Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Longhorns Need to Focus More on Defense

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Longhorns Need to Focus More on Defense

Article excerpt

John Mackovic might want to shave a few shots off his golf handicap. He may be pining for more pine nut pasta recipes. It's possible the Texas football coach is bent on locating that one chardonnay that has eluded his wine collection.

But here's hoping he places one New Year's resolution above all the rest for 1997: Find a defense.

Penn State never lost its and, consequently, buried Texas 38-15 Wednesday night in the Fiesta Bowl. The Nittany Lions held the Longhorns to a single field goal and 118 yards in the second half. Texas' defense, meanwhile, played the banana peel to the Penn State steamroller, allowing scores on five consecutive possessions after intermission. The defense has been Texas' Achilles' heel, if not the whole leg. This year, Texas yielded 27 or more points in seven games. Penn State gave up that many twice, once to Rose Bowl champion Ohio State. Mackovic should stress improving that side of the ball in his next coaching hire, during recruiting, in spring training, during two-a-days, when he's sleeping. . . . He should make his next defensive coordinator the biggest hire of his career because he has a chance to build something special at Texas, something he hasn't had in his career and something this school hasn't had in 26 years. Something like a national championship. With a nonconference schedule of Rice, Rutgers and UCLA, home games with Colorado and Texas Tech and no date with Nebraska, the Longhorns stand on the brink of an enchanting season in 1997, if Mackovic will recognize that a football team is not 99 percent offense and 1 percent defense. Here's my advice. Hire a proven defensive coordinator from a strong defensive program like Alabama or Michigan or Virginia to replace the departing Gary Darnell - maybe even the Crimson Tide equipment manager. Do not just pay lip service but commit fully and irrevocably to the attacking scheme that is so prevalent in the game and that blue-chippers like Tyler's David Warren love to play. …

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