The Defense Rests? Not Against Tech

Co-Defensive Coordinator Gene Chizik tends not to call attention to himself by bragging on his weekly game plan. So, Inside Texas talked with three of his starting DBs Monday about the specifics of Texas' bend-but-don't-break scheme that limited the combustible Texas Tech offense to 37 points below its scoring average during the 52-17 shellacking this past weekend at DKR.

"They (coaches) break down the films so well that, against teams we play, everything that they tell us is going to happen actually happens," said LCB Tarell Brown said. "We see it so easily because we do it so much in practice."

The Horns held the Red Raiders to just one sustained drive (15 plays, 80 yards), and that was when the game was all but decided in the third quarter. Texas also kept the Tech freak show offense out of the end zone during both the second and fourth quarters. Just as impressive, the defense recorded 12 TFLs, including a season-high six sacks, against a scheme that spreads linemen so wide and drops the QB so deep that those kind of numbers are virtually nonexistent.

"We've got the best front four in college football," SS Michael Huff said. "We know that our job in the secondary is to hold our coverage and give our front a chance to get there. A lot of times we would disguise our coverage and make (QB Cody Hodges) read things on the run."

Huff, along with RCB Cedric Griffin, saw action on all 93 of Tech's offensive snaps. Huff was credited with 13 tackles and three PBU.

Texas unveiled its dime package against Oklahoma three weeks ago and made a living off the look Saturday, sometimes with three down linemen and leaving only Aaron Harris at LB.

"We knew we had to go with a lot of DBs and some guys played 80 or 90 plays," Brown said. "We ran a lot of different stuff. We ran dime, we ran base. We ran everything that we had to run to get us that victory."

Texas played man about 75 percent of the time, Huff said.

"All of our dime (package) was all man (coverage)," he said. "We played more man than we did last year and just blitzed. We got after the quarterback. We sacked him six times and hit him 17 other times. We got up after the quarterback and just lined up and played man."

FS Michael Griffin said it is not easy to quantify the extent to which Texas relied on man coverage against Tech.

"It was like man (coverage) but if they (receivers) do something, you let them go and let somebody else pick them up," Griffin said. "You may have a certain zone and, if some somebody comes into your zone, you jump them."

Texas coaches readjusted their defensive stats Sunday, crediting Griffin with a game-high 14 tackles to go along with his forced fumble, fumble recovery and blocked punt. (Originally, SLB Robert Killebrew was listed with a team-best 13 tackles but now has an official 10 stops for the game).

Huff estimated that he blitzed about five times.

"Most of the time we let Michael (Griffin) blitz," he told me. "This is the first year I've ever really blitzed. During my first year, Cedric Griffin was the blitz man. This is the first year I'm getting to blitz."

His blitzes tend to come during the first couple of drives.

"It establishes that I'm coming," he said. "They never know who's coming or where they're coming from. Earlier in the game, we started blitzing on the inside and they had to tighten their splits. After that, it was (Brian) Robison and Tim Crowder."

Tech's offense outgained the Longhorns, 468 to 444 yards, but needed 31 more plays to do it. The Red Raiders controlled the clock for 36:01, in part, because Texas produced four scoring drives of four plays or less. The visitors had three drives of 10 plays or more but the Horns were content to surrender the short dinks without giving up the long ball.

"If you had told me that they were going to have the ball for 36 minutes, I would have thought that we would have lost the game," head coach Mack Brown said.

Chizik kept his defense fresh by shuttling in six DTs, six DEs, seven DBs and six linebackers

"What we've learned about the Tech game is you better have fresh legs," Mack Brown said. "The time we lost to them in this offense (2002), we gave out. They had 100 plays and we just gave out. We could not rush the passer and we couldn't tackle them. The last two years we've played everybody we've got on defense and being fresh at the end of the game. It makes a huge difference."

The result was the biggest margin of victory in program history over a Top 10 opponent.

Quan Cosby's stint as starting PR and KO return specialist was considered an ad hoc measure intended to keep PR/LCB Aaron Ross and LCB Tarell Brown well rested but, geez Louise!, the 22-year-old freshman displayed what Horn fans have been waiting to see for two years: north-south explosiveness in the return game. Cosby returned two punts for 68 yards and a KO for 30 yards.

"The kicking game was really the difference in the ball game with the huge plays," Mack Brown said.

Texas (7-0) finishes the regular season with three road games in four contests, starting with the 6 p.m. kickoff this Saturday at Oklahoma State. The game will be televised nationally on TBS.


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