Texas will be challenged to stop Huskers' Lord

Updated: October 30, 2003, 4:38 PM ET

AUSTIN -- Texas knows exactly what Nebraska will do. The No. 12 Cornhuskers will run, run and run some more behind quarterback Jammal Lord on Saturday.

That could be bad, bad, bad for the 16th-ranked Longhorns, who have given up huge chunks of yardage this season on the ground.

"I've been disappointed with the run defense," said Texas coach MackBrown.

It's easy to see why.

The Longhorns (6-2, 3-1 Big 12) are giving up an average of 166.2 yards rushing, an effort that ranks a pedestrian 76th nationally and would stand as the team's worst rushing defense sinceBrown took over at Texas in 1998.

It's a far cry from 2001, when the Longhorns had the top-ranked defense in the country and gave up just 89.5 yards on the ground.

New Mexico State, Arkansas and Kansas State all have run for more than 200 yards on Texas this season. Throw in Oklahoma's drive to open the second half of the Sooners' 65-13 rout -- when the Sooners all but rammed the ball down the Longhorns' throats -- and it's clear Texas faces a big challenge against a potent Nebraska rushing attack which averages 259.1 yards.

"If we don't stop the run,"Brown said. "We'll get beat."

How to stop Nebraska (7-1, 3-1) and Lord is the question. While the Longhorns believe they have the speed to neutralize an option attack that takes the ball from sideline to sideline, Texas sometimes gets pushed around in the middle of the field.

"Understand they have very good team speed," said Nebraska coach Frank Solich. "You are not just going to make a living on the option game. We are going to have to really make things work in terms of the power game."

A big push from the defensive line can disrupt everything, said Texas defensive tackle Rod Wright.

"Penetration is the key," Wright said. "You want to get the offensive line in the backfield."

Another key will be the play of the defensive ends, where Texas will probably start sophomore Mike Williams and freshman Tim Crowder, who have combined for 16 tackles this season. Williams also returned a fumble 33 yards for a touchdown in last week's 56-0 win over Baylor.

"It excites me for the future,"Brown said of his young defensive ends. "It scares me for Saturday."

The Longhorns say they have a healthy respect for Lord, who ran for 234 yards on 23 carries in Texas' 27-24 win last season. Lord also burned them for two touchdown passes, including a 60-yard strike to Matt Herian off a play fake in the fourth quarter.

"They don't throw many passes,"Brown said. "But when they do, they're usually wide open."

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index