Challenging Trip

Mack Brown brings Texas to Ole Miss Saturday for a football game. He said there'll be no looking past a rebuilding Rebel program for his Longhorns. And it's not because UT has an open date Sept. 22, which it does.

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Brown said there is simply no resemblance to last season's Rebel team that struggled mightily all year, especially offensively.

"Ole Miss is a very, very much improved football team. Their offense is so much better," said Brown, in his 15th season with Texas and with a national title in 2005 to his program's credit. "They are really moving the ball. They're running a Vince Young type offense. They run zone read. They're wide open. A lot of trick plays. But they're really balanced."

Brown said new Rebel head coach Hugh Freeze has also been a difference-maker, it appears.

"Hugh Freeze has got Ole Miss off to a great start," he said. "Offensively they're very much like the teams we face in the Big XVII. Up tempo, no huddle. They're No. 10 in total offense in the country with 551 yards (per game) and are averaging 38.5 points a game.

"Look how balanced they are," Brown continued. "They're rushing the ball for 283 yards per game and passing it for 268 yards per game. They're 16th in rushing defense in the country, only giving up 68.5 yards per game. They're fourth in the country in sacks. They've had nine sacks in two games, and nine different guys have gotten those sacks. So they're really, really active."

So far, Texas has gotten past Wyoming 37-17 and rolled past New Mexico 45-0 with both contests played in Austin.

Brown said the Longhorns got things together as the game went on against the Lobos last Saturday.

"We got off to a slow start," he said. "Give New Mexico credit for keeping the ball in the first half. We only had the ball 26 plays the first half. We only had six runs in the first half. Then we totally dominated the second half. We do need to get off to a better start.

"We did not have a turnover," he continued. "Usually you win the game when you don't have a turnover. Defensively it was a shutout. That's always good."

Mack Knows Bo:

Texas recruited, at least somewhat, Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace. Brown said Wallace has certainly been effective for the Rebels through a 49-27 win against Central Arkansas and a 28-10 win against Texas-El Paso.

"The No. 1 junior college quarterback in the country, Bo Wallace, is a young man (we) talked to a few times on the phone," Brown said. "We just didn't decide to go for a junior college quarterback. He's completing 76 percent of his passes, five touchdowns, one interception. And he's had two rushing touchdowns. He'll be a handful for us this weekend. He's a big guy that can run and pass."

Brown, through UT defensive coordinator Manny Diaz, knows about a Rebel on the other side of the ball.

"Manny Diaz had recruited maybe one of the best defensive ends in the country named C.J. Johnson," Brown said. "Manny had him committed at Mississippi State and he changed and went back to Ole Miss when Manny left (to coach at Texas). He's a great football player."

Brown called Johnson "an absolute terror off the corner."

Mack Brown
File Photo

"Charles Sawyer is one of the great safeties in the SEC," Brown continued. "And they'll blitz a lot. They play a lot of man coverage, and they bring more pressure than we've seen in the first two games."

First Road Test:

Brown said Texas will be out its normal road routine because of a lack of hotel space in Oxford. The Texas baseball team expressed the same type situation in 2005 when the Longhorns came to Oxford for the memorable Super Regional.

The baseball Longhorns stayed in Tupelo that weekend. The football Longhorns will fly into Memphis, spend Friday night in Memphis, bus to Oxford Saturday, play the game, bus to Tupelo after the game, and fly back to Austin.

"It's not only that you're going on the road but you're going to Memphis," Brown said. "Normally you take (the team) to the dressing room and to the stadium and let them walk around to get a feel for what's around them. We will not be able to do that because it's an hour trip from Memphis down to Oxford."

Brown said the late game has its challenges, even after it's over.

"We'll get home at 4:45 (Sunday) morning, which is really difficult," he said. "Thank goodness we've got an open date the next week."

Texas plays at Oklahoma State on Sept. 29 to open Big XVII play.

Fan Bases Pumped:

Brown admits Texas is pleased to be playing at Ole Miss, and that certainly also goes for the Longhorn fans.

"Our teams have always embraced good crowds," he said. "They've always embraced playing on the road. I'm amazed our fans are so excited about this game. It's been a really hard ticket. We've got people calling and asking to try to find extra tickets."

Brown, who once was head coach at Tulane back in the 1980s, mentioned a New Orleans connection to the contest and believes this was at least part of the reason for the two-game series. Ole Miss plays in Austin next season.

"Ole Miss people are excited about (the series). Archie Manning is a great friend of ours," he said of the former Rebel quarterback and longtime New Orleans resident. "I think some of our boosters and Archie got together and made this (series) happen. It's a fun game and I'm glad both teams are undefeated."

Brown said come Saturday at 8:15 p.m., however, it's all about football.

"The first road trip (this season) with a young team," Brown said. "It's a change. It's two very young undefeated teams. Ole Miss is like us. They're playing very few seniors."

Brown said his team will face its biggest challenge this season through three games in Oxford.

"We've been better than the two teams we've played," Brown said. "This game will be a more evenly matched game. This will be a great test for us. It will help prepare us to go into conference play in two weeks."

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