"I think Mack Brown would tell you the same thing: this team, they haven't skipped a beat," Defensive coordinator Greg Robinson said. "Mack won't allow that to be the attention. Our guys are focused on what they're doing, and that's to try to win a football game. It's been very evident to me that they are very focused and very in tune to what they want to get accomplished. I've been very, very impressed.
"You know what, this group of guys right up here now, they really are guys that take the bull by the horns," Robinson said. "They're fine leaders, they really are. It's been a pleasure to watch, it really has, especially this bowl preparation. I've been very, very pleased in watching the way we've worked."
That sort of work ethic is needed, given that the Longhorns are about to take on one of college football's top offenses, one that Robinson remarked, is extremely balanced.
"Contrary to what I think some people think, you see their spread offense, you see their tempo, they're throwing the ball all over the lot, and they will throw the ball all over the lot … They are very determined to run the football," Robinson said. "Anytime you have a team that can be two dimensional, it isn't what you like on defense. We've got to find ways to control their running game and do everything we can to disrupt the passing game. It's easier said than done, but it's really what you go about trying to get done."
Of course that effort will come at the same site as last year's breakout defensive effort, when the Longhorn defense harassed Oregon State in a come-from-behind victory.
"Just going in there with the same mindset as last year … I just go into the game with the mentality that no one can block you," said defensive end Cedric Reed. "You go out there and play the man that you were assigned to do and what you were coached to do. Oregon is a great team and they have some great offensive linemen, some fast offensive linemen and probably the fastest I have seen in awhile. In general they got a fast offense, they have (De'Anthony) Thomas and (Marcus) Mariota, those guys are awesome football players and they are NFL guys. We are going to go out there and just play to the best of our abilities."
So, how does Texas stop Oregon's offense?
"You have to get on their level," Reed continued. "Like I said, this game is a mentality game and you have to go out there with the mentality that you are as good as them or even better. To do that you got to get yourself fired up and we are going to be fired up for this game."
"It kind of feels exactly like going into the OU game because — of course there is more preparation for this — the week before the OU game everyone was talking about how we didn't have a chance and we heard what they were saying but we didn't worry about it," Phillips said. "It is kind of the same thing now. We know Oregon is a great team and if you let them get out they will run away with it so we just have to stay in tune to the details the same way that we did in the past this year."
And cornerback Quandre Diggs said that Oregon's offense was similar stylistically to other Big 12 offenses.
"I feel like their offense is similar to a Big 12 offense," Diggs said. "We go up against this type of attack each and every week. They do some things that other guys in the Big 12 do. They also present some things that we haven't seen this year. It will be a great challenge. Like you guys heard from me all year, I'm always just ready to go play football. It doesn't matter who is on the field."
In short, it's time for Texas to be Texas.
"For us, it's big to just staying with your responsibility, not just for us, but for the whole defense in general," said cornerback Carrington Byndom. "That's our job. That's a thing that's been lacking for us at times this year, people trying to do too much. I think we just need to focus on things we need to do during that play and it will happen from there."
And senior defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat said it was big for the seniors to go out right.
"Coach Brown is very important to us. Like Coach Robinson said, Coach Brown doesn't allow that to be a distraction," Jeffcoat said. "No matter what, we're going to play our butts off regardless of what was going on. If this wasn't happening, if it wasn't Coach Brown's last game, we would play just as hard. We're not going to go out there and play a mediocre game. We have to play our best. It's the last game for the seniors. The seniors have to go out on the right note."