Brown: 'Toughest Five Weeks In College Football'

With CB <B>Nathan Vasher&#146;s </B>goal line interception during the closing seconds of Texas&#146; 27-24 nail biter over Nebraska, the 8-1 Texas Longhorns not only put an end (again) to the nation&#146;s longest home win streak at 26 games, it put the exclamation point on what head <B>Mack Brown </B>described during Sunday&#146;s media teleconference as the &quot;toughest five weeks in college football.&quot;

Starting with the 17-15 victory Oct. 5 against the resurgent Oklahoma State Cowboys (back-to-back stunners over Nebraska and Texas A&M) and culminating with Saturday’s 12th consecutive road win (not counting neutral sites) at Lincoln, no NCAA Division-I team has had it tougher during the stretch than Texas, Brown said. Unfortunately, his team has the bruises to prove it.

DT Marcus Tubbs left the game with a first half calf injury (he is listed as "questionable" for Saturday's 11:30 a.m. Baylor game) and was limited to 14 plays. DE Kalen Thornton suffered an ankle injured in the third quarter (he also is listed as "questionable" for the Baylor game). Freshman DT Rodrique Wright played with a sore knee (and is probable for this weekend's contest with the Bears), while QB Chris Simms performed with a dislocated ring finger on his throwing hand.

"This is as banged up defensively as we have been all year," Brown said. "We’ve had awful luck this year. We haven’t had anything good happen to us with injuries. Thank goodness we've recruited well and have the depth who can step up. We tried to tie a defense together in second half and hang in there."

"It was a very, very physical game," the head coach added. "I’ve never seen any two teams try any harder than these two did Saturday."

Brown said the defense is as battered now as the offense was during the early part of the five-game stretch. With his school record 13 catches for 161 yards, SE Roy Williams appears to have shaken off the lingering effects of the hamstring injury suffered against Houston, Sept. 21. Texas receivers looked like they were "back in the (2001) Holiday Bowl with their performance." Brown said. (A timely comparison since Simms’ 419 yards against the Huskers is second only to QB Major Applewhite’s school record 473 passing yards against the Huskies last December.)

"I’m really impressed with (Simms’) toughness," Brown said. "He dislocated his finger and he was so mad when he came over to the sideline because he wanted to get right back on the field. He didn’t take many hits but the ones he took were tough hits."

Simms also deftly controlled both the game clock and the deafening stadium noise.

"It was really hard to hear which is why we had some motion penalties," Brown said. "But I thought Chris managed the crowd really well. It was the largest crowd they ever had, and sometimes we couldn’t hear at all."

Brown also commended Wright (a future Longhorn legend if he stays healthy) for playing with pain to finish the night with nine tackles, second only to MLB Reed Boyd.

"Rod made some tough and athletic plays last night," Brown said of the true freshman DT, whose stats included three tackles for losses. "He sucked it up and played hard."

Despite the injuries and despite the setback against the Sooners, the past five weeks have tested the team’s mettle and have forged them into a national title contender once again.

"I’m impressed with this team because they are a much tough team than they were five weeks ago," Brown concluded. "When we started this stretch, some tough things happened and we have won some games in the fourth quarter (four of five to be exact). This team is learning it can handle any adversity."

So how about some rest for the weary? Not a chance. Not even on Sunday. Not even after a red-eye flight from Big Red country.

"Some of the players said they were so banged up that they asked if they could have (Sunday) off." Brown commented. "We said, ‘No. Show up on time and get ready to play Baylor.’"


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