Midseason analysis: Texas

October, 20, 2009
10/20/09
5:52
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Texas Longhorns

Record: 6-0, 3-0 in Big 12 play

The Longhorns have looked impressive, particularly defensively as they make their bid for the BCS title game. The Texas defense has built on Will Muschamp’s concepts in a second season, developing a lethal rush defense that leads the nation and has limited opponents to 29 net yards of rushing over the last four games. Colt McCoy is hitting 70 percent of his passes but has struggled with interceptions, already tossing as many as he threw last season up to the Longhorns’ bowl game. The rushing game appeared showing signs of percolating in the second half against Oklahoma as Fozzy Whittaker emerged as a consistent threat. Mack Brown’s team is in the same position as last season with a 6-0 start. Two potentially troublesome games against Missouri and Oklahoma State loom in the next two weeks that will be their biggest remaining challenges of the season.

Offensive MVP, WR-PR Jordan Shipley: After injuries nearly ended his career after his first two seasons, Shipley has emerged as the top offensive weapon for the Longhorns. Not only is he their most productive receiver with team-best totals of 51 receptions and 605 yards -- including a school-record string of three straight double-digit catches -- but he’s also been a productive special-teams player with two punt returns for touchdowns. While some of the talk about a Heisman has subsided after his four-catch, 22-yard effort against Oklahoma last week, a Biletnikoff Award still could be his with a fast finish.

Defensive MVP, S Earl Thomas: He’s the poster child of Texas’ transformation into a nasty defensive unit in its second season of work with Will Muschamp. Thomas has already produced five interceptions over the last four games, earning a share of the national lead. The Longhorns as a team had six interceptions in 13 games last season. Thomas also has produced 27 tackles (19 solo) and sparked a rally with a 92-yard pass interception return for a touchdown against Colorado. His late interception against Oklahoma last week nailed down the victory. He also has nine passes broken up, giving him 14 passes defensed for the season -- a total that leads the nation.

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