Three things can happen when you pass, and two of 'em are bad. So the Longhorns, in preparing their tribute out of the Wishbone formation for coaching legend Darrell Royal, adjusted accordingly.
"So I thought if you throw it twice, that means two good things can happen," Brown said.
The double pass — a toss-sweep to Jaxon Shipley, lined up at halfback, who threw the ball back to quarterback David Ash, who then passed to tight end Greg Daniels — resulted in a 47-yard gain. And while the Longhorns squandered that big play, punting four plays later, the stage was set for a big passing day.
Facing a tough Iowa State front seven, the Longhorns elected to throw the ball over, as opposed to attempt to run-through, the Cyclones. That led to a huge first half for Ash, who hit on 15-of-16 first-half throws for 245 yards and two touchdowns. His play enabled the Longhorns to stretch the Cyclones out, and eventually gave way to bigger holes in the running game.
"David Ash had a great game, he made decisions, wide receivers made plays, and [Iowa State] is a very difficult team to run the ball on consistently," said Bryan Harsin, Texas offensive coordinator. "So you've got to mix it up, and that is what we did tonight. It helped out the run game, and we had a chance when we did that to soften it up just a little bit inside for us to be successful."
Ash's 47-yard completion on the trick play wasn't even his longest of the first quarter. With Texas leading 7-0 after a Johnathan Gray five-yard touchdown run, Ash fired an absolute laser to a wide-open Mike Davis for an electrifying 61-yard score. And the Longhorns went up 20-0 when Barrett Matthews caught a three-yard pass from Ash in the second quarter.
It probably should have been at least 24-0 at that point. But Iowa State blocked a 32-yard field goal attempt from Fera, and the Penn State transfer missed the extra point after Matthews's score.
When Iowa State drove the length of the field to answer, with quarterback Steele Jantz throwing a 14-yard touchdown to receiver Quenton Bundrage, there was at least some question as to whether the Longhorns would miss those points.
But the Texas defense, which was in bend-but-don't-break mode throughout the first half in allowing 213 total yards, ratcheted up the intensity. The Cyclones had just 18 plays in the second half and gained just 64 yards on those plays, without denting the scoreboard again.
Texas pressured Jantz on a consistent basis, hurrying him seven times, sacking him twice and picking him off twice. He was just 5-for-11 for 31 yards and an interception in the second half.
"The defense has been improving each week," said cornerback Carrington Byndom. "We still have a ways to go but we are showing signs of life. We are playing a lot better. We still have tinges we need to fix, but I think we are on the right track."
Offensively, the Longhorns achieved the balance Brown and Harsin crave. Ash finished 25-of-31 for a career-high 364 yards and two touchdowns, with both Shipley (8-137) and Davis (7-113) topping the century mark. Gray rushed for 74 yards and two touchdowns, while Joe Bergeron had one of his better performances of the year with 86 yards on just 12 carries.
With the way the Longhorns have played the last two games, it's easy to forget that this is a team that was in serious danger of losing to Kansas, still winless in the Big 12, two weeks ago.
"[That game] seems really far back," Ash said.
In fact, though it's a long shot, the Longhorns still have an outside shot at a share of the Big 12 title. If Kansas State and Oklahoma drop a game, Texas will enter the Dec. 1 game with the Wildcats knowing that a win gets them at least a three-way tie and a potential BCS bowl.
But the Longhorns aren't worried about the big picture at this point.
"We know that we can't listen to anything outside," Byndom said. "We know that we are a family together, offensively and defensively. We want to continue to strive for excellence. We want to go out and work hard each day to try to get better."
TEXAS — Johnathan Gray 5 run (Anthony Fera kick), 4:34 1Q
TEXAS — Mike Davis 61 pass from David Ash (Fera kick), 3:23 1Q
TEXAS — Barrett Matthews 3 pass from Ash (kick missed), 2:53 2Q
Iowa State — Quenton Bundrage 14 pass from Steele Jantz (Edwin Arceo kick), 0:41 2Q
TEXAS — Nick Jordan 37 FG, 10:31 3Q
TEXAS — Gray 13 run (Jordan kick), 12:32 4Q
TEXAS — Jordan 25 FG, 1:23 4Q