Texas players spoke with the media on Tuesday following practice ahead of the Longhorns’ home game against Kansas State on Saturday night. Here are three notes from Tuesday’s media availability.
Texas gaining confidence on defense
Ever since the 51-41 loss in the season opener against Maryland, a game where the Longhorns’ defense looked virtually unchanged from the past two seasons’ woeful performances, Texas has experienced a revival on defense. Since Maryland, the defense pitched a shutout against San Jose State, held then-No. 4 USC and star quarterback Sam Darnold to just 17 points in regulation and held Iowa State to seven points on the road.
Junior defensive end Charles Omenihu, one of the Longhorns’ many veterans on defense, said on Tuesday that the game has finally started to slow down and that players are more confident.
“We play a lot faster,” Omenihu said. “The game isn’t fast to us anymore. If you practice fast, you’re gonna play fast. That’s always been the motto that coach Orlando has instilled in us, is that you practice how you play.”
Texas not ready to call itself ‘DBU’ again
One of the biggest reasons for the Longhorns’ revamped defense this season has been an improved secondary. Texas is tied for No. 11 in the nation in interceptions, having earned seven such takeaways thus far. The Longhorns are also allowing opposing quarterbacks a 54.9 completion percentage and surrendering 247.8 yards per game through the air.
Junior safety DeShon Elliott has been the anchor on the back end for Texas. He’s collected four interceptions alone in the past two games against USC and Iowa State, returning one of those for a touchdown. Elliott was named Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week following both of those games.
But Elliott isn’t ready to say that Texas is “DBU” again, a term the Longhorns’ secondary has said they need to earn back after lackluster seasons in recent years.
“We have done nothing,” Elliott said. “DBU’s still not here. That’s not for us.”
Dickson shines against Iowa State despite critical error
Junior punter Michael Dickson, a Ray Guy Award finalist in 2016, may be one of the Longhorns’ best players, and he showed why once again on Thursday night in Texas’ 17-7 win over
The Sydney, Australia, native booted four punts over 50 yards against the Cyclones, including two that traveled 61 and 60 yards. But a shanked 17-yard punt late in the third quarter that set up an Iowa State touchdown nearly let the Cyclones back in the game. Despite the win and Dickson being named the Ray Guy Award Punter of the Week, the shanked punt ate at Dickson for a few days following the game.
“Personally, I was kicking myself days after it,” Dickson said. “I feel like I’m just starting to personally get over it now. But punting-wise, it won’t affect me. I want to go out there again and hit the next ball.”