Horns, Cougs renew old SWC rivalry this Saturday

The Horns will return to the practice field this afternoon after taking a long weekend away from football. Texas, of course, wasn't scheduled to play, so the cancellation of the entire weekend's D-I college schedule didn't directly affect UT, but Houston, the Horns' upcoming opponent, had its game with Georgia called off. The Cougars opened their season over two weeks ago, losing to Rice 21-14, and have not played since. That leaves the Horns with just one tape on Houston to study.

At his weekly media luncheon, Mack Brown said he and the staff don't know what the Cougars will do differently after their disappointing opener, but he does know they will be ready to play Texas. Asked if he thought U of H had this game circled on its calendar since last fall when the Horns posted a 48-zip win in Austin, Brown said, "They circled this game on their calendars 100 years ago."

"Houston doesn't like Texas," the head coach added, mentioning the stretch of late 80s games where the Cougs crushed the Horns regularly and with glee.

He's right, of course, but the U of H program of '01 is a far cry from Jack Pardee's run-and-shoot bunch. This group's more along the lines of a run-and-shoot-yourself-in-the-foot team.

But they will be up for Texas, and they get the Horns in the cozy confines of on-campus Robertson Stadium, a match box facility that holds in the mid-30s without the addition of temporary end zone bleachers (where many of the Longhorn fans will be seated). Brown said he understands, from his days at Tulane, Houston's desire to play on campus and create a better college football atmosphere in the commuter college's own stadium. He left unsaid the fact that UH's refusal to move the game to either the AstroDome or Rice Stadium will keep 10,000-plus Orangebloods from seeing the game in person.

Brown, though, stressed the importance of the Houston game regardless of the number of butts in the seats. "Houston is a hot bed in recruiting," he said. "We need to win the game and we need to play well." The coach also said the game will have a lot of meaning to the many Longhorn players that are from the Houston area.

Chris Simms, although from half a continent away from the Houston area, said he's glad the game is being played on Robertson's grass surface rather than the turf at either of the other two potential venues. He also said he likes the atmosphere at the smaller, on-campus stadiums that the Horns occasionally visit. Simms' only complaint? He wanted the game on Thursday night. The national TV coverage would have been great, the Texas QB said, especially getting to show a thing or two to the ESPN crew, including Lee "the Horns have no heart" Corso, calling the game.

As long as Simms and Co. take care of business against the Cougars this weekend and against the Red Raiders the following weekend, Texas should get a face-to-face with the Game Day crew the first weekend of October in Dallas.

Simms, though, said he and the receivers in particular are looking forward to a challenge from the Horns' former SWC-mate. "Houston gets in your face and plays," Simms said. "They're not afraid of the receivers or of the talent you have. They're going to play bump-and-run . . ." The QB said that may finally give the Texas O an opportunity to get some passes downfield, in sharp contrast to UT's first two games where the Horns' opponents surrendered the short ball to ensure that Texas didn't burn 'em with the big play.

The QB said the Horns will throw in a few more new wrinkles this week, although he wouldn't go so far as to say that the coaches plan to open it up. Rather, he said, the O will "dictate the tempo of the game."

"Hopefully, we'll open it up and throw it and make (the media) and the fans happy," a laughing Simms said.

Notes: O.J. McClintock's status for this weekend is still uncertain, although the trainers are hoping to have a better idea after tonight's (Monday's) practice. The junior DE started last week with a huge tape ball on his right hand, but that was switched out with a rubber cast toward the end of the week. Today, the staff wants to see if O.J. can get any movement out of his fingers. That may determine whether he is capable of playing. "I'm not sure how much O.J. will play this weekend even if he's able to play," Brown added. Marcus Wilkins will remain the No. 1 back-up at LDE at least through this weekend, particularly given that his strength is in the pass rush and there will obviously be plenty of opportunities to do just that this weekend for the Horns against the pass-happy Cougars. Speaking of the DEs, Brown also praised the early-season play of senior Jermain Anderson. Anderson has gotten approximately 15-20 snaps per game and has played "really well" while he's been in there, the head coach said. . . . Through two games, just three scholarship true freshman -- RB Cedric Benson, LB Derrick Johnson and WR Brian Carter -- have seen the field. Brown said Monday that none of the remaining true freshman Horns are definites to strip the shirt, although Rufus Harris and Cedric Griffin are possible eventual contributors. CB Michael Huff and S Kendal Briles both have told the coaches that they would prefer not to play if they won't play a lot, and it's unlikely either would see much action given the depth situation in the secondary. . . . As we reported last week, Ivan Williams will get the start this week at tailback, but Brown said Williams, Victor Ike and Benson will "still rotate some." The extent and the timing of the play of the back-ups will partially depend on how Ivan does early in the game, Brown said, before adding that Benson will play in the first quarter. . . . Texas and other schools, as organized by the American Football Coaches Association, will wear an American flag decal on the back of their helmets for the rest of the season. . . . Texas will practice in full pads Monday and Tuesday. The rest of the week is TBD. . . . The Horns will bus to Houston on Friday. The only games remaining on the regular season schedule that will require the team to fly are Oklahoma State and Missouri. Texas travels by charter. . . . Brown said he did not let his coaches leave Austin on recruiting visits over the weekend, instead having them spend time with their families and with the Longhorn players. He said the coaches will resume their on-site recruiting duties this weekend, but they will drive rather than fly. FYI, most of the coaches drive anyway to their visits within the state of Texas. . . . The Sept. 29 Texas Tech game will kick at 6 p.m. and will be televised on Fox Sports Net. . . . UT commitment Earl Anderson has been suspended from playing football at San Marcos for two games after being arrested and charged with Theft under $500 (a Class B misdemeanor) and Engaging in Organized criminal Activity (a Class A misdemeanor), according to the San Marcos Daily Record. For more see Local theft arrests will leave the Rattlers two players short. Anderson served the first game of his suspension last Friday night.

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