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Vance Bedford talks defense, calls out Texas fans

"Get off your duff and go buy those tickets!"

Stacy Revere

Those Texas Longhorns fans who enjoy assistant coaches who provide good interviews should take note of new defensive coordinator Vance Bedford, he of the nicknames for senior cornerback Quandre Diggs that he can't share.

Bedford met with the media on Wednesday evening for his second availability during the fall and had some opinions about the state of ticket sales for the season opener against the North Texas Mean Green when told there are still nearly 10,000 tickets remaining.

And Bedford is right -- it's a pathetic thing that with a new head coach and a new era, Texas fans can't be bothered to get excited about it. Maybe even the same Texas fans who like to complain about the Longhorn Network and not being able to see their team play.

After Bedford shared his strong opinion, senior defensive tackle Desmond Jackson was asked about the ticket situation and decided to take a more politic approach.

"Whoever hasn't got their tickets yet, make sure you get your tickets," Jackson said. "That's all I'm going to say is make sure you get your ticket. It's going to be a nice show out there. I know for me, the home crown has always been a big thing to me playing in Austin, so I know our fans are going to buy their tickets and it's going to be a packed stadium. So I'm not even worried about that. I know they're going to come out there and show their support for us so it's going to be nice for us."

But Bedford didn't just talk about the lameness of the Texas fanbase -- he also had some comments about the defense in general.

The first official depth chart of the Charlie Strong era that comes out on Thursday may provide some more perspective on one of the few remaining position battles on the team still being waged at safety.

On Wednesday, Bedford said that freshman Jason Hall, sophomore walk on Dylan Haines, and sophomore Adrian Colbert have all been receiving time there.

"All three of those guys are rotating, and all three of those guys are going to play," he said. "Right now, I can't say who is going to start. Right now we'll say we have three of those guys starting, but one of those guys might get a little bit more."

From the sound of it, the battle will continue through the first game and possibly even beyond until one of those players takes control of the job. The news is that Colbert is seriously in the mix after he seemed to be lagging behind the two other players, a situation that raised further concerns about when the light will come on for the small school product with exceptional speed and striking ability.

At cornerback, the situation is much more stable with Diggs holding down the nickel position. Bedford called his senior leader one of the best nickel backs he's been around because of his awareness. Noting as well that Diggs is playing physical and is healthy, Bedford clearly likes what he has at one of the most important positions on the defense.

While the secondary is tasked with keeping the ball inside and in front of them, Bedford wants the defensive line to go make plays.

"The defensive front needs to put their head on the ground and tee off," he said. "They need to be in the backfield. If they're not, then we're not playing good defense. We want to be aggressive on the front."

One of the players Bedford no doubt once to see step up into that playmaking role is sophomore defensive tackle Hassan Ridgeway.

"The light is turning on, but it is not all the way on just yet. He's made great strides. He's doing things a lot better. He even had a smile on his face. It's good to see him smile a little more. He's a big giant, and I love to watch him play. When that light turns on all the way, he could be a special player."

But for now the word to describe Ridgeway is still potential. Tantalizing, tantalizing potential.

Against North Texas, however, Bedford will likely lean heavily on his starters early against an offensive line that returns four starters and 123 starts combined. Due to that experience, he has a healthy respect for the group that head coach Dan McCarney will run out on Saturday evening.

"They're going to be physical," Bedford said. "They have four starters back on the offensive line. When your offensive line is good, your offense is probably going to be pretty good. They lost some key players. They lost their two top receivers and lost their QB, but when you have four starters on your offensive line, you better buckle your stuff up. If not, they could run right through us."

That healthy respect comes from Bedford having watched what North Texas did against Georgia last season.

"They went into Athens and for three and a half quarters, they gave Georgia all they wanted. They ran the football, they changed the pace and tempo, they got back and ran the ball. One thing about Dan McCarney's team is he is not going to beat himself. He's going to play smart, and when he has an opportunity to make a play, he's going to take shots at opportune times."

Whatever happens during the opener, come Sunday Bedford and the players will review the first game film of the Charlie Strong era and the Texas defensive coordinator detailed what he'll look for on tape.

"The first thing that we all look for as coaches is did we give great effort in pursuit.," he said. "If we don't have 11 guys going to the ball like they're hungry and trying to get something to eat then we're doing something wrong. The next thing we talk about is tackles. Normally if you have less than 10 missed tackles a game, you're going to win a lot of ball games. If you have more than t10en, you're probably going to lose that ball game. We then look at big plays. If we had break downs where the ball broke through, whether it's a run or pass, why did it break through? Who was not in the right gap? We look at the details of executing the defense."

But that's getting ahead of everything. Before the game, Bedford will tell his defense to go have fun out there.

"I tell the kids all the time to go out and have some fun. Game day is fun. Turn it loose and enjoy it because you'll only have it once. Enjoy the moment right now. If I could go back to 1977 when I was a freshman, I would enjoy my time. You won't ever get this game back. When Sunday rolls around, you can't go back and say 'I wish I did this or that.' You have to live in the precious present."

Hopefully the stands at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium will be full of Texas fans living in the same precious present.

After all, despite all the talk about having fun, Bedford doesn't sound like a dude to mess with. Best to stay on his good side, Texas fans.