OSU’s Joseph Randle rushed for 199 yards on 25 carries against Texas two weeks ago. Last week, West Virginia’s Andrew Buie rushed for 207 yards on 31 carries against the Longhorns.
But it gets worse. Ole Miss’ Jeff Scott, all 5-foot-7, 170 pounds of him, gained 95 yards on eight carries against Texas. That’s an average of 11.8 yards a carry.
Should OU tailbacks, notably Damien Williams, be salivating at the thought of running in the Cotton Bowl on Saturday?
Maybe, maybe not. Texas is expected to get back injured linebacker Jordan Hicks, and that should help.
“We’ve got a lot of young guys, and honestly when you’re young, you progress every game, and that’s all I ask the younger guys to do is just progress mentally and just keep fighting, and then we’ll pull it all together,” said Texas safety Kenny Vaccaro. “We’ve got Jordan Hicks coming back. He’s a great leader. He’ll get the linebacking corps and the D‑line, he’ll get that handled, and then on the back end, the DBs are going to keep pushing and fighting.”
Still, the running success of West Virginia and OSU should worry the Longhorns.
“The last drive defensively,” Texas coach Mack Brown said of the West Virginia game, “we’ve still got a chance to go out there and stop them, and they rammed the ball down our throats and we didn’t do a good job of stopping at all. Those are two series that really, really hurt us.
“I said I was disappointed we didn’t stop the run better, and that’s true. Someone else said it seemed like Manny (Diaz, defensive coordinator) and Mack weren’t on the same page with the same plan. We were. We had to stop Geno Smith, and that’s what we wanted to do. What both of us wanted is when the numbers are such that you’re trying to do a better job of stopping the pass and the run, it doesn’t mean you can’t stop the run. The numbers are equal, you can still stop the run for less yards than we gave them, especially on the last drive, so that was my point after the game.”
Interesting. Mack seemed to be saying that Texas sold out to stop Smith, the Mountaineers’ sensational quarterback. And truth is, UT did a decent job on Smith, comparitively; he completed 25 of 35 passes for 268 yards, and though Smith had no interceptions and four touchdowns, he also had two huge fumbles off sacks. The Longhorns sacked Smith four times.
There is no reason for UT to sell out to stopping Landry Jones the way it sold out to stopping Smith, but still, the Texas defense has proven to be much much softer than what was billed. The Longhorns, fueled by Brown’s talk, wanted to move into an SEC direction — hard-nosed football, running game, tough defense. Instead, Texas has moved to a mainstream Big 12 style of team. Good offense, lots of passing, can’t stop much of anybody.
Of course, UT has played excellent offenses so far. OSU and West Virginia might be the Big 12′s two best offenses, we’ll see. But the opportunity certainly seems to be there for the Sooners to run on Texas.