"All the games have been tight, and we're not getting to play a lot of guys," Brown said. "Last year we blew nearly everybody out and, most of the time, we could play people in the fourth quarter. We've only played the two-deep guys, and we can't get any work out of the third-team guys."
One of the reasons why Brown does so well in recruiting is that he offers more scholarships than he actually has available, knowing that there are going to be at least a half-dozen transfers by the time freshmen report (sort of like intentionally over-booking an airline). Still, a promise that coaches make to second- and third-team players is that "if you stay, you play." (It just may not be when Nebraska is on your 16-yard line in the closing seconds of a three-point game).
"Some kids, regardless of the level, just want to play," Brown said of those who have opted to transfer. "But guys who don't start here, if they transfer, usually don't start somewhere else."
The emergence of RB Cedric Benson, for example, prompted the transfers of former Longhorns Victor Ike, Kenny Hayter and Sneezy Beltran. But one guy who stayed the course and clearly made the most of his minutes, is FB Ivan Williams.
Williams was the starting RB until Benson emerged in last year's Oklahoma State game. After Williams was moved to fullback, he found himself slipping further down the depth chart and was seeing limited action on kickoff returns. (It's kind of hard to get a return if you are part of a team that is No. 8 nationally in scoring defense.)
But Williams continued to bide his time. The junior scored two touchdowns, including the game-winner, in last season's Holiday Bowl. Then, he emerged as a surprise receiving threat against Iowa State. (Williams is a tad slow on his first step out of the backfield but becomes an avalanche in shoulder pads once he gets moving.) Of course, he was a joy to behold in the 27-24 win at Nebraska, where he registered a career-best 111 yards on six receptions.
"Ivan has really helped this football team," Brown said. "I'm sure he's been down. I'm sure he's been disappointed. But he didn't quit. Because of his resilience and our not giving up on him, he's found his niche."