Texas Football vs Oklahoma: Three X-Factors for the Horns

Quinn Ewers, Texas Football Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports
Quinn Ewers, Texas Football Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports /
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Third and fourth down defense

Texas must be able to get off the field on Saturday against a banged-up Oklahoma offense.

Third and fourth down defense has been a bit of a problem for the Longhorns this season. Opponents are converting on 42.4 percent of third downs (92nd nationally) and 55.6 percent of fourth downs (67th nationally).

Although the fourth-down numbers are not nearly as bad on the national scale, they certainly have come back to haunt Texas in their two losses this season. Alabama was 1-for-2 on fourth down and Texas Tech was 6-for-8.

If Oklahoma gets down early, I expect Coach Venables and offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby to be very aggressive any time the Sooners get into plus territory. The Sooners know they need to score touchdowns to beat this Texas team. They also know the vulnerability the Longhorns have shown on third and fourth down.

Coach Sarkisian has addressed the issue of getting off the field for this Texas defense and noted that it has been worked on a good amount during the two most recent weeks of practice.

The last thing Texas wants to do on Saturday is allow Oklahoma to prolong drives. This shortens the game and keeps the dynamic Texas offense on the sideline.

Look for defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski to ratchet up the pressure on third and fourth down, forcing whomever the Oklahoma quarterback is into making very quick decisions with the football.