Sometimes being a coach means making unpopular decisions.
Following the debut of Texas Longhorns senior defensive tackle Chris Nelson’s belly rub celebration against the USC Trojans and the continued deployment of it during last weekend’s win against the TCU Horned Frogs, it’s reign is now over.
Out of fear of getting a taunting penalty, defensive coordinator Todd Orlando told Nelson that he can no longer rub his glorious belly after making a play.
“I can still do it on the sideline,” Nelson said on Tuesday.
Clearly, that just won’t be the same. Last Wednesday, senior linebacker Gary Johnson hedged a bit before admitting that he preferred Nelson’s belly rub to the Joker celebration that former safety DeShon Elliott deployed after big plays.
Johnson was even practicing his own variation of the belly rub in the hallways of the football complex and the locker rooms before debuting it in combination with Nelson last Saturday.
The good news is that Nelson is starting to emerge as a force at the nose tackle position he occupied as a sophomore and inherited from Poona Ford last season. A fifth-year senior, Nelson can’t replicate the quickness and explosiveness of Ford off the ball, but he has played a key role in keeping Johnson free to shoot gaps and generally anchored the run defense effectively in recent weeks.
Through four games, Nelson is on pace to quickly surpass his career high of 5.5 tackles for loss during the 2016 season — he had two stops behind the line of scrimmage against TCU and four total this year.
So as unfortunate as it may be that Nelson can’t continue his on-field celebration, expect that GIF to continue circulating if the 6’1, 315-pounder can continue making plays.