Texas coach Mack Brown said earlier this week that the Longhorns were a bit full of themselves after beating the Sooners … not that they were arrogant, but that they enjoyed the win long after the 24-hour rule was completed.
"This team is on a roll now after the OU game," said Johnathan Gray, Texas running back. "There is confidence there in the team's play and you just have to stay with it, stay focused, and keep doing your job."
So, does the team have more swagger after beating OU?
"I wouldn't say that but everyone is trying to get better," said defensive tackle Malcom Brown. "It wasn't a perfect game we played against OU so we are all just trying to get better."
"I think ever since that game we've had a really high sense of confidence," said Jaxon Shipley. "Any time we beat a team like that, especially in a game like that at the Cotton Bowl in a tough situation and the crowd is going crazy and stuff, you've got a really talented team [in Oklahoma]. Every time you get a win over a team like that, it gives you confidence. I think we've carried that into this week."
Now, the key will be whether the Longhorns can handle that level of success.
"I think so," Shipley said. "We've been talked about badly for a long time this season. You've got to take it the same whether people are talking bad about you or if people are talking good about you. You can't really buy into any of that. I think we've done a good job of that. I think that we have gotten confidence within our team. We don't need anybody outside telling us how good or bad we're doing because I think it's in-house."
When asked what he remembered about last year's TCU game, senior offensive guard Trey Hopkins said "we just kind of shot ourselves in the foot a lot on offense."
"We had a lot of turnovers," Hopkins said. "We had a lot of negative plays on our end where we just kind of held ourselves back. That's one thing we have to do better at, being disciplined in this game, and not taking ourselves out of it against a talented defense, because they'll take advantage of it."
TCU's defense currently ranks first in the Big 12 in rushing yards allowed per game, representing a tough task for a Longhorn offense that has started to find its footing behind a power running game.
"It's definitely going to be a challenge for us," Hopkins said. "They were a great run defense last year, and we only rushed for 86 yards. That's definitely something that we're not going to allow to happen this year. We're definitely going to have to be able to move the ball on the ground."
What does TCU do that makes the Horned Frogs so effective?
"Those are two big strong guys up front," Hopkins said. "It's a great defense as a whole, but those guys are really going to be a challenge, a particular challenge to Mason Walters and me and all of our guards here. They're big, strong guys that do a lot of pushing in the pocket with the bull rush. Everyone sees that. Their defense has gotten a lot of sacks this year without blitzing, and it's really a credit to how talented their defensive front is. It'll definitely be a good challenge for us up front."
If Texas can win that battle, the Longhorns will likely rely on Gray for yet another big week.
"They are a great defense," Gray said. "They're number one on stopping the run. They are doing a great job at spiking gaps and being fundamentally sound. Gary Patterson always has those guys going so it is going to be a tough defense to play against and like I said, we have to be better at preparation and get prepared for them."
Shipley talked about the need to start quickly.
"That seems to be an issue," Shipley said. "If we start fast, it usually ends up playing out pretty well. So I think that's what we're looking forward to. We want to score on that first drive and then maybe we can get some momentum rolling from there."
TCU got the better of the Longhorns a year ago, capturing a big Thanksgiving night win in Austin. But the players cautioned against calling it a revenge game.
"It's never revenge, it's always try to be more physical than they are to come out on top," Brown said. "They have good players and athletes and we have good athletes. It just comes down to who's more physical and we will see who wins."