One of the biggest questions heading into the 2019 season was how the Texas Longhorns would manage to replace all three of its down linemen and their 84 career starts.
At defensive end, Texas traded captain for captain at defensive end, graduating two-year starter Breckyn Hager for Malcolm Roach on the outside, one of the only 2019 starters with significant starting experience. Against Oklahoma State, Roach was a key contributor disrupting the Oklahoma State running game, especially on a fourth-down stop deep in Texas territory, but his biggest contributions were on the sidelines with his teammates.
“There is a reason Malcolm Roach is a captain,” head coach Tom Herman said following Saturday’s win over the Oklahoma State Cowboys. “I heard him a couple different times when there was some stoppage of plays, you know, dang near begging his teammates. Don’t do it for yourself. Do it for each other. That’s something that is learned.”
Through four games, Roach leads all defensive linemen with 11 tackles, with one tackle for loss. As a point of comparison, at this point in the season a year ago Charles Omenihu, the man Roach replaced, had 10 tackles and one sack.
However, for the coaches, his impact goes far beyond the stat sheet.
“He’s outstanding in practice and he’s playing at a high level,” defensive coordinator Todd Orlando said ahead of the Oklahoma State game. “I really think he’s a guy that’s elevated himself personally and professionally. He really helps us run the show out there defensively. He feels like ‘I’m the vet.’”
Roach has earned the “C” patch on his jersey, an honor his teammates gave him through a vote after fall camp. From what his coaches say, it’s clear that Roach wants to make the most of his senior year and leave a legacy at Texas.
“It was really cool to hear Malcolm kind of echo — not kind of — literally echo the things that he had been taught for the last three years,” Herman said. “That’s a sign of really good leadership.”