Texas Football: 5 Things Longhorns Must Change to Beat Oklahoma in 2013
Rivalry games can offer up a couple of different scenarios based on the outcome. Celebration, pride, momentum and confidence comes with one particular results, while despair, uncertainty, disbelief and frustration may come with the other.
For the Texas Longhorns, losers of the last three against the Oklahoma Sooners in the Red River Rivalry, a win in Dallas has been hard to come by in recent memory.
Following two blowout losses, it seems like Mack Brown needs a win at this year's showdown more than at any point during his tenure. Brown may be lining up the pieces for a magical 2013 season, but when it is all said and done, how his Longhorns fare in Dallas this October may go a long way towards determining the success of his team.
With a sour taste in many mouths of the Texas program, beating the Sooners this year could provide the right kind of momentum to much bigger prizes down the road.
Tackling may have been Texas' weakest link last season, as poor positioning and worse technique made broken tackles a regular occurrence on defense.
Before the Horns are to win any games, let alone the matchup with Oklahoma, their tackling has to improve.
Whether the problem comes down to personnel, coaching or effort, the discipline in coaching and performance simply has to get better, and it starts at the top.
Fortunately for Texas, it will know pretty quickly whether or not the issues have been solved.
Stronger Quarterback Play
Quarterback play is essential to winning football games, and for the past two seasons, the Longhorns just have not had that consistent option under center who can perform when it mattered most.
David Ash will be in his junior year, and if he makes the right kind of developments in his leadership and mental capacity, Texas has the kind of weapons that can help him succeed.
But when the Red River Rivalry game looms near, all eyes will be on Ash, who has struggled incredibly in his two Cotton Bowl appearances.
Texas' running game figures to be the strength of the offense, but it will be up to Ash to earn his stripes in the passing game if the Horns are to win this October.
The linebacker position, more often than not, was the weakest point in the Texas defense. An injury forced Jordan Hicks to miss most of the season, and the Horns were looking at a flurry of inexperienced and young linebackers to compete against some of the fastest offenses in the country.
Hicks is expected to return on a clean bill of health, but Texas needs strong developments from Steve Edmond, Peter Jinkens, Tevin Jackson and Kendall Thompson. Otherwise, the Horns could be in for another wishy-washy season on defense.
As a result of the inconsistent play from the linebackers, the secondary's ability to defend its zones was compromised, thus decreasing the productivity from standouts like Quandre Diggs and Carrington Byndom.
With visible improvements from the linebackers, it may very well alleviate the shortcomings at other positions.
When confidence and momentum mix together, it makes for one heck of a potent punch on a talented team.
While the Texas program is slowly progressing upwards, it has been some time since the Longhorns have been looked upon as a dangerous bunch. Only recently have we seen small spurts of Texas' elite potential, but it isn't all there yet.
With nine starters returning on offense, the chemistry figures to be there. If the execution and the results go hand-in-hand, then confidence will begin to brew immediately. And for an offense that can get to the edge and stretch it deep, confidence will be a good thing.
If the Longhorns can get to Oklahoma with an undefeated mark and a strong resumé behind them, they will make some noise in the polls.
All things aside, the coaching and preparation leading up to the Oklahoma game has to be there, and it has to be better than before. Much better.
Mack Brown is 6-9 against Bob Stoops' Sooners, hardly the glistening record one would want from such a exalted head coach. With the Horns teetering on the possibility of four straight losses to the Sooners, Brown absolutely needs this game, and it will start with his staff.
Whether it is quarterback preparation, disciplined coaching on defense, in-game adjustments or special teams readiness, Brown's staff has to have its ends covered. If the Longhorns can install the right game plan, they can take advantage of an Oklahoma team that will be far less potent at quarterback.