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October 26, 2012To get a look at the Kansas-Texas game from the Longhorns point of view, we caught up with Jason Suchomel from Orangebloods.com
The defense has struggled against the run. What have been the problems after having a good year last season?
The problems with UT's run defense this year have really been multi-layered. For one, the tackling has been atrocious from the back seven. Even when the linebackers and defensive backs have been in position to make a play, they've whiffed on tackles, allowing teams to pick up big yards after contact (or in some instance, no contact).
Secondly, the linebacker play has been pretty poor over the course of the season. Jordan Hicks was the only player with any experience and he's missed most of the year with an injury. Guys like Steve Edmond and Demarco Cobbs are young and they just haven't been able to put themselves in good positions to make plays. They've been slow to react at times or have taken bad angles/missteps.
Lastly, a big part of the issue has to be placed on Manny Diaz's schemes. Teams have been able to spread the Texas defense out and run the ball at will. Diaz has to find a way to take away an opponents' run game to make offenses one dimensional and he's been unable to do that.
What type of defense does Texas run and who are the play-makers?
Texas mixes it up quite a bit on defense depending on the opponent and down and distance. Against teams like West Virginia and Oklahoma, the Longhorns ran a ton of nickel and even dime packages. This week, I'd expect Texas will go back to its base set, which is a 4-3.
The biggest playmakers on defense would be defensive end Alex Okafor, safety Kenny Vaccaro and cornerback Quandre Diggs. Okafor was teamed with DE Jackson Jeffcoat to form a terrific set of bookends, but Jeffcoat suffered a season-ending injury against OU. Sophomore Cedric Reed moves in to the starting line-up this week.
Texas doesn't really have any playmakers at the linebacker position. Middle backer Steve Edmond did play much better last week and Kansas' ground game should keep him heavily involved.
Vaccaro is a big hitter in the secondary and he's also very good in man-to-man coverage, often times on an opponent's slot receiver. He's been good this year but he's also been on the wrong side of a couple big plays.
Diggs is a bit undersized at CB, but he's a guy that just makes plays in most weeks. He did not play well last week against Baylor.
The offense has been putting up big points. What are the strengths and how have they been successful?
Texas is at its best when it's able to be balanced. The run game has been good against weaker defenses, but it really struggled in the team's two losses. Starting tailback Malcolm Brown has missed several games and he's unlikely to get much action, if any, again this week. Joe Bergeron is more of a bruiser and a goal line threat, while true freshman Johnathan Gray has big play ability. Last week, receiver Daje Johnson lined up at tailback some and he'll likely get more carries out of the backfield this week.
Quarterback David Ash has been very efficient this year aside from the OU debacle. His top weapons in the passing game are Mike Davis and Jaxon Shipley, although Shipley has been quiet this season. Texas likes to take shots downfield off of play action if the running game is doing well.
Starting 5-2 is always below Texas standards. Can the Longhorns get on track and still have a strong finish?
Honestly, I'm still not sure what to make of this team. Texas should get a win this week, but the other games on the schedule appear to be near toss-ups (aside from a likely but-kicking at the hands of Kansas State).
The Texas coaches and players said this week that they're not a good enough team that they can just assume they'll get a win against any opponent, including this week. If Texas has an off day or turns the ball over, there's not a team on the schedule that isn't capable of beating them. 8-4 sounds about right for this year's team.
How do you see the match-up against Kansas and the game playing out?
Texas should be able to control the ball when it is on offense and hit some big plays with it's speed, both in the run game and the pass game.
On defense, Kansas will try to slow the game down and run the ball against a Longhorn defense that has struggle to stop teams on the ground all year. I think Texas will have more success in that department this week due to the D not having to sell out to stop the pass as much as it has against other opponents.
Give me Texas by a few touchdowns, somewhere in the neighborhood of 34-13. But if the Longhorns lose the turnover battle, I could see this one staying close late into the game.