Sacks leader aim­ing for Luck

De­spite his success, J.J. Watt wants to put even more pres­sure on the passer.

Austin American-Statesman - - C SPORTS - By Kristie rieken

HOUS­TON — The last time the Hous­ton Tex­ans faced an in­ex­pe­ri­enced quar­ter­back, they forced sec­ondyear pro Jake Locker to com­mit ffive turnovers and sacked him six times in a win over the Ti­tans.

Two weeks later, they get a shot at An­drew Luck, the No. 1 over­all pick in the NFL draft last April, and they can clinch the AFC South ti­tle with a win.

Luck has thrown for 3,792 yards for the Colts, but leads the AFC in in­ter­cep­tions with 18, and has lost ffive fum­bles. He’s also been sacked 32 times, and will now have to deal with AFC sacks leader J.J. Watt.

“We need more sacks,” said Watt, who has a sin­gle-sea­son fran­chise record with 16½. “I need to rush the passer bet­ter. As a de­fen­sive line, we need more pres­sure and we need to bat some more balls. We’ll put it on us up front.”

Coach Gary Ku­biak noted that Luck is chal­leng­ing be­cause even if the de­fense gets to him for a sack, his size (6-foot4, 234 pounds) makes him dif­fcult to bring down.

“It’s got to be a big con­scious efiort for us to keep him con­tained, and then when we do have our op­por­tu­ni­ties, you got to really work to bring him down,” Ku­biak said. “You can make just an in­cred­i­ble high­light reel of peo­ple just hang­ing on to him and him still mak­ing plays.”

Ku­biak likened Luck to Ben Roeth­lis­berger be­cause of his size, and said that when he was study­ing the draft last year, he thought he was the best quar­ter­back to come out since his pre­de­ces­sor Pey­ton Man­ning.

“He’s sure as heck hasn’t dis­ap­pointed,” Ku­biak said. “He’s been ex­cel­lent this year. I told the team he’s play­ing like an eight-, nine-year foot­ball player. He’s han­dling a ton of ofiense.”

De­spite his devel­op­ment, Luck hasn’t found a way to limit his turnovers. He’s had three games this sea­son with three in­ter­cep­tions, and two of them have come in the last four games. He has nine in­ter­cep­tions in the last four games.

The Tex­ans, who are ex­perts at bat­ting down passes, deffinitely no­ticed those num­bers.

“It’s our goal al­ways to cre­ate turnovers,” Watt said. “We know what that does for mo­men­tum. We know how good our ofiense is, so we want to get them the ball as many times as pos­si­ble, so we’re al­ways look­ing to cre­ate turnovers.”

Watt has bat­ted down 15 passes this sea­son. He’s the only player since the league be­gan track­ing passes de­fensed in 1991 to have at least 15 sacks and 15 passes de­fensed in a sin­gle sea­son.

Some teams have used brooms or other sticks in prac­tice to try and repli­cate what it’s like to throw against Watt when pre­par­ing for the Tex­ans. But Indianapolis in­terim coach Bruce Ari­ans said he just used his tallest play­ers and had them put their hands up in front of Luck this week in prac­tice.

The Tex­ans plan to use a va­ri­ety of tac­tics to try and make Luck un­com­fort­able on Sun­day. But from what they’ve seen from him so far, they know that will be dif­fcult.

“You al­ways want to try to rat­tle the quar­ter­back,” nose tackle Shaun Cody said.


Colts QB An­drew Luck (top) has five fum­bles and 18 in­ter­cep­tions and has been sacked 32 times. The Tex­ans’ J.J. Watt (be­low) hopes to help make those num­bers even worse on Sun­day.

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