Bye Week Look: Defensive Backs

Before the season, most publications ranked the Texas secondary among the best in the country. After five weeks, it's a stance that most people still take.

The Longhorns' group includes a potential All-American in junior cornerback Aaron Williams and potential All-Big 12 players in cornerback Curtis Brown and safety Blake Gideon. Safety Kenny Vaccaro is a versatile player who can play almost any spot in the secondary. Christian Scott is a devastating hitter, and Chykie Brown, while he's struggled at times this year, would still be a No. 1 cornerback for several other conference teams.

Those players are a big part of the reason that the Longhorns are allowing just 150.2 passing yards per game. Only one opponent, Oklahoma, has passed for more than 200 yards in a game against Texas this season. Sooner quarterback Landry Jones passed for 236 yards and two touchdowns to no interceptions. Even that mark was nearly 70 yards below what Jones was averaging heading into the Cotton Bowl.

Taking out the OU game, Texas has allowed just 128.8 passing yards per game, with a 3-3 touchdown-to-interception ratio.

The last number has been somewhat of a concern. The Longhorns' three interceptions ranks as the 11th best mark in the Big 12. Two of those interceptions have come courtesy of defensive backs, both in the Texas Tech game.

Williams has caused two other fumbles, however, as he's an ace blitzer with great hands and an instinct for the strip.

If there's any other concern with this unit, it's the lack of experienced depth at cornerback. Curtis and Chykie Brown are both seniors, and Williams is a junior who could potentially leave after this year. Vaccaro can fill in at nickel back, but the two best cornerbacks after the big three are true freshmen Carrington Byndom and A.J. White.

The Longhorns haven't really blown teams out this year, meaning that those two freshmen haven't gotten as much time and experience as needed, especially since both could be starting as soon as next year, or earlier if the Longhorns are beset by injuries.

Overall Grade: A

Having said that, it's silly to dock a unit for injuries that haven't occurred, or concerns that may not come to pass. The defensive backs have been stellar, including an effort where they held Texas Tech to 158 passing yards on 58.3 percent completion percentage. That effort is even more impressive when one considers Tech's rates in its other games: 377 passing yards per game at a 66 percent clip. The scary thing is that the group is still capable of playing better, especially if Chykie Brown rebounds a bit.


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