Preseason talk within media circles expected the Texas Longhorns to have the best defense in the Big 12.
“I don't think anyone in this building ever said this would be one of our best defenses ever,” Texas coach Mack Brown said Monday on the weekly teleconference. “All the outside entities said that. I constantly said this was a defense that would be young down the middle.
“I thought it would be a defense that would struggle some but get better. They are getting better, but that's hard to believe when you play Oklahoma State and West Virginia, two of the top three offenses in the country.”
The Longhorns surrendered a combined 84 points and 1,036 total yards against OSU and West Virginia. It doesn't get any easier Saturday, when Texas plays Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl. The Sooners are averaging 38.3 points and 464 yards a game.
“I'm not giving up on our defense. We're moving forward,” Brown said. “We have only two seniors on it and a lot of young guys fighting to get better. We're going to make a few changes this week and keep trying to get better because defensive coordinators in the Big 12 are going to get gray hair.”
SMITH STILL NO INTERCEPTIONS
West Virginia quarterback Geno Smith has completed 81 percent of 204 passes for 1,996 yards and 24 touchdowns with zero interceptions.
“That's about as good as it gets,” said Texas Tech coach Tommy Tuberville, whose Red Raiders host the Mountaineers this week. “He'll sit in the pocket, and he'll take a sack. He won't turn the ball over. He understands there's going to be another play.
“He's a cool guy in terms of being under pressure. I've been very impressed.”
West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said the entire offense has played a role in the no-interception streak.
“You have to do a good job of protecting,” Holgorsen said. “Receivers have to run good routes to get open. And when the ball is in the air, receivers have to do a good job and go attack the ball and make sure they're the only ones that can catch it.
“This streak has a lot to do with what the system is and how we coach everybody from a technique standpoint as much as the guy who is throwing it.”
WILDCATS DON'T BEAT THEMSELVES
Kansas State leads the nation in fewest penalties with only nine for 71 yards. That averages out to just two penalties a game for 14.2 yards.
The Wildcats also are among the national leaders in turnover margin (plus-10). K-State has committed only seven turnovers and has collected 17.
“They prove why they're the smartest team in the Big 12,” said Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads, whose Cyclones host K-State this week. “They prove why they don't lose football games. They make good decisions. They don't make risky throws. They have great ball security.
“You'll struggle to find a finer coached football team and a finer prepared football team in the country than a Bill Snyder-coached Kansas State ballclub.”
WEIS LOOKS TO FUTURE
With the Jayhawks facing a major rebuilding effort, Kansas coach Charlie Weis used a unique approach when he did not have any seniors participate in Sunday's practice.
“When you have a team that's near the bottom of the league, development is a big key,” Weis said. “For the younger guys, we let them know not only are we going to coach you hard, we're looking for development. Fortunately no one came out and spit the bit and went through the motions. That's what I was hoping for.”
TWO-MINUTE DRILL ...
TCU freshman Trevone Boykin, who took over for suspended quarterback Casey Pachall, practiced at tailback last Monday and Tuesday. Boykin had only one day to practice the game plan. Boykin accounted for 309 yards of offense but threw three interceptions. ... Kansas State scored 56 points on 51 plays in a lopsided win over Kansas. Snyder said it was a testament to some big offensive plays, but he was disappointed Kansas controlled time of possession with its running game, especially in the first half. ... Half the Big 12 teams are above 50 percent on third down conversions, another indication why defenses face major challenges every week.