The Longhorns defense led the Big 12 conference in 2008 in scoring defense by almost a touchdown. Texas averaged giving up 18.8 points per game while the second place Sooners gave up 24.5. And let’s face it, limiting your opponent’s points is the goal on defense. The ‘Horns also led the conference in yards allowed at 342 yards per game. In a league as prolific as the Big 12, that number is amazing considering that ten of the twelve conference teams averaged more than 375 yards per game.
However, this offseason the tone was set from the beginning. Create more turnovers.
Last season’s 16 total turnovers ranked 104th in the Football Bowl Subdivision. It also ranked last in the Big 12.
Coach Mack Brown discussed it heading into the spring camp as an area of focus. “What me, Will and our defense wants are more turnovers. It's just amazing we couldn't get interceptions and the ball would be on the ground and we didn't get on it. It's probably as few turnovers as we've had since we've been here when we played such great defense,” Brown said.
Brown is correct. Sixteen total turnovers is the lowest in his time at Texas. In Brown’s first season, the Longhorns created 21 turnovers, the lowest output before 2008. For the last ten seasons, including last season, the Texas defense averaged forcing 28.3 turnovers per year.
Earlier in camp, senior linebacker Roddrick Muckelroy reiterated the defense’s focus.
Muckelroy said, “The main thing is turnovers. Coach Muschamp preaches to us about forcing turnovers and it’s just one of those things you have to practice.”
Redshirt sophomore Earl Thomas, who dropped several interceptions last season, has spent a lot of the offseason working on ball drills.
“We’re going to try to get as many as we can, as many as we get our hands on. We’ve been working real hard on that in the summer, doing different ball drills and just working on grip and doing everything we can to help this team.”
Last year’s national champion Florida Gators created 35 turnovers. Their opponent in that game, Oklahoma, created 34 turnovers last season. Those totals were both in the top four in the country.
This camp the defense has focused on creating at least three turnovers per practice. And that is the standard for the season as well.
“We preach turnovers everyday. As a defense, it is our goal to get three turnovers a day,” Muckelroy said yesterday as camp nears its conclusion. “We are working on turnovers this year. We are working on getting the ball out. We are working on catching those interceptions. It’s going to be fun.” “
We preach three turnovers a day and we are trying to get three turnovers in a game,” Muckleroy concluded.
If the team meets their goal, that would be 36 turnovers during the regular season. If 36 is reached, the bowl game has a very good chance to be the National Championship Game.
Create more turnovers. Rinse. Repeat.
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