Posted November 6th, 2008 by Mike
Filed under: Feature, Football

Can the Texas defense step up without Brian Orakpo?

Can the Texas defense step up without Brian Orakpo?

For the first time in over a month Texas faces an opponent that hasn’t been ranked in the top 10 at some point in the season. The players and the staff faced the challenge of staying “up” for such a difficult streak of games, but getting “up” for a game against an inferior opponent like [tag]Baylor[/tag] after a heartbreaking loss may prove to be more of a challenge. Texas appears to have an advantage at every position, even with [tag]Brian Orakpo[/tag] and [tag]Quan Cosby[/tag] not likely to play.

When Texas has the ball

The Texas offense found their stride late in the Tech game after struggling to get anything going in the first two and a half quarters. [tag]Colt McCoy[/tag] had a decent game, but it was no where near the level he had been playing at before the second half of the [tag]Oklahoma State[/tag] game. The Longhorn offense struggled after Cosby went down, but the emergence of Malcolm Williams as a deep threat could be the silver lining. When Cosby is able to get back, and he will at [tag]Kansas[/tag], Texas will finally have a three wide receiver set that scares opposing defenses.

The biggest concern coming out of the loss in Lubbock is the play of the offensive line. The big guys up front got beat up for most of the night night. They couldn’t open up holes for the run game or protect McCoy in the passing game. The ability is there, and if some of the older guys like Cedric Dockery and Charlie Tanner don’t step it up they may lose more snaps to younger guys like [tag]Michael Huey[/tag] and [tag]David Snow[/tag].

Texas’ offense has gone all year without a consistent run game and it is probably na├»ve to believe one is miraculously going to appear. The hope for Texas is that a healthy and utilized [tag]Foswhitt Whittaker[/tag] can provide enough of a spark to take some pressure off of Colt McCoy. McCoy proved to be human last week and in those games the Longhorns have to be able to run the ball to stay effective. They couldn’t in last week’s loss and it may have cost them a shot at the Conference and National Championships.

Texas should be able to move the ball against Baylor. The Bears defense has allowed over 30 points in five of their last six games, all of which were losses. Applying pressure and creating turnovers are the only way Baylor stays in this game and the Bears defense has not been good at either.

When Baylor has the ball

This is not your older brother’s Baylor offense. First year coach Art Briles found his future in his first year. That future goes by the name Robert Griffin. The freshman quarterback has been nothing short of outstanding. He can run and pass, and was the last quarterback in Division I to throw an interception. For the first time in a long time Baylor has a player that can scare you on every play.

The Longhorn defense played well in the second half last week. The only touchdown they gave up came with one second left in the game. The task this week will be to rebuild the psyche of the young secondary. [tag]Curtis Brown[/tag], [tag]Blake Gideon[/tag], and [tag]Earl Thomas[/tag] all had a forgettable last minute of the game, and each of them may have left the field with the feeling they were the reason their team is no longer number one in the nation.

The staff and fellow players have spent a whole week assuring these guys that one play and one guy has never lost a football game. But with young emotional players no one can tell how they will react their next time out. They could turtle up and play tentative from here on out, or they can feed off of the emotion and become better football players because of it.

Texas lost their best player for the week in Brian Orakpo. Most would believe that Texas doesn’t need Orakpo to win the game, but when facing a dual threat quarterback like the one Baylor has every team would want to be at full strength.

Just like on offense, the biggest concern heading out of last game was the play of the defensive line. Texas Tech’s offensive line won the individual battles last week. Baylor won’t have the talent that Texas faced last week and it will be important to regain confidence with early pressure.

Texas’ speed should be able to nullify most of what Baylor would like to do. Even with Orakpo out Texas should be able to get pressure with [tag]Sergio Kindle[/tag], [tag]Sam Acho[/tag], and [tag]Henry Melton[/tag]. The key for this defense will be keeping Baylor out of manageable third downs. If Texas can force Baylor’s freshman quarterback into long distance plays, one would think defensive coordinator Will Muschamp can overwhelm him with schemes.

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