|Muschamp brings blood and fire to UT defense|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 06 October 2008 11:38|
The love affair began with the blood.
It's taken five games for Muschamp to go from just the latest Texas defensive coordinator - the fifth in six years - to cult hero among Longhorns fans mesmerized by the way he walks, talks, yells ... and bleeds. His defense looks good too.
The No. 5 Longhorns (5-0, 1-0 Big 12) are rated No. 6 nationally in scoring defense going into Saturday's game against No. 1 Oklahoma (5-0, 1-0) in Dallas and vastly improved over last year.
``Stats are for losers,'' Muschamp said after Texas whipped Colorado 38-14. ``I like winning games.''
Bravado like that has pleased has pleased Texas fans who watched opponents pile up yards and points in bunches last season.
of the top defenses in the country.
For all of that, Muschamp was perhaps best known to Texas fans as the coach caught on video swearing and whooping it up with Auburn players after a big play in a clip that became a YouTube sensation.
Texas coach Mack Brown hired Muschamp to rescue his sagging defense, paying him $425,000 a year, although it's widely expected he'll soon be offered a head coaching job somewhere.
Muschamp's first decree was that he'd put the best 11 players on the field regardless of seniority and experience. And then came the blood.
In Texas' first game against Florida Atlantic, Owls coach Howard Schnellenberger had riled things up by suggesting the Longhorns weren't very tough.
Things were still close in the first quarter when Muschamp, upset by a broken assignment in pass coverage, apparently ripped off his headset with such a violent motion that part of it tore open a cut on his left cheek. A long line of blood dripped to his chin. Muschamp ignored the distraction and kept on coaching. Photographs of the bloody scene quickly hit the Internet.
``The man is fiery,'' said defensive end Brian Orakpo, who leads the Longhorns with seven of their 19 sacks. ``He acted like it wasn't even there. He kept coaching, even with blood all over his face.''
Muschamp wasn't wearing a helmet and got the worst of the contact.
When he's not bleeding, Muschamp prowls on the sidelines, yelling at bad plays and chest bumping and head slapping players after good ones.
``That's just me,'' Muschamp said. ``I can't change who I am. I enjoy being in the arena.''
Off the field, he can look bookish and boyish behind his eyeglasses and hairstyle that sort of parts on the right side of his head. He sets up camp in the film room to study opponents and Brown joked that Muschamp may sleep there this week.
``Whatever it takes to win,'' Muschamp said with an impish grin.
The defense has delivered what the Longhorns needed the first five games. Texas has surrendered just five touchdowns, the line has become a dominant unit and the secondary has held up despite starting freshmen Blake Gideon and Earl Thomas at safety.
``Watching them play, you can tell that the effort's there, you can tell they're disciplined in what their responsibilities are and they mix things up well,'' Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. ``Will has definitely had an impact there. It's obvious.''
But Texas' hasn't played a team like Oklahoma. The Sooners are trouncing opponents with a fast, no-huddle offense that is piling up points in a hurry.
cored opponents 168-30 in the first half and quarterback Sam Bradford is sure to test the young Texas safeties from the start.
The secondary remains' Texas soft spot. The Longhorns may not give up many points, but they still give up a lot of yards and rank No. 96 in pass defense with only two interceptions. Muschamp insists he only cares about points.
Saturday's Texas-OU game will be Muschamp's first and the emotions surrounding the rivalry could spark some real fireworks. Muschamp beat the Sooners for the 2003 BCS championship when he was with LSU, but that Sugar Bowl was played before what most would consider a home crowd for the Tigers.
The Texas-Oklahoma rivalry tends to turn the Cotton Bowl into a swirling cauldron of emotions and things can get pretty nasty with 92,000 fans split down the middle at the 50-yard line.
``At first, we weren't used to him,'' Orakpo said. ``But he's the first person out there chest-bumping, slapping helmets. We love it.''