Struggling UT secondary faces another test

October, 16, 2012
10/16/12
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AUSTIN, Texas -- Longhorns cornerback Quandre Diggs didn’t need an embarrassing team effort against Oklahoma to get riled up. He was peeved before he even got to the Cotton Bowl.

“I am one of those guys that is wired different than a lot of people,” Diggs said. “I am always mad. Even just walking around campus.”

[+] EnlargeCarrington Byndom
John Albright/Icon SMITexas cornerback Carrington Byndom said the Longhorns are frustrated with their defensive performance.
Factor in Texas’ dismal performance in its 63-21 loss to the Sooners, then, and his anger meter has to be on the verge of combusting.

“It’s not acceptable to go out and get beat like that and give up that many yards,” he said.

How many yards, you ask? The Longhorns allowed Oklahoma to wrack up 677 of them, which is the most they’ve given up in a game since Houston put up 733 in 1992.

The difference in this Texas team than that one, which finished 6-5 in John Mackovic’s first season -- the Longhorns still beat the Cougars, 45-38.

Turns out this Longhorns team had a better chance at winning a carnival game than ending their two-game losing streak in the Red River Rivalry.

“It is more frustration [than anger],” said cornerback Carrington Byndom. “We know what we are capable of. It just hasn’t shown.”

If blame were a blanket it would have covered the entire Texas sideline on Saturday. Nestled underneath, without question, would be a Longhorns secondary that has not lived up to the preseason expectations placed upon them.

Texas has the third-worst pass defense efficiency rating in the conference at 140.3. The Longhorns have allowed 59.4 percent of opponents passes to be completed (104-of-175) and have given up the third-most passing yards (1,443) despite seeing the second-fewest number of pass attempts.

Those would be alarming statistics anywhere in the country, but especially to a program that stakes claim as being "Defensive Back University.”

To their credit, they’ve been tasked with having to slow down three of the best offenses in the country in consecutive weeks in Oklahoma State, West Virginia and Oklahoma. No one else in the conference has faced those kinds of passing attacks in consecutive weeks in Big 12 play.

But you know what they say about excuses. ...

Texas doesn’t have time to sulk. Baylor might be limping into Austin having just been thumped by TCU, but it still ranks as the top passing offense in the country at 398.4 yards per game and has defeated Texas two straight seasons.

Bears quarterback Nick Florence, who is second nationally in passing efficiency (176.6), and receiver Terrance Williams, who leads the nation averaging 166 receiving yards per game, are more than capable of making it another forgettable outing for the Longhorns.

What Texas needs to do to keep that from happening is correct those fixable issues it has referred to over the past two weeks. They largely consist of poor tackling and a failure to complete assignments.

“What it comes down to is we just have to be more mentally prepared when it comes to the game, film work and things like that,” Byndom said. “We need to know what things are going to happen before the snap, especially when you have hurry up teams that get lined up quickly.”

Byndom said that it was a combination of the information not being relayed well enough from the sideline and also not being processed properly that has led to some of Texas’ miscues in assignment.

“When it comes down to it we have to get the calls for ourselves and we have to get aligned,” he said.

Byndom insists that Texas’ tackling woes have gotten better over the past few weeks.

“You can see the problem is being fixed,” he said.

But it was still a hot topic discussion on Monday and one Diggs has a hard time grasping.

“Tackling is something you should have learned a long time ago,” he said.

It was again something that seemed to be lacking against Oklahoma, which set records for the programs longest pass play and run play in rivalry history. Diggs said the game plan is in place to prevent plays like those from happening. But Texas defenders need to execute them.

“You can’t just go out and try to do your own thing,” Diggs said.

And, worse case, if you screw up an assignment or miss a tackle, at least do it giving maximum effort.

“If you are going to bust [a play] at least do it going 100 miles per hour,” Kenny Vaccaro said.

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