Recent History On Texas' Mind

FAYETTEVILLE -- Texas coach Mack Brown isn't giving any history lessons this week about the Arkansas-Texas rivalry in preparation for Saturday night's game in Reynolds Razorback Stadium.

"I did last year and it didn't help," said Brown, whose Longhorns lost 38-28 to the Hogs last season in Austin, Texas. "I think what we'll do is we're playing a good team that whipped us good last year.

"I'm going to get away from all the (rivalry) stuff."

It's not that the seventh-year coach doesn't appreciate the history of the rivalry -- which dates back to 1894 and includes storied battles from when the teams played in the now-defunct Southwest Conference -- he just doesn't see the relevance in reliving it.

Texas assistants Mike Tolleson and Greg Davis coached at Arkansas.

Tolleson was the Hogs defensive line coach from 1980-83 while Davis was the offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach from 1992-93.

"We all understand (the history), but I think these guys are different," Brown said. "It's about today and it's about this team. It's about playing a good team on the road and out of our conference and that's the way we'll approach it with them."

Recent history is all Texas' players sound interested in and, by all accounts, they don't plan to relive it Saturday.

"This is a big game for them and it's a big game for us," said Longhorns linebacker Derrick Johnson, who led the team with 125 tackles last season. "They did come down here and beat us last year so we do have something to prove: To go up there and try to return the favor."

No. 7 Texas (1-0) leads the all-time series 54-21, but the Razorbacks have won three straight including last year's wake-up call in which several Texas players said they were "exposed" by Arkansas.

"We weren't on our Ps and Qs as far as being focused and being in the right places," Johnson said. "And just handling that pressure when adversity hits. We didn't handle that well."

It made for an uncomfortable atmosphere in the film room when coaches started pointing out specific breakdowns against Arkansas.

"There was a little more quiet in the room as we watched it because there was a lot of mistakes being made that we usually don't make," Johnson said. "It was just a game where a team capitalized off our mistakes and did well."

They were 5 of 13 on third-down conversions and lost three fumbles.

Even more silencing was the 62 yards the Longhorns gained on 29 rushing attempts against the Hogs' scrambling defense.

"We didn't run the ball well," Brown said. "They do a good job of moving people around and we're not proud of the fact that we gained two yards rushing (per carry) against them in that game.

"They forced some turnovers and they ripped two balls out of receivers' hands, so we've got to do a better job of being physical in the game and do a better job of protecting the football."The Longhorns think they beat themselves.

"Sometimes the other team is just better," Brown said. "But at Texas, we never think that. We always think we're the best team, we just didn't play our best that day."

Texas will have a different look for Arkansas on offense with sophomore quarterback Vincent Young, a 6-foot-5, 225-pound dual threat who didn't play in last year's game against the Hogs. He took over as the starter by midseason and completed 84 of 143 passes for 1,155 yards, 6 touchdowns and 5 interceptions.

"He's running our system well now," Brown said. "He understands what we're trying to do and we lean more toward him with the system and he's much more confident."

The Longhorns return seven starters on offense, but with some unproven receivers and a quarterback that runs a 4.4 second, 40-yard dash, they plan to stick more to the ground game than a year ago. That was evident in Saturday's 65-0 win against North Texas when they rushed for 505 yards -- their 673 total yards was third-best in school history -- led by tailback Cedric Benson's 181 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries.

The defense also returns seven starters, but has been tweaked as well thanks to first-year coordinator Greg Robinson installing a more aggressive, 4-3 scheme which centers around Johnson and relies heavily on pressure up front.

Robinson spent the past three seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs and was the architect behind the defense which helped the Denver Broncos to back-to-back Super Bowl wins in 1997-98.

"We do have the same players out there playing, but it's a little bit different scheme," Johnson said. "We know what we want to get done and we're just doing our best at trying to be blue-collar workers out there."

But what's changed the most since last season's loss to Arkansas is the overall team attitude and approach to Saturday's game.

"We're more focused and we respect Arkansas," said senior receiver Tony Jeffery. "We're just taking this week to be as prepared as we can be and go up there and try to get a win."

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