Reese: 'We've got to do a good job up front'

Carl Reese talked to <I>IT</I> after the Horns' Wednesday practice (held under the tent on top of Moncrief-Neuhaus because of the continuing rain in the Austin area) about the challenge to his defense of facing an option team like New Mexico State in the season opener:

IT: What are the challenges that NMSU's option attack presents?

Reese: "To me, they're Nebraska. They have that philosophy, that's where their head coach is from, that's where their head coach's background is. Their offensive staff has done the same thing since our first game the whole time until now, so they're going on four years and they've had a lot of success. They've always been high in the (offensive) rankings. . . . In a lot of ways, they've had to experiment a little bit and do a little extra because they're not Nebraska. They do a little bit extra with the option, they've mastered doing a little bit extra with the play action pass, so they really create more problems than Nebraska offensively even though they have the same philosophy and scheme. They've got to do more tricks where Nebraska just keeps coming with it. They do it all. If we can have success, that means we're OK because we're going to go up against the inside running game, option game and the play action pass, and then they can come out and throw it.

IT: What will determine your D's success Saturday?

Reese: We've got to be sound up the gut. It's like talking about Nebraska; we can't let their fullback establish any part of his game. They run a belly play and a trap play and all that stuff that Nebraska has been doing for 20 years with the fullback attack. We can not let (the fullback) get going so we have to be firm at the line of scrimmage. They've got a good tailback and he runs all the I-back plays, the off tackle lead plays, the counter plays and all that stuff where they're still running the football at you. We've got to do a good job up front and then follow the option game and the play action off that. We've got to do a good job with the fullback and the tailback game. If we hold them there and force them to an option game and we do a good job with that, they'll be scrambling a little bit.

[IT note: Reese also said Wednesday that the Aggies have a better chance getting a play action guy loose, like a tight end running off a play fake and getting him deep, than they have lining up a wideout out and going deep. "You turn on a film and everybody they played last year turned a guy loose," the D-coordinator said. "We did that when we played them here (in '98) twice and they caught one of them." Reese also mentioned that NMSU QB K.C. Enzminger played as a true freshman against the Horns back in '98. "He played the whole fourth quarter against us a true freshman and did a nice job," Reese said. "He threw a play action pass that (set up) points so he worries me because he checks every place (when he steps to the line of scrimmage)." Enzminger ran once for four yards and completed a 39-yarder against a makeshift secondary late in the fourth quarter of UT's 66-36 win in the '98 season opener. Stopping the now senior QB will largely be a job for Longhorn DEs Cory Redding and Kalen Thornton. "I think our ends have to have a terrific game," Reese said. "In a game that involves option football, our ends have to do a great job. It's discipline football. They've got option responsibility . . . They're going to play the quarterback and they will have the second phase of the option. Your linebackers play dive, quarterback and pitch (in that order), so the dive part of the option (the LBs) have to handle and get pursuit on the rest of it but the ends basically handle the second phase which is the quarterback . . . Our ends are going to be just fine. I feel good about them. I'm worried about our tackles and linebackers really being firm against that run." Reese emphasized the role the DTs and linebackers will play in neutralizing the fullback and tailback plays of the Aggies. "(The DTs and LBs) have to control the line of scrimmage," he said. "They're more athletic than the group we had a year ago which is good but being athletic has nothing to do with holding a point or blowing a hole when they load it up and start running. . . . We've got to do a good job up front." . . . Reese said Derrick Johnson "is going to play, that's for sure." The defensive coordinator, though, said Johnson's action may be limited compared to what he'll soon see when the Horns take on more traditional or passing offenses.

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