Defense Still Looking For Its 'Sacks' Appeal

The good news is the Texas offense hasn't given up a sack this season. The bad news is the Texas defense hasn't recorded one either.

Getting more pressure on the QB has been such an off-season emphasis that the D's failure to get to the signalcaller overshadows the work of the O-line. True, the Horns have had to retool on the right side of the defensive front (DE, DT) and at SLB. But head coach Mack Brown said the unit's lack of 'sacks' appeal has more to do with the kind of offensives his team faced against Arkansas and North Texas than any glaring deficiency

"When you look at North Texas, they're going to have very few sacks because of their offense," Brown said. "They're going to run the ball, they're going to use play-action, they're going to sprint out, and their quarterback does a very good job of getting rid of the ball. If you look at Arkansas, it's very similar to us. We haven't had a sack yet, either, and it's because of a mobile quarterback. Most of the plays they made in the passing game they made Saturday night was because of play-action or because (QB Matt Jones) scrambled."

The zero sacks at Arkansas also had something to do with Texas' defensive strategy geared toward containment, Brown added. Meanwhile, Jones' escape-ability was a factor in Texas' decision not to rely on its pre-season emphasis on a revamped blitz package.

"With a mobile quarterback like Matt, it's hard to blitz him," Brown said. "It's hard to blitz Vince (Young) because if you do, and you miss him, and you're in man coverage, he may score. Part of that (at Arkansas) was the game plan to try to keep (Jones) inside. We were more concerned about containment breakdowns than we were that we didn't get as many sacks."

And lack of containment was, indeed, a notable weak area Saturday.

"We're concerned about our containment," Brown said. "We've got to do a better job there. Our defense won't see a better quarterback than Vince Young or Matt Jones. (Sorry Missouri's Brad Smith and Texas A&M's Reggie McNeal: Brown says you're not faster than Vince or Matt) But we cannot let the quarterback get outside."

RDE Brian Robison is one of the most impressive all-around athletes that Brown has signed; it's just that he's not particularly fast (at least not compared to the explosive Mike Williams who failed to hold down the spot for academic reasons).

"(Jones) runs a 4.4 and he's faster than our defensive ends," Brown added. "He's hard to pin up."

Co-Defensive Coordinator Greg Robinson bristles when he is accused of scheming toward a finesse-oriented, read-and-react game plan. And although LDT Rodrique Wright's description of Robinson's strategy sounds like 'read and react, the junior believes the approach served Texas well.

"We kind of had to sit on the line before we could break to the play," Wright said. "That's great for us because, draws and stuff like that, wouldn't get too far up the field. We played a great quarterback. As soon as somebody gets back there, he starts to scramble. It's pretty hard to sack a quarterback like that. We're not worried at all about the pass rush."

RDT Larry Dibbles, who made the most of his first start at Arkansas by forcing the game-saving fumble recovered at the UT seven, insists that Texas did record a sack on that particular play.

"We have a sack," he insists. "That caused fumble was a sack. It was behind the line of scrimmage."

(Honestly, I haven't seen the replay. I was on the sideline and it appeared Jones had crossed the LOS. Obviously, the most important stat in that scenario is the forced fumble rather than a QB sack.)

"Every defense wants a good pass rush," Dibbles added. "The less time the quarterback has to look downfield, the less likely he is to make completions. As far as containment, I think our defensive schemes are great. We've got great coaches. If we just do the minimum assignment, we'll take care of business."

Following the bye-week, Texas (in essence) has two scrimmages against Rice and Baylor to fine-tune its sack attack before facing No. 2 Oklahoma and Heisman winning QB Jason White. The Horns face the Owls, 6 p.m. (CDT), September 26, in a Fox Sports Southwest telecast.

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