Robinson's Run D Faces Progress Report Against OSU

Texas has held its past two opponents to a combined minus-14 yards rushing, but is Greg Robinson's defense really that improved? The litmus test should come in the form of Oklahoma State RB Vernand Morency this Saturday at Royal-Memorial Stadium.

"He reminds me a lot of Ced Benson," the Co-Defensive Coordinator said. "He's a slasher, a cutback runner, he changes speed. He does a lot of things well. He's competitive."

The nation's fifth leading rusher, Morency averages just under 156 ypg. His eight game totals include 207 carries for 1,246 yards and 11 TDs. He, along with Benson, is one of nine D-I backs to have posted 1,000+ yards this season.

"He can take it, stretch it, bring it back and find daylight," Robinson said. "He picks his spot and the real good backs in football are able to do that. They'll run a sweep and he'll turn the corner if it's there. But if he feels the defense is stretching it, he'll knife it back in if he sees a soft spot."

Given the run defense's two-year slide toward mediocrity, combined with the depth issues Texas has had to contend with at SLB and RDE this season, Robinson's troops have put up impressive numbers the past couple of weeks. Thing is, Texas Tech is anything but a rushing offense (NCAA No. 116 of 117, 76.5 ypg) while Colorado is just a shell of the power running game that it had just three seasons ago. But Oklahoma State's ground game (254.5 ypg, NCAA No. 6) trails only Texas (304.8 ypg, NCAA No. 2) in league standings.

"(Morency is) not afraid to live with a five-yard gain," Robinson added. "The real good backs have a lot of five-yard gains and, all of a sudden, one of 'em goes for 30. He's got the ability to do that."

Attention to detail, such as getting off blocks and taking proper pursuit angles, is starting to pay off, Robinson believes. Currently, the Horns rank third in the Big 12 (NCAA No. 24) in total defense by surrendering 307.6 ypg but they're tops in the league (NCAA No. 8) in the single most important defensive stat by yielding just 13.3 points per game.

"I'm seeing guys get better and better. We emphasize the little things and demand them. It's paying off, but the moment we think we're done we become just another ordinary defense. If we just keep at it, before it's all said and done, we're going to be really good."

So far, Robinson is delivering upon promises made last spring of a fundamentally sound, swarming defense that maintains a heightened level of intensity from the opening whistle to the final snap. He also said his crew would wreak havoc and force turnovers by disguising its looks and adding zone blitzes and coverages to the mix. The defense forced three turnovers at Colorado, plus rattled the Buffs into four false start penalties during a third quarter in which Texas finally got some separation from the home team.

"You try to create complexity with your appearance but you try to keep it as simple as possible for your players."

A 14-year veteran of those 16+ game seasons in the NFL, the (relatively) abbreviated collegiate slate makes its difficult for Robinson to believe the 7-1 Horns have just one home game remaining following Saturday's showdown against the Cowboys.

"I feel like, doggone, we're getting near the end. I don't like that. I think we're just starting to come on. I just wanna keep getting better. I like that we're improving and I don't want it to end.

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