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Texas Longhorns - Defensive Preview

Texas travels to Lawrence this week after a bye and will surely be looking ahead to a visit from Baylor and a trip to Norman. What will we see from their defense?

Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Texas (#54 F/+) comes to town looking to build on their showing against UCLA two weeks ago. The Longhorns face a daunting four game streak following their trip to Lawrence and will likely play very vanilla against the Jayhawks. This edition of the Longhorn defense, while not as fundamentally sound as we are used to seeing, is currently ranked 15th in FEI (unadjusted for opponent) on the season and comes to town creating havoc for opposing quarterbacks. Texas has a sack rate of 14.3%, good for 2nd in the nation and is holding opponents to 4.1 yards/play (9th).

In 2014 opponents have run the ball 62% of the time against the Longhorns and have had slightly more success running the ball (3.7 yards/rush, 46th) than passing (5.4 yards/pass, 13th). Texas is currently pulling down interceptions on 6.4% of offensive plays which is 6th in the country.

Texas’ strength lies in the experience and depth of the linebacking corps. Three senior starters lead the group which returns five players who started a game last year. Texas will blitz from the second line often and has a tendency to become blitz happy as their game plan is stretched. The defensive line will likely show a four man front against the Jayhawks as they look to establish a solid rotation, but don’t be surprised to see Texas work on getting pressure with three man fronts in preparing for upcoming contests. The secondary allowed a 74% completion rate and 6.8 yards per pass to UCLA and BYU and continues to be a weakness for this team.


Texas replaced their entire kicking staff this season and the results have been mixed. Punter William Russ is averaging 44 yards per punt on the season. Junior WR Marcus Johnson is averaging a respectable 19.1 yards per kickoff return. The punt return game is non-existent as leading WR Jaxon Shipley has been placed more to ensure a clean catch than execute a good return.


OLB Jordan Hicks leads the defense with 28 tackles and also has a sack and an interception. He is coming off of a 2013 Achilles injury and is slowly rounding into the form that saw him average double digit tackles in each game last year. DL Malcolm Brown and Hassan Ridgeway lead the pass rush with 3.0 and 3.5 sacks respectively.


  • Offensive Efficiency – 4.6 yards/play before garbage time (230 yards on 50 plays, 276 yards on 60 plays, 322 yards on 70 plays).
  • Turnovers - No more than two turnovers in this contest.
  • Redzone Efficiency – I’m going more aggressive this week and looking for at least one redzone touchdown.


Let's take a look back at the goals from last week's game. The game was over when Shepherd intercepted the pass from Cooper Rush with 1:28 seconds remaining in the 4th.

  • (Offensive efficiency goal, 5.0 yards/play). Actual – 5.6 yards/play. Pass! Seriously? Yep.
  • (Turnover goal, less than 2). Actual – 1 turnover. Pass! Hell yeah, two for two!
  • (Redzone efficiency, more than one trip into redzone)Pass, but not really a win. Kansas made three trips into the redzone and came away with one field goal.

I'll check back next week to review the goals for Texas and preview West Virginia.