Texas Football: Defense Shows Improvement in Big 12 Debut

Taylor GasparFeatured ColumnistSeptember 22, 2013

AUSTIN, TX - SEPTEMBER 21:  Johnathan Gray #32 of the Texas Longhorns scores a touchdown against Ryan Mueller #44 and Blake Slaughter #53 of the Kansas State Wildcats at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on September 21, 2013 in Austin, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

For the first time since 2003, Mack Brown and the Texas Longhorns defeated the Kansas State Wildcats. Texas did two things it had not done consistently well this season: ran the ball and stopped the run. 

The Texas defense was coming off of a two-game average of allowing 411 yards rushing, but that number was drastically different Saturday night. The defense held the Wildcats to 115 yards rushing in the 31-21 win in Austin.

But the defense's ability to stop the run Saturday was not its only improvement. The Longhorns played with heart and a must-win attitude for the entire 60 minutes, which is something Texas' defense has struggled to do since 2011. 

The Longhorns have faced a lot of adversity over the last three weeks, primarily when Mack Brown replaced former defensive coordinator Manny Diaz with Greg Robinson after Texas' 40-21 loss at BYU. Robinson has officially been on campus in a coaching role for two weeks.

When asked about the progress Robinson has made with the team in his first two weeks, Robinson said, "I don't call [the defensive players] by their numbers anymore. I'm starting to call them by their names." Sure he was joking, but that sums up the amount of time Robinson has had with this team.

The performance against Kansas State on Saturday night was not perfect, but it was a step in the right direction to possibly turn around this season.


What's next for Texas?

The Longhorns' biggest break thus far is having their first bye week next Saturday. Sad, but true.

Sep 14, 2013; Austin, TX, USA; Texas Longhorns defensive coordinator Greg Robinson before kick-off against the Mississippi Rebels at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports
Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

The win over Kansas State should give the Longhorns motivation heading into the bye, but the Texas defense needs to continue to work on playing with heart and accountability. The defense could not spend too much time with Robinson right now. A bye week is the perfect opportunity for Robinson to continue coaching his scheme to the defense, along with working on the fundamentals of football, such as tackling.

The bye is also the ideal time for Texas' injured players to recuperate and get healthy to be ready to face some of the tougher opponents in the Big 12. As of Saturday evening, starting quarterback David Ash (concussion), wide receiver Mike Davis (ankle), offensive lineman Josh Cochran (shoulder), wide receiver Daje Johnson (ankle) and linebacker Jordan Hicks (ankle) are just a handful of the names on Texas' injury list. 

Texas starting Big 12 play with a 1-0 record gives the Longhorns a boost of confidence that was lacking in the non-conference games. But only time will tell if the win over Kansas State was a fluke or if Texas is ready to silence its critics and turn around its season.

Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first hand.

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