Each day, as a countdown to fall camp opening Aug. 2, we are going to provide you with a number that was important in 2011 and let you know why it will be important in 2012.
Texas’ defense will be better in 2012.
More speed. Better depth. Higher quality athletes. More experience.
But will the stats be any better?
Inside the number
The Longhorns allowed just 22 points per game last season. They were No. 11 nationally. They had a shutout. They were No. 6 nationally in rushing defense. They didn’t allow a touchdown pass of more than 20 yards until the final week of the regular season. And in the bowl game, Cal had 7 net rushing yards and only 195 total yards.
So statistically can Texas get better than that?
Where it counts in 2012
Out of all the stats, the one that will truly gauge the quality of the Texas defense is going to be scoring defense. Twenty-two points per game is not bad. It was 33rd nationally in 2011. Alabama led the nation with 8.8 points against. No Big 12 team was in the top 30. That’s because the Big 12 featured pro quarterbacks and wide receivers all over the place last season.
The three games in which Texas allowed more than 30 points were against Oklahoma State (No. 5 pick Justin Blackmon and No. 22 Brandon Weeden), Baylor (No. 2 pick Robert Griffin III and No. 20 Kendall Wright) and Oklahoma (Landry Jones, a probable first-round pick in 2013).
All those players, save Jones, are gone. West Virginia does bring in Geno Smith, but the Mountaineers do not have the size or depth on the offensive line that many Big 12 teams have.
So the fact that there could be a talent drop-off, however slight, in the skill positions should bode well for Texas lowering its scoring defense.
Also in the Longhorns’ favor maturity is on the offense. Of the 141 combined points scored against Texas vs. OU, OSU and Baylor, 65 of those points were scored off turnovers. (That’s five points off the season per-game average of 22 right there.) Twenty-one of those points were scored by the opponents’ defense, not the offense. Another seven came via special teams.