A&M week practice notes

Notes from Denius as the Horns prepare for the regular season finale at Kyle Field:

"Practice has been great," Mack Brown said after the Horns wrapped up their next-to-last practice before heading east Thursday afternoon. "We need to get another one (Wednesday) to be ready to play (but) the guys are upbeat and they're excited about the challenge of going to Kyle Field."

The head coach said his players, after the off-weekend, "are really fresh right now." Brown and Greg Davis said Monday that they "anticipate" that both Tillman Holloway and Antwan Kirk-Hughes will play Friday. Holloway (knee) and Kirk-Hughes (ankle) both seemed to particularly benefit from the off-week, practicing Monday with no apparent injury-related recurrences. If both guys can go Friday, the Horns will return to their mid-season guard rotation of Holloway at left guard, Kirk-Hughes at right guard and Derrick Dockery playing both.

Having a healthy front five (aside from back-up Beau Baker, who is out for the season after injuring his knee against Kansas) could be vital to the Horns' success against the Ags (and to Cedric Benson's chances of eclipsing UT's rookie rushing mark and 1,000-yard mark for the season). A&M's defense has not allowed a 100-yard rusher all season, and Brown labeled it "improbable" that his team could do it. "I don't know if we can get 100 yards against A&M because no one else has," the Texas coach added. Chalk that up to coach-speak, of course, in an effort to avoid providing the College Station crew with even a shred of bulletin board material.

Brown did say the 100-yard mark would be a "goal for us." If the Horns achieve that goal (and they should unless the Ags intend to allow the Texas wideouts to run free all day), UT should achieve another: a 10-win season for the first time since '95.

Football notes: Benson needs 96 yards to break Ricky Williams' UT freshman rushing record and 105 yards to reach 1,000 yards for the season. . . . Aside from the sting of the first cold air of the fall, the Horns also experienced another first at their late-afternoon practices this week at Denius: crowd noise blaring from speakers to simulate the racket at Kyle Field. The real thing will be far louder than what the offense is dealing with on the practice field, but Chris Simms said he believes the team is prepared. "We've got pretty good communications with our hand signals," the Texas QB said. The experience factor will also make a huge difference, he added, from the last time the teams played at Kyle Field in '99, Simms' first start as UT's QB. "Without question, it's the toughest place to play throughout my college career," he said. "It's a neat place to play. It's loud, but that brings you together as a team because you want to quiet them." Simms said his mother, dad, brother and sister plus a couple of friends from New Jersey, at his urging, will make the trip to College Station. Phil Simms attended the game in '99, but it will be the first A&M experience for the rest of his family. At the '99 contest, the elder Simms, very protective of his skin from sunburn because of a family history of skin cancer, actually bought an A&M hat to wear as a sun block, covering the block ATM on the front of the hat with tape. This year, expect Phil to show up a bit better prepared. . . . Kyle Shanahan's dad (and Denver Broncos head coach) Mike Shanahan will also attend, according to Simms.

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