Texas defensive coordinator Vance Bedford met with the media Wednesday. Here are five things you need to know.
1. Bedford was not pleased with the defense’s performance against Rice.
His impression of the game was summed up in 11 words. “Missed sack, after missed sack, after missed sack, after missed sack.”
Bedford said the Longhorns had seven missed sacks that led to roughly 150 yards and 14 points for Rice. But he believes everything that happened can be corrected by being fundamentally sound and executing well.
“The missed sacks were just one ball game. It’s all about execution.”
2. The biggest thing Bedford believes the Longhorns have to fix is third down, but he did not only pin the blame on the defense.
“Winning is all about team. It’s about No. 1 getting off the field, which we are doing a very poor job. No. 2 is the offense staying on the field, which means converting third downs. If we both can improve in those areas, then the sky is the limit for us. But we both have to improve on third down. The offense needs to convert on third down and the defense has to keep our opponents from converting on third downs. If we can stop people on third down, then we shorten the field.
“In the NFL, the saying is if you have four three-and-outs, that’s like a turnover. In other words, you are shortening the field for the offense. Right now, we aren’t doing that on defense. We aren’t shortening the field for the offense and aren’t helping the team win ballgames at this time.”
3. Cal quarterback Jared Goff has really impressed Bedford, and he believes Goff is one of the best quarterbacks in college football.
“I’ve looked at every game from last season. USC might have been the only team that really physically dominated that team. Other than that, it’s a scoring fest. Not many people slowed them down.
"You give my man, this Cal quarterback, an opportunity and it’s not fun defending this guy. He’s one of the best quarterbacks I have ever faced in college football.”
4. Speaking of the quarterback, Bedford believes Goff is the same as a former Cal quarterback, who just so happens to play in the NFL.
“This is Aaron Rodgers. Aaron Rodgers played at Cal. This guy is the real deal. He can throw into tight windows and can go through his entire progression: first, second and go to his third guy. Most college quarterbacks can’t do that. This young man is exceptional. He is exceptional."
Goff typically stays in the pocket, but Bedford is not underestimating his ability to run the ball, even though he doesn’t expect to see much of his legs Saturday.
“You would be surprised at how well this young man runs. He doesn’t have to, but when he wants to pull it down he’s actually pretty good. He is going to stay in the pocket and make the throws. He does not hold onto the football at all. He knows where to go with the football and what coverage he is in and he gets rid of the ball. He’s going to move the sticks. If you’re in third down and six, it’s not going to be a good situation to be in because he’s been pretty good this season.”
5. Texas has played a number of true and redshirt freshmen this season. Kris Boyd made some plays against Rice, which made Bedford happy.
“He’s a guy that believes he should be starting, which I love. That’s what you want. He wants to be out there. He’s going through some learning curves right now. He had a touchdown thrown on him and he had his head down because he was mad at himself. He really believes in himself. I told him that’s part of playing. He’s doing some on the job training.”
But Boyd is not the only guy doing “on the job training.”
“You hope at the University of Texas you don’t have many guys doing on the job training. We came back in the third quarter (against Rice), and we had Kris Boyd starting, Holton Hill was out there and everybody knows about Malik. We had Charles Omenihu, he was playing early and Ed Freeman is playing quite a bit. At one point in time, I think we had seven freshmen or redshirt freshmen playing the third quarter and the game was not over. That’s where we are right now.
“We have to build depth with young guys and you’re going to get burned a few times. You have to go through some growing pains. Are we happy about that? No, but that’s where we are. We have to develop these young guys to give us some depth.
“The biggest thing is you want to go out and say we are going to win every ball game. When we get to conference play, those guys have to get experience. We have to be ready to go if we are going to start two or three of those guys.
“This is what Cal, Rice and Notre Dame get you ready for. It gets us ready for Oklahoma State or TCU because the most important thing when we get to conference play is the best guys are out there and they all have experience.”