Defense Fuels Texas Longhorns to Victory Over Oklahoma Sooners

By Nicholas Crimarco
Texas Longhorns
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

On September 7, the Texas Longhorns gave up 679 yards to the BYU Cougars, including 550 on the ground in a 40-21 defeat. BYU quarterback Taysom Hill finished the game with 17 carries for 259 yards and three TDs. The Longhorns went into that game ranked 15th in the nation, but dropped out at the end of the week.

The very next week, the Longhorns gave up 449 yards of total offense to the Ole Miss Rebels at home in a 44-23 loss. Ole Miss QB Bo Wallace threw for 177 yards and two TDs, but most of the damage was done on the ground. The Rebels ran the ball 45 times for 272 yards and three TDs. This means in back-to-back games, the Longhorns gave up a combined 822 yards rushing and seven TDs.

After the embarrassing loss to BYU, the Longhorns fired defensive coordinator Manny Diaz, who had been with the team since the start of 2012. During the 2012 season, the Longhorns defense gave up a school record 403.4 yards per game, but a 9-4 record and an Alamo Bowl victory over Oregon State may have saved his job.

Under new DC Greg Robinson, the Longhorns’ defense has done a much better job stopping the run. Texas beat Kansas State after their loss to Ole Miss, and the Wildcats rushed for only 115 yards on 38 carries, which is an average of 3.0 yards per carry. The Wildcats came off a game the week before where they rushed for 329 yards on 46 carries, which is an average of 7.2.

In their final tuneup for Oklahoma, Texas played against the Iowa State Cyclones. While the Cyclones rushed for 201 yards, it came on 50 carries, which is an average of 4.0 yards per carry. The Cyclones were not a successful rushing team going into the game, but the 50 carries shows that they thought they could exploit a weakness, but were unable to do so.

Against rival Oklahoma, the Longhorns were able to cruise to a 36-20 victory. The held the Sooners to 130 yards rushing on 33 carries which is an average of 3.9 and one TD. They also made life miserable for Oklahoma QB Beau Bell, who finished the game with seven carries for -27 yards and went just 12 for 26 for 133 yards passing with 0 TDs and two interceptions.

The Longhorns’ defense also was able to get a score when Chris Whaley intercepted Blake and returned it for a 31-yard touchdown.

After a disappointing start to the season in 2013, a new defensive coordinator has sparked the Longhorns to a first place tie in the Big 12 Standings.

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