Brown: Special Teams, Turnovers Loom Large vs Hogs

Texas lost all phases of the kicking game in last year's 38-28 upset to Arkansas. That's why head coach <B>Mack Brown</B> stressed the importance of special teams as a key determinate to the outcome Saturday when the Horns travel to Fayetteville.

"They whipped us really good in special teams last year, and that's a huge part of this weekend," Brown said following Wednesday's Longhorn practice

The loss snapped Texas' 20-game home win streak, which would now have led the nation. Even with a depleted roster that includes but one returning offensive starter (senior QB Matt Jones), Brown pointed out that Arkansas' special teams remain intact.

"Everyone talks about the (personnel) losses at Arkansas," Brown said, "but their punters, their kickers and their return people are back."

Turnovers could play a large role in the Longhorns' battle in Fayetteville, Brown added. Last year, Texas turned the ball over three times against the Hogs, and two of those giveaways led to one-play scoring drives. SE Roy Williams' fumble at the Texas 5 in the second quarter led to a De'Arrius Howard TD plunge and a 21-7 lead. Then, with Texas attempting a third quarter comeback, FL Tony Jeffery fumbled at the Texas 46. That set up RB Cedric Cobbs' 46-yard, up-the-gut sprint in which he was largely untouched.

"Usually if we lose a football game, the turnovers have been involved," said Brown.

The Horns fumbled three times against North Texas Saturday (recovering all three). That's why Brown reiterated the importance of holding on to the football this weekend. In fact, reducing fumbles (especially at the QB position) has been a focal point since spring drills. Coaches have taught QB Vince Young to carry the mail "high and tight" (according to VY). Full speed tackling (something that the new defensive coaches introduced during spring drills and the off-season) should better prepare QBs for the kamikaze hits they can expect from some upper-echelon teams on the schedule.

"We have got to do a good job of taking care of the ball because we are going to get hit a lot harder than we did Saturday night," Brown noted.

The Texas head coach knows it will be a challenge for his defense to contain the tough, rangy Jones, who rushed for 102 yards last year in Austin and can throw well on the run.

"Our defense has been chasing Vince all fall and spring, so they have chased a really fast one," said Brown. "But this one is really fast and really strong. Both defenses are going to be totally focused on those guys. It's a great matchup of two of the best quarterbacks known for their legs but can also throw the ball."

Texas and Arkansas tee it up for the 76th time, 7:45 p.m., Saturday in an ESPN national telecast.


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