OSU-Texas: a defensive game?
The most common theme in OSU-Texas games has NOT been the Longhorns’ vaunted comebacks. It’s been offense.
Texas’ offense has rolled against the Cowboys, but the Cowboy offense has rolled against Texas.
Last season included. Texas won 28-24, which sounds like a good solid football game, but the ‘Horns had only eight possessions. That’s four TDs in eight tries, a 50 percent success rate that is damning of a defense.
In other games, the score tells the tale: 38-35, 36-10 (in 2006, OSU was no threat), 47-28, 56-35.
But here’s a prediction. Defense rears its head Saturday in Stillwater.
The Texas defense is the pride of the team. The Texas offense, counting special teams, is the weak link.
Meanwhile, OSU’s defense has played better. I predicted UT 28-23, but I don’t think it’s going to be a game like last year. I think both teams will get a lot more than eight possessions.
“We’ve got pride in stopping offenses,” said Texas middle linebacker Roddrick Muckelroy. “It’s fun on Saturdays to know you contributed.”
Some are comparing this UT defense to the ’05 Longhorn defense, which won the national title and placed all 11 starters in the NFL. “I don’t want to compare it to ’05,” Muckelroy said. “We can get better.”
The ’05 ‘Horns held a shaky OU offense to 12 points. The ’09 Horns held a shaky OU offense to 13 points.
These ‘Horns have given up 20 to Louisiana-Monroe, 10 to Wyoming, 24 to Texas Tech, 7 to UTEP, 14 to Colorado and 7 to Missouri.
Those ‘Horns had their moments but also were a little vulnerable, giving up 3 to Louisiana-Lafayette, 22 to Ohio State, 10 to Rice, 20 to Missouri, 17 to Colorado and Tech, 28 to OSU, 0 to Baylor, 14 to Kansas, 29 to Texas A&M, 3 to Colorado in the Big 12 title game and 38 to USC in the national title game.
So statistically, this Texas defense has performed better. “We’ve been great the last couple of weeks, but we have a long way to go,” said safety Earl Thomas. “We’re doing a great job of swarming the ball. We know our offense is going to get it rolling.”
That’s the thing. UT’s offense has been just so-so, even to the point of threatening Colt McCoy’s Heisman Trophy campaign. A 41-7 rout of Missouri last week, with 35 first-half points, turned around that trend.
“We just wanted to give them some life,” McCoy said of the UT defense. “‘We’ve got your back.’ After the first half, they told us, ‘great job.’”
Texas took its foot off the gas in the second half vs. Missouri. “We’re going to be smart,” coach Mack Brown said. “Protect Colt.”
The Longhorn defense says OSU will be a stiff test. Strange but true: Texas already has played OU and Tech, but the Cowboys will be the best offense the ‘Horns have faced so far.
“They’ve got a good team,” Muckelroy said. “Lot of playmakers. They can run the ball, they can pass the ball.”
But I think Texas’ defense is up to the task. And I think OSU’s defense can slow down McCoy and Co. That’s why I say it will be a defensive game.
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