Kelson’s Breakdown: Kansas

Former Longhorn defender Drew Kelson breaks down the Kansas game and gives IT subscribers a player’s perspective on the main factors that led to the Texas win, as well as what he expects from the upcoming Texas A&M game.

Finally, the Horns have a week to breathe a bit. After going through what media has described as a “gauntlet” of a schedule, the guys finally get some time to take care of some bruises, fix some mistakes and prepare for a game that has haunted the Longhorn nation the last two years. As a fan, I’m not sure how it feels to do something besides watch the Horns on weekends. But, I know the Horns will for once enjoy watching other teams go through the pressures of finishing the season strong as they spend time with their families and friends on their week off.

Anytime the Horns play the Jayhawks in Lawrence everyone always assumes that the weather will have a major impact on the level of play and that it will even out the strengths of the teams a bit. There were a few things I observed that really impressed me about this team that should excite anyone about what’s to come in the next few weeks and the future. And they happen to all relate to the defense…

Defense through the elements – As a guy who played basketball throughout middle and high school, I learned that sometimes my shot wouldn’t always fall. Offensively I just couldn’t get going some days and would get frustrated. A coach told me in high school that I need to control what I can control. He said that even when you can’t score on offense nothing can stop you from playing great defense and being effective rebounding.

I’ve always taken that idea over to the football field and that’s why I always took pride in playing defense. This is also why I was so impressed with the Texas defense this weekend. The defense is one of the elements of the team that should be more consistent on days when the weather is a little rough. They don’t have the pressures of the center-quarterback exchange, hand-offs and catching the ball in cold weather. The defense limited the Jayhawks from scoring and created more opportunities for the offense by causing turnovers. It’s easy to get frustrated with the play of an offense in such frigid weather. But, you can’t ask much more from your defense on a day when defenses should thrive.

Style points – The margin by which a team wins a game can be important and something has to be said for the four down stop at the end of the game. Unlike they’ve done throughout the season, it was impressive to see the Longhorns finish the game strong defensively. With all the notoriety the offense has gotten throughout the season, I saw this as a moment of true visual evidence of the progress that the Longhorn defense has made. Let’s not forget that there were starters missing throughout this game. This defensive group came out and finished the game as a championship team should. Will they get any points for style? Let’s hope so.

The Aggs – I work with several Aggies and I’ve had the pleasure of telling them the truth about their coaching change in Aggie-land. As much as they were ready to see their former coach, Dennis Franchione, go, I had to let them know that his departure would help the Horns. The Texas defense struggled the last three years to stop the Aggie offense under Coach Franchione. Many have noted that the passing defense struggled the last couple years, but the difference in the Aggie game the last three years has been how well they’ve run against us. Texas A&M has averaged over 200 yards on the ground (230.7) the last three times we’ve played them. We just never seemed to stop those guys from running the ball. They were able to make so many adjustments in that offense with the combination of talent they had at TE, RB and QB as well as the several formations with which they ran their plays. It was by far one of the most complicated offenses to prepare for. Even with the numbers they’ve put up this season, this is not the same offense and it will show this year in the game against Texas. I expect the Horns to come back from their off week and put up one of the most impressive performances of the season.

Please excuse me if you wanted to hear more about the offensive side of the ball. But the defense’s performance called for me to focus on it this week. I also couldn’t help but think about what will be the difference this year against the Aggies. I hope everyone enjoys their weeks off (as fans) and comes back on Thanksgiving Day prepared to see the Horns redeem themselves from the past few years and finish the season strong.