Scouting Report: Texas Longhorns

It's Texas which means they have the biggest and the best of everything and their fans will be plenty loud and riding an ego trip with the Longhorns being ranked number one. The team is not that way and one Longhorn expert told me that this team was really expected to win 9 or 10 games and set up a huge run for a Big 12 title and possible national championship next season.

Next season is here and the last two weeks and wins over then top ranked Oklahoma and Missouri have proven that.

"It was a good win for us and we're learning so much about this team and these kids," said head coach Mack Brown of the Missouri game.

"Jordan Shipley said after the game that you don't get any prizes for being 7-0, and being rated right now is a reward but it really means nothing unless you finish. So, we've got to refocus and go back to work.

"The guys were talking about Oklahoma State in the dressing room after the game, and I thought that was a great start to the new week because you don't get to enjoy these wins for very long at this point in the season," Brown continued. "You can enjoy them after the season is over but not during the season.

"We do feel like that right now, our theme for the year, 'consistently good to be great,' is more valid than ever because we have to continue to be consistently good. We're playing at a high level, but we're not a great team yet. We've got to be a great team for 60 minutes for the next five weeks to get us the chance to play in the (Big 12) championship game, which is what we want."

Brown went further in examining the phenomenon of this team, the Texas program, being one year ahead of an expected run. He was asked point blank if this team has surprised him.

"They have surprised me," started Brown. "I knew they were going to be good because our teams have been good for 10 years. I thought they would play hard and win a lot of games, but to be playing at the level they are playing at right now has surprised me. I think it's a great compliment to them and it's really important to give them credit for team chemistry and unselfishness. I think it's a compliment to the assistant coaches and them pulling together. This whole bunch has pulled together. They are having fun."

Brown is not alone in being impressed. So is starting quarterback Colt McCoy, but don't count Colt in the surprised category. McCoy expected the be good from the beginning.

"I knew the chemistry that we had on this team," said a confident McCoy. "I knew how focused we were and how we wanted to win so badly. We wanted to be better than 10-3. I knew that if we took one game at a time, we practiced hard, if we prepared each week, I knew that we had the greatest coaches around that we know of.

"We have a tough schedule but if we could just say, 'Hey, it doesn't matter. Put it all on the line every week. Practice like you want to win and see where we can go,' and we've done that. The most important thing is that we continue to do that and not worry about number one. It means nothing right now us. That's how we played last Saturday, and we're going to do the same thing this Saturday."

Now Oklahoma State fans are always careful about talking about last year's Texas game. It was not a pleasant experience for anybody in the program. Texas also has to be guarded about dwelling on those games. Sure, they have had a positive influence on the Longhorns, they won the games. However, a team can't depend on that and history would be against Texas.

"When you start looking at a series, they really don't make a difference anymore," explained Brown. "You can go back to the five games we've had with Oklahoma. It's about this year. It has nothing to do with the past, it has nothing to do with last year and it doesn't have anything to do with last week.

"This is by far the best Oklahoma State team we've seen since we've been here. We think it's going to be a great game."

Mack Brown said it would be a great game, which means he is excited about how his offense is playing and should be with the Longhorns averaging 48 points a game and 484 yards a contest. The fact that the offensive line is battling every opponent and that McCoy is one of the best quarterbacks and leaders makes life grand as Texas head coach. McCoy especially has Brown's eyes on making this a special season.

"Colt, at this time last year, had 160 completions," explained Brown. "This time this year, he has 160 completions, and the difference is that he has thrown 44 fewer passes. So it shows you how much better he is playing at this point. He's 27-6 as a starting quarterback, Bobby Layne is 28-6 and Vince Young is 30-2, so Colt is climbing up that chart very quickly. Colt also broke Vince's record for being responsible for 81 touchdowns, and Colt is now responsible for 82.

"Offensively, we didn't feel like we ran the ball as consistently well early in the game as we wanted to," continued Brown in a critique of the offense. "We also felt like we had way too many penalties.

"Defensively, it was the same and we had too many penalties. When our guys changed up in the second half, and some of the second-team guys went in, who are just steps away from playing at this point in the season, they did not play very well. We did not play with the same intensity and we felt like we lost our focus some in the second half. In the second half, we were one-for-three in stopping third-down conversions. So we do feel like that is an area in the game where we can improve."

What Brown really loves about the offense is that tie back to schools. Our guys had some trouble in Holdinville. However, Mack was for real.

"They have just been really consistent," followed up Brown. "We're not dropping balls and we're not having turnovers at this point. Colt has been accurate and this isn't new for us, because he has been this way during his first year. So we've seen it and that is just who he is.

"There was a ball in the Oklahoma game where Quan is covered on a third down and it's over near our boundary. Colt throws the ball perfectly low and outside, and it's a very difficult catch, but Quan reaches down low and catches it and turns up making eight yards for a first down. That's just the efficiency we're seeing. Then you see a guy like Malcolm Williams jump up and make a catch on a deep pass that Colt just threw up for a chance. When you start doing that, guys just step up and make plays."

The sacry aspect of this is that Texas didn't think they played well on defense in the 56-31 win over Missouri.

"Defensively, we felt like our first half was really good," said Brown. "We were five-out-of-six on third-down stops. We felt like the tackling was really good, and the first-team defense did not give up an explosive play. We held them to 30 yards rushing on 18 attempts, so that's 1.7 yards per attempt, and we were really pleased.

"We held them to 127 yards of offense in the first half against one of the great offenses in college football. Again, the guys up front did a great job. There were 13 quarterback hits, seven pressures, two sacks and four three-and-outs."

They know that against Oklahoma State they will be playing an offense that can and will be determined to run the football.

"Our defense will have to be very physical this week, and I think we're number two in the country against the run but no one has tried to run the ball against us like Oklahoma State," added Brown. "That will be the big thing this weekend. It won't be another passing day for us. It's going to be a real physical game."

"We haven't seen that all season," said star defensive end Braian Orakpo. "It's going to be a challenge for us. We haven't seen that in a while. The bad thing is they can pass as well. They are a dual-threat team, they have a great running game and also can set up the play-action passing game as well. We have to be prepared for that."

Special Teams
Texas is really good in that area but Brown wasn't overly excited about the way they played on special teams against Missouri.

"In the kicking game, we felt like it was just okay," said the Texas head coach. "John Gold was the punter of the game and he punted for 47.5 yards per punt, which was really good again.

"We thought we were inconsistent with our kickoffs, kickoff coverage and our kickoff returns. They did a good job of punting away from Quan and Jordan. We had two (returners) back on the first time and we really didn't get much out of our kicking game, and it was disappointing."

In Conclusion
The Longhorns are determined not to let Oklahoma State jump out like they have in those huge and horrific (for OSU) Texas comebacks.

"We are," said McCoy. "We're doing a lot of really good things, especially this last week. We came out and tried to get on the board as early as we could and stay after it, and we did, which is important against a high-powered offense like Missouri.

"(That will be important) this week too with Oklahoma State. They can score pretty much every time they have the ball, so we're going to have to keep playing to that standard and keep getting better. There are a lot of things we can improve on. We just have to stay focused."

They also hope to ride the new home-field advantage of 98,000 at Royal Memorial Stadium.

"Our fans are really paying a huge tribute for us this reason," added Orakpo. "These guys are very loud. The offenses can't even hear what's going on because it's so loud. They're false starting all the time, guys jumping offsides. It's a huge honor for our fans to do that for us, pay us so much attention and make so much noise for us to really go out there and win ballgames."

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