Can Anyone Stop Texas' Offense?

Michael Griffin is a talker, but the junior FS was at a loss for words Monday when asked one of the tougher questions he will field all season: how would he choose to defend a devastating Texas offense that is on record-setting pace.

Texas currently leads the nation in scoring by racking up 50.1 points-per-outing (USC is No. 2 by averaging 48.4 ppg). The Horns are rated No. 2 nationally in rushing (284.3 ypg) as well as in total offense (527.9 ypg). And those numbers have come against four of the nation's Top Ten run defenses. Colorado and Ohio State boast the nation's top two run defenses, respectively, while Kansas is No. 6 and Oklahoma is No. 9. All four of those programs are also ranked among the Top 25 in total defense.

So, how do you stop it?

"Basically, when you look at our game film, you see a quarterback who can run," Griffin began. "What did Vince (Young) have Saturday (against Kansas)...?"

That would be career-low negative-four yards rushing, but he compensated with a career-best four TD passes and 281 yards passing in little more than two quarters of work

"So, Vince was throwing the ball the whole time," Griffin continued. "So, okay, how do you stop this offense? You can try to cover the receivers, but how many running backs do we have rolling in?"

Well, five rolled in Saturday but three who are barely old enough to vote (Ramonce Taylor, Jamaal Charles, Henry Melton) did most of the damage against what had been the nation's top-ranked rush defense.

"We're just rolling people in," Griffin added. "There's always fresh legs out there. It's kind of a problem. I'm not saying it's impossible. I'm just saying that, looking at it, stopping it would be kind of hard unless you have equally talented defenders and just as much depth that can just go out there and play."

It's just that most of those defenses are playing Sundays. Collegiate teams, as of late, have had to pick their poison against Vince Young and company. This is an offense that has shown it can hit a defense in nearly every way possible.

"We've been pretty complete the last few weeks," TE David Thomas said. "It helps when the defense and the special teams gives you the field position that we've been getting. The offense scores a lot of points when the defense and special teams set you up for good stuff with good field position. It's not like it's all us."

Texas has totaled more than 600 yards for three straight games, averaging 58.3 ppg during that stretch. It's prompted some murmuring that Mack the Nice just might be running up the score against some of the lower lights on the schedule. Texas players take exception to the suggestion.

"It's not our job to stop our offense," said RT Justin Blalock. "Most of the scoring (against Kansas) was done in the first half. I really don't feel you should pull your guys in the first half. Our second team offense was in there (after halftime) about 90 percent of the time."

Added Thomas: "I played one series in the second half. I think the first half you should play and then, if it gets out of hand, you should call off the dogs."

Texas has outscored opponents 299-86 in the first half this season. Meanwhile, the defense has yielded just 30 points in the third quarter all year (with 14 of those coming during garbage time against Kansas).

"I wouldn't say that our offense is unstoppable because that would be like boasting," said SE Limas Sweed, "but we feel very confident. It's not cocky but it's a quiet confidence. We know that when we go out there as an offense, we can move the ball up and down the field and we can score."

Offensive Coordinator Greg Davis got some love Monday from a select panel of coaches for the numbers his team put up against Kansas. The Master Coaches Survey, an advisory poll comprised of 16 former college football coaches (including 10 College Football Hall of Fame members and five national championship winners), named Davis the 'Offensive Coordinator of the Week' after Texas rolled to 617 yards Saturday (tied for No. 9 on the UT all-time list). Voters review all relevant game tapes each week, discuss the teams' performances during a weekly conference call, and then establish a ranking of the Top 25 teams. The results are released first to the media and then to the public on ESPN Classic's "Classic Now" segment on Wednesday evening.

Kansas entered Saturday with the nation's top-ranked rushing defense (64.1 ypg) but Texas' committee of ball carriers ran wild for 336 yards. The Longhorns cruised to a 52-0 halftime advantage, tying the school record for points in a half, en route to a 66-14 victory that clinched the program's fourth Big 12 South title in ten seasons.

"That was probably the best half we've ever put together as far as offense," Thomas said.

In fact, Thomas wasn't even born the last time Texas hung 52 on a team during the first 30 minutes of play. That distinction came back in 1974 against TCU when Texas had both Earl Campbell and Roosevelt Leaks in its backfield.

OPPONENT
CURENT DEFENSIVE RANK
TEXAS' TOTAL OFFENSE

Ohio State
No. 2 run defense (78.7 ypg)
No. 5 total defense (277.3 ypg)
382 (112 rushing, 270 passing)

Colorado
No. 1 run defense (77.0 ypg)
No. 25 total defense (319.1 ypg)
482 (145 rushing, 337 passing)

Kansas
No. 6 run defense (91.3 ypg)
No. 20 total defense (308.2 ypg)
617 (336 rushing, 281 passing)

OU
No. 9 run defense (94.0 ypg)
No. 22 total defense (315.3 ypg)
444 (203 rushing, 241 passing)


Horns Digest Top Stories