Longhorn DBs Prepping for More Up-Tempo

After a one-week break against a slow-down running team, the Longhorns have to prepare yet again to face an up-tempo spread attack for their trip to Texas Tech.

"Yeah, they up the tempo," said Duane Akina, Texas defensive backs coach. "That is the personality of this league really. It is a good concept for offensive coaches. They do a good job of running the football, throwing the football and I think they do a nice job with all the receivers. All the receivers do a nice job of blocking down field along with running routes. This is a good receiving corps. [They have] a nice balanced attack, and they have the ability to run the football.

"You can see they have really made an emphasis of it," Akina said. "I think it has helped their defense. It's part of [Tommy] Tuberville's plan; he is a defensive guy by nature. I think having that run game in their system, they still want to throw it. But they will run it, and I think a lot of it was to help their defense in the off-season."

At the same time, the Red Raiders have improved their passing game, putting up better numbers than they did a year ago.

"I think they are throwing it much better this year then they did a year ago," Akina said. "You can see it has been an emphasis for them in the offseason, and they have done a nice job. Even if there is one-on-ones downfield, they are just going to take their shot. You just take your shot - he's covered, they have some big receivers, throw the high-straight ones and see what happens. I think they have done a nice job with that."

With the Red Raiders showing that balance, there's some question of where safety dynamo Kenny Vaccaro will line up.

"We played a lot of base defense because of the nature of the offense [Kansas was] running," Akina said. "We weren't looking at four wideouts all game or five, so we weren't in our six DBs [defensive backs] quite as much. We ran some nickel, but when we run our four DBs, it gives Kenny a chance to play on top, which is good for him. It shows how complete of a football player he is.

"I've got to say that he is playing as well as any safety/defensive back in the country right now," Akina said. "With the job descriptions we are giving him right now, [they] are very similar to what we gave [former Longhorn and current NFL Oakland Raider S] Michael Huff when Michael was here. Just mentally and physically the things that he is doing, I think a lot of people really don't understand. He is playing outstanding. The wrinkle we put in the second half there to slow down the three [running] back offense, which they hadn't shown much or hardly at all. Kenny kind of ended up playing middle linebacker in that thing. He just continues with his job description, and his resume continues to grow as one of the best I've been around."

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