Okay, so we all knew Texas’ offense would have to carry the team until the defense came around, right? In a surprising reversal of fortune, the Longhorn offense is coming off a record-setting performance at Ole Miss while coaches have turned their attention to a defense that has been susceptible to the big play.
Coaches will meet individually with players this week and “go over every missed assignment," Mack Brown said Tuesday.
Texas leads the Big 12 in every major defensive category, but yielded a 48-yard touchdown run and a 75-yard touchdown pass. Receiver Donte Moncrief accounted for 144 receiving yards and is the type of physical receiver Texas will face when West Virginia comes calling. Texas had two men on Moncrief most of the night, but a safety took a wrong pursuit angle, Brown said, when Moncrief took it to the house.
The Horns have been burnt on several third-and-longs this season, including a couple third-and-very-longs at Ole Miss.
There is a considerable drop in production when Texas substitutes among its back seven. Brown said. But most of the missed tackles can be laid at the cleats of the starting linebackers and defensive backs.
“The front is playing really well,” Brown noted, and praised backup defensive ends Cedric Reed and Reggie Wilson.
But coaches counted nine missed tackles Saturday, and two of them accounted for 97 additional yards.
“You take those out,” Brown said, “and you take scores out. We can’t continue to do that with the way people score in this league.”
In fact, Texas faces the Big 12’s three most prolific offenses in successive weeks. Oklahoma State leads the nation in total offense and scoring offense. West Virginia ranks third in total offense and fourth in scoring. Oklahoma ranks 11th in both those categories.
But the Longhorn offense appears ahead of schedule and able to hang with the point-a-minute programs. Consider this:
* The 676 yards of total offense was 16 yards shy of the program’s all-time record set against Rice in 1998.
* The 66 points is the most scored against an Ole Miss team in 95 years and Texas, of course, took a knee at the one-yard line.
* Saturday’s route marked the first time that Texas rushed and passed for 300+ yards in a road game. It was also the first time Texas had a 300-yard passer, two 100-yard receivers and a 100-yard rusher in the same game.
* Most important, David Ash is 69-of-95 passing (72.6 percent) for 849 yards, eight touchdowns and no interceptions in his last four starts His 15 straight completions Saturday is the third longest streak in UT history.
Linebacker Jordan Hicks (hip) will be limited this week, Brown said. His injury prompted a lengthy meeting Tuesday morning between Brown and defensive coordinator Manny Diaz. Dalton Santos has also been slowed by a calf injury.
“We’ll look at different guys there this week and see who’s improved the most,” Brown said. “We’ve just got to find some guys there. You’re going to play more nickel defense in the Big 12, so there will be an extra defensive back in there during the next four or five weeks than the first three. The thing we have with Jordan is not only his experience but his leadership.”
Overall, the defense has done a good job of stopping the run and forcing turnovers (seven take-aways leading to 42 points).
“The good news is these are all things we can fix,” Brown concluded. “We’ve got two weeks to do it.”