Thursday Is 'Last Play' Day For Horns

Offensively, it hasn't happened for Texas since 1995. That's when K <B>Phil Dawson</b> booted that 50-yard, game-winning field goal (into the wind) to beat Virginia, propelling the Burnt Orange toward the final Southwest Conference Championship. But the Horns are prepared — just in case the outcome of the game comes down to the last play of the game.

"Every Thursday we work on the last play of the game," head coach Mack Brown said, as his No. 9 Longhorns returned to practice this week in preparation for the SBC Cotton Bowl match-up against LSU. "We've done it since we've been here. It's one of those ‘Hail Marys' where everybody's back there and (defensively) making sure we bat it down."

Perhaps no bowl game pairs two teams that had so many games decided in the waning seconds during the 2002 regular season. Consider this: Marcus Tubbs' game-saving blocked FG attempt to preserve the 17-14 win at Kansas State; Nathan Vasher's goal-line interception at Nebraska, Rod Babers' heroics late against Oklahoma State, while both the Iowa State and Texas Tech games weren't decided until the fourth quarter.

Whew! The last time I saw so many Longhorn games go down to the wire was back in 1984. (The Horns tied OU while nipping SMU and Texas Tech as time expired in an agonizing season that saw the team go from No. 1 in October to unranked -- and just plain rank -- in that Freedom Bowl debacle against Iowa.)

However, college football's play-of-the-year is arguably LSU's last gasp, Hail Mary scoring toss to beat Kentucky (even after students were tearing down goal posts and Wildcat coaches were drenched with Gatorade). Unless, of course, the play-of-the-year is Arkansas' last gasp, Hail Mary scoring toss to beat LSU on the last play of the game (denying LSU the outright SEC Western Division title and the opportunity to get slapped around by Georgia in its conference championship).

"I think every coach in the country, right after the Kentucky game, told their players, ‘Do not throw water on me until the clock is out'," Brown said. "I think everybody made a special emphasis to get that (game) tape out when it happened to make sure that everybody saw it. It's something that comes up a lot now with young people, so you make sure that you're continually talking to them about that."

The Horns will practice each morning this week through Saturday before breaking for Christmas. The team reconvenes in Dallas at 9 p.m. on December 25 and will practice the following morning at Southern Methodist University. The LSU squad is scheduled to arrive in Dallas by 3 p.m., December 26 and will practice at Texas Stadium.

Tubbs, who re-injured his calf against Texas Tech and missed the Texas A&M game, has not returned to practice.

"We're hoping Marcus will re-join us when we get to Dallas," Brown said.

Texas' pre-bowl preparations, in essence, constitute an additional spring training session for the Horns. Texas will hold 13 practice sessions between this week and January 1 while spring training (beginning February 24) includes 15 workouts.

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