There are two things even a blind Tibetan monk can tell you about Texas football going into 2013: the offense will be much faster than its previous versions, and last year's defense was really, really bad. In the correlation-causation back-and-forth that is the game of football, head coach Mack Brown thinks accomplishing the first task will help fix the second issue.
First, a little background. A year removed from leading the Big 12 in total defense, rushing defense, pass efficiency defense and finishing second in scoring defense, the Longhorns fielded the statisically the worst defense in school history. The rush defense dropped from No. 5 to No. 88 nationally. Pass efficiency defense fell from No. 11 to No. 64. Opposing offenses averaged 404.1 yards per game and scored 31 points or more six times.
On the other side of the ball, Texas was out for a Sunday afternoon drive in a NASCAR league. The Longhorns snapped the ball 891 times in 13 games, more than 100 below Baylor, Oklahoma State, West Virginia, Oklahoma and Texas Tech. Five teams who, in addition to running more plays, also gained more yards, more yards per play and scored more points than Texas.
Now Bryan Harsin and his three-players-in-motion-before-every-snap offense has gone to Arkansas State, and new offensive coordinator Major Applewhite wants Texas to be more like its colleagues. Brown believes, in turn, that will be the best thing possible to fix a leaky defense.
The thought in Austin that facing an up-tempo offense during the week will help the defense improve on Saturdays. "They didn't just get stupid," Brown said.
"Playing against us last season, all during the week they would see shift and motion, shift and motion, power game, shots, and then they go in the game and all of a sudden it's spread out, it's spacing, it's having to read and react quicker," echoed quarterback David Ash. "It wasn't fair to them having to play this kind of slow, methodical system and then all of a sudden having to go into a game and it's a lot faster."
Texas (unofficially) snapped the ball every nine seconds during its spring game, and Brown would like them to be even faster come fall. "We'd like to have in the 80's, if we could, in number of plays per game," said Brown, up from 68.5 snaps per game in 2012.
"When you're happy to win a game 56-50, things have changed," Brown said. "(An up-tempo offense) really limits the packages that you can have, and it limits the calls that you can have."
In a conference where 35 points per game only qualifies as average, Brown has learned that your best, and sometimes only, defense is a good offense.