Third Quarter Has Vexed Horns In Big 12 Play

Defensive coordinator <B>Carl Reese </B>said he&#146;s not particularly concerned with statistics but &quot;a stat I hear about a lot&quot; has to do with the fact that Texas has been outscored 34-0 in the third quarter during its past three ball games.

"We try to go out and take the second half because the first five minutes of the second half are really important" he said. "Our goal is to get a three-and-out at the start of the second half."

So, why isn’t it happening? And why has the offense been shut-out in the critical opening minutes of the third frame? Depends on who you ask, but it may have something to do with the fact that the past three games have been against league opponents.

"Teams in the Big 12 are not going to lay down," DT Rodrique Wright said. "You see that every game. If you stop them in the first half, they’re going to come out with something else. You want to get the shutout in every game but, in reality, the teams that we’re playing are not going to lay down. They’re going to come out on fire."

The question remains: why them but not Texas?

Kansas State outscored Texas 9-0 in the third, thanks largely to a blocked punt for a safety and the resulting change in field position. The Horns essentially mailed it in when the Sooners scored 14 points to start the second half, but what is up with Iowa State outscoring the Horns 11-0 in the third? Basically, it was a matter of Cyclone coaches replacing both the quarterback and tailback and surprising the Horns with sprint-out draws and other off-timing plays, Reese said.

"The game plan I had last week wasn’t very good," he added. "They (ISU) did a good job. You have to give them credit."

Texas native Chris Love made his first career start at QB for the ‘Clones, completing 6-of-16 for 49 yards and was sacked five times. Texas native Austin Flynn played the entire second half, responding with 15-of-29 passing for 262 yards and two TDs.

"Last week (against OU), I was concerned about all four quarters so going back to the third is better," head coach Mack Brown said. "I remember when they used to gripe about the first quarter at North Carolina and now they’re griping about all of them at North Carolina. When you get it down to one quarter, that’s better than four. Give Iowa State credit. They changed their quarterbacks. They changed their offense completely in the third quarter. What happened was they went to three-step drops. They started running draws. They went to sprint outs so we couldn’t get to them as much. We didn’t cross the face with our defensive ends a couple of times and missed a tackle or two at linebacker. But then we came back, shut that out, and continued to play well on offense. We didn’t do as well in the early third quarter as I’d wanted to. But when you give up just 45 yards in the first half, you expect everybody to go out there and do it again. So what happens is you get criticism for giving up points in the third quarter instead of credit for holding them to 45 yards in the first half."

Reese probably came closest to addressing the third quarter woes when he said, "It’s more in the head and more emotional than it is schemes. As coaches, we get caught up in schemes because that’s what we do. But I think, at halftime, because of their (ISU’s) first-half performance, they were jacked up and ready to go out and prove that they weren’t the worst team in the world. And we were satisfied."

Would that Texas had taken on the same fiery demeanor against OU in the third quarter. There is a far greater talent discrepancy between Texas and Iowa State than there is between Texas and Oklahoma. Any sort of halftime adjustment that resulted in an 11-0 run for Texas would have made that a competitive, if not winnable, ballgame in the fourth quarter.

"I need to do a batter job of ranting and raving," Reese said.

Texas could coast against Tulane, Rice and New Mexico States after intermission -- and probably against Baylor even without RB Cedric Benson -- but any sort of favorable legacy that the 2003 Longhorns stand to establish will come against that November-to-Remember slate when Texas faces home games against No. 14 Nebraska and high-flying Texas Tech, plus dangerous road trips to No. 18 Oklahoma State and what is now amounting to a season-saving contest for the Aggies.

Next month, winning the third quarter may have everything to do with winning the fourth.

"It seems like it takes us a little while to get going and we need to be hitting it right when we come out," C Jason Glynn said. "I think it has to do with coming off of a 30-minute break and you’re a little cold and you come out flat. We need to address that and how to fix it."

"I don’t really know why that is," FL B.J. Johnson added, "but we’re going to have to figure it out soon because it’s starting to become a reputation and we can’t have that."


Horns Digest Top Stories