defense has sunk to John Mackovician levels and is on course to become the
worst-ever in program history in several key categories. Its run defense ranks dead last in a league
where defense is a national punch line. Now, frontline players are publicly
calling out teammates and questioning what is shaping up as a historically
no confidence in our run defense,” defensive end Alex Okafor said.
yielding 209.2 rushing yards per game and ranks 103rd nationally. Statistically,
even John Mackovic fielded a better run defense during his six-year tenure. The
last time Texas was gutted for more than its current 5.1 yards-per-rush was
is something we should have learned a long time ago,” cornerback Quandre Diggs
said. “Right now, we should be polishing up on those things.”
missed at least 16 tackles against OU.
It combined for 32 whiffs in the previous three ball games.
that most of the defensive starters simply aren’t putting forth the effort is
“causing a cancer on the team,” according to safety Kenny Vaccaro. It’s a baffling dynamic for the senior who
previously tongue-lashed teammates for their listless performances.
know why it’s like that,” Vaccaro said.
“Honestly, I really don’t know. It’s your decision to be the caliber of
player you want to be. I don’t know why somebody wouldn’t play hard. For me, it’s shocking because, every down, I
really, really try to play as hard as I can, so I don’t know why anybody would
want to give it any less.”
numbers don’t lie. Here are the low-water marks for Longhorn defense relative
to where things currently stand:
Most points per game allowed
adage is that it starts with coaching, but coordinator Manny Diaz is pleased that
so much of the in-house rhetoric is stemming from players.
first time, I’m starting to see the movement for us to become a player-driven
team,” Diaz said, adding that he had no qualms with his players’ candid
assessment. “Our run defense was horrendous Saturday, and that responsibility
goes to me.”
regular season is half over, but Diaz insists that the problems remain fixable.
Part of it is as simple as players lining up six inches more to either the left
or the right, he said. He wants his
defense to play with more abandon, echoing Saturday’s statement that players
“can’t be physical if they are unsure” of what they’re supposed to do. But he quickly added Saturday that his scheme
had been as simplified as it could get.
comes from the confidence that you can go get it done,” Diaz said. “What
happens is that you over-think tackling somebody, and when you over-think, you
start playing slow. When you play slow, it looks like you’re not aggressive.
It’s not that you don’t want to tackle.
It’s actually just the opposite. You get so worried about not making the
tackle that you forget the first fundamental of tackling: you go lights-out.”
many teams, Texas does not practice live tackling between the first team
offense and defense, players confirmed.
Scout team members are typically the only players tackled all the way to
the ground. Diaz made vague references
to changing up some drills this week, but only specified that it was the type
of change intended to enhance the level of intensity.
Diaz cautioned his players to pay no more attention to what is being said of
them following Saturday’s blowout than they did during the pre-season when
Texas’ defense was touted as the team’s strength.
of this defense is not written this week,” Diaz concluded. “It’s just half time.”