Big 12: Fozzy Whittaker

HornsNation links: Fozzy presses on

April, 26, 2012
HornsNation has more coverage of the Texas Longhorns:

Max Olson writes: While facing an uncertain football future, Fozzy Whittaker will do as his family has done before: face change and adversity with grace and heart.


Pro days are valuable for underclassmen

March, 23, 2012
WACO, Texas -- One man lays underneath 225 pounds on a bench press, in the midst of proving to NFL scouts he can lift it a whole lot of times.

Around the bench are at least 15 others who won't get a turn, at least not this year. They're there to provide (extremely) vocal moral support.

Maybe their yells of encouragement mean another rep or two from their former teammate. They're going to do everything possible to make sure.

Their presence isn't just for the benefit of the men running 40-yard dashes or bench-pressing 225 pounds as many times as they can -- the results of each task potentially earning them more money on their first NFL contract.

[+] EnlargeEmmanuel Acho
Harry How/Getty Images"If you wait for the three-month stretch after the bowl game, you won't perform at a high level," said Emmanuel Acho.
Players with another year or more before they get a chance to show their stuff to NFL scouts at a pro day or the combine can learn a lot from showing up to pro day, whether they offer moral support or not.

"This is a day about dreams becoming touchable," said Baylor coach Art Briles. "They’re not on paper. They’re not in your head. They’re real. You can see them and touch them."

It's not every day NFL head coaches are walking around a college indoor facility, like they were at Baylor and Texas this week, as well as Stanford on Thursday and tens of others through the spring.

Briles knows the element of the intangible becoming tangible makes pro days special, especially for players who didn't get a prized slot at the NFL combine.

"At the combine, they told us millions of kids play high school football, 65,000 play college football, 350 or so of us get invited to the combine and only 256 get drafted," said Texas linebacker Emmanuel Acho. "That’s a harsh reality to come to grips with. If you come to grips with it in college, you’ll work that much harder."

But for all the cloud-floating that can come with a day when dreams are realized, there are plenty of details younger players can pick up on while scouts scrutinize.

"A big main key was, to me, follow directions and listen to what they’re telling you to do. If you can do that, everything else is up to you," Texas running back Fozzy Whittaker said. "You have all control over following directions and just listen to what they’re saying in terms of running a drill or running a route. Staying outside of cones rather than running inside, just the simple things you can control mentally. There’s a lot of things I’ve seen that’ll affect the coaches, because if you have three guys that do the same drill and they all do it right and the fourth guy messes it up, it’s like, what were you doing the whole time the other guys were doing it?"

There's a lot to focus on for everyone involved with pro days, but the undercurrent is the same for everyone -- from first-round picks to probable post-draft free agents.

"All these guys have worked their way into this," Baylor defensive coordinator Phil Bennett said. "It's an earned right to get to do what they’re doing."

They earned the right for NFL coaches to see them, but even underclassmen get that opportunity after pro day is over. Some NFL personnel stick around campus for practice in the afternoon to get a jump on seeing up close the players they'll be seeing at next year's pro day.

"Knowledge is power. If they see you have knowledge of the game, it allows you to play fast. If you have knowledge, you have confidence. That’s what they look for," Bennett said. "Kids call it swagger, or whatever it is, but when you're confident in what you’re doing, you play fast. When pros come in here, that’s what they look for, the guys that know what they’re doing and play like they know what they’re doing."

To prepare for pro day, most prospects leave school for training facilities. Baylor's Robert Griffin III spent the past few months in Arizona. Texas linebacker Keenan Robinson went to California. They're away from teammates for months, and when they return in anticipation of a pro day, it's easy for underclassmen to see what those intense training regimens do. Robinson and Griffin saw it in their own teammates.

"The players hadn’t seen me in a couple months, see the transformation that my body has made, just seeing the work ethic I had to get where I am today, how it really helped improve my stock," Robinson said. "When you go out for training, you can’t just go out there lollygagging and being complacent. You have to go every day with a burden on your back and strive to be the best player, because someone else around the country is doing what you’re doing, and maybe more."

Even with those transformations, training can't begin when the bowl game ends.

"The stuff I was able to do today didn’t come from me training after the season was over," Robinson said. "It came from all the hard work and hard labor I put in from the end of my senior year of high school until now."

Said Acho: "If you wait for the three-month stretch after the bowl game, you won’t perform at a high level. But if you work with that same mentality in every individual period before practice and come out here, it’ll be second nature."

Pro days can be pressure-packed, but ultimately, everyone's faced with the biggest truth of a day that often feels enormous: The biggest work NFL coaches want to see is already done.

"The first thing you can do is play hard, because tape doesn’t lie. One NFL coach was telling me, 'We were watching a play and this kid looked like he turned something down.' I mean, they watch everything," Bennett said. "So, when you’re playing and practicing, you better know, somebody’s watching. And it might not just be your coaches, it might be your future coaches."

Lunch links: Is the Big 12 payday right?

March, 19, 2012
Nice weekend for George Thornton, who's on top of the Big 12 Blog Challenge after the tournament's first weekend. He's got 510 points and is in the 100th percentile.

Yours truly is holding it down in the 61st percentile with 400 points. Just looming, you know.

Checking in on the Big 12 at the combine

February, 27, 2012
The NFL combine went down over the weekend, and we had a few of our NFL folk on-site to relay the results.

Here's a look at how the notable Big 12 talents did:


Robert Griffin III, Baylor
  • 40-yard dash: 4.41 seconds (fastest among QBs)
Running backs

Terrance Ganaway, Baylor
  • 40-yard dash: 4.67 seconds

Fozzy Whittaker, Texas
  • 225-pound bench press: 20 reps (T-12 among running backs)

Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State
  • 40-yard dash: DNP
  • 225-pound bench press: 14 reps
Kendall Wright, Baylor
  • 40-yard dash: 4.61 seconds
Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma
  • 225-pound bench press: 21 reps (second among receivers)
Offensive linemen

Philip Blake, Baylor
  • 40-yard dash: 5.25 seconds (11th among linemen)
Donald Stephenson, Oklahoma
  • 40-yard dash: 4.94 seconds (best among linemen)
Tight ends

James Hanna, Oklahoma
  • 40-yard dash: 4.49 seconds (best among tight ends)
  • 225-pound bench press: 24 reps (fourth among tight ends)

Defenders will take the field today and Tuesday. Here's the full schedule.

A few thoughts on these numbers:
  • I'd like to be wowed by RG3's 40 time, the fastest among QBs ever at the combine since Michael Vick, but I'm really not. Was there any doubt he'd run a time like that? Other than Vick, was any quarterback anywhere close to Griffin's speed? No. It's amazing, yes. But surprising? No. He's a freak athlete whose mind is just as sharp as his body. We haven't seen a quarterback with his combination of speed and throwing acumen. He didn't throw at the combine, but he'll do so at his pro day in Waco on March 21.
  • The bench press numbers for Blackmon (14) and Broyles (21) were eye-popping. There's lots of reasons for it: Broyles' arms are shorter and with his torn ACL, I'm sure he's worked on his upper body almost exclusively in recent months. However, Blackmon's one of the most "football strong" receivers I've ever seen. It'll be interesting to see what Broyles looks like when he comes back. All he can do now is prove to NFL teams his knee is healing.
  • A 4.61 40 time for Kendall Wright? What's that about? I would have placed him around the 4.4 range, right next to RG3. I have to think Wright ran an awful time or had some kind of ailment. He's run by a ton of DBs this year for 1,662 receiving yards, and tons of deep balls from RG3. I'm shocked to see a time that slow.
We're continuing our look at the postseason rankings for each position in the Big 12. Here's a look back at where the running backs ranked in the preseason.

In this position, unlike quarterback, depth is a major, major factor in these rankings.

1. Texas A&M

The Aggies had the two most talented backs, and despite injuries to both, proved it through an otherwise frustrating 2011. Christine Michael suffered a torn ACL, but still managed 899 yards on just 149 carries. Cyrus Gray injured his shoulder late in the season, but secured his second consecutive 1,000-yard season and ranked third in the Big 12, despite carrying the ball just 198 times. This duo should have easily surpassed 1,000 yards, but even when they were injured, Ben Malena played well in the final two games.

[+] EnlargeChristine Michael
AP Photo/Brandon WadeChristine Michael averaged 6 yards per carry before a torn ACL ended his season.
2. Missouri

Mizzou dealt with injuries, too, first to Kendial Lawrence and De'Vion Moore. Cue Henry Josey. Josey became the best back in the Big 12 this year before suffering a major knee injury that included torn ligaments. He may not be back in 2012. His 1,168 yards were third most in the Big 12, despite carrying the ball just 145 times. Lawrence finished 12th with 566 yards.

3. Oklahoma State

Joseph Randle stole the show this year, rushing for 24 scores and ranking second in the Big 12 with 1,216 yards. Only Collin Klein ran for more touchdowns and Terrance Ganaway was the only player with more yardage. Still, Jeremy Smith had averaged more than 7 yards a carry, and he'd be able to start for anyone else in the league. Herschel Sims showed promise, too, with 242 yards on 31 carries.

4. Baylor

Ganaway led the Big 12 in rushing with huge performances late in the season, including a 200-yard, five-touchdown game in his final outing as a college athlete in the Alamo Bowl. He averaged more than 6 yards on his 250 carries and had 330 more yards than any other back in the league. Jarred Salubi added 331 yards, too.

5. Texas

Texas' Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron were banged-up late in the season, but Fozzy Whittaker played well until suffering a torn ACL against Missouri, too. Scatback D.J. Monroe was effective in the passing game as well. Four running backs topped 300 yards and Brown led the team with 742 yards, despite missing three games and having his carries limited early in the season.

6. Oklahoma

Oklahoma got great contributions from walk-on Dominique Whaley early on, and he proved to be the team's most effective runner and best runner between the tackles. He fractured his ankle in midseason, and finished with just 627 yards to lead the team. Roy Finch emerged late in the seasons after a quiet first half and added 605 yards.

7. Kansas

KU's James Sims led the team in rushing again with 727 yards. Darrian Miller was excellent, too, with 559 yards, though he was dismissed after the season. Freshmen Tony Pierson and Brandon Bourbon have plenty of promise, both averaging more than 5.5 yards a carry in 2011. The bad news: All their carries were limited by an awful defense that limited KU's chances to run the ball.

8. Kansas State

K-State's rushing attack centered around Klein, but John Hubert, a slippery back from Waco, Texas, had a good year. Hubert was seventh in the Big 12 with 970 yards. Bryce Brown offered basically nothing to K-State, and beyond Klein and Hubert, the Wildcats were pretty thin. Additionally, without Klein, would Hubert have duplicated his success?

9. Texas Tech

An awful knee injury derailed Eric Stephens' likely 1,000-yard season, and the rest of Texas Tech's backfield got banged-up, too. Stephens will probably return in 2012 from his dislocated knee, and finished with 565 yards, 17th in the Big 12. Aaron Crawford and DeAndre Washington both topped 300 yards.

10. Iowa State

ISU lost Shontrelle Johnson for the season early on, but James White filled in well. He finished with 743 yards, which ranked ninth in the Big 12. Jeff Woody had 380 yards and provided quality carries late, including the game-winning touchdown against Oklahoma State.

Offseason to-do list: Texas Longhorns

January, 25, 2012
We'll start taking a look at what each program in the Big 12 needs to deal with during the offseason, whether it be in the spring, summer or fall preseason camp. Maybe all three! Who knows?

Next up: The Texas Longhorns.

Invest in David Ash. Texas will bring on another true freshman this spring, Connor Brewer. The Longhorns have already been down that road. Ash is the most physically gifted of the Longhorns' quarterbacks, and that gives him the most upside. He's been in the program just one calendar year, and he got hardly any practice reps last spring and in the preseason while Texas was trying to prepare Garrett Gilbert to bounce back. If you ask me, forget competition with Case McCoy. Get Ash tons of reps and get him ready to take over in 2012. They'll be better off for it.

Find new defensive leadership. Leadership was one of the Longhorns' downfalls in 2010 after Colt McCoy left. Without Keenan Robinson, Emmanuel Acho and Blake Gideon, the Longhorns have a huge hole once again. Who's going to take over? Senior Kenny Vaccaro's probably the most talented player returning for the Horns, closely followed by junior-to-be Jackson Jeffcoat. What about Alex Okafor, the senior up front? Somebody's got to take hold of this team.

Figure out how the running backs will be used. Texas' backfield next year's going to be real crowded. Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron return, and Johnathan Gray, the nation's No. 1 running back and No. 2 prospect overall, will join them. All three could probably start for most teams in the Big 12, if not the country. The Longhorns need to utilize that strength, along with a maturing offensive line. Will offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin debut some new formations to get them on the field? Maybe a Wishbone redux? Copycatting Oklahoma and Oklahoma State's "Backs" or "Diamond" formation? Who takes over for Fozzy Whittaker in the Wildcat formation? Who gets the lion's share of the carries for these Horns? All are questions that have to be answered over the next seven months.

More offseason to-do lists.

The Big 12's 2011 All-Interview Team

January, 23, 2012
Excluding the shy guys, most players love interviews at first. After time, though, it does get old. Still, these are the players who made stories like mine and others great throughout the season.

With a nod to our buddies in the SEC, here is the Big 12 All-Interview team.

Brandon Weeden, QB, Oklahoma State: Weeden and the man below him on this team probably did more interviews than any player in the entire league in 2011. It was close for both. Through it all, though, Weeden showed up every week and held court, often for 30 minutes to an hour after games, offering up refreshing honesty and insight, as well as some good humor, often.

Robert Griffin III, QB, Baylor: Speaking of humor, RG3 is more than a Heisman winner with catchy socks. He's always good for a one-liner and his relentless positivity is more than a shtick. It's a huge reason why his team rallied around him the past few seasons and why so many talented players came (and will come) to Baylor. If you saw his Heisman acceptance speech, it's easy to see why he's on this team.

Fozzy Whittaker, RB, Texas: Whittaker's been through it all at Texas. Injury after injury, including a devastating knee injury that ended his career at Texas. A national championship run -- and title-game loss. A losing season. Being replaced by a freshman at the top of the depth chart. Every step of the way, he answered questions with a smile on his face and intellect in his answers. His teammates gave him a standing ovation the week after his knee injury, and I wish this blog could do the same.

Ben Habern, C, Oklahoma: More often than not, offensive linemen are a team's best interview. Throughout his career, Habern's held that title, and that was the case this season. He's smart, and helps guys like us in the media better understand the game from the inside, much like some coordinators do. It's appreciated.

T.J. Moe, WR, Missouri: So, maybe Moe got out of hand once, but he's good for an honest answer and a catchy one-liner to put in a story pretty often.

Blake Gideon, S, Texas: Like Whittaker, Gideon's been through a lot, too. Almost every year, it seems he's willing to sit and answer questions about one of the most painful football moments of his life. It's not fun to talk about, but it endears him to fans and provides a compelling story. Gideon was also great for insight into Texas' changing defense (and offense) this season.

Steven Johnson, LB, Kansas: Johnson, a former walk-on turned Big 12 tackles leader, plays with an intensity and answers questions with a smile on his face that comes from being a guy who feels blessed to be where he is.

Jake Knott, LB, Iowa State: Knott gave some memorable interviews this season helping put into context two of the most emotionally rewarding wins in his career: Iowa and Oklahoma State. He's also good to tell fans what it's like to be the toughest guy in the Big 12.

James Franklin, QB, Missouri: Franklin doesn't have much in common with his predecessors, Chase Daniel and Blaine Gabbert, outside of starting his career with an eight-win season and looking like a player with tons of potential, much of which was realized in 2012. Along the way, he offered up lots of disarming honesty (perhaps too much at times) and a look back on his roots to help fans better understand who he is and what he's about.

Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State: Klein gets the award for maybe the most impressive thing I've ever heard in an interview. He's probably not the only one who can, but I've never heard anyone rip off Bill Snyder's 16 Goals for Success in about 10 seconds without so much as a pause. He's also great for a look inside the life of a QB who takes a beating every week and gets up hungry for more. The Big 12's version of the Honey Badger will be fun to watch and talk to in 2012.
Living life blindfolded with one hand tied behind your back is no fun.

Ask Texas' offense.

Already struggling at quarterback, it played the final four games with its top offensive weapons out of the lineup or in it while battling injuries.

[+] EnlargeJoe Bergeron
Ray Carlin/Icon SMIWithout Joe Bergeron or Malcolm Brown, the Texas offense lagged at times.
Running back Fozzy Whittaker tore his ACL on an ugly play at Missouri with the team's leading rusher, freshman Malcolm Brown, already out with turf toe. Fellow freshman Joe Bergeron rumbled for 327 yards in wins over Texas Tech and Kansas, but managed just nine more carries the rest of the season with a hamstring injury.

Jaxon Shipley missed a three-game stretch late in the season, returning for the final two games with a bulky brace on his knee and playing through pain.

"You take Fozzy, the two young backs and Jaxon, that's your oldest senior leader and the heart of your team, and he got about every award at the banquet," coach Mack Brown told reporters on Thursday. "And then you take three of your best freshman stars that were all touching the ball and making a difference in the ballgame, I think it took everybody aback. People will sit and say don't talk about injuries. When it's everybody that's touching the ball it's hard not to talk about them and think about it a little bit."

Texas managed just five points in a loss to Missouri. It fought for all 13 in a loss to Kansas State the following week.

"It's extremely hard when you're playing with new people, when you're in sync with somebody else," said offensive lineman David Snow. "We did chop down some plays, some packages. We have certain packages for certain players."

The biggest loss was the "Wild Fozzy" formation that the Longhorns used to produce six touchdowns by giving Whittaker a direct snap.

Texas should mostly be healthy when it plays Cal in the Holiday Bowl on Dec. 28. It will be without Whittaker, though.

The duo of Brown and Bergeron should be back, and though Shipley's likely to retain his knee brace, he'll be on the field and healthier than he was in an upset win over Texas A&M to close the season.

"He's still limping. He's not 100 percent," Brown said. "He's got that big brace on his leg, but he's out there fighting for balls and diving. He likes to play, he's a fun player, and he just makes plays."

Chastise Brown for making "excuses" if you must, but it's the truth. The Longhorns, after benching Garrett Gilbert in the second game of the season, were relying on inexperience at every skill position, including quarterback where true freshman David Ash and sophomore Case McCoy shared time. They entered 2011 with one combined pass attempt.

Late in the season, that young talent thinned even further.

At Holiday Bowl, for the first time in almost two months, a Texas offense with a bright future may finally be close to full strength.

Texas surviving without missing RBs

December, 3, 2011
Fozzy Whittaker is out for the season. Joe Bergeron was declared out for Saturday's game on Friday.

Malcolm Brown, a game-time decision, isn't expected to play.

After going down early to Baylor, Texas' offense has fought back without its top three rushers.

Jeremy Hills and Cody Johnson have combined for 66 yards on 11 carries, and the Longhorns tied Baylor at 14, aided by a 78-yard catch-and-run from Case McCoy to Jaxon Shipley.

The Longhorns tied it on the next play with a tricky throw to the unbalanced side, where Luke Poehlmann was an eligible receiver and wide open.

The last time Texas had to play without Bergeron and Brown, it scored five points, held without a touchdown against Missouri for the first time since 2004.

Baylor's defense isn't quite as good, but this game's looking significantly different thus far.

Longhorns honoring injured teammate

November, 24, 2011
COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- Fozzy Whittaker got a standing ovation from his Texas teammates when coaches announced he'd miss the rest of the season with a knee injury after a loss to Missouri two weeks ago.

On Thursday night, the Longhorns will offer up a tribute to one of the team's seniors and one of their biggest leaders.

Safety Kenny Vaccaro will wear a No. 2 jersey with no name on the back in honor of Whittaker.

Great to see for one of the guys that's everything right about college football.

Whittaker was on the sideline on crutches wearing a big smile and his own No. 2 jersey, but I'm sure it means a lot for teammates to have him recognized on the field as well.

Tuberville talks Mizzou turf after injuries

November, 22, 2011
Texas Tech had three players injure their knees in Saturday's loss to Missouri. A week earlier, Missouri running back Henry Josey and Texas running back Fozzy Whittaker had season-ending knee injuries on the turf, which prompted rumblings from Texas that the turf was putting players in danger.

After the game, offensive coordinator Neal Brown said the turf was "Not very good." Receiver Bradley Marquez added it "wasn't good at all," and Tuberville said it was "best they take it up."

He expounded on those comments on Monday.

"I don’t know enough about it. I heard officials complain about it. I heard other teams," Tuberville said. "It didn’t look any different to me. You could tell it was a little bit older, but I’m not an expert on that, so it’d be hard for me to compare what they have and what other people have. It’s just a different type of turf.

"Just reading things other coaches had said when they had problems. I think there was five knee injuries in the last two games on it. It’s just one of those deals. The older turf gets, the worse it gets and my understanding is they’re getting ready to replace it. So, it’s not a big issue now."

Tuberville didn't point out his major issues on the Big 12 coaches teleconference on Monday, but at the press gathering in Lubbock, Texas later that day, he expressed other concerns.

"We had been warned and told by other coaches. Even the officials complained about it. That's a moot point now, because I think they're getting ready to take it up anyway," he told reporters.

Saturday's game was the final one of the season at Faurot Field.

"It probably makes for a good talk. But the bottom line is the last two weeks there have been five guys that will probably have to have surgery from playing there," he said. "It could have been a coincidence. You can't blame it on any one person, that's fate. There are a lot of guys that have played on that turf that haven't gotten hurt, and I think they even practiced on it. I saw their sleds at the end of the field where they practice.

"It's probably more coincidence than anything. But what's done is done, and I'm sure they'll do the right thing and replace it."

Another Big 12 star down: Tech's Torres

November, 19, 2011
Alex Torres' finest moment this season came against Oklahoma, when he caught three touchdown passes in an upset of the Sooners.

Now, it looks like his day is done and maybe more.

Torres went down and trainers put a heavy wrap on his right leg before carting him off the field. Officials announced a right knee injury.

Bradley Marquez ran for a one-yard touchdown to give Texas Tech a 7-0 lead early in the first quarter.

Texas Tech's been hit arguably the hardest by injuries this season, and the team is already playing without its leading rusher, Eric Stephens.

Now, it'll have to move on without Torres and try to get its second win in its last seven games. Facing Missouri on the road will be tough, and look for the Red Raiders to rely on Eric Ward a bit more with Torres down.

Additionally, will this revive rumors of talk that Missouri's turf is dangerous? Missouri's leading rusher, Henry Josey, suffered a torn ACL, MCL and patellar tendon last week, and Texas running back Fozzy Whittaker also tore his ACL in last week's game.
The Big 12 has been hampered by injuries in recent weeks. Missouri running back Henry Josey, the Big 12's leading rusher, was the latest to fall. He tore his ACL, MCL and patellar tendon — a situation serious enough to put his 2012 season in question.

Texas running back Fozzy Whittaker, who scored nine touchdowns this year, also went down with a torn ACL in Saturday's victory over Missouri.

Two weeks ago, Oklahoma receiver Ryan Broyles and Texas A&M running back Christine Michael suffered torn ACLs and will miss the remainder of the season. K-State receiver/kick returner Tyler Lockett is out for the season with a lacerated kidney.

Oklahoma running back Dominique Whaley suffered a fractured ankle and Iowa State running back Shontrelle Johnson injured his neck early in the season while he was still the Cyclones' leading rusher. Texas Tech running back Eric Stephens' likely 1,000-yard season, the first in Lubbock since Ricky Williams in 1998, ended on a dislocated knee suffered in a loss to Texas A&M.

That said, there's still plenty of big talent still standing around the injury-riddled league.

Who's the most irreplaceable?

Is it Heisman contender Brandon Weeden, who leads the league in passing yards and has dished out a league-leading 31 touchdown passes at the helm of Oklahoma State's explosive offense?

Is it do-everything quarterback Robert Griffin III at Baylor, who engineered a dramatic 21-point comeback against Kansas last week to put the Bears into the postseason for the second consecutive season after a 16-year drought?

What about OSU receiver Justin Blackmon? He's likely the biggest talent in Stillwater, and the only game he missed in the past two seasons was the one time the Cowboys were held under 30 points, a 24-14 victory over Kansas State last October.

What about the nation's leader in rushing touchdowns, K-State quarterback Collin Klein? With Josey down, he's now the Big 12's leading rusher, and only two players in the FBS have more carries.

Oklahoma quarterback Landry Jones is the last man standing at OU, playing without his leading receiver, Broyles, and leading rusher, Whaley. What would happen to the Sooners if he went down?

So, who's the most irreplaceable? Vote in our poll.

Kansas State-Texas: More Cats dominance?

November, 17, 2011
Which Big 12 team has the best record against Texas since the league formed? It's not Oklahoma. It's not the angry Aggies. It's not the pesky Red Raiders, either.

In all of their five-star recruitiness, the Longhorns have had infamous struggles against Kansas State, which comes to Austin this week with a 5-2 record against the Longhorns since the Big 12's inception in 1996. The Wildcats have won past three meetings.

"Good fortune, I think, probably as much as anything," coach Bill Snyder says of K-State's recent dominance over Texas.

Former K-State coach Ron Prince never beat Kansas or Mizzou in his three seasons in Manhattan, but he was 2-0 against Texas. Snyder continued the tradition with an epic 39-14 beatdown a season ago in Manhattan.

I don't know about "good fortune."

"They’ve outcoached us and outplayed us. It’s pretty simple," Texas coach Mack Brown said.

[+] EnlargeCollin Klein
AP Photo/Charlie RiedelIn last season's Kansas State-Texas matchup, Collin Klein ran wild, rushing 25 times for 127 yards and two touchdowns.
That's more like it. Last year, K-State quarterback Collin Klein found out he'd be making his first start an hour before kickoff.

He carried the ball 25 times for 127 yards and two scores, and K-State needed only four pass attempts before jumping out to a 39-0 lead after three quarters.

"In that particular game, the good fortune was the fact we ended up playing a different style of quarterback, and one that they had probably not prepared for," Snyder said. "Collin was in the ballgame because Carson Coffman was injured. We were more geared toward quarterback run game, and I’m sure they probably hadn’t prepared well for that, so that’s my guess."

The defense, though, picked off Garrett Gilbert five times. Only three teams beat Texas by double digits in last year's 5-7 campaign. K-State's 25-point margin of victory was the season's most lopsided loss for the Longhorns.

"We were running the ball so well, with turnovers and good field position, the way we were controlling the ball, why throw it? Shoot," Klein said. "We played so well across the board as a team, it really took a lot of pressure off me. We executed so well up front that I had a lot of big holes to run through. Daniel was running well, they opened up some big holes for me, and when you take the turnovers and field position into effect, it equals a big victory."

Despite getting a longer look at Klein than most other teams in the Big 12 entering this season, that experience hardly provides an advantage for the Longhorns.

"He ran up and down the field last year and didn’t throw any passes and we didn’t stop him," Brown said. "He whipped us really good."

Despite entering this weekend 10 spots higher in the BCS standings, K-State is a nine-point underdog, a familiar spot for a team that's won five games as an underdog already this season.

If Texas can't get healthy, though, that status could change quickly on Saturday. If Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron aren't able to return, the Longhorns will be without their top three running backs. (Fozzy Whittaker injured his knee last week.) A knee injury has hounded top receiver Jaxon Shipley as well, and the offense sputtered in a 17-5 loss to Mizzou a week ago, failing to score a touchdown for the first time since 2004.

"Everybody’s got to play better. And we didn’t. We’ve got to coach better, we’ve got to play better, and we didn’t do either one," Brown said.

Texas, Brown says, just needs a win, however it happens.

"Even if it was a pee wee team," he said.

Beating No. 13 K-State would be a big one, and the Wildcats are no pee wee team, especially against the Longhorns. What bearing will history have, though?

"Every year is different. Every team of ours is different. Every team of theirs is different," Klein said.

The results when K-State and Texas get together, though, have been the same.

Lunch links: How did A&M get to 5-5?

November, 15, 2011
Our annual 24 hours of hoops is one of my favorite things ever.