Discussion

Top 25 Intel: No. 2 Texas

In Colt's final season, the Longhorns finally seem to have all the pieces in place

Originally Published: July 2, 2009
By Chris Sprow | ESPN The Magazine

The rumors aren't true.

When Sony Pictures felt forced to scrap the filming of "Moneyball" last month, it wasn't because Texas Longhorns' defensive coordinator Will Muschamp wouldn't star in the football-focused sequel. He is not the Billy Beane of Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. Not yet, anyway.

"I've said this before -- stats are for losers. That's a way to justify what you're doing and how you're doing it," Muschamp says. The head coach designate at Texas isn't done. "We finished top 5 in the country in rushing defense, but we didn't really face anybody who ran the ball."

Muschamp is exaggerating -- Oklahoma had 46 yards on 28 carries against Texas in a season in which it averaged 200 per game -- but he's a devout believer in the this truth: The Big 12 Theory of Defensive Relativity exists. Consider that the Longhorns' 343 yards allowed per game was first in the conference -- and 51st in the nation.

But consider what Muschamp deals with in this conference, a place that Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy says is offensive innovation in motion. Looking for traditionally good defensive numbers in the Big 12 is like looking for Sooners fans at Iron Works. "The hardest thing for defensive coaches nowadays is week-to-week, you face a different animal. You face a West Coast [offense] team, a vertical stretch team, a two-back power team, a spread team, an empty team," Muschamp says. "And on defense, in one week you're squeezing your tackle because he blocks down in a Veer option running team, and the next week you're facing a team that's throwing the ball all over the place. So your mindset's gotta change week to week. You have three or four days to get ready for an offense they've been repping for 365 days."

To read the rest of this report on Texas, including a breakdown of what to expect from Colt McCoy and why Jordan Shipley is completely ready to be "the man," you must be an ESPN Insider. Insider

MORE COLLEGE FOOTBALL HEADLINES