It wasn’t the intent, but Mack Brown’s opening statement with the print media for his Monday press conference sounded more like a death sentence you’d hear before an execution than an actual list of statistics.
“Oklahoma State is No. 1 in scoring offense with 51 points per game, No. 2 in total offense with 577 yards per game, No. 2 in pass offense with 431 yards per game. They had 409 against us last year [in Texas’ 33-16 loss in Austin]. They’re No. 10 in pass efficiency, No. 5 in third-down efficiency. They’re successful on 56 percent of their third downs. They’re 13th in the country in the red zone — 26 touchdowns and eight field goals.”
In fewer words, hold on tight.
The Cowboys will invade Austin this weekend with a quarterback older than last year’s Super Bowl MVP and a receiver who’s better than anybody else in the country.
All that means is that, for the second straight week, this will be a game won or lost in the Texas secondary. No, the Longhorns cannot afford to turn the ball over again five times again and yes, some pass protection would be nice. But this is the defense’s turn to prove it is in fact the strength of the team.
“It’s important to get back to what we’ve been doing,” said senior linebacker Keenan Robinson. “As a defense, we want the turnovers to come and have to play better on third down. [Against OU] we did things on defense to win the game and help the offense, but a few plays prevented us from playing at the level they want to.”
The Longhorns abide by a 24-hour rule, meaning that, after Sunday, they were no longer thinking about the 55-17 loss to Oklahoma. And here’s some good news: The players seemed upbeat and confident.
“Last week was a fluke,” Robinson said. “Things happened so quickly and snowballed.”
Heck, maybe even too confident. But there’s nothing wrong with that this weekend. Texas is going to have to believe it actually has a chance in this game. That begins with members of the torn-apart secondary having a short-memory — cliche as it sounds.
“You have to have that,” said senior safety Blake Gideon. “You can’t let one game or individual play affect the next.”
That’ll be big. The age and experience gap between OSU’s quarterback Brandon Weeden — a 27-year-old former minor league pitcher for the New York Yankees’ organization — and the Longhorns’ green secondary is wide. Mistakes will be made. Coverages will be busted. Touchdowns will be scored.
“They’re incredibly prolific on offense,” said senior linebacker Emmanuel Acho. “They do a great job schematically and in execution, they have great talent and they’re going to be hard to stop. We have to get in the film room and be mentally prepared.”
Weeden, who has thrown 15 touchdowns this year and is completing 76 percent of his passes, even has three months on the Green Bay Packers’ Aaron Rodgers.
“That’s pretty good,” Brown said with a laugh.
And his favorite target, wideout Justin Blackmon, puts up 100 more consistently than my dear mother does at Nordstrom: The Biletnikoff Award winner has failed to record 100 or more receiving yards in only three of his last 17 games.
“Blackmon plays hard, blocks hard and will be a real challenge,” Gideon said. “He’s one of the best players in the country so you have to respect him.”
So there’s your first look at the No. 6 Cowboys. Sorry if it was a painful one.
Printed on October 11, 2011 as: Cowboys bring lethal passing attack to Austin this weekend