Keys to the Game 9-14

Matt Warden

Nowhere to run and nowhere to hide. This should be the mindset for the Longhorns as they head to Mississippi to try to take the running game away from the Rebels.

Texas has proven that it can stick to the game plan as they shut down the athletes of Wyoming and New Mexico. If the Longhorns want to stay undefeated however, containment will be the key once again.

Contain the Run(ner)

After two successful weeks, the Longhorns will again be faced with a tough dual-threat quarterback who can beat them with his legs, or arm given the opportunity. Texas should know all about sophomore quarterback Bo Wallace, who it gave a solid look in January when Wallace was collecting offers as a potential JUCO transfer. Wallace leads the Rebels in rushing yards this season and looks to be every bit capable of torching any defense that doesn’t stick to their assignments. He has also completed 76 percent of his passes so the defensive unit of the Longhorns will also need to contain his ability to make throws. As a team the Rebels are averaging 238 rushing yards a game, which means Texas should likely take their chances with Wallace’s passing ability. The defensive line needs to plug the running lanes to allow the defensive backs to keep doing work when Wallace is forced to throw the football.

Test the Secondary

The Rebels should prove to be the Longhorns’ biggest test thus far, as their defense will provide the most fight Texas has seen. The Rebels currently rank 44th in the country in points allowed, giving up just over 18 a game through two weeks of football. Despite this solid statistic, 27 points were given up to a non-BCS opponent in Central Arkansas. The defensive unit of Ole Miss is armed with a talented group of defensive backs, but the Longhorns should do their best to test this talent early and often. Freshman safety Trae Elston will be suspended for this game against the Longhorns after a dirty hit in week two against UTEP, which should allow David Ash to feast in his absence. The only way to find out if a defense is legitimate is to test it through the air and see how it responds. Ash should look to put the Rebels up against the ropes by throwing at the defensive backs as often as possible.

Crowd the Line

The Ole Miss offense has a very experienced offense line, with five linemen who each started at least six games last season. They have proven capable of blocking for an offense that currently ranks in the top 50 in passing yards and top 10 in rushing yards through two weeks of this season. It’s already been established that the Longhorns need to contain Bo Wallace, but in order to make a statement they need to pressure the Rebels’ offensive line and make them block on every play. If the defense can stack the line and supply constant pressure, the Ole Miss offensive line will most likely wear down given its run-happy system. To contain Wallace the Longhorns have to penetrate the line with constant pressure. Texas needs to rush often to wear down the offensive line and wreak havoc on Wallace and running backs alike.