|Orakpo a sack machine for No. 1 Texas|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 15 October 2008 11:07|
But even he knows enough not to mess with 'Rak.
``No way,'' he said. ``Not with 'Rak.'''
That would be Texas teammate Brian Orakpo, the 6-4, 260-pound defensive end who is tied for second nationally with eight sacks, has been a dominant force in the Longhorns' rise to No. 1 and benches 515 pounds.
Orakpo and Houston spent much of last summer working up a sweat boxing in an Austin gym, using jabs, uppercuts, haymakers and defensive moves to improve hand-eye coordination and their ability to shed blockers.
``Boxing really helped,'' Orakpo said. ``When I first started I didn't know how hard boxing was. Street fighting and boxing are two different things.''
But all of that work was spent on big and small punching bags. The two never considered stepping inside the ropes for a few rounds of live punches.
``Nope,'' Houston said. ``Orakpo is a big, strong guy.''
great expectations Texas (6-0, 2-0 Big 12) had for him at the start of last season.
``We thought last year he could be one of the best pass rushers we ever had,'' coach Mack Brown said. ``Then he got hurt.''
It was a high-low block - someone blocked him high while another guy chopped at his knees - in the first game against Arkansas State in 2007 that knocked him of out the next four games. He would finish with 5 1/2 sacks last year but felt cheated out of what could have been a dominant year.
``That first game (out) was the first time I had sat in the crowd in so long. It was devastating,'' Orakpo said of the block he considers a cheap shot. ``I'm a man on a mission. I want to make up for lost time.''
It took some time for the entire defense to get used to new coordinator Will Muschamp. He is Texas' fifth coordinator in the last six years and the Longhorns had just two sacks in the first two games.
The floodgates finally opened against Rice and the Longhorns have dumped opposing quarterbacks 20 times over the time four.
``That's what we want to do, to take over the game up front and that's our mentality. That's the way we work,'' defensive tackle Roy Miller said.
The defensive line and linebackers have made a competition out of getting sacks and tackles for loss. No one has been able to keep up with Orakpo.
``You've got to get in there or else it's the O-sack-po show,'' Miller said.
Texas' next opponent, No. 11 Missouri (5-1, 1-1), has taken notice.
``He's a freak. That's all you can say,'' Tigers quarterback Chase Daniel said. ``We're going to have to be firm up front and I've got to stand in the pocket knowing I'm going to get hit.''
Daniel has been sacked only four times this season but two came in last week's loss to No. 8 Oklahoma State.
Orakpo got to Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford twice in Texas' 45-35 win. Showing his speed as well as his power, Orakpo lined up way outside of the Sooners' best offensive lineman, 6-foot-8, 337-pound tackle Phil Loadholt.
Muschamp had worked with Orakpo to develop a ``speed to power'' move in which he looks like he's trying to go around a blocker with a quick move, only to smash into him. That's where the 515-pound bench press and 600-pound squat can overwhelm an opponent.
Orakpo had met Loadholt over the summer at the Playboy All-American weekend and was stunned by his size when they hung out at the pool.
On the field, Loadholt struggled to match Orakpo's speed, and even when he could, Orakpo would be at full speed for the collision.
Orakpo's ability to pressure Daniel could make a huge difference Saturday night. While the Longhorns have been racking up sacks, the secondary is still giving up a lot of yards and touchdowns.
Bradford passed for 387 yards and five touchdowns against the Longhorns last week and Texas ranks No. 109 against the pass. That's the same spot where they finished last season, prompting Brown to hire Muschamp.
Daniel is considered one of the top quarterbacks in the country and could put up similar numbers if the game turns into another shootout. Orakpo believes Texas can withstand another pass-happy offense.
``People said OU was an NFL team playing in college,'' Orakpo said, ``and we were able to handle that.''