Third-And-Wrong

What's up with Texas in the third quarter this year?

Unlike previous seasons where Texas played relatively evenly with opponents in the first 30 minutes and blew past them in the second half, the 2002 Longhorns are basically getting shut out in the third quarter after jumping out to half time leads. The Horns have not scored a single, third-quarter offensive touchdown against North Texas, Houston, or Oklahoma and manufactured just one against Tulane, OSU and North Carolina.

It finally came back to haunt them.

On Saturday, the defense came up with two third quarter interceptions that resulted in two offensive drives that combined for negative four yards and one Dusty Mangum field goal. That, and Texas' inability to convert on third-downs in the second half, was the difference in the ball game, head coach Mack Brown said Sunday.

"We felt like we moved the ball as well as we had been," Brown said. "We just didn't do it consistently. It wasn't the scheme as much as we needed to stay on the field and convert third downs."

In non-conference games, one might conclude that a Texas team with double-digit halftime leads lost focus and intensity in the locker room. In Big 12 action, however, UT is being outplayed, out-bullied and perhaps out-schemed in the critical period after intermission.

Texas has posted a total of 31 third quarter points through six games (a stat that is helped by special teams scoring against Tulane). An average of little more than five points in each opening period following intermission is hardly indicative of the killer instinct that puts teams away that Brown says he expects of this squad.

Brown pointed to a missed block on a defensive end, a dropped pass, QB Chris Simms' interception, poor field position and the wind for Texas' third quarter breakdown Saturday. On the day, Texas was three-of-13 in third-down conversions. It didn't make any in the third quarter.


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