Texas defense is in good hands with Duane Akina, especially if linebackers step up.

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Akina vows the defense will be more aggressive. Just coach-speak, but it’s music to my ears.

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Posted January 9th, 2007 by Brian
Filed under: Football

Duane Akina[tag]Larry Mac Duff[/tag] is the new name but Duane Akina is Texas’ new defensive coordinator.

The biggest news related to the surprise hire of Mac Duff is that [tag]Duane Akina[/tag] will now be calling the plays for the Texas defense. Under the previous regime coach Gene Chizik was the one really in charge of the defense and was the one calling the shots on Saturdays. Even though Chizik and Akina shared the defensive coordinator title, Chizik was the one who received the hype and he was the one who was referred to as “the defensive coordinator.” Now Akina is 1A and Mac Duff is 1B.

What we do know about Akina is that despite this year’s performance he is an one of the nation’s top secondary coaches and a good recruiter. His promotion means no disruption to the current players or to recruiting. Akina is a guy who has loyalty to Mack Brown and to the University of Texas so unlike the last two guys we can expect him to stick around longer than a year or two.

The Alamo Bowl was Akina’s tryout for the job but I’m not sure if it was enough for us as fans to get a good idea of his coaching ability or style. He was working with Chizik’s guys and didn’t have enough time to get his scheme into place. After struggling mightily in the first half, Akina and the Texas defense stepped it up a little in the second half and came up with the big stops when needed. One game is not enough for us to draw any conclusions from. We don’t have any idea what kind of job he’ll do making defensive calls on gameday or how good he’ll be at making in game adjustments. Next year it’ll be trial by fire and I think Akina has earned that opportunity.

The Mac Duff hire will be great news for the Texas linebackers and special teams play. He’s got experience and success at every level with those two groups and those spots have been a weakness for the Longhorns in recent years. Texas has a lot of young talent at linebacker and all three starters returning at the position, but it still wouldn’t surprise me to see three new starters next year. Sergio Kindle, Roddrick Muckelroy, and Jared Norton are all big, fast and athletic and I think most Texas fans are excited about those guys being on the field a lot more in 2007.

Whoever Mack brought in to replace Chizik needed to be a compliment to Akina because it’s clear Brown likes him and the players do as well. Mac Duff fits perfectly. He’s got a solid relationship with Akina and unlike Chizik and Jerry Gray he’s a true linebackers coach. A bigger name hire might have made more of a splash nationally and made some fans happy, but it would’ve caused more of a disruption to the team and depending on the hire might have meant replacing Akina as well. Brown decided that the Akina and Mac Duff together could do a better job helping the Longhorns win games than any of the other big names would do.

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Larry Mac DuffMack Brown has named former University of Arizona defensive coordinator and current 49ers’ special teams coach Larry Mac Duff as the new Texas co-defensive coordinator. Mac Duff will be the co-DC with Duane Akina and will be in charge of the linebackers, something he has extensive experience with unlike previous coordinator Gene Chizik. Akina is a longtime friend of Mac Duff when they both worked under former Texas coach Dick Tomey in Arizona. We should see immediate improvement from the linebacking corps and the special teams. Interestingly, Akina will handle the defensive play-calling on game days.

We’ll have more thoughts on this news later today.

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