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Texas DC Todd Orlando takes responsibility for defensive struggles

Fixing the issues requiring stopping the run game first and foremost.

Todd Orlando
Wescott Eberts

Texas Longhorns defensive coordinator Todd Orlando knows that he has to do a better job of coaching after two weeks of struggles, especially against opposing running game.

“We got to work like crazy to get this right,” Orlando said on Wednesday. ”If Tech’s watching us on film right now, there’s no doubt that they’re gonna say we’re gonna run the football versus these guys. I mean, it’s on film. That’s the hard part for me to swallow.”

Texas began struggling to stop outside zone against Oklahoma State and ultimately allowed 51 rushing attempts and two touchdowns to the Cowboys.

So West Virginia kept running outside zone until Orlando responded by widening the alignment of his defenders and simplifying his call sheet. Dana Holgorsen countered by running inside zone and a stick-draw concept that caused some problems by the Longhorns. The Mountaineers finished the game with 232 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns on seven yards per carry.

“The main thing for us right now is our inability to stop the run,” Orlando said. “I look at that, and I say that is my job, the coaching part of it to be gap sound, the physicality. When you look at the last two weeks, and you say to yourself what is happening here, in the past we made people one dimensional. When you don’t make people one dimensional, and they can run the football, it opens up everything else.”

When I asked Orlando about using four down linemen, he said that he thinks he can fix the issues — it’s about fundamentals and technique. In other words, what’s happened the last several weeks hasn’t amounted to scheme failures.

With Orlando intent on using the nickel package more often with junior B-backer Jeffrey McCulloch on the field instead of freshman safety BJ Foster as the Joker in the Lightning package, McCulloch’s bigger body will be a presence on the line of scrimmage.

Last season, Orlando at times used Naashon Hughes in a three-point stance, but McCulloch is less comfortable in that regard, so don’t expect to see four down linemen with their hands in the artificial turf of Jones AT&T Stadium on Saturday.

The Texas Tech rushing attack is a little bit better than average and will receive a boost from likely starter Jett Duffey, but it’s not particularly explosive or efficient, so Texas will have an opportunity to turn in an improved performance.

Assuming that the Longhorns defense can play with improved technique and fundamentals.