Texas football: How much can the Longhorns realistically improve on defense?
There's not really a way around it, Texas hasn't been good on defense this season.
It wasn't a new problem that flared up in the Cotton Bowl, either. Texas has struggled to slow down every offense it has seen outside of Rice this year.
The Longhorns are currently ranked No. 112 in total defense, surrendering 453 yards per game. They are 74th in scoring defense allowing 27.8 points per game.
While there is plenty of blame to go around (lack of pass rush, injuries in the secondary and schemes putting guys in diffacult positions) there's one glaring problem facing the Longhorns on defense.
Tom Herman and Todd Orlando's teams have been known for being physical and good open-field tacklers in the past, but the Longhorns just aren't getting guys to the ground right now.
The team has been a little light on contact in practice due to a lack of depth, but had no choice to but to ramp up the physicality this week after a particularly poor tackling day in the Cotton Bowl against rival Oklahoma.
"We're going to rep the heck out of it until it gets resolved," Orlando said during his meeting with the media on Wednesday.
While more practice reps should help tackling, this is clearly a problem that was not born overnight and can't be solved with one or two practices.
The Longhorns aren't just showing poor fundamentals, they look like they are thinking rather than racting when they are in the open field. With younger, inexperienced players littered throughout the starting lineup because of injuries, Orlando has been working on simplifying his schemes to let players play faster.
"(We are)stabilizing things right now," Orlando said. "That's the biggest thing that we have to do is just stabilize the guys in their position to go play fast."
The Longhorns do have some good news coming in the near future. Caden Sterns and Jalen Green should both trickle back into the lineup over the next few weeks. DeMarvion Overshown is expected to be at 100 percent and start at safety this week.
There's also the schedule. The team has played the No. 1 (Oklahoma), No. 2 (LSU) and No. 8 (Oklahoma State) teams in the country in total offense already this year.
While there are still some talented offenses left on the slate like TCU (No. 34 in total offense), Baylor (No. 20) and Texas Tech (No. 15), none are quite in as explosive as the teams Texas has already seen.
The pieces are all there for Texas to improve on defense, but just how much will depend on how the guys on the field respond to adversity.