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Texas really got its wish
Jack McCallum
September 26, 1983
Auburn's wishbone set was picked clean by the Longhorns' defense
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September 26, 1983

Texas Really Got Its Wish

Auburn's wishbone set was picked clean by the Longhorns' defense

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A flashy punt returner with the incredibly apropos name of Jitter Fields played a big part in the Longhorns' next score. Jitter's grandmother gave him his nickname, but he can't remember why; at any rate, no one calls him by his real name of Alfred anymore. Fields, who also plays cornerback, had most recently made an impression on Texas football fans last year against SMU when a pass bounced off him and fell into the arms of Mustang Wide Receiver Bobby Leach, who raced for a 79-yard touchdown that helped SMU to a 30-17 victory. "That play made me want to get my act together," says Fields. He has apparently succeeded. His 66-yard punt return led to Jeff Ward's 37-yard field goal and a 10-0 lead near the end of the first quarter.

Then the Texas defense took over. Weak Safety Jerry Gray made a stunning one-handed interception of a Campbell bomb at the Texas 10-yard line. "Frankly, I couldn't believe it myself," said Gray, who may be Texas' best defensive player. The interception spoke volumes about Texas' scheme on D. Its approach is a gambling, challenging one that includes a lot of bump-and-run and man-to-man pass coverage. On the interception, Woods just ran by Cornerback Mossy Cade—no, Mossy isn't green; he's a senior and a two-year starter—but Gray, playing the run, raced back, got one hand on the pass and clutched it after it rolled on his shoulder pad. "In our defense," said Gray, "you've got to make big plays." Texas will get burned by a big play or two this year, as it always does, but Auburn wasn't the team to do the burning. Three plays after the interception, McIvor, who had been inserted late in the first period, whipped an 80-yard scoring pass to reserve Kelvin Epps to make it 17-0.

The Tigers' frustration was summed up by consecutive plays early in the fourth quarter, when Longhorn Tackle John Haines and End Eric Holle swatted Campbell's passes out of the air. Texas, it seemed, had waves of defensive linemen; the Longhorns used six tackles and four ends—with average dimensions of 6'4" and 253 pounds. For all Auburn knew, Akers could've slipped in Bevo XII, the Longhorns' 800-pound mascot. It wouldn't have been any worse for Jackson, who said: "I feel like I've been stampeded by a herd of cows."

Much was made of the Tigers' line, which has four All-SEC candidates and three solid pro prospects in seniors Doug Smith and Donnie Humphrey and junior Ben Thomas. Yet it could not overcome the 10-deep depth of Texas' defensive interior in a rare year when the Longhorns don't even have an All-America up front.

In fact, Texas' only problem may be a surfeit of riches. Akers has to juggle all those defensive linemen, 10 offensive linemen and eight running backs without causing a major collision on the sideline. Akers has already said that the two-quarterback system—McIvorschell, as it has inevitably been dubbed—will continue, at least until the Longhorns are ready to play Dodgeball.

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