Defense Stands Up in the Clutch

Missed tackles. Allowed 576 total yards. Allowed three scoring drives of less than a minute. Gave up three explosive scoring plays. Pretty much anyway you slice it, the Texas defense had its struggles Saturday night.

The Longhorns allowed a 300-yard passer, nearly a 200-yard rusher, and gave up an astonishing 8.6 yards per play.

Texas did sack Oklahoma State quarterback J.W. Walsh twice — the first two sacks the Cowboys allowed all season — and picked him off once. Texas also held the high-powered Cowboy offense to 13 combined points in the second and third quarters.

Most importantly, the Longhorns stiffened up when it counted, holding the Cowboys to just 16 points — three field goals and a touchdown — on four red zone trips.

"We've said it all along, great offenses like theirs, you have to win in the red zone," said Texas defensive coordinator Manny Diaz. "They're too dynamic, they're too good and they're going to move the ball in between the twenties. There were a bunch of red zone stops, even the ones that we held them to field goals, that as the game was going on and keeping the score down that were vital in the football game."

Texas did have some excuses at its disposal. Two key members of the starting front seven — defensive tackle Brandon Moore and linebacker Jordan Hicks — were injured and unavailable. Further, starters Desmond Jackson and Adrian Phillips both missed time with injuries Saturday. And the fast tempo of the game meant that Diaz was forced to substitute liberally, leading to a number of repetitions for players who weren't necessarily used to them. At one point, Texas's defensive tackle duo was true freshman Malcom Brown and program guy Kyle Kriegel.

But Diaz was unwilling to use any excuses.

"They battled like champions," Diaz said of his younger players. "Lord knows we didn't do everything right, but what you can't fault those guys for was their effort. You've got to give a lot of credit to Oklahoma State. Obviously they're a great offensive football team and we knew that going in, and I thought our young guys gave us everything they had."

That included late on the final drive, when the Longhorns held one final time, snuffing out three runs inside the red zone and holding Oklahoma State to a field goal.

"We told the defense that if they held them to a field goal, we would win the game," said Texas coach Mack Brown. "We told the offense the same thing. You're going to hold them to a field goal, and you're going to win the game."

"You just went into the defending Big 12 champion's house and won in an instant classic style game," Diaz said. "We knew it was going to be hard. We talked about that. We talked about persevering throughout the game and when it comes out like that, these are the types of games that a young football team has to know that they can win. We had a couple similar type situations last year and now our players look around and know that they can win this type of game."

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