Just before TCU sophomore quarterback Max Duggan scored the 26-yard rushing touchdown that would ultimately seal the Horned Frogs’ victory over Texas last Saturday, the Longhorns’ defense spaced out, creating a large hole for Duggan to run through.
The play didn’t go Texas’ way, but Longhorns defensive coordinator Chris Ash said in a Wednesday teleconference that the defense was in the correct alignment pre-snap.
“We had a call that we thought was going to be able to be executed against what they had been doing throughout the game,” Ash said. “And hats off to them, they called a different play, one we had not seen. The way that we were structured, we weren’t able to respond to the play in the way we were hoping.”
Texas’ defense was much improved last weekend after its players’ poor tackling performance against Texas Tech, but Duggan still bested them throughout the game.
The Longhorns will be up against another talented quarterback on Saturday when they play Oklahoma in the annual Red River Rivalry game. Redshirt freshman quarterback Spencer Rattler has made just three starts for the Sooners.
“We saw some of the snaps that he played in last year. … So we have a very, very small sample of plays from last year and then the first three games of this year,” Ash said. “When I look at Spencer, I think he’s a very talented individual. He can throw it, he’s got quick release, he’s got good feet.”
The Texas offense also has work to do before the rivalry matchup this weekend. Senior quarterback Sam Ehlinger said the Longhorns “beat themselves” in the loss to TCU last weekend.
Offensive coordinator Mike Yurcich said the players need to adopt the mindset that what they do on the practice field will translate to games on Saturdays.
“It’s good teamwork, it's taking ownership of the mistakes and overcoming your shortcomings and working on your skills and trying to become the best player, the best coach that you possibly can be,” Yurcich said in a Wednesday teleconference.
Mental errors get in the way of success more than anything else, Yurcich said. Junior running back Keaontay Ingram had one when he fumbled the ball on the TCU 1-yard line in the fourth quarter.
Yurcich said Ingram had a good day at practice Tuesday and has “bounced back just fine.”
“What happened was because of a poor fundamental,” Yurcich said. “We stress the importance of securing the ball, especially when we go towards the goal line … and never reaching it out. So if we focus on the fundamentals and really embrace the fact that (ball security) is what wins games.”
Ball security will be crucial for Yurcich and Ash’s first ever Red River Rivalry matchup. Ash witnessed the Michigan and Ohio State rivalry firsthand when he was on the Buckeyes’ coaching staff, and Yurcich coached at Oklahoma State, Oklahoma’s other rival. Saturday, however, will be a new experience for them both.
“This has always been one of the biggest college football games of the year for myself to watch and follow and (for) college football fans around the nation.” Ash said. “I’m really honored and humbled to be a part of it as a coach and looking forward to it.”