Brown: Horns Respectful But Ready

If there's one aspect Texas head coach Mack Brown hammered home, it's that his team has confidence.

The word became nearly a catchall for every question asked about how the Longhorns, once 1-2, were able to win five consecutive Big 12 games to get to 6-2 overall and the unbeaten mark in league play. Texas still has games against Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Baylor following Saturday's 7 p.m. contest at West Virginia. But it does appear – despite their overflowing confidence – the ‘Horns are giving WVU plenty of respect.

"They won a tough game on the road at TCU on the road in overtime," Brown said. "They forced four turnovers. That young (Clint) Trickett is playing good at quarterback. He's a coach's son and knows how to manage a game. And they are running the ball well; (Charles) Sims is a really good football player. They've got some really good players on defense and they have done a good job stopping the run and they have a couple pro prospects in that secondary, too. West Virginia is a tough team up there. They beat Oklahoma State at home. We know we have a huge challenge this weekend."

Brown was asked if he had ever coached within the Mountain State. While he hasn't, he has faced the Mountaineers twice: last season in the 48-45 WVU win in Austin and in the 1997 Gator Bowl, when his North Carolina squad matched up against West Virginia in a battle of the nation's top two defenses. UNC prevailed 20-13.

"I've never been there," Brown said. "So we're really excited. We always heard about how great their fan base is and how challenging it is to go there and play. It'll be a fun night for our guys and a great trip. You win with the running game and defense on the road, and you have to have a great kicking game. A lot of times your offense struggles at times and West Virginia is playing some defense right now."

Texas did announce that quarterback David Ash would miss the WVU game with a "reoccurrence of concussion symptoms." It will be the fifth consecutive game Ash has sat out. Case McCoy will make his sixth start off the season, with true freshman Tyrone Swoops the back-up. McCoy has completed a solid 104 of 171 passes for 1,188 yards and five touchdowns this season in become a bit more than a game manager in UT's five-game streak.

"The number one thing that's happened, outside their confidence, is the confidence in each other," Brown said of the reason for the turnaround. "We are playing better defense than we have played in the last few years and we are forcing some turnovers. We've actually scored on defense, and the last few weeks, special teams. We weren't as sharp on offense as we'd like to be, but we have seen it. It's there. When we run the ball, the other stuff happens more easily. We just have to do a good job continuing to run the ball and in throwing it. The team really believes we have a chance to, in the next five weeks, win the next four games.

"I think they thought (winning the Big 12) could happen, they just needed to see it. Obviously, the transition of (defensive coordinator) Greg Robinson coming in was huge question mark when we started league play with Kansas State five games ago. That transition is going well, our defense is playing well and that's giving the whole team more confidence. I think beating Kansas State gave our team a lot of confidence simply because that's been a nemesis for us. Kansas State has always been a very physical football team, and we went from 1-2 to even against a team that we have had trouble with. And then the fact that we were able to go to Dallas and beat Oklahoma a couple weeks later gave the guys even more confidence.

"Right now, we are playing at a high level with confidence. Our guys do know that we have four tough games left, but they also know we have a chance. I do think this will be among the most exciting final five weeks in Big 12 history, because there is a lot of parity. A lot of people, not just us, have some huge games that'll make a difference in who wins the conference championship. It should be a lot of fun."


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