Playing to a Championship Standard

Much of this week's media session started with Texas Longhorns coach Mack Brown dodging questions focused on blowouts, mop-up duty plans, and other assumptions about an opening W over Louisiana-Monroe. Mack Brown did his best to caution everyone, fans and media, that there are no guarantees in college football.

After artfully avoiding several questions about a lopsided victory, Mack Brown mentioned Appalachian State's historic victory over a then #5 Michigan in 2007. He also mentioned his three worst opening games at Texas: the 1999 loss on three blocked punts versus North Carolina State, the 2002 opener versus North Texas (27-0 W) when the team was held scoreless in the second half, and most recently, against Arkansas State in 2007 when the team won 21-13 after leading 21-0 at half.

The irony of two of the games is that his Longhorn team won, albeit in ugly fashion, so at least in retrospect, he had an expectation of something more than just a W.

The cold hard facts say that Mack Brown is 10-1 in season openers at Texas. Brown has won his last nine openers since that North Carolina State loss in 1999 and twelve of his last thirteen dating back to his days at North Carolina.

In the storied 116-year history of Texas football, the team is 96-17-3 in season openers. When opening the season at home, Texas is even better with a 75-7-2 mark.

Clearly the expectation on Saturday is for a Texas Longhorn victory. Despite cautioning the fans and media about assuming a Longhorn victory and the fact that this ULM team beat Alabama two years ago, Brown does not attempt to scare his own team.

"We try not to play up the scared approach at all. I think you can convince your team that they could lose. So what we'd rather do is ask our team to play up to a standard. And play very, very high. And give credit to Louisiana-Monroe where it is deserved," Brown said.

That standard has been a common theme throughout the fall camp. The team aspires to play at a championship level. And that has been true of starters, back-ups, assistant coaches, and the head man himself. The standard sounds simple enough.

Brown explained, "We want to be the best team we can be every play regardless of who we are playing and regardless of who is in the game. And that is the standard we are asking them to play to."

Earlier in August when fiery defensive coordinator Will Muschamp was asked if his expectations were lower for younger players on his defensive line, Muschamp opined, "At the University of Texas our expectation is to be outstanding."

Saturday will be junior defensive end Sam Acho's first start, but he understands what coaches Brown and Muschamp are preaching about playing at a championship level.

"There is a standard that you have to live up to when you play at Texas. I am just doing my best to live up to that standard," Acho said. "I'm sure everyone here is trying to do the same."

As the leader on the field on both sides of the ball, senior quarterback Colt McCoy has his own take on what it means to play at Texas.

"We're going to do things the right way first of all. We're going to work as hard as we can, prepare as hard as we can. We're not going to do anything that is not the right way. We're not going to cheat. We're not going to do anything wrong," McCoy said. "Every person that walks into that (locker) room knows that I am at the greatest university in Texas and I am going to represent it the best that I can."

Acho states it even more simply.

"We are Texas. We have to live up to the standard of being Texas," Acho reiterated.

That standard will be put to the test on Saturday against the ULM Warhawks. If the team meets the standard of being the best team it can be every play regardless of who it is playing for fourteen games, this team has a chance to create a new standard for future Longhorn squads.

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