Texas Longhorns Defense Comes Through When Needed Most


The Texas Longhorns needed the defense to upset the rhythm of the Sooner offense. Mission accomplished.

Coming into the Red River Showdown the Texas Longhorns didn’t have much going for it. A blowout loss to TCU was followed by discontent in the locker room. The train appeared set to derail just as the Longhorns were to face No. 10 Oklahoma.

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Charlie Strong needed his team to come together. More importantly he needed strong play from Jerrod Heard, the run game and defense.

The latter did not disappoint.

Ranked 119th in the country (out of 127 schools) in total defense the Longhorns weren’t stopping anybody. Susceptible to the run and pass this young defense was about to face an Oklahoma offense loaded with playmakers like Baker Mayfield, Samaje Perine, Joe Mixon and Sterling Shepard. Mayfield in particular was having a great season, and he was set to face off against his hometown school that passed on him.

In short, this was expected to be ugly for Texas.

Instead the players came together and showed that you do throw records out the window in a rivalry game. The defense completely befuddled Mayfield and the Sooner offense in the first half, limiting Oklahoma to a field goal. Texas would go on to defeat the Sooners 24-17.

For the game Oklahoma managed 278 yards of total offense. The Sooners came into the game averaging 521 yards a game. Saturday’s showing was its worst of the season.

How did Texas disrupt the Sooners potent offense? Malik Jefferson said the game plan was to put pressure on Mayfield and the offensive line.

“We had to shake up the quarterback, and it obviously worked throughout the game, said Jefferson after the game. “He had a couple good passes at the end, but at the beginning of the game, we kept coming after him, the pocket was collapsing on him and he didn’t know what to do with it. He folded up sometimes, sometimes he had his little shake down, but we executed very well, and I am very proud of the D-line stepping up and actually playing out there at their max potential.”

Texas Longhorns
Texas Longhorns /

Texas Longhorns

The defensive line does deserve the lion’s share of the credit. Texas came into the game with seven sacks on the year. Mayfield was sacked six times alone on Saturday. Poona Ford and Hassan Ridgeway found themselves in the Sooner backfield on a regular basis. When the duo wasn’t getting after the quarterback, they were tying up blockers for Jefferson to clean up. Jefferson had two sacks. Even reserve players like Bryce Cottrell and Paul Boyette, Jr. had an impact by not only spelling the starters, but keeping the pressure on Mayfield.

The secondary held up just fine. This group was picked apart by Trevone Boykin the week before, but with Mayfield under constant pressure the results were much different. Holton Hill was second on the team with eight tackles. Davante Davis chipped in with six, including a one-handed tackle while being blocked. Duke Thomas had a couple of solid defensive plays. This was a nice rebound performance by the secondary.

The good news is this team has the weekend off to celebrate the win before going back to work to get ready for Kansas State. After its effort on Saturday, the defense deserves to relish this win.

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