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  1. submitted Today, 01:29 PM in Texas Longhorns Football By Matt Cotcher @mlcotcher Old football coaches like to say that a player’s ability to impact the game is inversely proportional to their distance from the football when they line-up. Malcom Brown spent the 2014 season proving their philosophy correct. Evidently folks took notice of Brown’s influence on games – he was named a consensus first team All-American and was a finalist for both the Nagurski and Outland trophies. Watch film of a Longhorns game from last season and it’s nearly impossible not to notice Brown’s contributions. The former Brenham High star led the Horns in tackles for loss, sacks, forced fumbles, and tied for the team lead in quarterback pressures. To put it in perspective, it’s been 30 years since a defensive tackle led the Longhorns in tackles for loss and sacks. The last Texas player to do so was Lombardi Award winner Tony Degrate in 1984. That means that Brown accomplished more than either Rodrique Wright or Casey Hampton, who were both NFL draftees. Hampton was a first round selection in the 2001 NFL Draft – footsteps that Brown hopes to follow in this year’s event. When looking ahead to the 2015 season, it’s more than Brown’s sacks and quarterback pressures that Texas needs to replace. Charlie Strong, Vance Bedford, and new Defensive Line Coach Brick Haley are charged will filling a position that impacted the entire defense in 2014. Brown’s talent was such a force that he made the other 10 Texas defenders better. When an offense is forced to account for a player like Brown on every single play, the jobs of other defensive linemen, linebackers, and defensive backs are easier. Last season the Texas defense allowed 348.5 total yards per game (25th nationally), and only 4.68 yards per play (7th nationally) – that success started with Brown’s standout play on the interior of the defensive front. Cedric Reed, Hassaan Ridgeway, Caleb Bluiett, and Shiro Davis combined for 18.5 sacks, but Brown should be credited with an assist on those plays for drawing a double team. Jordan Hicks (147) and Steve Edmond (131) led the team in tackles from their linebacker spots. Brown wreaking havoc on the interior of the line helped them stay clean enough to make those plays. With quarterbacks worrying over Brown’s mammoth presence crashing through the line, he also was a factor in helping the Longhorns’ pass defense finish with an 11th best (nationally) 184.2 yards per game. While there are a handful of talented players at defensive tackle, whether or not any of them can duplicate Brown’s consistent production is a different question. There’s also a dependability factor – Brown started all 26 games over the last two seasons. Hassan Ridgeway and Desmond Jackson are upper classmen that have shown the ability to play at a very high level. The question that won’t be answered until the team travels to South Bend for the season opener is how much of their impact was related to Brown’s play. When measuring Brown’s impact on the defense, it extends far beyond his 72 tackles. When the Longhorns open Spring Practices next Wednesday, there will be a massive void in the middle of the defensive line. That’s not a wisecrack on Brown’s girth, that’s an old coach talking about how closely he lines up to the ball.

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