not his impatience. Not with four games left in his career at Texas and no guarantee of a fifth.

“I’m used to having high numbers and high stats, and sometimes football can really humble you,” Reed said. “You’re not always going to perform the way you want to. Sometimes I feel like I haven’t performed the way I used to.”

Last December, Reed explored the possibility of going pro. He would’ve needed a guarantee of going in the first three rounds. That’s not what draft evaluations projected. Considering Jeffcoat and every other Longhorn went undrafted, perhaps Reed dodged a bullet. Doesn't feel like it now.

There’s still a market for 6-foot-5, 272-pound defensive linemen at the next level. Reed would be lying if he said he doesn’t wonder how NFL scouts perceive him now. His coaches continue to have his back.

“I would hope that he wouldn't beat himself up,” Bedford said. “Over the last couple of games, he's done a good job for us. Kansas State was probably his best game of the season.”

The next one offers another chance to start changing the story of his season. And fortunately for Reed, Texas Tech’s quarterback will either be an injured and immobile Davis Webb or a dual-threat true freshman, Patrick Mahomes.

The rookie who’s never started sounds just fine to the pass rusher who’s never been hungrier.

“I’d love to see him in there,” Reed said. “A freshman, Halloween [weekend], against Texas -- that’d be great.”

Reality of rebuild hitting Texas, Texas Tech

October, 29, 2014
Oct 29
Kliff Kingsbury, Charlie StrongIcon Sportswire, AP PhotoKliff Kingsbury and Charlie Strong both lead 3-5 teams in the midst of a rebuilding process.
AUSTIN, Texas -- Vance Bedford was describing with admiration what Bob Stoops built at Oklahoma when, as the loquacious Texas defensive coordinator is prone to do, he swerved off course. A children’s fable had come to mind.

“We are not where we need to be, but it's going in the right direction. It's just one brick at a time. One step at a time,” Bedford said earlier this month. “I know people now say Texas is this and Texas is that. Stay right here. Just like the three little pigs.

“We aren't building a straw house here, guys. We're building a brick house that is going to withstand a whole lot of things in time. A straw house is built real fast. When a strong wind comes by, it's gone real fast. A brick house will withstand a hurricane, a tornado. It's going to stand tall. It's going to stand a long time.”

There’s no one wolf to blame for the mighty winds that have blown through Austin and Lubbock this fall. For Texas and Texas Tech, both 3-5 and clinging to the faint hope of a bowl game, a frustrating season has offered humbling reminders about the reality of a true rebuild. They’ll meet on Saturday night amid different phases of the same difficult construction.

What Tech built up last season under Kliff Kingsbury was a house with more sticks than bricks. A 7-0 start beget irrational expectations. You can’t reasonably expect Big 12 titles right away from a first-time head coach, or at least you shouldn’t. The bar of public perception was raised too high, too fast.

And then the Red Raiders lost five in a row. They saved face in their bowl game, but the damage was done. They’ve spent 2014 in a frustratingly fruitless chase to get back what they briefly had a year ago.

“It's in there,” Kingsbury said earlier this season. “We’ve just got to get it out and find a way to get that type of composure, that confidence back.”

The road back has offered disaster at nearly every turn: the beatdown from Arkansas, defensive coordinator Matt Wallerstedt’s dismissal, a four-game slide, innumerable injuries and penalties and now the 82-27 loss to TCU. Tech, losers of nine of its last 10 conference games, is just trying to get through this now.

“Where we're at, any win would be good,” Kingsbury said. “It's just -- it's been one of those years where any win is good. We're not a good enough team to look past anybody or not play well against anybody to get a win at this point.”

Through it all, the brick-by-brick building doesn't stop. Tech players haven't given up. Running back DeAndre Washington remembers what happened after the 5-7 season of 2011. He calls it the longest offseason in all his years playing football.

“I definitely don't want to have to endure that feeling again,” Washington said. “We're trying to do everything we can to make sure that doesn't happen again.”

At Texas, the bricklaying is off to a slower start. Charlie Strong promised a culture change for the program, and that foundation has shown progress. He never promised a Big 12 title in Year 1. But unexpected roster upheaval has created real obstacles to reaching six wins.

It’s not just the nine Longhorns dismissed from the program and the one still suspended. Losing senior starters Dominic Espinosa and Desmond Jackson for the season and junior quarterback David Ash for his career, all before Big 12 play began, required a shift in both plans and expectations.

“Nobody could’ve predicted this,” receiver John Harris said. “We figured we’d be a way better team than we were. If you go back and don’t lose any of those people, maybe it’s a different story. But this is the hand we’ve been dealt.”

The Texas team that’s left might best be described as unpredictable. Close calls against ranked UCLA, Baylor and Oklahoma teams are defensible. A couple fewer mistakes here and there and the narrative changes. But losses are losses.

“That's not the standard,” Strong said. “I still believe this. I always will believe this. I told our team this: We are a better football team than a 3-5 record. The record doesn't show it, but we're a better team.”

Strong and Kingsbury are in this for the long haul -- Strong has a five-year deal, Kingsbury’s was extended to 2020 -- and have time to assemble something that will endure. It’s about the next four years, not just these next four games. But both could use something good on Saturday night.

Their fans are disappointed. Their players are hurting. Their coaches are digging deep. Their reputations are taking hits. This is the rough battle of rebuilding. But neither coach should lose sight of the little pigs’ lesson: How you build your house matters far more than how quickly.

Despite losses, Texas D becoming dominant

October, 14, 2014
Oct 14
AUSTIN, Texas -- Charlie Strong and Vance Bedford knew they’d have to rebuild a defense before Texas would be ready to win and win big. Six games in, construction is unquestionably ahead of schedule.

Signs of how dramatically this group’s production has been overhauled are all over the place. Even with two more losses, Texas’ defense through six games this season has exceeded the midseason production of its 2013 counterpart in every way.

[+] EnlargeCharlie Strong
AP Photo/Michael ThomasThe Longhorns' record may not reflect it -- yet -- but Texas coach Charlie Strong has dramatically improved the defense in his first season.
This year’s group has given up nearly 700 fewer yards and cut its yardage rate down a full 1.3 yards per play. The Longhorns rank No. 3 nationally in pass defense, No. 4 in yards per play, No. 2 in QBR defense and No. 3 in sack rate. And they’ve done it against a far tougher schedule.

Throw out two special-teams scores and two offensive turnovers for touchdowns and you get this: Texas’ defense is responsible for giving up 99 points in six games, a 16.5 points-per-game average that would rank top 10 nationally.

In the three greatest tests of his tenure, Strong’s defenders held the loaded offenses of UCLA, Baylor and Oklahoma to 20, 21 and 17 points. All three were losses. When the day comes that Strong can pair this D with a reliable offense and decent special-teams play, Texas could be poised to shake up the Big 12.

Still, ever since the 41-7 loss to BYU, a game in which a third-quarter implosion wiped out an otherwise fine day for this defense, they've been dominant. Yet that’s not how Strong and his defensive coordinator, Bedford, want to perceive things.

“If we had been dominating,” Bedford said last week, “right now we would be undefeated. We're not.”

A variety of factors have coalesced to make this group great. It’s a veteran-heavy unit. Texas has a midseason All-American in Malcom Brown setting the tone up front. Linebackers Jordan Hicks and Steve Edmond are playing the best football of their lives. The secondary hasn’t had many busts, despite relying on three first-time starters at safety.

But there’s plenty more to be said for how Strong and his staff have transformed Texas’ work on weekdays. It’s clear they value schematic versatility when it comes to coverage and defensive line fronts, and the blueprint can change on any given week depending on the opponent.

“You never know what to expect from our coaching staff,” defensive back Mykkele Thompson said.

What they expect from the players has changed dramatically. Hicks credits the staff’s insistence on an open-door policy in the coaches’ office. Players are stopping by now more than ever to talk ball and delve deeper into the game plan.

“They’re just so real about everything,” Hicks said. “We trust them. They know we trust them. They’ve built that along this entire process. They explain things in our terms, tell us the purpose and context behind why they’re doing things. It’s not surface level.”

When the staff’s plan against Baylor called for dialing up major pressure from Edmond, he was in the office every day, working to further master what was being asked. He responded with a career-best 19 tackles and two sacks against the Bears.

Cornerback Quandre Diggs has been wowed by the buy-in from players this season. It’s the concentration on weekday preparation that’s creating the success on Saturdays.

“We prepare at a totally different level than everybody is accustomed to around here,” Diggs said. “The way we prepare, it’s crazy how all guys are on board with it. We have tremendous respect for the staff. Those guys love us to death. We’ll be up here watching film on those iPads. When you go in there, they always have good tip sheets and a lot of stuff about tendencies. Those tendencies, they show up in the games and we take advantage.”

Meanwhile, back at Louisville, the defense Strong and Bedford constructed hasn’t slipped either. Their knack for talent evaluation and development continues to pay off: The Cardinals’ defense, now led by Todd Grantham, ranks No. 1 nationally in total defense, rushing defense and QBR defense and No. 2 in yards per play.

Rebuilding Texas’ defense on the same principles of preparation and information that made Louisville great is creating confidence that, when these crucial veterans -- Diggs, Edmond, Thompson, Cedric Reed, and possibly Brown and Hicks -- are gone next year, a younger defense won’t take much of a step back in 2015 and beyond.

“I think the young guys are going to see the example that we’ve set,” Hicks said. “This is the standard.”

In five plays, Texas triumph became torment

September, 14, 2014
Sep 14
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Five plays. Two minutes of football. That’s the difference.

That’s how quickly Texas’ gut-check triumph became gut-punching torture. A No. 12-ranked UCLA team was all but finished. Had those five plays gone as planned, the Longhorns walk out of AT&T Stadium with their first huge victory under Charlie Strong.

The result of those four plays -- UCLA 20, Texas 17 -- left them devastated.

[+] EnlargeJordan Payton
Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY SportsJordan Payton's 33-yard touchdown reception capped a five-play stretch that doomed Texas to a 20-17 loss to UCLA and a 1-2 record.
“We had that game right there,” Texas receiver John Harris said. “It hurts everybody in the locker room. It was a hard loss. The heartbreak is there. That hurts. It hurts bad.”

What makes the torment feel so much more raw was the fact that, with 4:17 left in the ballgame, they were celebrating a victory that felt almost assured.

When Steve Edmond stripped running back Jordon James and little-used defensive tackle Paul Boyette Jr. fell on it at the Texas 25, the party was on. That was it. The first turnover of the ballgame went Texas’ way. The signature victory was so close.

Tyrone Swoopes and the Texas offense took the field and got back to work with a 5-yard run from Malcolm Brown on first down.

And then, for reasons they’d later regret, they reverted back to the hurry-up pace that had, just moments earlier, helped spur an 80-yard, 10-play touchdown drive. The clock was rolling.

“We probably could’ve slowed it down a little and milked the clock,” Harris said. “I think we were still high emotion after the big touchdown. I don’t think we really grasped what was going on at that point in time.”

Brown’s next run lost 5 yards. And then Swoopes, on third-and-10, couldn’t connect with go-to receiver Harris.

Three plays. No yards gained. Only 1 minute, 11 seconds taken off the clock. Then Texas moved back to the 20 on a false start by safety Josh Turner, playing in his first game post-suspension.

While that’s not an ideal turn, not for a coach that preaches toughness and a team that knows it has to win with its run game, it’s still survivable.

Will Russ’ punt soared 58 yards. Ishmael Adams sped down the left sideline, past a crushing block by linebacker Cameron Judge. He bounced off a hit from Russ and picked up an extra 11 yards for a 45-yard return down to the 33.

And then, just as Charlie Strong and his defensive coordinator suspected, UCLA took the field knowing it was time to take the big shot.

“They ran double moves, wheel routes, fake bubble gos throughout the ballgame,” Texas DC Vance Bedford said. “For the most part we did a good job with it. Until that last play.”

Jerry Neuheisel, the backup quarterback the Longhorns were more than happy to face, sold it to perfection. When he pump-faked with 3:05 left, and Texas corner Duke Thomas bit on the faked bubble screen, Texas was finished. Jordan Payton had Thomas beat by 4 yards when he hauled in the game-winning touchdown.

“He knew he should’ve stayed on top,” Bedford said. “After the fact, it’s always tough. I feel for the young man. He played his tail off.”

And so did Texas. Its four-quarter battle felt so even and, briefly, so winnable. Edmond made the strip at 10:15 p.m. CT. Payton was in the end zone at 10:18.

“It’s about finishing,” Strong said. “When you have those opportunities, you’ve got to take advantage of them. The good teams take advantage of the opportunities."

The story before that five-play swing was of a Texas team that rallied from embarrassment, with a young quarterback enjoying breakthrough moments and a hard-nosed defense saving the day against a Bruins team missing its Heisman-contending star.

This should've been Texas storming out of AT&T Stadium as don't-bet-against-us underdogs with renewed pride.

Not Saturday. Not yet. Instead, it's another painful ending, a familiar 1-2 record and a feeling that being this close only makes it hurt worse.

BYU upset was program-changer for Texas

September, 4, 2014
Sep 4
Mack BrownAP Photo/Rick BowmerThe blowout loss to BYU racheted up the pressure on Mack Brown, who resigned after the season.
AUSTIN, Texas -- The dam broke just before 8 p.m. What ensued stunned Texas to its core and set in motion the downfall of a regime.

At that precise moment, one hour and six minutes in, Taysom Hill ran right up the middle. Five Texas defenders cleared a clean path with diving missing tackles and half-speed effort.

Hill's second touchdown dash, a 20-yarder, gave BYU a 17-14 lead. There was 7:48 left in the first half, but the game was almost over.

The Longhorns didn’t just go on to lose 40-21 that night. They’d lose their quarterback, their defensive coordinator, their next game and eventually their coaching staff. And if you ask Texas players today, they lost some dignity that fateful night in Provo, Utah.

“That’s probably the most embarrassed I’ve ever been,” cornerback Quandre Diggs said.

As receiver John Harris solemnly put it: “I think that was one of the all-time lows for us as a team in general.”

What will motivate Texas on Saturday night, when Hill and BYU visit Austin for a rematch, won’t be payback so much as pride. Charlie Strong’s staff didn’t hesitate this summer to remind players about the butt-whooping the then-No. 15 Longhorns received on Sept. 7, 2013.

“Oh man. That’s all we hear,” defensive end Cedric Reed said in July. “That’s all we hear is BYU. We’re ready to play BYU this year.”

Imagine how Strong, a defensive guru, must’ve felt the first time he popped in the game tape and watched Texas’ defense permit the school-record-torching 550 rushing yards, the 679 total yards on 99 plays, the 17 missed tackles, the 233 yards after contact.

Last month, Texas defensive tackle Desmond Jackson denounced the belief that Texas had a “soft” defense in 2013. This was the game that bolstered that reputation.

Hill’s first touchdown, a 68-yard run late in the first quarter in which three Texas defensive backs whiffed at stopping a quarterback with a knee brace, set the tone early.

“At that point, we knew we were going to win this football game,” Hill said Wednesday. “We were so geared-in and having fun. Everything just became pretty easy.”

By the time Hill crossed the 30-yard line, Mack Brown had already spiked his headset.

But Texas hung in there for the first hour. Then, finally, the fracture. A roughing the punter penalty gave BYU the ball back. Four plays later, Hill scrambled. Steve Edmond could’ve stopped him after 6 yards but dove and missed. Hill split right between Josh Turner and Mykkele Thompson. Carrington Byndom and Adrian Phillips slowed up as Hill neared the goal line.

“Give him a little space and he showed everybody what he’ll do with it,” Thompson said. “I have no idea how many times I’ve watched that film from last year.”

While BYU celebrated, Manny Diaz walked past Brown. The head coach shook his head.

Soon after, Brown pulled Diaz and secondary coach Duane Akina aside. Their conference lasted no longer than 20 seconds. The head coach enumerated his complaints. Akina threw up his hands and shouted. Diaz just nodded.

Maybe he knew, from there on out, his job was on the line. But BYU was just getting started: 404 total yards on 57 snaps came after Mack’s meeting.

David Ash
AP Photo/Rick BowmerThe Longhorns lost starting quarterback David Ash after he suffered a concussion.
Midway through the fourth quarter, more disaster. A helmet-to-helmet hit left David Ash squinting and down on one knee. The yearlong struggle initiated by that concussion has sidelined Ash again, perhaps for good.

The mood in the locker room afterward? Uncomfortable. The overwhelming sentiment, Harris said, was clear: Did we really just get beat this bad?

“The morning after, waking up that Sunday, you’re asking yourself, ‘Did that really just happen?” Thompson said.

At 3:30 p.m. that Sunday, Brown told the team they had a new defensive coordinator.

“We laid an egg and we lost a guy’s job. Plain and simple,” Diggs said this week. “We let those guys down. We let ourselves down.”

One year later, Texas defenders stand by a compelling belief: They liked the game plan.

“It was a good scheme,” linebacker Jordan Hicks said. “The big thing was missed assignments.”

Strong agreed. On BYU’s biggest gains, a Texas player freelanced, didn’t respect gaps or didn’t trust a teammate to do his own job.

“If we just eliminate those mental errors, then you have a chance to go stop them,” Strong said.

Those simple fixes made Greg Robinson successful in Diaz’s place, but the Ole Miss game was a lost cause. You can’t fly in a new coordinator from California, ask him to install his brand of defense and expect winning results in six days.

A 1-2 start raised the stakes for Brown to the point that only a Big 12 title might’ve sufficed to save his job. Now Texas has a new coach with new answers for stopping BYU.

When Hill, the No. 3 rusher among all FBS quarterbacks last year, thinks back on his breakthrough night, he says he was “in the zone.” He didn’t plan on running 17 times for 259 yards. But Texas’ ends kept crashing on the read options to stuff the back. So he kept taking his easy outside lanes. Hill knows not to expect such permissive defense Saturday.

“They’ll come out with a revenge attitude,” Hill said. “We’re prepared for that and prepared to come in and match their energy.”

New DC Vance Bedford watched last year’s game live on TV. As a former Texas defensive back, he was offended. But revenge isn’t what he seeks.

“If you need motivation to go out there and get fired up, you shouldn’t be here,” he said. “If you’ve got to get amped up because something happened in the past, something’s wrong with you.”

The burden of shutting down BYU got heavier when Texas lost Ash and three starting offensive linemen. A redemptive performance is now a must.

Last year’s BYU game was Texas’ first treacherous step toward reconstruction. This year’s game can be the first step toward a revival.

“It’s a new year, new day, new team, new coaches,” Diggs said. “We’re going to go out, have a new attitude and we’re going to have fun.”

Texas DC Bedford makes plea for sellout

August, 27, 2014
Aug 27
AUSTIN, Texas -- Three days before Charlie Strong and his staff make their official Texas debut, defensive coordinator Vance Bedford sent a clear message to the fan base: Buy a ticket.

Bedford, the first-year DC who played at Texas from 1977-81, was told during a post-practice interview session Wednesday that about 9,000 tickets are still available for the season opener against North Texas.

He was then asked if he had a message for fans thinking about staying home on Saturday. Here's what he had to say:
Staying at home? What do you mean staying at home? I hear that the state of Texas is all about what? Football. Friday Night Lights. The University of Texas. What do you mean you have 8 or 9,000 tickets left? People out there: Get off your duff and go buy these tickets! It should be standing room only! If not, don't complain, don't say anything. Get in the stands right now and cheer us on to victory. North Texas, when they're on offense, should not hear a thing. They should not be able to check. Why? It's standing room only. There should be 105,000, the fire marshal's outside saying get out. Thank you.
Here's the video of Bedford's impassioned plea, courtesy of UT, in case you're curious about the context. Based on the instant reaction on Twitter, it's safe to say Bedford got Texas' fans attention.

Texas senior defensive tackle Desmond Jackson offered up a similar declaration during his post-practice comments.

"Hey, whoever ain't got their ticket yet, make sure you get your ticket!" Jackson said. "That's all I'm saying. Make sure you get your ticket. It's going to be a nice show out there."

Longtime instate rivals Texas and Texas A&M haven't faced each other on the football field since the Aggies bolted for the SEC in 2012. That, however, hasn't stopped the two sides from trading barbs on Twitter.

With the NFL draft coming up, new Texas defensive coordinator Vance Bedford riled up Texas A&M fans with his Twitter views on the pro prospects of former Aggies quarterback Johnny Manziel.

Bedford started out general then he got specific:

Seriously, what do we do to get the Longhorns and the Aggies on the same field again?

Spring game preview: Texas

April, 18, 2014
Apr 18
AUSTIN, Texas -- The first Texas football game of the Charlie Strong era will look a lot more like a practice.

The Longhorns hit the field this weekend for the first time since Strong arrived. Even though fans can expect a more scrimmage-like approach to the annual Orange-White spring game, there will be plenty worth keeping an eye on.

When: 1 p.m. Saturday

Where: Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium

[+] EnlargeTyrone Swoopes
Matthew Visinsky/Icon SMISophomore QB Tyrone Swoopes will get a chance to work with the No. 1 offense in a game setting Saturday.
What to watch for:

  • Swoopes' confidence: The last time we saw Tyrone Swoopes in action, he looked like a flustered freshman (he was, in fact, a freshman) trying his hardest not to mess up amid a beatdown from Oregon in the Valero Alamo Bowl. He wasn't afraid to take some shots, and he scrambled for a 28-yard gain, but all in all it was a tough ask for a first-year QB who still had a lot to learn. With David Ash sidelined, Swoopes gets a chance to run the No. 1 offense in the spring game and show how far he has come in 14 practices with Shawn Watson, Texas' new quarterbacks coach. Watson is enthusiastic about the sophomore's future and praises his work as a student of the game, but this is a chance to see how well he can execute with a crowd watching and a No. 1 defense coming after him. Strong says the key to Swoopes' play is confidence and playing within himself. Everyone in attendance on Saturday will want to see if he can do just that.
  • New-look defense: This is going to be a vanilla ballgame on both sides of the ball. Both coordinators acknowledged that after their final practice Thursday. Why give up the good stuff when any Big 12 opponent can DVR the game on Longhorn Network and pick it apart? Even fiery defensive coordinator Vance Bedford will show restraint. But how he lines this defense up, both in scheme and personnel, will be intriguing. Texas coaches say this will be a multiple defense capable of lining up in 4-3 or 3-4, and you could see a little bit of both on Saturday. No, the defenders can't touch Swoopes. But you better believe Bedford will demand they get after him and put up a fight.
  • Playmakers on the outside: The hype is building for this Longhorns receiving corps, and their coaches have had nothing but good things to say about a group that must make up for the loss of deep threat Mike Davis. Nobody will be surprised if Marcus Johnson is the breakout player of the spring game. He's a star in the making. Jaxon Shipley, Kendall Sanders, Daje Johnson and Jacorey Warrick are all said to have had a big spring as well, and don't be shocked if you see tight end Geoff Swaim do some things in the passing game after primarily serving as a blocker in 2013.
  • Rising returnees: A new coaching staff means a clean slate for these Longhorns, and that means a fresh start for players who either weren't playing or were underperforming. The differences will be far more noticeable by August after a long summer of lifting and drills, but there will be some new standouts on Saturday. Guys such as safety Mykkele Thompson, offensive guard Taylor Doyle and linebacker Tim Cole have made an impression on the new staff and could do so again this weekend. Or perhaps it'll be someone nobody else is talking about, like how Duke Thomas caught everyone's eyes last year.
  • New sheriff in town: It's going to be a little strange to see someone other than Mack Brown on that sideline, isn't it? You know plenty of Texas fans will have their eyes on Strong for a glimpse of how he operates in a game setting and what he bring to the Texas sideline. You know the 100-plus recruits in attendance will care about that, too. For all the talk about how Strong is a stern coach out to lay down the law and whip the Longhorns into shape, let's see him have a little fun on Saturday.

Meet the coaches: Bedford and Jean-Mary

March, 12, 2014
Mar 12
This week, we’re taking a closer look at the members of the new Texas coaching staff under Charlie Strong. The third part of our two-a-days series focuses on two defensive coaches who followed Strong from Louisville, and what they’ll bring to their respective position groups.

Vance Bedford
Defensive coordinator/secondary

When Duane Akina announced in January that he wasn’t returning for a 14th season at Texas, the response from Longhorns fans and ex-players was understandable disappointment. He was, after all, the coach who helped make Texas “DBU.” Akina, who’s now coaching at Stanford, embraced that tradition like nobody else.

But when it comes to pride and passion for Longhorns defense backs, Bedford might be the perfect successor. He played cornerback at UT from 1977-81 and developed into a starter and a captain.

Get Bedford talking about Texas’ legacy in the secondary and he’ll go full-on historian, even mentioning that he caught up with two former “DBU” members -- Johnnie Johnson and William Graham -- while recruiting their sons at a recent junior day.

“‘DBU’ started with those guys. Raymond Clayborn, Johnnie Johnson, William Graham, Derrick Hatchett, Glenn Blackwood, Ricky Churchman, that’s when it started,” Bedford said. “Fred Akers came here and turned things around, said we’re going to play man-to-man, and almost every guy I played with went to the NFL. Jerry Gray, Mossy Cade, Craig Curry, Fred Acorn, Jitter Fields; the list goes on and on and on.”

Mack Brown and Akina kept it going, producing 14 All-Big 12 defensive backs and 11 who played in the NFL last season. They made sure today’s players knew and respected those DBs who came before them.

Bedford intends to keep that tradition going. This means an awful lot to him.

“We’re not just ‘DBU,’” he said. “We want to make it Linebacker U and D-Line U, whatever it takes to get the best players in the state of Texas to come here and get this program back to the top where it belongs.”

He felt like he’d won the lottery when he found out he was coming home to Texas, and it’s easy to see Bedford is excited about selling and signing the next generation of Texas defensive backs.

“This is the place to live in the state of Texas, just like this university is the best university in this state,” Bedford said. “Why would you not want to live in Austin, Texas, and go to the University of Texas? I just don’t know who would do something else.”

Brian Jean-Mary
Linebackers/recruiting coordinator

Believe it or not, Jean-Mary has more ties to the state of Texas than even he might’ve realized.

He played linebacker at Appalachian State for the legendary Jerry Moore, a Texas native who played at Baylor and was head coach at Texas Tech.

His defensive coordinator there was Ruffin McNeill, who went on to coach at Texas Tech for 10 years before becoming head coach at ECU. Jean-Mary’s position coach when he arrived at App State was George Edwards, who later coached linebackers for the Dallas Cowboys and is now the Vikings’ defensive coordinator.

And his roommate and best friend during those college years? Dexter Coakley, the future three-time Pro Bowler for the Cowboys.

So, yes, he’s picked up some knowledge about this state along the way thanks to those friendships.

“It almost feels like I was born and raised here,” Jean-Mary said.

A self-described college football junkie, Jean-Mary said following Strong and Bedford to Texas was a no-brainer because he understood the magnitude of coming to a program like this one.

He’s proud of what he accomplished in four years at Louisville. Jean-Mary knows he left a program that’s build to succeed in 2014 and beyond. But coaching at Texas -- and staying with Strong -- was too good to turn down.

“At the end of the day, you only get so many opportunities to really coach at a tradition-rich school like this and feel like you can take your next step in your career as an individual coach, but also helping a team take the next step as a program,” he said.

Jean-Mary inherits a group of linebackers that could return every contributor from 2013, though five of those players -- Jordan Hicks, Steve Edmond, Dalton Santos, Tevin Jackson and Timothy Cole -- are recovering from injuries. He likes this group’s potential and depth once everyone gets healthy, and his expectations are simple.

“We all come from the same school of defense: We want to have smart, tough and dependable guys,” Jean-Mary said. “We’re not going to be too complex, but we do want to have guys who can handle different situations.”

And whatever situations Jean-Mary finds himself in at Texas, he’s glad he has more than few Texans he can call for advice.

Meet the coaches: Robinson and Koenning

March, 11, 2014
Mar 11
This week, we’re taking a closer look at the members of the new Texas coaching staff under Charlie Strong. The second part of our two-a-days series focuses on two new hires on the offensive staff and what they’ll bring to their respective position groups.

Tommie Robinson
Running backs

Robinson won’t tell this story to his new Texas running backs, but it’s one Malcolm Brown, Johnathan Gray, Joe Bergeron and the rest of the gang ought to know.

[+] EnlargeTommie Robinson
Kirby Lee/USA TODAY SportsNew Texas running backs coach Tommie Robinson wants to start fresh and encourage open competition.
Their new position coach is taking a different approach to planning for 2014. Robinson is not watching film of his running backs: He doesn’t need to.

“I don’t know what to expect because, on purpose, I didn’t study them at all,” Robinson said. “I didn’t want to study them on tape. I want to go out and see these guys perform.”

He’s chatted with former running backs coach Larry Porter, but Robinson isn’t interested in analyzing what his players have done in the past. He wants a clean slate, a fresh start. He has a good reason why.

When Robinson arrived at USC last year, leaving his NFL gig with the Arizona Cardinals to return to the college game, he knew the expectations. Penn State transfer Silas Redd led the Trojans in rushing in 2012, and they’d signed ESPN 300 backs Justin Davis and Ty Isaac. Those were the options.

Robinson didn’t watch the film. He didn’t want any biases. He kept the competition going and used five different backs last fall. The standout of the group was a surprise: Javorius Allen.

When Robinson first joined the program, he says he was told he didn’t need to worry about Allen. The staff didn’t think the sophomore, a former ESPN 150 recruit with six career carries, would amount to much.

“They didn’t want him around, wanted to let him go,” Robinson said. “I learned a very valuable lesson: Had I listened to what I was told, that kid would’ve never got a chance to play football at USC. But I didn’t listen to what I was told about him. I wanted to formulate my own opinion about the kid, and the kid ended up leading us in rushing.

“This is a kid that wasn’t supposed to be on the team, that I was told, ‘Don’t worry about him, he won’t amount to anything,’ and he ended up leading the team in rushing. So who knows?”

That’s why, when Texas begins spring practice next week, Robinson intends to treat his rushers like true freshmen. They’ll have to convince him they’re his best option.

“I’ve made that point crystal clear,” Robinson said. “Everybody has an opportunity.”

Les Koenning
Wide receivers

Koenning and Vance Bedford both arrived at the University of Texas in 1977. They could tell you all sorts of stories about their college days, but they won’t.

“They might be R-rated,” Bedford said. “We had our day in the sun. It’s amazing some of the things we did, that we’re still here today. That’s all I can tell you.”

No doubt Koenning has done plenty of reminiscing during his first two months back on campus since joining Charlie Strong’s coaching staff. After more than three decades coaching elsewhere, this is his homecoming.

“The one thing that’s been really nice for myself is to come back and see what it’s like, having the opportunity to play in the stadium, going back through campus,” Koenning said. “Things have changed a little bit since I was last here. It’s gotten a lot nicer.”

Koenning’s 33-year career has seen him make stops at Alabama, Louisiana-Lafayette, Mississippi State, Rice, Duke, Texas A&M, the Miami Dolphins, back to Duke, Houston, TCU, back to Alabama, back to A&M, South Alabama and Mississippi State. Finally, the road led him back to Austin.

You won’t get him to talk badly about his time at Texas A&M, Alabama or anywhere else. Koenning says he’s been fortunate throughout and given the chance to coach at some great programs.

Getting back to Texas, at a time when the program is in transition and in need of coaches with Longhorns roots, was too good an opportunity to pass up.

“I’m excited about it, and I think also the opportunity to come with Coach Strong is really nice,” Koenning said. “His background and what he’s done in the past has been really impressive to me. It’s an opportunity to win.”

The son of a longtime Texas high school football coach, Koenning hit the road to recruit right when he was hired and ran into folks he knew all over the place. He’s looking forward to recruiting a state he knows well alongside coaches he trusts.

His offenses at Alabama and Mississippi State faced Strong’s South Carolina and Florida defenses. He knows what Texas is getting in its new head man, and Bedford is happy to vouch for what Koenning brings to the group.

“He’s one of the most competitive guys I’ve ever known,” Bedford said. “You watched him as a player, and the same tenacity you saw as a player, you see as a coach. He’s going to get the best out of his players.”

Bedford brings fire, sugar to Texas DC job

March, 7, 2014
Mar 7
AUSTIN, Texas -- If Charlie Strong is a freight train barreling down a straight line at full speed, Vance Bedford likens himself to a roller coaster.

Don’t like that metaphor? No worries, that’s one of many. Engage the new Texas defensive coordinator in an extended conversation and you’re likely to hear all sorts of comparisons, boasts and tales.

Here’s another: Bedford’s reasoning for why his high-energy personality blends so well with Strong’s even-keeled approach on a coaching staff.

[+] EnlargeVance Bedford
AP Photo/Garry JonesNew Texas defensive coordinator Vance Bedford wants to arrive at a ccheme that will allow his guys to play fast.
“If you were making a cake, you don’t want all eggs, do you?” Bedford said. “All you’re going to make is scrambled eggs. If you want a cake, you want flour, sugar, you want baking soda in there.

“Now, if you want a German chocolate cake, you put German chocolate in there. Now you’ve got a good mixture. You look at a coaching staff, everybody can’t be the same.”

Maybe that makes Bedford the sugar. Or is he the coconut-pecan frosting? He isn’t vanilla, that’s for sure.

Set aside the antics and anecdotes and restaurant recs -- he likes the St. Louis ribs and creamed corn at Rudy’s -- and you get an unmistakably passionate coach who’s serious about restoring the glory of his alma mater.

This is a dream-come-true opportunity for Bedford, a defensive back for the Longhorns from 1977-81. For as much as he loved what he’d helped build at Louisville, coming home was easy.

“The wind blew and I was here,” Bedford said. “It was a no-brainer for me.”

This is his big moment, but nothing Bedford does at Texas will be a one-man job. He’ll help Chris Vaughn oversee the secondary while also staying involved with Chris Rumph’s defensive linemen and Brian Jean-Mary’s linebackers.

As for the involvement of the head coach, himself a defensive guru, Bedford doesn’t just ask for Strong’s input – he demands it. This is their seventh year coaching together, and that collaboration has brought big results.

“He’s one of the best defensive coordinators in the country with two national championships. Why would you not want him to be part of everything that you do? Of all the game-planning that you do?” Bedford said. “I think that is important. He has great suggestions because the biggest thing that he believes in is keeping it simple. So do I, so we get along just fine. If it is simple, they can play fast. If they play fast, you have a chance to win a lot of games.”

He holds up the record at Louisville -- the 22 wins in their last 25 games -- as proof this process can work at Texas. And if you want to dismiss those results by saying the Cardinals didn’t play anyone, Bedford offers a suggestion: Ask Florida and Miami about that.

Bedford is Texas’ third defensive coordinator in six months, and he and Strong intend to ask things of this group that their predecessors did not. Chief among those changes: Texas will experiment with both the 4-3 and 3-4 base defenses this spring. The personnel will dictate the plan.

“Then we’ll configure, and that’s the beauty of the defense,” said Rumph, who previously coached a 3-4, two-gap scheme at Alabama. “We want those guys to line up, get their cleats in the ground and play fast.”

No matter the scheme, Longhorns defenders are about to learn a thing or two about Bedford’s infectious attitude.

He’s wearing his T-Ring from his college days again and can fire off stories about playing with the likes of Earl Campbell, Johnnie Johnson, Kenneth Sims and Russell Erxleben. Bedford had visited Austin just once since 1984 -- last year, in fact -- but this was always where he wanted to coach.

What can he achieve in Year 1 against these Big 12 offenses? Bedford sees no reason not to be optimistic. He says Mack Brown could have won the league last year if not for injuries, that this program is in far better shape than some might fear.

And nothing would bring Bedford more pride than helping Texas get back where he knows the program belongs.

“We've just got to continue to take it to the next step, to the new millennium,” he said. “Things have changed, kids have changed, and we’ve got to adjust to the change and hopefully we can do some of the things [Brown] did and get this place back to national championship contenders.”

Texas ready to get rolling on 2015 class

February, 6, 2014
Feb 6
AUSTIN, Texas -- National signing day wasn’t yet over, but that didn’t stop Texas defensive coordinator Vance Bedford from calling his shot.

“Next year, 2015, we're coming and we're coming to get everybody,” Bedford told Longhorn Network.

Texas has a lot of catching up to do for that boast to prove true.

Charlie Strong, Bedford and the rest of the staff inherited a tricky situation when they arrived in Austin. The staff was completed just one day before the dead period ended. They hit the recruiting trail hard, but their focus had to be on keeping Texas’ committed recruits on board.

On that front, they survived and succeeded. Texas held onto 17 of its prior pledges and inked six more. The last-second scramble is finally finished, and Strong likes how the Longhorns fared when it was all over.

[+] EnlargeCharlie Strong
AP Photo/Eric GayCharlie Strong and the Texas coaching staff have to jump into 2015 recruiting immediately, as the Longhorns have a junior day scheduled in two weeks.
“It's been a very intense couple of weeks,” Strong said Wednesday, “and what we were able to do as a staff was, we wanted to keep this class together. And it was an outstanding class.”

The next challenge begins immediately: Get rolling with the Class of 2015.

To appreciate what they’re up against, keep this in mind: Has recruiting the state of Texas ever been more challenging than it is right now?

Texas A&M and Baylor are thriving. Texas Tech and TCU are on the way back up. Those four programs are already ahead of the game in 2015, with a combined 18 early pledges. While Texas was still finishing its official visits, A&M, Baylor and TCU all held junior days on Jan. 26.

And those are just the local threats. Five of Texas’ top-eight rated recruits of 2014 signed with out-of-state programs. A total of 19 of the state’s top 50 left the state.

“It's hard to try to keep guys in,” Strong said, “but you have to go recruit them and not be afraid to go battle those Southeastern Conference teams, whomever they may be.”

Texas has six commitments on board for the 2015 class. The previous coaching staff was at one point so far ahead on this class that it held its first-ever sophomore day last spring.

The Longhorns had become the front-runners for more than a dozen of the state’s best recruits. Most of those leads have evaporated with the staff change, and understandably so. Both the recruits and the Texas coaches have a lot to learn about each other in the next few months.

Strong, his coaches and his recruiting staffers have 16 days to prepare for their first junior day event. There’s plenty of work to be done, and after living on the road for weeks they finally have a reprieve to meet as a staff, identify targets and make progress.

Texas will have a chance to sign more than 25 in next year’s class, and perhaps as many as 30. The way Strong sees it, he’d like to stick to his ideals when it comes to filling out the next group.

“You have 25 scholarships to give out. Who are the top 10 players? Let's go get the top 10,” he said. “Who are that next 10, or the guys that just fit your needs where you can build around? Because when you get the second 10, you are going to build around those. You take the other five and see if there is a late bloomer out there. There is going to be someone out there that isn't going to make an early decision. Let's make sure we save a scholarship there.”

Remember, Texas has a chance to capitalize off a common recruiting phenomenon in the next 12 months: The first-year bump.

Tennessee finished with the nation’s No. 5 class on Wednesday following Butch Jones’ first season in Knoxville. Ole Miss did the exact same thing last year under Hugh Freeze.

Texas A&M and Ohio State locked up top-10 classes under new coaches in 2013. Heck, Kentucky lost 10 games and still inked a top-20 class.

These are relatively subjective standards, of course, but the ranking isn’t the point. These first-year boons happen because a new coach and his staff can sell the future.

Kids want to play for programs on the rise. They buy into the hype and hope. And Strong is ready to start selling.

“I love recruiting,” Strong said. “You know the reason why? You have a chance to not only sell your program and sell your university, but you get a chance to build a relationship. And you go out and meet more people. That's the fun part about recruiting, because the players are going to be who they are and then you just try to figure out what they are all about and what their goals are.”

Strong has already revealed his goals. He wants the Longhorns to own this state again. His quest to change the game starts now.

Big 12's lunch links

January, 21, 2014
Jan 21
In case you missed it, Richard Sherman discusses going toe-to-toe with Michael Crabtree.

Strong knows what Texas is getting in staff

January, 16, 2014
Jan 16
AUSTIN, Texas -- Charlie Strong says he had a fairly good idea of what he wanted from his Texas coaching staff before the hunt began.

[+] EnlargeCharlie Strong
Joe Robbins/Getty ImagesNew Texas coach Charlie Strong has put together an experienced staff he's familiar with.
He wanted coaches he knew and coaches who know the state of Texas.

The staff Strong unveiled on Wednesday appears to have a good helping of both.

Ten days into the job, his staff is finally assembled, and he will hit the road on Thursday to begin selling a school the staff has barely had time to visit.

Strong had to stifle a laugh when asked if he was starting to settle in at Texas. It hasn't been easy. Not after all the work he had to put into interviewing coaches and piecing together a staff that met his standards.

He believes he’s found a group that can get Texas back to its championship standard, and more importantly, he thinks these are the guys UT needs off the field.

“This is a staff that we know what it is all about,” Strong said. “We are teachers, we're role models, we're going to motivate and lead. Just a staff that are family men, and you want that with the players.

“Because you want the players to look at a coach and say how, someday, if they don't end up being an engineer or a doctor but could go and be a coach, [they would] emulate the man standing right there in front of me. I am just so happy that we are aboard and finally completed it.”

It’s a group that touts a combined 232 years of coaching experience and, at least on paper, has a good deal of familiarity both with each other and with this state.

Strong hired four coaches he’d worked with in offensive coordinator Joe Wickline, defensive coordinator Vance Bedford, quarterbacks coach Shawn Watson and linebackers coach Brian Jean-Mary.

He hired four assistants who have coached college football in this state: Bedford, receivers coach Les Koenning, running backs coach Tommie Robinson and retained tight ends coach Bruce Chambers.

And he hired guys he’d recruited against in the past, coaches whose passion he respected in defensive line coach Chris Rumph and defensive backs coach Chris Vaughn.

And don’t forget the 10th man, the one he considers just as valuable -- if not more so -- than the rest: Strength and conditioning coach Pat Moorer, who followed him from Louisville and is already putting his new players to the test with workouts this week.

All in all, it’s a haul that has industry experts impressed. Is this the blank-check dream team that Texas fans envisioned when Strong took the job? No, maybe not. But he’s found puzzle pieces that, thanks to all the familiarity, ought to fit together well and do so quickly.

Those fans fantasized about reeling in a big fish for an offensive coordinator, no doubt Strong’s most important hire of the nine. They wanted Strong to swing for the fences with someone like Clemson's Chad Morris or Ohio State's Tom Herman.

They might not realize what they’ve got in Wickline, one of the nation’s top offensive line coaches at Oklahoma State. He and Strong were grad assistants together at Florida in 1983 and met again in Gainesville from 2002 to 2004. He knew he was handing the keys to his offense to an underappreciated gem.

“Guys pay their dues, and guys have been around great systems, and if you look at the system he has been around at Oklahoma State for nine years, they have moved the ball very well on offense,” Strong said. “When the guys have put in their time, it's like me: I have put in my time and want to be rewarded. So he has put in his time, and he is being rewarded.”

What sold him on Wickline, and so many other members of the new staff, was a mandatory trait: Toughness. His offenses and players played. Strong is surrounding himself with hard-nosed leaders because that’s what Texas needs right now.

Just as this group comes together, it’s time to split up again. The new Longhorns coaches begin their recruiting quest on Thursday, and they’ve got plenty of catching up to do on that front.

Over the next few weeks, Strong will find out just what kind of recruiters he’s hired. And then the real job -- putting the pieces back together at Texas -- will begin.

It’s a familiar challenge for Strong. To pull this off, he’s surrounded himself with familiar allies.

“I told them right from the start that this is going to be a coaching staff with no egos,” Strong said. “We are here to work together, and it is all about success. We are here to win and whatever we have to do to go win a football game, that is what we have to do.”

Meet the Texas coaching staff

January, 15, 2014
Jan 15
New Texas head coach Charlie Strong completed and announced his coaching staff on Wednesday. A closer look at who will join him in his first season of leading the Longhorns:

Offensive coordinator/offensive line: Joe Wickline
55 Alma mater: Florida
Previously: Oklahoma State offensive line coach
Past stops: Florida, Middle Tennessee State, Baylor, Southwest Mississippi C.C., Pearl River C.C., Ole Miss, Delta State, Tennessee
Coached up: Oklahoma State T Russell Okung, Oklahoma State OT Levy Adcock, Florida OT Max Starks
Stat: During Wickline’s nine seasons at OSU, the Cowboys averaged 37.7 points per game, which ranked third-best in FBS behind Oregon and Boise State.
In short: The longtime Oklahoma State assistant is considered one of the nation’s best line coaches and was a significant steal for Strong’s first staff. He inherits plenty of young talent up front.

Assistant head coach/quarterbacks: Shawn Watson
54 Alma mater: Southern Illinois
Previously: Louisville offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach
Past stops: Nebraska, Colorado, Northwestern, Southern Illinois, Miami (Ohio), Illinois
Coached up: Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater, Nebraska QB Taylor Martinez, Colorado QB Joel Klatt
Stat: Bridgewater ranked No. 3 in FBS in raw QBR during the 2013 season at 84.5.
In short: Texas is getting an offensive mind that Strong trusts and who proved, with his coaching of Bridgewater, that he has what the Longhorns desperately need: The ability to develop a quarterback.

Running backs: Tommie Robinson
50 Alma mater: Troy State
Previously: USC pass game coordinator/running backs coach
Past stops: Arizona Cardinals, Miami, Memphis, Georgia Tech, Oklahoma State, Dallas Cowboys, TCU, Utah State, Arkansas
Coached up: Cowboys WR Michael Irvin, Cardinals RB Beanie Wells, Oklahoma State RB Tatum Bell
Stat: Four USC running backs combined for 2,225 rushing yards in 2013, with two surpassing 700 yards.
In short: Robinson comes to Austin after a year at Southern Cal, where he was a respected recruiter and position coach with a wide range of experience.

Receivers: Les Koenning
54 Alma mater: Texas
Previously: Mississippi State offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach
Past stops: South Alabama, Texas A&M, Alabama, TCU, Houston, Duke, Miami Dolphins, Rice, Louisiana-Lafayette
Coached up: Texas A&M QB Stephen McGee, Texas A&M QB Reggie McNeal, Texas A&M WR Albert Connell
Stat: Mississippi State’s offense set school records for passing yards, total yards and completion percentage in 2013.
In short: Koenning has coached all over Texas and is leaving an SEC coordinator job to return home. Strong needed assistants with ties to this state and Koenning is plenty of that.

Tight ends: Bruce Chambers
Alma mater: North Texas
Previously: Same role
Past stops: Dallas Carter High School
Coached up: Texas RB Ricky Williams, Texas TE Jermichael Finley, Texas RB Cedric Benson
Stat: Texas tight ends Geoff Swaim and Greg Daniels combined for six receptions last season.
In short: The only assistant retained from Mack Brown’s staff, Chambers has been at Texas since 1998 and can help with this staff transition, especially in recruiting.

Defensive coordinator/secondary: Vance Bedford
55 Alma mater: Texas
Previously: Louisville defensive coordinator/secondary coach
Past stops: Florida, Oklahoma State, Chicago Bears, Michigan, Colorado State, Navarro J.C.
Coached up: Michigan CB Charles Woodson, Florida CB Joe Haden, Louisville DE Marcus Smith
Stat: Since the start of the 2012 season, the Cardinal defense ranks No. 4 in FBS in total defense and No. 5 in pass defense.
In short: Strong brought Bedford with him to Austin, and the former Longhorn defensive back brings a lot to the table. Known for being fiery and passionate in his time at Louisville.

Assistant head coach/defensive line: Chris Rumph
42 Alma mater: South Carolina
Previously: Alabama defensive line coach
Past stops: Clemson, Memphis, South Carolina State
Coached up: Clemson DE Da’Quan Bowers, Clemson DE Gaines Adams, Alabama DT Jesse Williams
Stat: In his stints at Clemson and Alabama, Rumph coached at least nine NFL Draft picks.
In short: Like Wickline, Rumph is considered one of the best of the best at what he does. Doesn’t have much experience in Texas but does have a history of signing and developing elite linemen.

Linebackers/recruiting coordinator: Brian Jean-Mary
38 Alma mater: Appalachian State
Previously: Louisville linebackers coach
Past stops: Georgia Tech, North Alabama, South Carolina
Coached up: Georgia Tech LB Phillip Wheeler, Louisville LB Preston Brown, Georgia Tech LB Gerris Wilkinson
Stat: Under Jean-Mary’s tutelage, Brown recorded 301 career tackles and twice earned all-conference honors.
In short: Jean-Mary was assistant head coach of the Louisville defense and followed Bedford and Strong. He’ll be Texas’ third linebackers coach in the past 12 months.

Defensive backs/special teams: Chris Vaughn
37 Alma mater: Murray State
Previously: Memphis cornerbacks coach
Past stops: Ole Miss, Arkansas
Coached up: Ole Miss CB Marshay Green, Ole Miss CB Cassius Vaughn, Arkansas LB Tony Bua
Stat: At Memphis, Vaughn inherited the second-worst pass defense in FBS in 2011. In his two seasons, the Tigers ranked 26th-best in the country in yards per completion allowed.
In short: The youngest member of the new staff, Vaughn already has eight years as an SEC recruiting coordinator on his resume.