What Houston's arrest means for Texas

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Mack Brown will have a difficult decision deciding what kind of punishment to hand out after starting DT Lamarr Houston's arrest early Sunday morning.

Houston was charged with drunken driving after he was involved in a two-car accident in Austin in the wee hours of Sunday morning -- only a short time after he started in the Longhorns' impressive 52-10 victory over Florida Atlantic on Saturday.

Houston's important role on the team will test Brown's intention of "zero tolerance" around his program after six Longhorn players were arrested in a four-month period last summer.

Since then, Brown has placed former running backs coach Ken Rucker in the role of director of high school relations and player development. His major aim has been to keep the Longhorns out of off-field trouble, and he's been successful so far with no arrests since the spree last summer before Saturday night.

Among those arrested last summer included linebacker Sergio Kindle and defensive end Henry Melton, who were both arrested on drunken driving charges. Both were suspended for the first three games of the 2007 season before they were reinstated.

A three-game penalty would idle Houston for the rest of the Longhorns' nonconference games. It would bench him from this week's game against UTEP and upcoming games against Arkansas and Rice, but have him back for the Longhorns' Oct. 4 conference opener at Colorado.

Houston's role is vitally important for a Longhorns team that desperately needs a pass rush to help protect a young secondary starting freshmen safeties Blake Gideon and Earl Thomas. The safeties had an uneven first game, missing several tackles and allowing FAU QB Rusty Smith to torch them for 151 passing yards in the first quarter.

Texas allowed 102 yards in the air during the rest of the game. The defensive improvement was particularly noticeable in the second half when the Longhorns allowed the Owls to produce only 53 total yards on 26 snaps.

If Houston can't play, his likely replacement would be Aaron Lewis, a senior who appeared in 11 games and started seven at defensive end last season.

The move of Lewis and Houston, also a converted defensive end, was made by new Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp to boost the speed and athleticism of the interior of the Longhorns' defensive front. The Longhorns failed to notch a sack against Smith Saturday night.

And with challenges with strong-armed quarterbacks like UTEP's Trevor Vittatoe, Arkansas' Casey Dick and Rice's Chase Clement looming, the young secondary could be tested in upcoming weeks without a consistent pass rush.