Showdown At The 'Shoe Has Horns' Full Focus

QB Vince Young said it was going to be especially difficult to concentrate in class this week. It's the first full week of September, which means that Columbus Day is just hours away.

The first-ever showdown between No. 2 Texas and No. 4 Ohio State is of such magnitude that Longhorn coach Mack Brown conceded Tuesday that his team doesn't always take it just one game at a time. As most would suspect, Texas didn't just scheme for UL-Lafayette a week ago.

"We worked on this game in the spring, we worked on it during two-a-days, and we worked on it last week," Brown said. "(Ohio State) has been doing the same thing. We've been practicing for this game a long time."

In this case, the added focus and repetition has produced anything but monotony among the Longhorns as they prepare not only for Saturday's prime-time national telecast but also for what will be the largest attended sporting event in the history of Longhorn athletics.

"A lot of players talked about this game as one of the things that excited them when they signed," Brown said. "A lot of weeks you have to push the guys. Our guys can't wait. They practiced hard. They practiced real well. They were attentive. In games like this, usually their attention is so focused that you're simpler (in practice) than normal. You don't want to put too much in."

Brown asked a few colleagues about their experience at Ohio Stadium.

"They say you can't hear a thing," Brown said.

Coaches use hand signals to call plays from the sideline but raised the volume on the 'crowd noise' sound effect in practice this week to try to simulate the sustained roar of the 104,000-plus fans who will be on hand at the Horseshoe. At the coaches' direction, players surrounded PK/P Richmond McGee and backup David Pino in practice this week and tried to "scream at them while they were kicking, and they kicked them all straight through. I think they got the point. We're back on track there."

McGee, of course, missed three of his first four PATs in Saturday's 60-3 rout of UL-Lafayette.

"It was different from what I thought," McGee said Tuesday. "There was a lot more pressure than I thought but, by the end of the game, I started knocking 'em through. I think it was a great learning experience for me. One of them I hit low. It hit a lineman. Another one, I was late on my approach. I waited about a half-second too long. It allowed the guy to come across the corner. I'll just try to put that game behind me and try to knock them through like I do in practice."

So, will Brown instruct McGee to kick away from game-breaking PR Ted Ginn, Jr.?

"It's something you just have to figure out through the week," Brown said. "Some of those decisions will probably be made on Friday but we'll have to see how the game's unfolding with field position. Field position can also change the way games are, especially on the road."

If Co-Defensive Coordinator Duane Akina is seeing Ginn in his sleep, it would be understandable. Akina is not only the secondary coach, he is also in charge of the punt coverage unit. Ginn typically lines up at FL but Ohio State coach Jim Tressel talks of moving him around to get him into open space in much the say way Texas maneuvers Ramonce Taylor.

"I've watched a lot of guys run around with their pads on," Akina said, "and I'm not sure there's a faster player carrying his pads now. He's got tremendous acceleration. He's one of those guys who looks for the home run a lot. He'll make a lot of people miss and if he can find a crease, he's explosive. When he gets into the open field, it will be an interesting race. We've really got to do a good job in running to the football and, not only that, approaching it with the right angle. We have to approach with our right leverages. It's not just about effort but, if you're on the inside number, stay on the inside number. If you've got the outside number, stay on the outside number. The big thing is we want to get those players (Ginn, Santonio Holmes) back inside and our D-line doing a great job chasing the ball. We want Larry Dibbles to have a shot at them. We want Rod Wright to have a shot at them. That's a little bit different from (FS) Michael Griffin. I love him to death and he has some big hits, but at 320 (pounds), if we can get a good lick at that guy you can create some turnovers. And that's exciting. I've always felt a swarming defense creates emotion and that's what we want our identity to be. We want to be a defense that runs and hits. That's what we want people to talk about."

This week, the talk is all about Texas vs. Ohio State. And so if Vince Young finds himself distracted during history class Wednesday, it's because he has a chance to write a chapter in College Football history this weekend.

"I told our players to remember that, for the rest of their lives, they will be in the two games that Texas played against Ohio State," Brown said. "I told them that when you're 54, you'll look on this as a great moment in your life."


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