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Longhorns look to fix red zone struggles

Texas was fresh off a performance in the red zone that tasted delicious all the way back to Austin from Los Angeles.

Five trips. Five touchdowns. Longhorns win, 49-20, and move to 3-0.

But since?

The Longhorns have reached opponents' red zones 13 times. They've left with three touchdowns.

"We’d been very, very poor in the red zone [in 2010]," Texas coach Mack Brown said. "It was one of our Achilles’ heels last year and the same this year."

Texas did add four field goals in that stretch, but their scoring percentage (69.23) is ninth in the Big 12 and the 12 touchdowns this season are the fewest in the Big 12.

That's especially troubling for an offense that lacks big-play ability. Texas is No. 8 in the Big 12 in plays longer than 10 yards (85) in the Big 12 and have the second-fewest (9) plays longer than 30 years.

Now, those red zone struggles will be firmly under the microscope during the Longhorns' bye week.

"One of the things for the next two weeks is totally looking at every play we’ve had in the red zone this fall. Why the ones that were successful were. And when we’ve struggled, why?" Brown said.

"And then revamping the plan."

For that reason, the bye week is a timely one for the Longhorns, who are coming off two losses and get a week off before hosting last-place Kansas on Oct. 29.

"I think that’s why in a new offensive scheme and a new defensive scheme, we’re fortunate to have another open date so we can go back and evaluate everything we’ve done in the first six weeks," Brown said.

Saturday's loss wasn't without positives. Texas ran for more than 200 yards, but lost for the first time in 71 games under Mack Brown with that many yards in the rushing column.

The loss to the Cowboys came by 12 points. Texas reached the red zone three times and left with a touchdown once and a field goal on another possession.

"It’s always a combination of things," Brown said of the red zone struggles. "We struggled in the red zone last year, and we have a new offense this year and we’re struggling again."

How far can Texas rebound from last year's 5-7 season? It all starts where the Longhorns finish.