Failure by the numbers: Texas through the non-conference season

Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

The numbers provide some perspective on why the Horns have now suffered two lopsided losses through the first three games.

110 -- National ranking in defensive rush S&P+

A massive difference between the adjusted and unadjusted stats for Texas last year resulted in a defense that viscerally looked and felt terrible finishing in the 30s in FEI and S&P+. And while all the early-season caveats apply to such rankings after three games, the adjusted numbers right now say that the Horns are every bit as bad defensively as they look and feel this season.

926 -- Rushing yards allowed

Only two teams in the country -- UMass and New Mexico State -- have allowed more rushing yards than Texas. At 5.9 yards per attempt for opponents, this edition of the run defense is so far much worse than the unit that *only* gave up 4.6 yards a pop in 2012.

Consider that Alabama only gave up 1,096 rushing through the entirety of last season. This Texas defense? On pace to give up more than 3,700 yards in the regular season. No team since 2007 has given up more than the 3, 322 yards allowed on the ground by Eastern Michigan in 2009.

51 -- Number of plays given up of 10 yards or more

The Longhorns defense has been bending and often breaking in significant chunks -- only nine teams in the country have given up more plays of 10 yards or more so far this season. After allowing 199 such plays in 2012, Texas is on pace to give up 221 this season, a low point only surpassed by five teams last year.

If there's a positive, it's that Texas has only given up 11 plays of 20 or more yards and the 68-yard run by BYU quarterback Taysom Hill is the only play allowed of more than 40 yards from scrimmage. Breakdowns by the defense are resulting in explosive plays being given up, but the massive breakdowns that happened last year like the long touchdown passes allowed early to Wyoming and Ole Miss haven't been happening.

In fact, the pass defense has been another relative positive, all things considered -- the two catches by BYU's Cody Hoffman that went for just over 30 yards are so far the only such plays given up through three games.

Of course, Texas can't stop the run and has been getting behind in games, so that provides a large part of the explanation. As well as the fact that Hill and New Mexico State's Andrew McDonald aren't exactly top-flight passers of the football, either.

So...yeah.

19 -- Tackles for loss allowed

Last season, the Texas offensive line showed dramatic improvement in one major area -- limiting negative plays. While the group still struggled against the competent defensive lines it faced, the plays that resulted in the Horns ended up behind the chains in 2011 turned into short gains in 2012 as the team ranked tied for 6th nationally after allowing 52 total tackles for loss.

At the current rate, the Longhorns would finish with 82.3 tackles for loss allowed, which would have been bad enough last year to rank in the 90s.

Ladies and gentlemen, the nation's most experienced offensive line, which has somehow regressed despite returning every significant contributor!

10 -- Tackles for loss

Despite the general incompetency of the defense in 2012, one thing it did well was create negative plays, both sacks and turnovers, in part because of the often high-risk nature of the Manny Diaz scheme. The losses of Alex Okafor and Ashton Dorsey have probably hurt, but Malcom Brown hasn't improved as expected and Jackson Jeffcoat has yet to start making plays at a high rate. The other defensive tackles haven't shown much improvement yet, either, and Reggie Wilson is still mostly a non-factor.

The fact that the Horns can't stop the run has impacted the sack rate, but Texas is losing in the trenches and the defensive line needs to make more plays to put opponents in the type of long down-and-distance situations that will allow the team to start registering some sacks.

A lot of this falls on the linebackers, too -- ultimately it doesn't matter which part of the front seven starts making plays, but it has to be someone, and soon.

6 -- Turnovers gained

After forcing three turnovers against New Mexico State and two against BYU, Texas managed to force only one against Ole Miss and that was more lucky than good, as the ball simply squirted out of Rebel quarterback Bo Wallace's hand.

Overall, though, turnover margin hasn't been a strong indicator of the issues the team is experiencing, but one thing that is happening is that the defense isn't forcing turnovers in favorable position for the offense. The two interceptions for Texas both occurred in their own territory and neither one resulted in any return yards, while the story has been much the same for the fumbles -- there haven't been any game-changing plays from the defense.

Not behind the line of scrimmage and not in areas of the field that makes things easy for the offense to put points on the board.

34.9% -- Third-down conversion rate

Often as a direct result of the negative plays that opponents are perpetuating on the Texas offense, the Horns are struggling to sustain drives, nowhere more evident than in the second half against Ole Miss, when the first four drives resulted in punts and the last three featured only three plays apiece.

TCU was bad on third downs last season, especially when Trevone Boykin was starting at quarterback, but the Horns have been even worse than the Horned Frogs, sitting 93 in the nation in that category after converting only four of 15 opportunities in the loss to the Rebels.

7 -- Trips to the red zone

Another massive area of improvement in 2012 was converting touchdowns in the red zone, but the 2013 season hasn't featured many trips deep into opponent territory -- of the 13 touchdowns, only four have come from inside 20 yards.

While that speaks highly of the explosiveness of the Texas offense in the early going, especially against New Mexico State, when combined with the third-down conversion rate, the lack of red zone trips indicates that this offense is struggling mightily to sustain drives and is highly reliant on explosive plays to score points.

And with Case McCoy as the quarterback, those explosive plays are extremely difficult to come by through the air.

Yeah, and missing Daje Johnson for two games hurts a heckuva lot, too.

16 -- Missed blocks for Dom Espinosa

The Texas center was considered the weak link on the offensive line coming into the season, though Mason Walters leaving the field in fall camp when Desmond Harrison entered the lineup for reps indicated that position coach Stacy Searels wasn't especially high on the former five-star prospect.

Effectiveness in space against smaller defenders is still the greatest asset for Espinosa, the Cedar Park product. Winning at the point of attack is not yet an asset and probably never will be at this point after the starter has missed 11 run blocks through the first three games, the highest number among the offensive linemen.

1-6 -- The Texas record in games Case McCoy has attempted more than 15 passes

If David Ash can't play on Saturday, the odds of winning once again decrease significantly, even if McCoy can continue to avoid turnovers as he did against Ole Miss.

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