Two for the Show

It has the Heisman front runner directing its point-a-minute offense. It has the nation's second-best run defense and fourth-best sack attack. It has the nation's No. 1 ranking. Is there anything that can keep Texas from running the table? A couple of things as a matter of fact, coach Mack Brown said Wednesday.

In short: the kicking game and take-aways.

"We weren't consistent (in the kicking game) last week (against Missouri)", Brown said, "and Oklahoma State has been the best kicking team in the league, year-in and year-out. (KR/WR) Dez Bryant can beat you every time he touches the ball. The way we handled our kickoffs last week was bad. I'm really concerned about that. And, for whatever reason, we have not blocked a punt in a while and we haven't returned a punt. We've had one really good kickoff return (Jordan Shipley's 96-yard TD return against Oklahoma), but the others have just been okay."

Missouri had 139 return yards Saturday, starting with Jeremy Maclin's 52-yard return just before halftime. It lead to a 33-yard FG but, more important, swung the momentum to the Missouri sideline at intermission. The Tigers responded by forcing Texas' first punt of the evening before scoring on their opening drive of the third quarter. Meanwhile, Oklahoma State's punt return team is No. 2 nationally (22.0 ypr) and is No. 4 in net punting (41.3 yard average). The Cowboys kickoff return team checks in at No. 17 this week (24.5 ypr)

Overall, Texas ranks No. 99 nationally in kickoff return defense by allowing 23.4 yards-per-return. The Horns also rank No. 96 in punt returns (6.0 ypr) and a pedestrian No. 50 in punt return defense (7.25 ypr). The flipside is Texas is No. 8 nationally in punting (averaging 39.78 yards) and No. 7 in kickoff returns (25.8 ypr).

"We have got to do a better job in the kicking game across the board to continue to win like we have," Brown added.

Texas has done a fine job of protecting the football: QB Colt McCoy has just three INTs on the year while no RB has committed a turnover. Yet, Texas' resurgent defense has yet to produce the number of turnovers that Brown expects from the unit.

"We're getting our hands on some footballs but not getting turnovers," Brown said. "We have really protected the ball well, but we're not getting the turnovers we need to continue to win all the games. When we get our hands on the ball, we have to intercept the ball. We had three balls on the ground at Oklahoma, but they beat us to it. We have got to get the balls that are on the ground."

Kickoff against No. 7/8 Oklahoma State is set for 2:30 p.m. (Central). It marks the third straight week that a Texas game has been televised on ABC Sports; it is the first time this season an Oklahoma State game has been featured on the network.


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