Defensive Line Let's stick with the lines and move to the other side of the football, where the `Horns were equally dominant. Tim Crowder blew up play after play, harassing Meyer all evening in leading this group's terrific play. Even when Robison went out with injury, the depth at end showed up. Orakpo blew past his blocker for a sack in the second quarter, while Aaron Lewis and Lamarr Houston showed up to play solid football on the line.
On the interior, things were less exciting, but the tackles generally did a good job of limiting what Iowa State could do. Derek Lokey had a great game over the ball, and contributed on offense with a pancake block on the goal line as he tried a little fullback. Okam and Miller didn't do too much, but they were occupying blockers that freed the linebackers to have a strong game. The best news of all is that Robison's injury doesn't appear to be serious, and it was good to get the depth chart some serious work. I'm comfortable giving this stellar group another A.
Linebackers I have mostly wonderful things to say about this unit's play on Saturday. Bobino was flying about like you want your middle linebacker to, making plays, disrupting the quarterback, tipping balls - he seemed to be in on every play.
Meanwhile, Drew Kelson, one of last year's breakout players on defense, returned to action, to my delight. He was a little bit out of position on two plays, but overall played well and promises to be an impact player once again.
My only slight bone to pick is with Robert Killebrew, who actually played well overall. Still, I want to point out a tendency he has to hone in on The Big Hit, occasionally at the expense of his assignment. In particular, Iowa State's second touchdown was a play in which he left his assignment to try and close in on Meyer. The Cyclone quarterback deftly flipped the ball to the receiver Kill had just abandoned - touchdown Bad Guys. I only bring it up because he's got a tendency to get overly excitable and out of position. He has such a terrific physical presence, but he's got to find a way to be a little bit more heady out there, and a little less like a shark on every play - just out for the kill. If he can harness that physical energy, stay a little more disciplined, and use his speed and aggression to make plays as they come to him - instead of always seeking them out - he'll be a terrific linebacker. He's close, but he can improve.
Still, I noted in our Longhorn PTI that one of my three keys to the game was the play of this unity, and they showed up in a big way. A solid A- for Saturday, but more importantly, finally some signs that this is going to be a real team strength, and soon.