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Texas DC Vance Bedford wants opposing WRs scared between the hashes

Can other Texas safeties step up to provide the physicality of freshman Jason Hall?

Ronald Martinez

Not only is Texas Longhorns defensive coordinator Vance Bedford about as old school as a coach can get, he's also a fantastic interview, as he's proven virtually every week since the season began.

This Wednesday, he was asked about his ideal safety play and it launched Bedford into a glorious discourse.

"I'd like to get in the situation here that if you throw the ball between the hashes, that receiver knows one thing, he might not get up," Bedford said. "It's just that simple. At Louisville, I had Calvin Pryor. There were a lot of dropped balls because of what Calvin Pryor and Hakeem Smith did."

Seriously, watch that highlight video from Calvin Pryor-- there's a reason why he was the 18th pick in the NFL Draft and has been heralded as a poster child of head coach Charlie Strong's developmental abilities.

Bedford then went on to recount a number of other big hitters through his career, including an enforcer from his previous job in Gainesville.

"I was at Florida where we had Major Wright," he said. "We played Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl that year and they threw the ball down the sideline, now he would have been kicked out of a game."

Definitely not legal now, but at the time it was a play that Bedford said changed the tempo of the game. It made Oklahoma wide receiver Manny Johnson wary of Wright's presence after that, for sure.

Charles Woodson at Michigan and Mike Brown for the Chicago Bears were two other players Bedford coached during his career who fit that ideal.

"Threw the ball in the middle of the field and there were dropped balls," he said. "They set the tempo of what you can do."

There's one player on the team right now who currently personifies that trait -- hard-hitting freshman safety Jason Hall, the incredible gem of the 2014 recruiting class who was the No. 110 safety nationally by 247Sports, the service that may lead in evaluating players right now.

>Jason Hall brings that to the table," Bedford said. "He's a freshman, but you look at the opportunities he's had, when he hits you, you do not fall forward. When he gets to that point and time, that's when things will change for us defensively."

Nope, there's no falling forward, not even for 243-pound Oklahoma man-child Samaje Perine, who has trucked his share of defenders already in his short Sooner career.

It doesn't take a whole lot to get Bedford going down memory lane and the discussion about Hall did exactly that as the former team captain harkened back to some of the talented Texas defenses of his playing days, running through a list of his peers who would punish opponents.

"I had a chance to play with Johnnie Johnson," Bedford said. "You got hurt. William Graham -- you were injured. Jerry Gray -- you were injured throwing the ball down the middle of the field. That's what we have to get back to. That's what's called Texas football. We are looking for guys to fill that role right now."

How about this, coach?

"Jason Hall has the ability to do that," Bedford said, circling back. "He's shown signs of doing that, but he's not there right now."

Not at the level of the other defenders that the Texas defensive coordinator mentioned, but it may only be a matter of time -- such is Hall's current long-term trajectory.

More important though is his short-term trajectory -- Hall missed the Iowa State with a patellar tendon injury and was listed as day-to-day by his coach on Wednesday. Currently practicing with the team, Hall's instincts were missed last weekend and could prove invaluable against a Kansas State offense that is extremely efficient at producing big plays and features a dangerous middle-of-the-field threat in wide receiver Tyler Lockett.

Of course, there's also the big-picture concerns for Bedford when he looks at his defense.

No coach with his intensity would be satisfied with only one player showing the potential to make opponents pay for coming across the middle, so he's also constantly challenging every safety to step up to that level of physicality.

In high school, sophomore Adrian Colbert showed some of that striking ability, but it hasn't been apparent at Texas, perhaps because he struggles to get himself around the football more often.

Since he hasn't even showed that potential yet in college, rest assured that Bedford has been letting him know about it, along with the rest of the secondary.

"That's a challenge to the guys we have right now. We challenge them all the time. The game of football is a physical game. It's not a finesse game. If you are a safety and someone throws the ball to the middle of the field, it's like someone broke into your house.

"What are you going to do? It's personal," Bedford said. "Right now -- and I get fired up about that -- it is personal. You throw the ball in the middle of the field, it's supposed to be all bad for the offensive guys. Right now, it is not happening and I tell the guys that every single day. You asked what happened after that ball game, I got fired up and they knew where I was coming from. It's personal."