January 10, 2007

Season-in-Review: The defensive tackles

As we begin our final breakdown of the 2006 season for the defending national champion Texas Longhorns, we'll next take a look at the defensive tackle position. There were high expectations for the position, particularly with the return of Frank Okam, but there were some questions on who would step up to fill the second tackle spot.

Grading scale

A - All-America
B - All-Big 12
C - Solid season
D - Disappointing
F - Failure

Frank Okam

Expectations - With Rod Wright having moved on, Okam was expected to take on a bigger role in the Texas defense from his defensive tackle spot, and fans were hoping he'd be a disruptive force in the opponents' backfields.

Reality - Unfortunately, Okam wasn't able to put up huge numbers, largely because he struggled with injuries all season. Okam did perform well enough to earn honorable mention all-conference honors, but he wasn't the dominating player that most expected.

Stats - 37 tackles, 6 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 9 QB hurries, 1 fumble recovery

High point - Had to be the Texas A&M game. Okam notched five tackles, one tackle for a loss and a fumble recover that set up the Horns' only touchdown of the game.

Low point - Really, there were several games in which Okam was ineffective in terms of making tackles. He does deserve a lot of credit for Texas successful run defense, but his injury limited him in several contests.

Overall grade - This one's tough to grade because Okam wasn't healthy, so it doesn't seem completely fair to give him a failing grade. But the bottom line is that he wasn't able to get it done in terms of making big plays, and for that he deserves about a C-. If you were basing the grade off of preseason expectations, he'd have to be given a failing mark.

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