It’s gut check time, Chris Ash.
Texas’ new defensive coordinator came here with a tough-minded reputation and the hope of turning around a run of historically bad defenses.
“His rugby tackling style will plug the holes on that side of the ball and toughen up some talented players seeking new direction.” That was the thought fans had when Tom Herman brought in the former Rutgers head coach who was also the co-defensive coordinator on Ohio State’s 2014 national championship team.
Well, through three games, the results have been more Rutgers than rugby.
Points will be scored in bunches at the Cotton Bowl on Saturday, but Ash has to figure out how to slow down a wounded OU offense. The goal should be to score 15 as a defense, which means reaching that number when adding up the following categories: Sacks, tackles for loss, quarterback hurries and takeaways.
If that doesn’t make sense, here’s a simpler explanation. If Texas finishes with three sacks, five tackles for loss, five hurries and two takeaways, the Longhorns will win this game.
Texas came up with a total of 13 in the 33-31 loss to TCU, by the way.
Ash doesn’t give us much in the way of naming players who have had good practices or even who ran scout team quarterback this week — he declined to tell me in Tuesday’s media availability — and that’s fine if you’re heading a defense that’s making plays and getting stops. That hasn’t been the case so far.
Here’s hoping he goes in to the Cotton Bowl fully intent on reminding Oklahoma quarterback Spencer Rattler that he is a redshirt freshman, sort of like what the 2005 Longhorns did with Rhett Bomar en route to their national championship.
If that happens, the Horns will still be in business for a conference title.