Jalen Catalon, S
In his Thursday press conference last week, Sark said senior safety Jalen Catalon would be active for the TCU game on Nov. 11. But Catalon didn’t take any defensive snaps for the Longhorns in the win over TCU last weekend.
Crawford, redshirt sophomore Michael Taaffe, senior Jerrin Thompson, and true freshman Derek Williams Jr. rotated at safety in Week 11 against TCU, with Catalon out likely due to a nagging injury.
As a side note, Crawford returned from an injury that caused him to miss the Week 10 win at home over the No. 23 Kansas State Wildcats. Crawford took the fourth-most defensive snaps of the four safeties that played against TCU.
Texas hasn’t gotten the safety play it needs to consistently hold up in pass coverage in Big 12 play. TCU picked Texas apart through the air in the second half last weekend, largely thanks to the big 6-foot-5 and 215-pound redshirt junior wide receiver Savion Williams having a career day with 11 catches for 164 receiving yards and one touchdown.
Of the roughly 300 passing yards Texas gave up in pass coverage against TCU last weekend, roughly one-third came while targeting the safeties.
Catalon’s potential return from injury will be a big boost for Texas’ secondary down the stretch. Texas is facing a much-improving Iowa State passing attack on the road this weekend that isn’t putting up the biggest numbers in terms of yards but is efficient, completing over 71 percent of its attempts in November.
The downhill physical playing style Catalon brings at safety would also be impactful for Texas against the rushing attack of the Texas Tech Red Raiders and standout running back Tahj Brooks in the regular season finale on Black Friday. Brooks has emerged as one of the best backs in the Big 12 this season, with over 1,000 rushing yards (ranking second in the conference).
Catalon last played for the Longhorns in live-game action in the Red River Rivalry game on Oct. 7 in Dallas against the Oklahoma Sooners. He’s now missed Texas’ last four games after he suffered a leg injury against Oklahoma in Week 6.