Brown: Lafayette Wants To Make A 'Statement'

No team Texas faces this season will have a bigger chip on its shoulder than Louisiana-Lafayette. Or, at least that was the essence of Texas coach Mack Brown's assessment Wednesday of his team's season-opener against the Rajin' Cajuns.

"Anytime you are playing someone in an opening ballgame and people tell you that you are going to lose before you get here, you come in here to make a statement," Brown said. "(Louisiana-Lafayette) will be really excited about the game and it's a chance for them to get national attention. They will be excited, and our guys need to understand that we were down 10-0 in the first game (against them in '01), so there isn't an easy game."

The two teams hooked up five years ago and saw Louisiana-Lafayette jump to a double-digit lead after returning a Chris Simms' INT for TD. Brown inserted QB Major Applewhite and the Horns rolled to a 52-10 victory. Even so, Brown is using every motivational play to keep his team focused on Saturday's game rather than the Sept. 10 showdown at Ohio State.

"We told them at the end of practice that you work 352 days for 13 Saturdays," Brown said, "and you want to make sure you play really well each one of those Saturdays. This is their first chance to be seen with this football team."

Louisiana-Lafayette runs a multiple offense that Texas coaches believe will prepare the team for future opponents. Even so, Brown does not want his Horns looking past Saturday's opponent.

"They moved the ball against Kansas State last year, so we understand that we will give our defense some problems," he said. "We are going to get tested in a lot of areas, and we are excited about that test. They really test you with schemes offensively, so this will be a great test for our defensive staff members to be out there together, and we are excited to see how they match up."

An intriguing plot line will be how Texas utilizes sophomore Ramonce Taylor in Saturday's game.

"I'm really excited going into this year knowing that I am playing a big part of the team," Taylor said, "and I'm going to go out there and have fun."

Taylor will be all over the field but will enter the home opener at SE. He'll also line up in the slot, at FL and maybe even at RB where he held the top spot in the depth chart throughout spring drills.

"I'm in receivers meetings more than running back meetings," he said. "I have the running back down already. I'm doing a little bit of everything. The adjustment (to WR) is fine. I'm just going out there and trying to make things happen."

Taylor has been referenced in national magazine's as a "poor man's Reggie Bush" but is now being looked at by Texas coaches as SE Roy Williams' belated heir. Those are quite big shoes to fill given RT's limited action last season, not to mention the fact that he was recruited as an 'athlete' and gives up five inches to Williams. Yet, RT is the fastest player Brown has ever coached during his 22-year career. Clocked at under 4.3, RT is a go-the-distance threat every time he touches the pigskin.

"You throw the ball deep, I'm gonna go get it," Taylor said. "I'm the type of player who likes to have the ball in his hand and make things happen. Almost every route, I go up the middle. I don't mind contact, not at all."

Obviously, the devastation of Hurricane Katrina puts Saturday's game in perspective.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the people in Louisiana and Mississippi," Brown said, "and we all see how tragic the situation is there. We will encourage our fans during the game to give to any of the places in the New Orleans and Mississippi area that will help the relief funds."


Added Brown, "They (Louisiana-Lafayette) probably had some distractions with family and weather, but football is a great way to get away and put your mind in a different place, so this will be a tremendous trip for them to come and get away from all the problems they see back home in Louisiana."

With triple-digit temperatures, Fall Semester classes began Wednesday at the University.

"The first day of school is usually a tough practice because players lose their focus," Brown said, "but they did very well. They worked hard against each other. They were competitive, and we are pleased with all we got to accomplish today."

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