USA Today

Here is one solution that should help Texas' defense going forward.

Here is one solution that should help Texas' defense going forward.

... The Texas offense?

After talking to the players and coaches on Monday - even Charlie Strong was buying into the concept that the Texas defense (giving up an average of 241 yards rushing and 37 points per game) stopped making mental errors in the fourth quarter against Cal.

That's when UT's offense, led by a record-breaking performance from redshirt freshman QB Jerrod Heard caught fire and nearly erased a 21-point deficit.

"Our defense knows now that if we get a stop and get the ball back to our offense, they can go score and make things happen," Strong said. "The guys on defense were watching Heard putting on a show in the fourth quarter, and it energized them. We got stops when we needed them, got the ball back for the offense and then kept scoring."

Defensive players said seeing the offense bounce back in the fourth quarter against Cal was a huge breakthrough.

"I was on the sidelines saying, 'We've got to get the ball back, because the offense is doing their job and scoring.' And Cal didn't score in the fourth quarter," said fifth-year senior DT Desmond "Tank" Jackson.

Added senior LB Peter Jinkens, "We fed off the offensive energy and got the sense if we did our job, they'd keep scoring and that's what happened."

Jinkens said that breakthrough will change the mental makeup of the the team.

"In the past, having a third quarter like we did, we'd get discouraged," Jinkens said. "But mentally, I feel like our mind has shifted."

DT Poona Ford said everyone was probably expecting the offense they are seeing now when the season started against Notre Dame.

"Going into the season, we felt good about us getting a new offense," Ford said. "And then I don't know what happened.

"We never lost faith in our offense. But what we saw Saturday (against Cal) was like a whole new offense. Our offense can score and come back. We feel comfortable about that now.

"Even though we lost, we battled. As a defense, we got three-and-outs in the fourth quarter when we had to."

Senior receiver Daje Johnson said he could see increased energy and intensity from the defense as the offense kept having success in the fourth quarter.

"Once they saw us making plays on offense, it just made our defense play that much harder," Johnson said. 

Added Heard: "We wanted to show our teammates and everyone that we can fight back, because that's probably how a lot of our games in the Big 12 are going to go."


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