Brown: Horns must play up to a standard

In what will surely be a common theme over the next few weeks, <B>Mack Brown</B> stressed Sunday the need for his team to remain focused on the only thing it can truly control in this increasingly wacky college football season: the games that it plays.

Texas jumped to No. 5 in both polls released Sunday and could make a similar move in the BCS standings to be released Monday afternoon, but the head coach said the Horns, rather than poll watching, are trying to "play up to a standard" each week. "We have no control over the BCS except to win our games," Brown said. And if they do that, positive results will follow, he added.

So far, in three post-OU games (including two on the road), UT has taken care of business in a very business-like manner. Saturday in Columbia, the Horns simply did what they had to do to win with a methodical pounding of the Tigers. The O showed a bit of flash but mainly muscle in keeping the ball for almost 40 minutes to the Mizzou O's 20. Texas won all of the offensive WIT chart categories, Brown said, including a first down efficiency of 68.1-percent (four yards or more on first down) and a third down efficiency of 77.8-percent. The Horns also registered nine explosive plays (runs of 12-plus yards and passes of 16-plus yards) to the Tigers' five.

"We feel really good about where we are right now on offense (but) we want to continue to improve," Brown said.

The coach saved special praise for Mike Williams, arguably the most-improved player on this team since the beginning of the '00 season, and the rest of the offensive line, which despite the absence of starting right guard Antwan Kirk-Hughes largely kept the Missouri pass rush at bay and kept the running paths open for freshman workhorse Cedric Benson.

Missouri RB Zack Abron's running paths were also a subject of Sunday conversation. The Tigers' bruising tailback ran through, around and over Texas defenders on his 13 carries for 109 yards (8.4 yards per carry). The UT D also allowed three TDs on Mizzou's three trips into the red zone. "On defense, we're not pleased with our tackling," Brown said. "We didn't play horrible but we're really disappointed we didn't tackle. We need to play better in the front seven."

It's a testament to the new and much improved defensive standards of this Texas football program when a 16-point, 244-yards-allowed performance in a 19-point road win is cause for consternation from the head coach.

One individual defensive performance stood out in Columbia, that of cornerback Quentin Jammer. The senior virtually shut down MU's great wideout Justin Gage, limiting the all-Big 12 candidate to two catches for just 14 yards. For the first time since they've been at Texas, Brown and D-coordinator Carl Reese by design put Jammer on the same receiver throughout the entire game, and the corner responded with his best coverage game of the season.

The UT special teams, with its second poor kickoff and kickoff coverage performance over the last three games, remains a concern for the coach, who said those problems need to be corrected. The coverage troubles, though, are at least partially related to the kickoff depth problems, and, short of a bionic leg implant for one of the kickers, there doesn't look to be a short-term solution.

The near-term for the Horns involves a trip to Waco next Saturday, a place that has far too often spoiled championship hopes for Texas teams past. Brown pointed to the potential pitfall that awaits UT at Floyd Casey if Baylor plays as it did against Oklahoma and A&M, both narrow Bear losses. The head coach said from here out, with the Horns' high rankings and BCS possibilities, his players must understand that everyone will be trying to knock them off. Even more so than usual.


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