Oct. 18, 2009
Ryan Graney, Texas Media Relations
As important as the Red River Rivalry is to both Texas and Oklahoma, Saturday’s contest carried a little added meaning for LB Emmanuel Acho.
The sophomore played a key role in helping the Longhorns defense stifle the Sooners en route to a 16-13 victory, while he and his brother, DE Sam Acho, returned to their hometown of Dallas to play in front of friends and family.
“It was great to be able to play in front of my hometown crowd,” Emmanuel said. “I went back to Dallas, and I wanted to represent for where I grew up and where I was born and raised. It was good to be able to go back there in front of my high school friends and a bunch of family and perform the way I did.”
Playing at home was just as special to Sam, who is one year older than Emmanuel, especially considering the scene they described after the game.
“Emmanuel saw where our parents were sitting and we had them come down," Sam said. "We kind of walked up in the stands and embraced our mom, dad, aunt and uncle. Our sisters were there. It was a great family win for us, because we actually got to see our family and talk to them literally right after the game.”
Although both Acho brothers made significant contributions in helping the defense limit the Oklahoma offense to 13 points and minus-16 rushing yards, Emmanuel was able to recover two fumbles, which were among five turnovers forced by the Longhorns.
“We played pretty well overall as a whole,” Emmanuel said. “We had fewer mental errors than we have in the past, especially against OU. It was good to see things come together.”
Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp praised the linebacker’s play, not only against the Sooners, but also for his body of work throughout the season, including leading the team with eight tackles for loss.
“Every time Emmanuel is on the field, he seems to make plays,” Muschamp said. “He recovered two fumbles yesterday. He’s a smart player, he’s very athletic, he plays well in space, he’s got pass rushing ability, he’s playing the run well and he’s leading our team in tackles for loss. He’s a guy who’s been a very productive player for us in the opportunities he’s gotten.”
The defensive coordinator’s sentiment is shared by the elder Acho, who has seen his younger brother become a difference maker on a defense that is tied for fifth in the nation in turnovers gained with 19. The brothers coincidentally each have 22 tackles and have now combined for six fumble recoveries this season with Sam leading the nation with four.
“At the rate he’s going, he’s going to pass me,” Sam smiled. “He continues to be a playmaker week in and week out. It’s great to see him out there making big plays in big games. Those are plays that really change things.”
In the border battle between Texas and Oklahoma, big plays are an essential as the team who has forced more turnovers has not lost a Red River Rivalry game since 2002.
“Coach always emphasizes turnovers - being a ball hawk, forcing a fumble, recovering it, getting an interception,” Emmanuel said. “We went in trying to force turnovers and just getting the ball to the offense as much as possible. In doing so, we assumed that it would give us a better chance of winning. In the end, it did.”
Muschamp credits Emmanuel for the amount of work he has put in to continually improve all of his areas of his game. That work is something Emmanuel knows will help him to be in the right position to take advantage of opportunities.
“I was blessed to be in the right position in the right time,” Acho said of his recoveries. “I saw the ball on the ground and I jumped on it. It happened to me twice, and I got to the opportunity. I wasn’t going to leave anything out there. I was all in.”