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Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Four Downs: Stats to improve on 2013

By Sean Adams

Here are four impact stats from the 2012 Texas Longhorns football season and what they mean for 2013, which is nothing if they are not managed to and don't offer a team perspective or lead a team to becoming better.

First down: 5-4 -- Texas vs. teams that finished with winning records

David Ash
Texas can't afford to lose to teams like TCU if it hopes to achieve its goal of winning 10 or 11 games.
Texas needs to beat teams it is not supposed to beat. The Longhorns lost to the three ranked teams they played in the 2012 season. Over the course of a football season, every championship-level team ends up beating someone that has equal or greater talent. Texas had in 2012 -- and will have in 2013 -- a top-to-bottom roster for which most coaches on the schedule would trade their own.

The Longhorns have to beat the Oklahomas, the TCUs and the Kansas States of the Big 12 if they are going to realize the dreams they profess they want to reach.

Oklahoma, TCU, Oklahoma State, Kansas State and BYU should be ranked when they play Texas in 2013. If Texas is going to reach 10 or 11 wins for the season, it needs to win four of those five games.

Second down: 5,254 -- Total yards allowed (most in program history)

We would be na´ve to think the game of football has not changed. The game of football is about scoring now, and even the rules are slanting in a way that allows the offense to have the advantage.

Does that mean the bar is low? No. It means football games are being won a different way. That is the only perspective I will give when talking about the more than 5,200 yards Texas gave up in the 2012 football season. That total, which is more than any defense has given up in school history, was a shocking number for a defense that finished ranked 11th nationally the previous season.

A few injuries, a lack of leadership and a shaky scheme meant the 2012 defense would struggle. The only goal you can really have with this stat is doing better in 2013. It will take the whole defensive side of the ball to make it happen, but as I said above, the roster is there. The players have to be coached, developed and held accountable. This is an easy stat to fix for 2013.

Third down: 96 -- Tackles for loss, most in Big 12

One of the statistics that determines an impact defense is the tally of tackles for loss. The tackle for loss is about changing down and distance for the offense and making it difficult to pick up first downs.

Texas led the Big 12 Conference in tackles for loss with 96. It is hard to believe this was not partially a product of the seemingly feast-or-famine defense employed by Manny Diaz. The fact that Texas gave up nine passing touchdowns from 20 or more yards away lends weight to that discussion. Texas gave up only two in 2011.

Fourth Down: 224.9 -- Pass YPG for David Ash (5th in Big 12, but best among returning players)

There are more opinions about David Ash than just about any other quarterback of the Mack Brown era, outside of Chris Simms. He was planning for, and looking forward to, a redshirt year in 2011 and was forced into playing because of the transfers of Connor Wood and Garrett Gilbert.

He improved over the course of the 2012 season, but rough outings against Oklahoma, Kansas and TCU has the Longhorns fan base cloaked in a fear that Ash might not have "it" when it comes to playing quarterback at Texas.

For all of these fears, Ash will enter the 2013 football season as the Big 12 quarterback with the best per-game passing average of 225 yards. While most fans desired a larger bump in production from Ash, better play on the offensive line and a playcalling structure that will allow him to play where he is comfortable should create the desired lift in Ash's performance.

While it is incumbent upon Ash to work on his personal leadership skills and team dynamics, the structure could be in place for Ash to be a big surprise in 2013.

Extra point

The last two stats are "heart" stats. The Texas pride, dignity and heart should never allow Oklahoma to post 677 total yards during the course of a game and should never have a yardage margin of -388.

There is nothing else to be said on that matter. It is simply unacceptable.