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Texas DC Todd Orlando feels more confident in his secondary vs. OU this season

Despite some struggles at cornerback, the Longhorns aren’t busting any many coverages this season.

Todd Orlando
Wescott Eberts

On Wednesday, Texas Longhorns defensive coordinator Todd Orlando met with the media to wrap up last weekend’s win against the Kansas State Wildcats and look ahead to his second Red River Showdown against the Oklahoma Sooners.

Here are some notes from the availability.

— Orlando called Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray an “exceptional” athlete. He noted that the coaches spent some time on Sunday night discussing the fact that baseball general managers thought there were only eight players who were more talented in the 2018 MLB Draft.

Murray is “starting to get a complete grasp of their system” and doesn’t get enough credit for his arm, according to Orlando. “He can really spin it.” The Texas defensive coordinator thinks that Murray can make all the throws that former Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield used to make.

— The game against Kansas State was one of the first times that Orlando has seen senior cornerback Kris Boyd lose his composure a little bit with his fundamentals. Fellow senior cornerback Davante Davis was “solid,” but got tripped up on his pass interference penalty. Both players have practiced well this week, Orlando said, and he thinks there are more things that he can do to help them on the back end.

— The emphasis defensively in terms of stopping Murray and the talented Sooners receivers is to get numbers to them, because Orlando has a lot of respect for their ability to make people miss in the open field. He thinks a single defender has about a 20-percent chance of tackling those players in one-on-one situations.

“We have to have fanatical effort to get to the football because that’s how they get all their explosive plays — they get guys in one-on-ones and when they make that guy miss, probably 90 percent of the time they do that, the ball is down the sidelines. We’ve got to do a great job of using our speed to get to the football.”

— Texas has used a “decent amount” of the Lightning package this season. Not as much as last season near the end of the year, Orlando said, but that’s mostly because the Horns faced a lot of four-receiver sets, and that’s what the dime package is built to counteract.

— Last season, a late switch route got Mark Andrew free for what ultimately became the game-winning touchdown. This season, Orlando feels much more confident about the defense’s ability to avoid busted coverages on the back end. He cited the example of watching the 2017 Kansas State game last week and cringing at some of the mistakes.

“Collectively, we’ve got a better grasp of the system and I think guys understand a little bit more what’s going on.”

Still, there’s a major emphasis on that particular route combination in practice because the staff knows that the Sooners will run that concept at some point on Saturday.