Brown: Texas Defense To 'Start Over'

The Texas defense will be starting over in 2004, head coach <B>Mack Brown</B> said, starting with Spring Drills that are set to begin 3:30 p.m., Monday, at Frank Denius Fields.

His announcement comes on the heels of the January hiring of Defensive Co-coordinator Greg Robinson from the Kansas City Chiefs organization and former Arizona head coach Dick Tomey to oversee the defensive ends as well as the Dallas area in recruiting. It also follows the disappointing run defenses of the past two seasons that have slipped toward John Mackovic-ian mediocrity. In 2003, Texas was rated just No. 58 (152.5 ypg) nationally against the run.

"We've started over with our defense," Brown said. "Last year, we didn't stop the run as well as we'd like. And when you're not stopping the run, you don't force as many turnovers because their quarterback is not in a tough position on second and third downs. We need to be able to blitz and get after him and force him into bad plays and long-yardage. We didn't get that accomplished as well last year as we'd like to."

When Tomey and Robinson were introduced little more than 30 days ago, Brown said the addition of coaches with NFL experience could be the missing ingredient in getting Texas over the hump and into the BCS picture, if not the national title game. The Horns finished No. 25 in total defense (329.8 ypg) in 2003, but three of the top four defensive teams this past season (USC, LSU, Ohio State) have won, or shared, a national championship within the past two years.

Brown pointed out this weekend that the defense will not run a pro system but rather incorporate pro ideas into a college system.

"The biggest thing they've got on their minds to start with is personnel," Brown said. "Let's find the best 11, and then the best 22, guys that can play and then let's figure out what they can do best within this system instead of going in and just saying, 'Here's a system that I like. Let's do it.'"

And that's been part of the so-called makeover of the Texas D: Brown has asked both players and coaches to forget about their previous allegiances to the defenses they've just left.

"We don't want to talk about the 49ers or the Kansas City Chiefs or the Arizona defense or what was here last year. Let's just start over with where we are. Let's look at our personnel. I've really been impressed with the coaches working hard in the off-season program to evaluate effort, to evaluate toughness, and staying tough and finishing right. If one guy did something wrong in the off-season, everybody was punished for it. I like some things that our new guys have brought to us."

Look for a base 4-3 defense with (ideally) DEs that can put more pressure on the QB. Brown wants a combination of coverages for the DBs in order to better disguise its pass protection with the intent of forcing more turnovers. You can anticipate more zone blitzes, a disguise in which the secondary initially shows zone coverage during the snap count.

"In the NFL, quarterbacks and offensive coordinators have so much time on their hands that they can develop systems that can beat defenses," Brown said. "One of the huge things in the NFL is disguise and trying to make sure that, before the snap of the ball, there is no pre-snap key. That's so important because, if you know where (defenders) are, you can usually pick on 'em."

Texas returns seven starters from last year's defense, including Butkus Award Finalist Derrick Johnson, as well as 14 players who have started at least one game during their collegiate careers.

"It will be a defense that is really physical," Brown said. "It will be a defense that is flying to the ball and have a lot of effort. It will be a defense that will have a lot of pro influence coming in to disguise coverages in order to make it tougher on quarterbacks."

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