The score shocked everyone. Even OU coach Bob Stoops.
UCLA 34, Texas 12. In Austin! The same Bruins that lost at Kansas State and were pummeled 35-0 by Stanford.
Stoops said the most surprising development was the Bruins rushed for 264 yards.
“That was one of the bigger surprises because they have played so consistently,” Stoops said. “They play good run defense. They’ve been very aggressive going after quarterbacks. Through most of this year and last year they’ve been consistent. But they were put in some bad positions with turnovers.”
Don’t let the score fool you. The Longhorns have the nation’s No. 2 ranked defense. The primary reason UCLA romped was Texas had five turnovers. The offense constantly put the defense in a hole.
UCLA led 13-3 at halftime but had only 77 yards of offense. Texas’ defense had a bad third quarter. The Bruins used some option runs to blow the game open.
But this is the same Texas defense that dominated Texas Tech the previous week in Lubbock, limiting the Red Raiders to 144 total yards and minus 14 yards rushing. The Longhorns suffocated the Red Raiders.
Bolstered by the best secondary in the country, and a defensive line that’s helped produce 14 sacks, fourth most in the nation, the Longhorns won’t play passive like Florida State or other defenses OU has faced. Texas isn’t afraid to use man-to-man press coverage.
“They’re very aggressive oriented, attack oriented,” said OU offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson. “They’re not sitting back soft. They have the speed to get up in your face, pressure you, challenge you, make you work.
“That’s one reason why they’re doing so well on their rush and sacks. They make you win on routes. And you have to win in (a short amount) of time. They have good coverage and they’re really good up front. The front complements the back end and the back complements the front end. There’s a reason those stats (are good) and they’re ranked as highly as they are. It’s a great challenge.”
It’s not as if the Bruins just lined up and dominated the line of scrimmage. UCLA surprised the Longhorns with a new pistol formation they installed the week of the game. The two biggest plays were UCLA option runs, something the Sooners don’t have in their arsenal.
Texas’ offense lacks home-run type playmakers. Three running backs share time because none of the three stand out. The wide receivers have some skill but most are young as is quarterback Garrett Gilbert, who has thrown as many interceptions (four) as touchdowns.
But don’t be misled by last week’s score that Texas’ defense is vulnerable. The Longhorns’ D has had one bad quarter. All season. OU quarterback Landry Jones and the offense face their biggest test of the season Saturday in the Cotton Bowl.