It was only a year ago when the Longhorns’ offense demolished the Red Raiders’ defense for 52 points and a staggering 439 yards rushing.
It will likely be a much different story Saturday.
The 2011 Texas Tech defense finished 114th in the nation in total defense and allowed 485.6 yards per game. But with the help of new defensive coordinator Art Kaufman, the Red Raiders completely turned things around. Now they’re ranked 12th in total defense and only allow 300 yards a contest in the point-happy Big 12.
“The biggest difference in Tech is their defense,” head coach Mack Brown said. “That has been an absolutely amazing transition. They haven’t been this good on defense since I’ve been here.”
Tech’s defensive turnaround almost mirrors the Longhorns’ collapse. Last season Texas’ defense finished 11th in total defense, but in 2012 the group — with seven returning starters — has plummeted to 96th.
Fortunately for the group, its job is not to go up against a swarming Raiders defense. That responsibility lies with a Longhorn offense that failed to score against lowly Kansas for a 46-minute stretch of Saturday’s contest.
However, it’s also the same Longhorns attack that blasted Baylor for 56 points the week before, utilizing a punishing rush attack to open up the passing game.
It’s an inconsistent streak that’s turned into a pattern over the past four games. Texas has put up a total of 45, 21, 56 and 21 points in that stretch. It’s an area in which the offense knows it needs to become more dependable and it starts with all 11 players executing on every play.
“If you have 10 of the 11 doing their job, you really don’t have any chance,” offensive lineman Mason Walters said. “Everybody took their turn on Saturday being that guy. You wish you could just have all 11 guys do the wrong thing on one play, but that’s not the way it happens.”
If the Longhorns execute on each play, they’ll have a chance to get the best of the Tech defense for the second week in a row. The Red Raiders play an aggressive style of defense. They stack the line while leaving their corners on an island, daring the quarterback to throw.
This means the Longhorns’ stacked backfield likely won’t be as effective as usual, but it should give David Ash an opportunity to have a huge comeback game with one-on-one matchups to the outside.
For that to work, each member of the group has to do his duty. The center has to snap the ball correctly, each lineman has to hold his block, the running back must step up in protection, the wide outs must beat the coverage quickly and the quarterback must deliver an accurate ball.
It’ll be a tough task, but at least for the wide receivers, the thought of one-on-one coverage has them salivating.
“I’m actually really excited that they play a lot of man,” wide receiver Marquise Goodwin said. “Get a guy out there on my island, just me and him. We’ll see. The best man will win on that route.”
That’s the attitude the offense needs to come out of Lubbock with the win: all 11 guys thinking they’re the best player in each matchup and coming out on top the majority of the time. If not, Tech will continue its ascent and the Longhorns will continue to flounder.
Printed on Thursday, November 1, 2012 as: Horns facing revitalized Tech defense