In recent games, Texas seems to be bringing back that old school feel of football – defensive-minded football. Hard-nosed, Lombardi-style football, where scoring 21 points will win you the game.

Winning their last three games by a combined fifty-nine points, Texas’ defense has certainly led the way and the win against Oklahoma State two weeks ago can only be summed up in one word, dominant. Texas’ defense played phenomenally, shutting out Oklahoma State in the first half for the first time in nearly ten years! OSU managed to mount one scoring drive, but it came late in the game with the Pokes trailing 22- 0. Prior to that first score by OSU they had possession of the ball nine times in three quarters. Six of those nine possessions ended by way of three and outs, and one ended by way of interception. In the first half, Texas held Oklahoma State’s time of possession to just 8:44!

By controlling their possessions and playing great defense, Texas has achieved a very basic goal of football: limit your opponent’s time with the football. If your opponent has fewer possessions than your team does during a game, they will, obviously, be less likely to score.

In Stillwater, Oklahoma State’s offense used a lot of lateral plays in an attempt to out-run the Texas defense. With strong defensive lineman like Hassan Ridgeway and Malcom Brown clogging the middle, OSU tried to attack the edges of this Longhorn defense; however, they were severely disappointed. Texas played a nickel defense (five defensive backs) for a majority of the night which, essentially, foiled OSU plans.

Late in the first quarter as OSU was trailing 6-0, Texas was still running it’s four man defensive front. OSU ran an outside zone to the right and OSU’s offensive lineman managed to reach Cedric Reed. For a defensive end, this is bad news. As OSU’s offensive line executed its blocking scheme perfectly, the wide receivers managed to make their blocks, leaving Oklahoma State speedster, Tyreek Hill, one on one with senior Quandre Diggs. Diggs made the tackle to save a potentially explosive play (fig 1).

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Texas’ stellar defensive play wasn’t a product of outstanding individual play alone. Texas’ defense was well prepared. In the second half OSU attempted to once again spread the field with a swing pass. Oklahoma State lined up in an unusual fashion, flexing with receivers on the right putting the X off the ball. As OSU sent their receiver in motion, Texas immediately recognized the situation and aborted a called blitz. At the snap of the ball the linebackers and safeties rolled towards the motion, managing to swarm the ball carrier and pull off another tackle for loss (fig 2).

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With an added week of preparation Texas has had sufficient time to break down plenty of TCU film - crucial work, as Texas attempts to stop a TCU offense that has been averaging nearly 46 points per game. By discovering tendencies and ‘tells’ Texas will be able to better identify the play before it happens, giving Texas a major leg up on the Horned Frogs.

The Longhorns’ defense will have to keep playing big in Thanksgiving Day’s upcoming game if they hope to send the TCU back to Ft. Worth with a loss. The Horned Frogs have all the components of a very potent offensive attack including talented receivers, a great running back, and a superb dual threat QB. With all TCU’s offense weapons, Texas will need to play sound, fundamental football and unrelenting defense…just what Coach Strong likes.
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