Michigan players said this week that they allowed themselves to become distracted by the bright lights-big city atmosphere surrounding their Rose Bowl trip one year ago, citing it as a factor in their 14-point loss to eventual co-national champion USC. Now, Brown is convinced that part of the reason Texas lost in the 2003 Holiday Bowl is because coaches made bowl week practices too strenuous in the final few days before the game.
"We felt like we worked them too hard out at the bowl last year and lost it about two days before the ball game," Brown said. "We're trying to get so much of our physical work done here before we get out there. We'll still have to practice hard when we get out there but it will be different."
A significant part of practice this past week has been to allow for reps for second- and third-teamers. Texas has scrimmaged three times within the past week primarily with backups, said Brown, who previously likened bowl preparation weeks as the equivalent of another spring training.
"We've gotten them a really good look," Brown added, "but we're so thin at tailback that it makes it tough to go too long. But we stick some other guys back there and tell them what to do. We've told the redshirted guys, 'You better start working towards spring practice because it will be here toward the end of February.'"
Longhorn fans have requested more than 42,000 tickets for the Rose Bowl, Brown reported. This time last year, Texas sold little more than 5,000 Holiday Bowl tickets.
"Every time they turn on the TV, it's talking about the Texas-Michigan matchup," Brown said. "Not only the BCS and the Rose Bowl but also because we've never played Michigan. That's an exciting thing for Texas fans because there's not many things you can do here that they haven't experienced before."
The same level of excitement is still contagious among UT players as they prepare for the Wolverines.
"They are obviously excited about the Rose Bowl but even more so about Michigan," Brown said. "I think the seniors are the most excited because they've worked really hard for three years in a row and have come up short in their goals."
Brown expects a recruiting boost from participating in such a high-profile BCS game.
"It does effect recruiting," Brown noted. "That (BCS bid) is one less thing that an opposing team can say about us that we haven't accomplished. And you need to play well because all eyes will be on that game."
Texas will practice at Frank Denius Fields on Sunday and Monday afternoons before wrapping things up Tuesday morning. The team will break for the holidays and are scheduled to arrive in Los Angeles on December 25.