OU defense presents stiff test for Texas

A banged up Texas football team will head to Dallas this weekend with the unenviable task of trying to find a way to put up points against the 12th-ranked Oklahoma Sooners.

It won’t be easy.

Texas (3-2, 2-0 in Big 12), which will once again start backup quarterback Case McCoy because of the head injury to David Ash,  faces an OU defense that leads the Big 12 in scoring defense, total defense and passing defense.

“They’re playing great defense right now,” said Texas head coach Mack Brown, whose team has dropped three straight to the Sooners. “They’re No. 9 (in total defense) in the country. They play tight man coverage. They’re stopping the run completely. They’re only giving up 280 yards per game.”

The strengths of the Oklahoma (5-0, 2-0) defense could make for a long day for the Longhorns. While the UT passing game has sputtered in part because of the Ash injury, the running game has been solid. The Longhorns are averaging 192.2 yards per game, which is third in the Big 12. Of course they haven’t faced the Sooners yet. Oklahoma is allowing just over 113 yards per game.

Texas has to be able to establish its running game behind Johnathan Gray, Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron to take some of the pressure off McCoy.

McCoy, a senior, was tabbed to start this game last week because Ash is still recovering from a head injury suffered against Mississippi. McCoy led the Longhorns on a late scoring drive to beat Iowa State 31-30 last week.

He also has some experience in the Red River Rivalry. He threw for 102 yards and two touchdowns in mop-up duty last year in Oklahoma’s 63-21 romp. He also threw for 116 yards in the 2011, a 55-17 Oklahoma win.

“He (McCoy) did a very good job, especially on that last drive Thursday night to bring us back for the win,” Brown said. “He’s been around this (Texas-OU) a lot. We’re excited about seeing what he can do as a starter.”

As good as OU has been, Brown said the Longhorns have to focus on what they need to do to be successful and not worry too much about the obstacles the Sooners will bring to the game.

“We’ve got to continue to get better,” Brown said. “We’ve got to get better at linebacker. We’ve got to stop the run better. We’ve got to be more consistent, more balanced on offense. We weren’t that way last week. We’ve got a lot to fix.”