Barnett Bringing Tuffer Buffs To Austin

When No. 24 Colorado arrives in Austin Saturday, the Longhorns face an entirely different group of Buffaloes than the bunch Texas handily beat 31-7 last season, according to Colorado coach Gary Barnett.

"We’re growing in confidence and playing better football," said Barnett. "Our feel for this game is completely different from last year. We are bringing a very confident team to Austin."

Unfortunately for Barnett, the Texas team is different too.

"The biggest difference between this Texas team and the (Texas) teams we’ve played over the last four years is that they are playing really well as a team," said Barnett. "In the past, you wondered if there were enough footballs to go around to all of their guys."

Barnett credits QB Vince Young’s development as the primary reason for Texas' success last year and for the Horns’ current 5-0 campaign.

"Vince Young’s growth as a passer has taken them to another level. You could see it last year, especially in the Rose Bowl," said Barnett. "You can’t make him one dimensional anymore–you can’t take away the run and make him throw because he does that so well. He is such a big guy and such a tremendous athlete that he can just take the game into his own hands and change it."

On the other side of the ball, Texas brings a highly rated defense (NCAA No. 5, 240.6 ypg) that has seen an upgrade from 2004, as evidenced by last weekend's shellacking of Oklahoma in which the Horns limited the Sooners to just 171 yards (OU's lowest output against Texas in 26 years) during the 45-12 victory.

"Defensively, I wondered if they would take a step down from last year with all the kids that they lost, but not really," said Barnett. "They are right there where they need to be. There isn’t a weakness on their defense."

Coming off a huge 41-20 win over Texas A&M, the Buffs stampede into DKR with a boost of confidence. The group snapped a nine-game losing streak to Big 12 South teams with wins over the Aggies and Oklahoma State on consecutive weekends.

"We’ve been on the road twice in two hostile environments, and now we are going to go to another one," Barnett said, "but we are coming off an important win in a game that gave us a lot of confidence. We’ve been in the heat and we are going to go back to the heat. I think it’s expected to be about 90 (degrees) Saturday and it’s about 40 (degrees) here. It will be a bit of a challenge but we have some guys from Texas and I think all of our guys are looking forward to it."

Colorado has won three of the past four Big 12 North titles and is the frontrunner to represent the North in the December 3 title game at Reliant Stadium. The Buffs are certainly improved from last season, but are they ready to repeat their 2001 Big 12 Championship season?

Almost.

"I don’t know if I’m quite ready to say it has the same feel, but it’s pretty close," Barnett said.


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