Texas downfall traced to defense

AP Photo/Michael Thomas

Mack Brown has watched his team allow 822 rush yards the last 2 games.The Texas Longhorns need a win over the Kansas State Wildcats Saturday night (8 ET on ABC) to avoid a 1-3 start to the season.

Worst 4-Game Starts
Texas Football History

The Longhorns have started 1-3 or worse only three times in more than a century of football.

The last time it happened was 1956, the season before Darrell K Royal took over in Austin.

Texas has struggled in multiple areas this season, but none more than in the run game.

This season, Texas has given up 309 rushing yards per game, third most in FBS and 40 more than any other AQ school. Opponents are averaging six yards per carry against the Longhorns this season, up 1.4 yards per rush from last season.

Texas’ lack of rushing defense was glaring in the Longhorns’ loss to BYU in Week 2 when they allowed a school-record 550 yards on the ground.

Taysom Hill, BYU’s quarterback, ran for 259 yards on 17 carries, eclipsing Adrian Peterson’s 225 yards in 2004 for the most individual rushing yards against the Longhorns in the last 10 seasons. In the days following that loss, Texas dismissed its defensive coordinator, Manny Diaz.

Texas Rush Defense
This Season

The Longhorns’ defensive struggles can be linked to poor tackling. More than 42 percent of their opponents’ rushing yards have come after contact.

Moreover, Texas has missed 37 tackles and opponents have broken 11 additional tackles.

The Longhorns’ combined 48 missed and broken tackles are the second most among all AQ schools, three fewer than Northwestern, and 21 more than any other Big 12 team.

Not only have the Longhorns allowed the most yards after contact by an AQ school, they also allowed the most yards before contact.

Worst Defensive EPA on Rush Plays
Among AQ Schools, This Season

Texas has allowed 50 of its opponents’ 155 runs to gain at least five yards before being contacted, nine more than any other AQ schools.

In the last two weeks, Texas’ EPA on opponent rushing plays was -31.6, worst in FBS. That means that the Longhorns rush defense has contributed to them being outscored by almost 32 points combined against BYU and Ole Miss.