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Texas tackles defensive issues heading into WVU game

Oklahoma State running back Joseph Randle (1) eludes Texas' Steve Edmond (33) and Adrian Phillips (17) and takes off on a 69-yard touchdown run in the first quarter of an NCAA college football game in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Sept. 29, 2012. Associated Press

About John Harris
Picture John Harris
Sports Reporter
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

John Harris is a sports writer for the Tribune-Review.

Texas toast

Texas has defensive concerns entering Saturday night's game against West Virginia. Here are the Longhorns key national rankings:

Category Rank

Total defense 63

Scoring defense 40

Passing defense 43

Rushing defense 86

Interceptions 15

By John Harris

Published: Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012, 11:34 p.m.

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Texas coach Mack Brown has spoken.

If his defense doesn't tackle better against West Virginia on Saturday in Austin, it will be a long night for his Longhorns.

“We had 12 missed tackles on seven plays (against Oklahoma State). Three missed tackles equaled 109 yards,'' said Brown, the dean of Big 12 coaches who won a BCS national championship following the 2005 season. “We'll give up 70 (points) this weekend if we don't tackle better than we did (last week).''

WVU scored 70 points against Baylor after opening the season with a 69-34 win over Marshall. The Mountaineers have gained the full attention of Brown, who hired Manny Diaz last season to revamp his defense to counter the league's high-scoring offenses.

“I've been down there three times. He's got his door closed and he's under the desk,'' said Brown, who was only half-joking about the challenge Diaz faces against the Mountaineers.

Texas outscored Oklahoma State in a 41-36 shootout. Brown said his defensive staff expects more of the same against West Virginia.

Much more.

“You're not going to stop them,'' Brown said. “Try to figure out how to slow them down. They've got absolutely no weaknesses. They can put up huge numbers easy and fast.''

Brown is concerned the Longhorns have joined a national trend that features poor tackling resulting in big plays and more frequent high-scoring games.

Moreover, he's concerned enough to threaten players with demotions if they don't improve their defensive fundamentals.

“There's a lot of people trying to strip, trying to knock a guy down, instead of tackle,'' said Brown, who has coached two Big 12 defensive players of the year. “Part of the problem with missed tackles is people are playing with great skill at wide receiver and running back. We have guys that continue to miss tackles. If we don't tackle better, we're going to have to look at playing different people.''

Brown thinks he has the solution.

It's the same strategy the Longhorns employed against Oklahoma State, but if it didn't work last week, can it be successful against an opponent featuring the hottest quarterback in college football?

“You have to try to keep them in front of you and not give up the big play,'' Brown said. “That's what we went into the Oklahoma State game trying to do. There's a lot of poor tackling across the country. It's obviously affecting us right now.''

John Harris is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at




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