Does Mack Brown Have a Point About 'Tackling in America?'
Just about everything Mack Brown has said has come under intense scrutiny over the past week. That's what happens when you're 1-2 at Texas in a year where everything was supposed to come together.
Last week following the Longhorns' loss to BYU, a game in which the UT defense gave up 550 yards rushing and showed no signs of improvement from the year before, Brown said that tackling was an issue across all of college football—not just with Texas.
"Nobody's tackling well," Brown said via Geoff Ketchum of Orangebloods.com. "Tackling is a problem in America right now. I'm not making excuses for us, we gotta tackle better."
Of course, there were many who still saw it as an excuse. But one thing's for sure: Brown's not the only coach in the Big 12 who feels that way.
The topic of tackling was brought up several times on Monday during the Big 12 coaches teleconference. Oklahoma State's Mike Gundy, Kansas State's Bill Snyder and TCU's Gary Patterson all said some variation of what Brown did a week ago.
"Tackling is not as good as it used to be," Gundy said, adding that the use of the spread to put skill players in one-on-one match-ups is a big part of the change.
So, too, is how teams prepare during the week.
Snyder chimed in that there aren't many opportunities during the week to practice tackling at full speed. And with an 85-scholarship limit across Division 1 schools, some coaches are concerned about depth issues if players get hurt hitting at full speed during the week.
The issue even crosses over to the targeting rule that has garnered so much criticism lately.
Good point from Bob Stoops. Hard to limit targeting in games, because those kinds of hits are so rare in practice. Hard to get used to it.— David Ubben (@davidubben) September 16, 2013
Still, there are examples where tackling hasn't been an issue among certain Big 12 schools. Kansas State was one of the better open-field tackling teams in 2012 and Texas Tech put on a clinic during last Thursday's 20-10 win over TCU.
Specifically, the Red Raiders did a good job for the most part of keeping Horned Frogs running back B.J. Catalon contained at the line of scrimmage. And Catalon, who finished with nine carries for 58 yards, is as dynamic as they come in this conference.
"Texas Tech tackled just fine," Patterson said.
TCU still had a good day running the ball against Texas Tech with 207 yards on 44 attempts, but they rarely broke out.
Does Mack Brown have a point about tackling?
Although Iowa State is winless on the season so far, head coach Paul Rhoads said his team greatly improved their tackling in Week 2 against Iowa with only eight missed tackles on 83 plays. That, Rhoads said, was a result of teaching fundamentals throughout the week.
"I can't stand it when people tackle poorly," Rhoads said.
So, to tie it back to Brown's comments, does he have a point? Yes. There are multiple reasons tackling has taken a hit, so to speak, over the years. As a whole, teams aren't playing bunched up to the line like they used to. Is it an excuse? No.
Not that Brown ever intended it to be one, but it'll probably be viewed that way unless Texas corrects that issue.
Ben Kercheval is the lead writer for Big 12 football. All quotes obtained firsthand unless noted otherwise. You can follow Ben on Twitter @BenKercheval.
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