Texas' D can handle Oklahoma

The Longhorns have struggled, but they still can shut down the Sooners

Updated: October 10, 2012, 1:49 PM ET
By KC Joyner | ESPN Insider
Alex OkaforCal Sport Media via AP ImagesThe Longhorns need Alex Okafor and their big boys up front to do a better job against the run.

One of the recurring themes in Bill Walsh's football analysis was the idea that defense is more personnel-oriented than offense. He knew it was possible to use creative play-calling tactics to work around player weaknesses on offense, but on defense it boils down to personnel quality, because intelligent playcallers can always find a way to target any defensive talent deficiency.

That idea is worth keeping in mind when reviewing the current defensive state of the Texas Longhorns. Since 2008, the Horns have recruited 26 defensive players who were rated in the ESPN 150 rankings, so talent is certainly not an area where they're lacking.

The problem for the Horns is that their seeming personnel advantage hasn't panned out this year. According to cfbstats.com, Texas ranks 106th in the FBS in average yards allowed per play, and the Longhorns are coming off a game in which they gave up 460 yards of offense and 48 points in a loss to the West Virginia Mountaineers.

That would look to be a gargantuan problem going into a matchup against an Oklahoma Sooners offense that just put up 41 points in a win against the Texas Tech Red Raiders, yet a closer look shows the Longhorns' defense will still hold its own in this year's Red River Rivalry.