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Inside the Numbers: The Texas defense on pace for worst season in school history

Todd Orlando’s unit was carved up against Oklahoma, surrendering more than 500 yards for the second time this year.

NCAA Football: Oklahoma at Texas Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

The Red River Showdown was a tough outing for the Texas Longhorns.

The offense started out sluggish while being buoyed by the defense before ultimately generating 24 points in the second half. But by that point, a tired defensive unit unable to come up with a crucial stop late. It seemed as if the Longhorns were out-schemed on both sides of the ball, with Alex Grinch and Lincoln Riley getting the better of Todd Orlando and Tim Beck.

Defense: 511 Total Yards, 7.74 yards per play

After putting together one of the best seasons in school history in 2017, defensive coordinator Todd Orlando’s unit has struggled to get the job done in big games for the second-straight year. The 511-yard performance is the second 500-yard game this defense has allowed this season, granted both came against two quarterbacks likely to get invited to the Heisman Trophy ceremony at the end of the year.

If the season ended today, the Longhorns’ 453.3 yards per game allowed would be the highest average in school history, while the 6.4 yards per play would be the second-worst in school history. Through six games in 2019, the Longhorns have given up 2,770 yards, which if the trend holds would be the worst season total in school history, eclipsing last year’s 14-game total. These season totals will be inflated slightly over the rest of the bottom 10, as last year featured more games than any other season in the bottom 10.

Roschon Johnson: 8 car, 95 yards (11.9 ypc), TD

The Red River Showdown wasn’t all bad for Texas, as freshman running back Roschon Johnson looks like he may be the answer to the Longhorns’ need for consistency in the backfield. His performance against OU gives him 363 yards on the year, enough to make him the team’s leading rusher.

Johnson’s performance against the Sooners makes him the first Longhorn with more than one carry to finish with a more than 10 yards per carry since Toneil Carter carried three times for 34 yards against Kansas in 2017. His 57-yard rush in the third quarter was the longest rush since D’Onta Foreman’s big performance against Texas Tech in 2016. On the year, Johnson is averaging 5.8 yards per carry, good enough for No. 4 in the conference behind Hurts, Darius Anderson, and Chuba Hubbard.

2 turnovers, 0 points

In spite of the yardage allowed, the Texas defense did a great job of turning Hurts over early, which is part of the reason why Texas was still in the game late. The Longhorns are actually one of the top teams in the country in turnover margin, with their +1.4 turnover margin ranking as the best mark of any Texas team in the last decade.

Texas averages 3.75 points per turnover this year, scoring touchdowns following half of their turnovers in 2019, with just one of their scoring drives ending in a field goal.

That being said, Texas’ inability to do that in big games is likely the difference in both of its losses this year. Against both Oklahoma and the LSU Tigers, the Longhorns are scoreless off of turnovers, giving Texas two of its three losses of the Tom Herman era when ending with a positive turnover margin.

Texas needs to make the most of its home game against the Kansas Jayhawks, hopefully getting all three phases of the game squared away at home. Following Saturday’s matchup against the Jayhawks, Texas heads to Fort Worth, Ames, and Waco for three of its next four matchups.