For UT secondary, redemption means a win

September, 15, 2010
9/15/10
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Curtis Brown couldn't get away from it. He had become an unfortunate footnote -- the answer to a trivia question about one of the most memorable plays in college football history.

Whose tackle did Michael Crabtree break on the last play of the game to beat undefeated and No. 1 Texas in 2008?

"I felt like I let the team down," said Brown, a Texas cornerback. "It hurt."

[+] EnlargeCurtis Brown
AP Photo/LM OteroCurtis Brown is looking for redemption this weekend in Lubbock.
Crabtree, a two-time Biletnikoff Award winner, slipped out of Brown's tackle, raced into the end zone and the celebration in Lubbock was on.

The 39-33 loss to Texas Tech killed the Longhorns chances at a national title and allowed Oklahoma to slide into the Big 12 and national title games. Texas was sent to the Fiesta Bowl.

"Every time I've seen that play, it's just made me want to work harder," Brown said. "We just put it behind us. We couldn’t change anything that happened. Everybody got a sense of we just had to buckle down and get work done."

A play earlier, safety Blake Gideon let a tipped ball on the sideline slip through his arms, dropping what would have been a game-ending interception.

Gideon hasn't watched a replay of his dropped interception or of the game since the 2009 season began. He didn't have any plans to revisit it. But with this week's looming trip to Lubbock -- the first since the 2008 game -- he knew it was coming. Earlier this week, a reporter in Austin asked Gideon for his fairy-tale Saturday night scenario.

"Come away with a win," the junior said. "That would be the perfect ending."

Gideon isn't haunted by any dropped passes or missed tackles. The scoreboard favoring the Red Raiders is all he says stuck with him.

"Especially with the position I play, you have to have a short memory," Gideon said. "For me to harp on any individual mistake I made would be selfish, for me to not be able to move on. That wouldn't help my team to be able to move on and play in the here and now."

And here and now is a Texas Tech team with a different coaching staff but a similar style. Texas' secondary has allowed a respectable 330 yards passing -- fifth in the league -- but opponents have completed more than 65 percent of their passes. The secondary led the nation in interceptions a year ago with 25 picks, but have come up with none so far. Linebacker Keenan Robinson has the team's only interception.

"We’ve played OK. We just haven’t played to the standard we’ve set around here the last few years, but we played the first few games and got jitters/communication errors out," Gideon said.

Gideon says the Red Raiders always tests the secondary and that this Saturday will be no different.

"We know what kind of athletes they have on outside as well as inside with their running backs, and obviously they're always going to have a great quarterback that's going to be able to direct things at Tech. They're kind of interchangeable," he said, noting that Tech's high tempo adds an additional challenge for defenses. "The past few years, they'll have certain plays called and we'll have the perfect coverage called for it, and just their receivers and quarterbacks' ability to make changes and adjustments on the move are the main thing that's tough about Tech."

Preparing for 2010's game is enough work without looking back to 2008. Time has meant improvement for the Longhorns who made the last trip to Lubbock. They're hoping the work put in since that game pays off for this year's trip to the plains.

"The only thing I’m looking forward to is going out there and playing a big game. All that stuff is behind us," Brown said. "All I can do is play my game."

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