Roy Rallied Troops, Repeats Vow To 'Run The Table'

If Texas manages to win out, claim the Big 12 Championship, win its BCS game and state its case for the national title, we&#146;ll have SE <B>Roy Williams </B>to thank -- only it would have as much to do with what he did off the field last week as it does between the sidelines the remainder of the season. Turns out the Legend had some choice words for certain complacent teammates who did not take the Arkansas loss with the magnitude of seriousness becoming of a Longhorn.

Rather than playing deflated and flat, you saw Texas’ renewed focus and intensity against a Rice team that it could have barely defeated (as it did in 1997 and 1999) or even suffer an unimaginable loss (as it did in 1994). But Williams did not see the focus and intensity in every teammate this time last week -- especially in some of the less experienced athletes.

"They were just young and didn’t understand," Williams said. "Being a senior leader, I helped those guys understand. They had to know that we have to win, man. We’re in the same boat as the Miamis and the Tennessees and the Florida States and the Oklahomas. The top notch."

Last Monday, Williams said there was no need to convene the team’s Leadership Council (comprised of select players from each class) because he said the team "didn’t have any issues." But after spending the next 24 hours with his peers, he began to detect a nonchalant attitude among some of the younger players regarding the Arkansas loss. As such, the Council was convened following last Tuesday’s practice and part of the result was a decision that players would not speak to the media until after the Rice game.

"They did it without asking (coaches)," head coach Mack Brown said. "Their reason was right, but it wasn’t a boycott of the media as much as it was, ‘We’re tired of talking about Arkansas. We’re tired of negatives. We’re working on Rice, so why do we keep getting asked questions about why we can’t run and all the things we can’t do? We need to talk about the things we can do.’ I think that was just a statement from the guys who were here four and five years."

The heightened fan and media interest surrounding Texas football creates an environment in which folks are "too angry when we lose and too excited when we win," Brown continued. "(Athletes) have got to live in a world that’s different from that."

Williams would not disclose the identities of the players whom he believed did not share his high expectations for winning, but said, "Some of them probably came from high schools where they didn’t win, so they don’t know how to handle it here. Everybody comes from a different background, so sometimes you have to just state the fact and learn from that."

Williams also re-stated what he fully expects to be fact by season’s end.

"I told them that we’re going to run the table," Williams said, repeating his promise made to sports writers last week.

So convinced is Williams that Texas will win out that he has all but measured his finger for the national championship ring. This, despite Texas dropping a notch to No. 14 in the recent AP Poll. (A writer suggested to Williams that Texas fell because of the players’ decision not to talk to media last week.)

"We can drop all we want to," Williams said, "but I know that at the end of the year when we still have just one loss sitting there, we’ll be No. 1 in the country."

Brown told his players to act as if they were playing a national championship game every weekend. In effect, Brown is correct. A second loss clearly eliminates Texas from the chase while wins over top-ranked Oklahoma and nationally ranked Nebraska and Kansas State would make Texas one of a half-dozen contenders by mid-November.

"You’ve got to match (opponent’s) energy," Brown told his troops. "You’ve got to play great. You can’t turn the ball over. Preseason polls are ridiculous. Nobody knows what’s going on because coaches don’t even know how good their teams are until mid-season."

In addition to Williams’ self-appointed sessions of reality therapy with younger players, the Arkansas loss was a sobering reality for the majority of the team and, as such, a source of renewed focus (if not, hunger).

"We’d won so many games at home that they didn’t think they could (lose)," Brown said. "They thought during the game that they still were going to win. You never want to lose, but sometimes it does get you back to reality. You understand that you win because you played good. You don’t win because you’re Texas at home. I thought some of that happened (against Arkansas). You can’t give up the plays that we gave up. You can’t give up three turnovers and win it. If that happens this weekend, we’re going to be beat again."

Texas’ next opportunity to put its money where its mouthpiece is comes from an improving 3-1 Tulane team, 6 p.m. (CDT) at DKR (TBS broadcast).

"We all got a lesson in winning football games again," Brown added.

Part of that lesson, of course, came courtesy of Professor Roy Williams.

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