Ask James Brown

Former Longhorn QB and NFL Europe star James Brown answers your questions on getting the first start of his college football career against Oklahoma, how much a quarterback hears on the field and his new coaching job at Lamar University.

Legendary Longhorn QB James Brown (1994-97) answers your Texas football-related questions. Brown led Texas to three consecutive conference titles, including the inaugural Big 12 Conference championship. If you have a question for James, please submit it to insidetx@realtime.net, with the subject "Ask James" by 5 p.m., Tuesday. Brown's column will appear Wednesday's during football season.

Q: You had your first collegiate start against Oklahoma (1994) as a redshirt freshman. When did the game slow down for you that day? When did the jitters go away?

BROWN: I think it was the first series in the third quarter. I think I ran one in for a touchdown in the third quarter. I had an early interception. I threw into double-coverage. I remember Coach Cleve Bryant on the sideline telling me to wipe the piss off my leg and get back in there. ‘Get the piss off your leg and you're good.' That settled me down. It was a Cover-Two and I was just looking at my receiver. I wasn't reading the coverage. I saw him beat the corner but they had a safety back there.

Q: When were you told you would start against OU?

BROWN: Shea Morenz was the starter, and we didn't even have a second-string quarterback at the time. I found out just before we took the field, right after the Lord's Prayer. I believe the only reason I was the second-stringer was because, the week before, Shea got hurt against Colorado. He hurt his knee for one game and I just happened to be standing next to coach (John) Mackovic. I was writing down the plays and he said, ‘Go in!' I went in for one play, and that made me the second-string quarterback in his eyes…just because I was standing next to the coach on the sideline. Shea didn't practice at all that week. In fact, he didn't go through pre-game warm-ups against OU. He was on a stationary bike. We went out for pre-game warm-up and, right after the team prayer, Mackovic said I was going to start. (Backup QB) John Dutton and I split snaps that week in practice; it was pretty equally divided. You know, I didn't even think about it. We both assumed we were just practicing until Shea played. There wasn't a second-string quarterback. It was all Shea, Shea, Shea. I didn't have time to get nervous. I thought I would be holding the clipboard that day. I threw a lot of short passes in that game. I threw a lot to the running backs and tight end. I was taking what they were giving me to move the ball, whereas Shea wanted to throw the big pass. He was going down field more. I just wanted to keep it moving.

Q: How aware were you of the crowd noise, whether it was at home or on the road?

BROWN: I never heard specifics from the crowd. You can hear a general applause or a general moan, but nothing specific. You can hear a general rumble, and you can tell if it's a good rumble or a bad rumble. Once the play starts, for whatever reason, you don't hear the crowd. It's like you're taking a test. We would practice all week on those plays and drill, drill, drill. Each play is a test. I had my reads to make; I had my checks to make. I guess our brains put those things first and that tunes out the background noise.

Q: A subscriber wondered if there are plans to re-instate the football program at Texas-Arlington, given that you (as quarterbacks coach) are part of the current revival at Lamar University.

BROWN: I have not heard anything about that, but I'll ask around. We got the program reinstated at Lamar after we talked to the school president. There was a lot of student pride. A football team brings a certain amount of pride to a school. There is a kind of camaraderie that you get at a football game rather than being inside a basketball arena. I think Lamar discontinued football because they felt it was going in the wrong direction back in 1989. There were a lot of thuggish guys and they weren't winning. I think they discontinued football to get a cleaner image. People here are hungry for football. There are a lot of outstanding high school programs in the Golden Triangle, but a football program at Lamar can bring all that energy to one team that everybody can support. That's why we're trying to get a lot of guys from this area.

Q: Where are you, now, with recruiting your first class for the 2010 season?

BROWN: I just passed the NCAA recruiting test. There are so many rules and regulations. You can only text and E-mail them so many times. It's just ridiculous. There's a lot I have to learn that is second nature for other coaches on the staff. There's a lot of information you have to live rather than learning the answers on a test. I don't want to get the school in trouble just because I'm young.

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James Brown (1994-96) guided Texas to three straight conference championships, including the final Southwest Conference and inaugural Big 12 titles. Brown ranks No. 2 all-time at UT in career passing yards (7,638) and third all-time with 58 touchdown passes.


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