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Texas turnover binge has been key to defensive success

NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. -- Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp entered the season with a big goal of improving turnovers.

After seeing the Longhorns struggle last season in taking the ball away from opponents, Muschamp has coached his defense hard on production in that game-changing statistic.

"Coach Muschamp has really emphasized forcing turnovers and how those change games," Texas defensive end Sam Acho said. "We focus in practice and in games on trying to get at least three turnovers in every single game and practice."

Muschamp's work has helped. The Longhorns have nearly reached his goal, producing 35 turnovers in 13 games for an average of 2.7 per game. That total is tied for second nationally with Ohio State, behind only Ohio in the national rankings.

That number is a big jump from last season, when Texas was last in the Big 12 and tied for 104th nationally with an average of 1.2 turnovers per game.

"It's really a testimony to Coach Muschamp as far as what he does as far as emphasizing it and coaching forcing turnovers," Acho said.

Muschamp started the transformation before spring practice, telling his team it needed to make a daily habit of forcing turnovers. The attention to detail has been shown in the team's dramatic improvement.

"One of our main points has been focusing on turnovers and getting them in practice," Texas linebacker Roddrick Muckelroy said. "It just really carried over through the season and this year we've been able to produce them."