Notes: Texas run defense fails big test

October, 7, 2012
10/07/12
12:00
PM ET
AUSTIN, TEXAS – Over the past six years Texas has been in the top six nationally in rush defense in every year but one.

That aberration came in 2010 when Texas itself was an aberration.

Here in 2012, with a defense that was supposed to be stronger and faster, Texas is sits 83rd nationally in rush defense with 182 yards per allowed per game. Now before the fingers are pointed just at the West Virginia came for the skyrocketing total, this has been a trend going on five games now. All West Virginia did with its 192 total rushing yards was pile on.

[+] EnlargeAndrew Buie, Mykkele Thompson
John Albright/Icon SMIWest Virginia's Andrew Buie ran the ball 31 times for 207 yards against the Longhorns defense.
At issue for Texas is that it cannot pile onto any tackler. Defense coordinator Manny Diaz defended this inability Saturday night by going against everything he has said in the past and claiming that stopping the run was not the first priority -- stopping Geno Smith was. (Diaz had always contended it’s run first, pass second when it comes to defense.)

"You look over the course of the game, we got what we wanted," Diaz said of the run-first approach West Virginia took.

Maybe in theory he is correct. But in result he is not. In essence West Virginia pulled a Texas on Texas. The attack was balanced -- 192 rushing and 268 passing -- and eventually wore down in the fourth quarter -- the Mountaineers had 96 rushing yards in the last 15 minutes.

And what is confusing about Diaz’s comments that Texas sold out on the pass and allowed, due to the way it was set up schematically, the run is it is clearly at odds with how Mack Brown wants things to be done as well as at odds with some of the comments made by players in the postgame.

"The thing for me that I’m having trouble with is that we’re giving up so many rushing yards," Brown said. "We’re not used to that. We’re allowing people to be two-dimensional so we have got to do a better job than that."

"The run was supposed to be eliminated, and it is disappointing to see that," said safety Kenny Vaccaro. "The run game basically saved them. It made them two-dimensional when they could pass and run."

Now Diaz, Brown and the leader of the defense, Vaccaro, could just have their wires crossed here about who is supposed to say what in the postgame. But if they cannot get on the same page when the game is over, it is hard to expect they will be on the same page during the game.

Oklahoma, Texas’ next opponent, averages 190 rushing yards per game.

Tumbling to top teams
Texas has now lost eight-straight games against ranked competition dating back to the 2010 season. The last Texas win against a ranked team was at Nebraska in 2010. Texas' next opponent, Oklahoma, is ranked. And by the time Texas plays Baylor in two weeks, the Bears might be ranked as well. Baylor just dropped out after a 70-63 loss to WVU.

In the last eight losses to ranked teams Texas has been outscored by an average of 14.a points per game although the yardage difference has not been substantial, just 18.3 per game.

Where Texas has fumbled in big games has been in turnovers. Texas is minus 14 in turnovers against ranked teams dating back to the Nebraska game and that includes the plus one the Longhorns were against WVU.

Three dots
West Virginia was 5-of-5 on fourth downs. Coming into the game the Mountaineers were 0-of-4 ... 45 is the most ever points Texas has scored in a loss ... Texas’ streak of not losing when winning the turnover battle is over at 57 games. That streak extended back to the Oklahoma game in 2002 ... David Ash suffered his first loss as a starter since the Kansas State game in 2011.

Carter Strickland | email

Reporter, HornsNation

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