Diaz’s unit could be worst in school history

Hank South

Bad defense isn’t commonly synonymous with Texas football. In fact, over the past three seasons the Longhorns have finished no worse than No. 11 in total defense, including a No. 3 finish in 2009, when Texas gave up a mere 252 yards per game.

Coming into the 2012 season, hefty expectations were placed upon defensive coordinator Manny Diaz’s unit, which returned seven starters from 2011. Thus far, the Longhorns defense ranks No. 102 in total defense, allowing 449.7 yards per game. Texas State, Buffalo and Middle Tennessee are just a few teams that rank ahead of Texas in the category.

In August, head coach Mack Brown touted the defense as potentially one of his best ever, but so far, it is on pace to be one of the worst, not just in Brown’s tenure, but in Longhorn history. Let’s take a look at the stats of struggling Texas defenses in seasons past.

The 1993 Texas defense ranks first all-time in total yards allowed per game, giving up 401.2 per contest. The same year, the Longhorns allowed 6.65 yards per play, the most ever. Currently, Texas is giving up 6.40. The Longhorns finished the 1993 season with a 5-5-1 record, including a 38-17 loss to Oklahoma. 

In 1956, the Longhorns gave up 302.1 yards per game and 5.52 yards a carry on the ground — the most ever. Currently, the Texas defense is allowing 209.2 per match (106th nationally) and 5.1 yards a carry, third and second most ever respectively; it’s not the worst, but pretty close.

Apart from Wyoming, almost every team has had a running back that has gashed the Longhorns.

“Right now we have no confidence in our run defense,” defensive end Alex Okafor said.

With defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat out for the rest of the season with a pectoral injury, Texas will have to rely on reserves to bandage the rushing defense’s vulnerability.

In 2007, the Longhorns set the record for most pass yards allowed per game at 277.8. After last Saturday, Texas is giving up 240.5 yards per contest, (77th nationally) the third worst ever.

However, the Longhorns are giving up 13.9 yards a catch, which is on pace to set a Texas record. The Texas defense is currently tied with the 2007 defense in highest completion percentage given up at 61 percent, and currently sits at second all-time in points allowed per game (32.5), behind the 1997 defense (33.3). These are numbers no fan likes to hear, with the potent offenses of Baylor, Texas Tech, TCU and Kansas State remaining on the schedule.

Through six games the Texas defense is in position to rank itself as one of the worst, if not the worst, in program history, a polar opposite of the preseason expectations. However, if any team has an opportunity to completely turn its season around, it’s Texas. The Longhorns’ remaining schedule creates the possibility to rebound from the past two weeks, but the team has to start with defense. There is a reason the SEC holds the past six national titles; defense wins championships.