Johnsons two thefts were the sixth and seventh of his career, tying him with Tommy Nobis for second place on Texas all-time list for interceptions by a linebacker (one behind all-time leader Fred Edwards). He is also anchoring a linebacking corps that does not have a timetable for hard-hitting MLB Garnet Smiths return from a leg injury.
"With Garnet being hurt and you dont know whether hell be back or not, (and with redshirt-freshman MLB) Brian Robison being so young and never really having played very much at all, Derricks had to pick up the slack on the inside and (SLB Reed) Boyd on the outside," head coach Mack Brown said. "This is a linebackers game. Youve got to take the isolation (play), youve got to take the quarterback draw, youve got to take the power game and then youve got to get outside on the option game."
And with Kansas States power game and a healthy QB Ell Roberson coming to Austin this weekend, "You better be a war daddy at linebacker this week."
With two physical games on the horizon and with the Tulane game well in hand by midway through the second quarter, coaches opted to limit RB Cedric Bensons participation (86 yards on 18 carries). That, along with RB Selvin Young sidelined with a groin injury, allowed for Robins career night in a Longhorn uniform. The senior contributed 87 yards on 15 totes to garner UTs offensive player of the week recognition.
Robin is not a fast runner but is a "disciplined runner," SE Roy Williams said.
"He has game speed," Williams assessed. "We watched the (Tulane) game films (of Robin) and asked, Where did that come from?"
Robin insists that he is not as slow as people think, adding, "Ive never been caught from behind."
A running play that has been virtually unstoppable for Robin has been the counter draw out of the shotgun formation. Known as "44 Lace", the defense is duped into thinking the RB will be the lead blocker on a sprint out pass. Texas ran the play three times at Rice (once with RB Cedric Benson) and four times against Tulane.
The key is dictating the flow of the linebackers, Robin said. The play resulted in a 21-yard carry, the longest rush of Robins career.
"One linebacker in particular ran himself way out of the play," Robin said. "Once you get them locked in on the quarterbacks or the receivers, the thing that works about it is that its not too fast but its fast enough to get it off before you get penetration. It gives them (linebackers) enough time to get their head of steam going in the wrong direction and once you have that, it makes the lines job easier to block them."
Meanwhile, you wish you could bottle McGees performance and save it for Oklahoma. (The argument here is that if McGee could have kicked the ball into the end zone last year after CB Rod Babers' INT return for TD instead of giving up that 81-yard KO return and subsequent Sooner score just before halftime, Texas wins that game). On Saturday, six of his nine kickoffs went into the end zone, resulting in Special Teams Player of the Week honors. It meant that Tulanes average starting field position was its own 17-yard line. McGee averaged 49 yards on two punts, including dropping one inside the Tulane 8-yard line.