Barryn Sorrell and Ethan Burke will be a top-half EDGE duo in the Big 12 this season in the pass rush
A pleasant surprise for the Texas defense in the season-opening win over Rice was the performance of sophomore edge rusher Ethan Burke. The first-year starter and towering 6-foot-6 and 257-pound EDGE player had a career day with four combined tackles, two defensive stops, 1.5 sacks, two tackles for loss, and three quarterback pressures.
Burke graded out as one of the five best starting defenders for the Longhorns in this game. He also graded out among the five best starting edge rushers in the Big 12 in Week 1.
On Burke’s first career sack in this game, he shot out of a cannon unblocked coming off the edge. And despite getting tripped up on his way to the quarterback, he still showed the motor and drive to get to senior JT Daniels for the sack.
The most impressive part of Burke’s performance in the win over Rice was his efficiency as a pass rusher. Since Texas rotated a lot up front against Rice, Burke only got nine snaps as a pass rusher this weekend.
Despite taking single-digit pass rush snaps against the Owls, Burke registered three quarterback pressures and 1.5 sacks. Burke caused havoc on one-third of his pass-rushing snaps, getting home twice (one as an assisted sack).
Burke’s high level of efficiency rushing the passer this weekend garnered him the best pass-rushing productivity (per PFF) among Big 12 edge rushers in Week 1.
Texas could have its best pass-rushing duo in a few years at the EDGE position between junior Barryn Sorrell and Burke. While Sorrell had a quiet day at the office in the win over Rice, he led the team in sacks last season.
Combine Sorrell’s ability to get after the quarterback at a decent rate with Burke’s length and natural pass-rushing tools, and we could see Texas’ starting edge rushers get home more often than we’ve ever seen from this position group in Pete Kwiatkowski’s defense in three years.