Getting Defensive: Texas Longhorns and Oklahoma Sooners Leaning On Stout D

Dino NicandrosAnalyst ISeptember 24, 2009

AUSTIN, TX - SEPTEMBER 19:  Quarterback Taylor Potts #15 of the Texas Tech Red Raiders is sacked by Roddrick Muckelroy #38 of the Texas Longhorns at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on September 19, 2009 in Austin, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Last season, the Texas Longhorns and the Oklahoma Sooners boasted two of the most explosive offenses in the nation.

The Longhorns averaged 42 points and 475 yards of offense a game led by their Heisman-hopeful quarterback Colt McCoy.  McCoy completed an NCAA record 77% of his passes, sparking Texas' impressive run to the BCS.

The Sooners were incredible in their own right, scoring 51 points a game and racking up 547 yards a game behind the arm of Heisman winner Sam Bradford.  The Sooners scored at least 60 points in the final five games of the regular season, making them the highest scoring offense in NCAA history.

The preseason magazines said Texas and Oklahoma would meet, and possibly exceed last season's gaudy numbers.

While both offenses are still scoring over 40 points a game this season, it has been the defenses that have carried these two squads.

The Longhorns (3-0) haven't received the kind of production from Colt McCoy they were expecting, but that's not to say he hasn't been good.

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The offense has been inconsistent, getting off to slow starts in the first half of games and picking it up in the second half.

While the offense has been a bit stale at times, it seems that Will Muschamp's defense has come to play this season.

It was particularly evident in Texas' 34-24 victory over Texas Tech last weekend.

By looking at the stat line alone, one would think that giving up 420 yards through the air and 24 points would be a horrible outing for a defense.

If you watched the game, however, you would have seen the true story.

The Longhorn defense got after Tech quarterback Taylor Potts all night long, sacking him twice, forcing a fumble, and pressuring him in to multiple bad throws.

The defensive line, anchored by senior Sergio Kindle, man-handled the Red Raider offensive line, something the Longhorns failed to do in last year's loss to Texas Tech.

Lamaar Houston and Kheeston Randall were stout in the middle, helping Texas hold the Red Raiders to -6 yards on the ground.

I didn't expect the defensive line to be this far along this early in the season, but the spectacular performance on Saturday proved they will be a force to be reckoned with in the coming weeks.

Roddrick Muckelroy and the linebackers were simply vicious.

The Longhorns forced three fumbles, two of which were forced by the linebacking corps.

The secondary held its own for a majority of the game.

Corner backs Curtis Brown, Chykie Brown, Aaron Williams, and Deon Beasley were physical in their coverage of the Tech receivers, while safety Earl Thomas picked off a pass and flew around the field all night long.

There were a few coverage breakdowns that led to Tech scores, but when the secondary played closer to the line of scrimmage, the coverage was excellent.

Don't look too far in to the yardage this defense is giving up.  Playing in the Big 12 against spread offenses tends to twist defensive numbers a bit, as these offenses are designed to pick up large amounts of yardage.

Make no mistake, this defense is ferocious and is right up there among some of the better squads in the nation.

The Texas defense has improved leaps and bounds since last year and will continue to carry the team until McCoy and the offense can get their mo-jo back.

The Oklahoma Sooners (2-1) didn't start the season out the way they had planned, losing to BYU, 14-13, in the opening game of the season.

Not only did the Sooners lose the game, they lost Heisman winner Sam Bradford to a sprained right shoulder, which has kept him out of play since.

The keys to the offense were handed to freshman Landry Jones, a kid whose first snap as a college quarterback came in a losing effort to BYU.

Jones has played remarkably well in Bradford's place, especially in OU's 45-0 victory over Tulsa last Saturday, when he threw for 336 yards and six touchdowns.

The offense looked extremely fluent, but it was the defense that stole the show.

Over the last two seasons, Tulsa has been the top offense in the nation, but they failed to score a point against the Sooners.

The Sooner defensive line, led by Gerald McCoy and Demarcus Granger, dominated up front, forcing Tulsa quarterback G.J. Kinne in to throwing two interceptions as well as clogging up running lanes for the Tulsa running backs.

The linebackers were stellar.

Travis Lewis, the Sooners' leading tackler this season, sacked Kinne once and racked up seven solo tackles.

Senior Ryan Renolds was even better, sacking Kinne twice and tallying 13 total tackles.

The secondary was in lockdown mode all day long, allowing only 153 yards through the air.

Safety Quinton Carter and corner back Brian Jackson picked off Kinne once a piece and kept Tulsa star receiver Damaris Johnson in check.

This Sooner defense is as good as advertised, and quite frankly it needs to be if Oklahoma hopes to avoid another stumble.  Look for this squad to reach dominant form by mid-season.

Both Texas and Oklahoma are boasting a whole lot of firepower on the defensive side of the ball, a complete 180 degree turn from last season when the Longhorns and Sooners were terrifying offensively (they still are), but suspect defensively.

The question is, which defense has made the greatest improvements?  OU has the statistics, Texas has Will Muschamp.

We should get the answer to that question when these two rivals meet up again on October 17th in Dallas.

Until then, however, we'll have to settle for watching these two squads feast on opposing offenses.

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