Dallas Colleges: Mack Brown
1. Crowning a champion: The Big 12 didn’t need a big prime-time showdown at AT&T Stadium to end up with a marquee final weekend of conference play. The league’s schedule makers should get holiday bonuses for their work this year, pitting the Big 12’s four best teams against each other on championship weekend with a conference title on the line. Odds are Oklahoma State wraps it all up with a victory over Oklahoma, but if the Sooners pull the upset all eyes will be on Texas-Baylor to decide who gets the trophy.
3. Day of the underdog: Texas fans will be unabashedly rooting for Oklahoma on Saturday. Yep, seriously. They have to. Even Case McCoy admitted he’s pulling for a Sooners victory, even if it makes him “sick to my stomach.” The Sooners have a chance to play spoiler and knock OSU from atop the Big 12 standings. If they pull that off, can Texas notch an even more surprising victory in Waco? The Longhorns have embraced the underdog role ever since starting 1-2.
4. Finishing Baylor’s dream season: The loss to OSU knocked Baylor out of the national title hunt, damaged its hopes of playing in a BCS bowl and might’ve killed Bryce Petty’s chances of winning the Heisman. Yet the Bears still have a ton to play for this weekend. This can still go down as the best season in school history, especially if Baylor wins a share of the Big 12 title.
5. Who’s the DPOY? Good luck finding a consensus about who should win the Big 12’s Defensive Player of the Year honor this season, and this weekend might not change that much. Still, several candidates have a chance to make a strong final impression, including Oklahoma State linebacker Caleb Lavey and cornerback Justin Gilbert as well as Texas defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat.
6. Oklahoma’s next BMOC: Trevor Knight is another guy who could definitely use a strong finale to help his reputation not only for 2013 but, more importantly, for the offseason and beyond. Knight is coming off nice performances against Iowa State and Kansas State. An upset win over OSU could do wonders for proving he is Oklahoma’s quarterback of the future.
7. Mack Brown: What’s on the line? Who knows what this Baylor game means for Brown’s future at Texas, other than this: If Texas wins, good luck firing a coach who brings a Big 12 trophy home after leading his team from 1-2 to 9-3. And if the Bears win a blowout, well, buckle up for another rumor-filled week in Austin.
8. December weather: Introducing the X factor in both of this weekend’s Big 12 games: Winter Storm Cleon. The high and low for Stillwater on Saturday are 28 and 17. Waco is expecting freezing rain and temperatures in the high 20s. We could be in for some very messy, conservative football.
9. Closing out The Case: It’s a historic weekend for Baylor, which plays its final home game at 63-year-old Floyd Casey Stadium on Saturday. The last time a current Big 12 school opened a brand-new stadium was 1980, when West Virginia built Milan Puskar Stadium. The Bears are breaking out retro uniforms and expect the largest crowd ever in stadium history.
10. The Sunday bowl shakeout: The bowl projections for the Big 12’s six bowl-eligible teams are somewhat obvious at this point but could be in for a big shakeup depending on how these final two games play out. You know the committees of the AT&T Cotton, Valero Alamo and Buffalo Wild Wings Bowls will be watching closely and could face difficult decisions if we see some upsets.
Nick (Texas) I still don't fully understand Mack Brown's decision to burn Tyrone Swoopes redshirt. Do you know why he made that move halfway through the season then barely used him? If not do you have a guess at why?
Brandon Chatmon I'm right there with you Nick, I don't get it either. It doesn't make much sense but if I had to guess it had everything to do with being prepared in case something bad happened to Case McCoy.
Jerry (Ames, Iowa) Hey Brandon, do you think Iowa State has potential with Grant Rohach next year?
Brandon Chatmon I do Jerry, I like what Rohach brought to the table at the end of the year. He just seemed to play with more confidence as his playing time increased and he finished the season extremely well. I think the Cyclones could return to a bowl in 2014.
Bob Stoops (Norman) Which top recruits do you think I have a chance at actually getting a commitment? Adoree' Jackson? Joe Mixon?
Brandon Chatmon I hate to break it to you Bob but I think the events of the past few days have made your efforts in Cali that much harder. (Meaning Sark to USC is a problem.)
Jake (Dallas) How do you think Baylor will do come next season. Will they stay productive offensively and be decent defensively? Or will they go down in production?
Brandon Chatmon I don't anticipate a big drop in production at Baylor. Why would they take a step backward? But keep in mind I'm talking in comparison to what they've done in recent years, not the crazy numbers they put up early. If you expect that, prepare yourself for disappointment.
Rob (Baltimore) Early prediction on West Virginia's record next season. Give it to me straight, what are we looking at?
Brandon Chatmon Who is the quarterback? That changes everything. WVU has some talented athletes. They find a consistent playmaking QB, everything changes.
Trevor Knight (Norman) Me, or Chelf? And why?
Brandon Chatmon Clint Chelf. Because he's playing as good as any quarterback in the nation in the past month. I love Knight's long-term upside though.
Grant Teaff (Waco, Tx) Let’s get your score prediction for both OU/OSU and BU/UT?
Brandon Chatmon OSU 31, OU 21 Baylor 34, Texas 27
Jake (Dallas) What are your thoughts on the whole ordeal with [Ahmad] Dixon? We all know the hit was targeting even I will admit that. Since it is a new rule everyone in CFB knows the rule but the details are still fresh. Should the coaches have escorted him to the locker room, or the officials since they were the ones who called the penalty.
Brandon Chatmon My biggest issue was his actions when leaving the field. But, I also always try to keep in mind these are college kids. I know we treat them like adults but they are still young adults who make mistakes, make poor choices. I think coaches should escort them, not officials.
But there is a case to be made, a perfectly legitimate one, that when it’s all said and done, this might’ve been one of Brown’s best coaching jobs in his 16 years at Texas.
“Probably ’10,” Brown said. “That wasn’t a bright spot in my life. But probably the first year, ’10 and this year have been the three most challenging, I would think.”
The nightmarish 5-7 season of 2010, one year after playing for a BCS title, was as frustrating as it gets. The first year, 1998, presented its own challenges. Brown inherited Ricky Williams, but also a team that went 4-7 the year before and lost two of its first three to begin his tenure.
This 2013 season, though, has been something else. If Brown had been warned in advance of all the adversity he and his team were about to face, and yet they’d still be one game away from a Big 12 title, he would’ve been baffled.
“I would’ve been something more drastic than shock, I think,” Brown said.
When Case McCoy says this year “hasn’t been the Cinderella story we wanted,” he’s selling the story short. And there are still two games left that could completely alter how the season is judged.
But it’s hard not to judge 2013 as one of Brown’s best coaching jobs simply based on where his Longhorns stand today and the obstacles they had to overcome just to get here. If they pull off the upset of No. 9 Baylor and win or share the conference title, he’s due for some Big 12 Coach of the Year honors.
Texas went from two-loss laughingstock to respectable 8-3. A team ravaged by injuries and now missing five of arguably its 10 best players is 7-1 in the Big 12 after reeling of six straight wins before falling to Oklahoma State.
“It’s crazy to think about where we’ve come from, especially at 1-2,” center Dominic Espinosa said. “Obviously, it was dark. We were down there. I think it’s crazy to think about the opportunity we have in front of us now.”
Brown believed this could be Texas’ year, that his team could win any game. If quarterback David Ash had a great junior season, he really liked this squad’s chances. And then he lost Ash to a concussion that eventually ended his season after two and a half games. The only option was McCoy, the spunky senior who’d left the program for 10 weeks this summer on a mission trip in Peru.
The defense he believed was fixed collapsed against BYU, giving up 550 rushing yards in a stunning loss. Two games in, Brown made his most difficult decision yet and fired defensive coordinator Manny Diaz. He asked former coordinator Greg Robinson, a scouting analyst who was living in California and coached high school ball in 2012, to take over.
“It’s not something you like doing, especially during the season. I’ve never done that,” Brown said. “But I will say that it’s worked. I credit the defensive players for buying into him and buying in at a time when they could’ve basically boycotted and say, ‘To heck with it, we lost our leader.’”
They lost a bunch more after that. Linebacker Jordan Hicks’ season ended after four games. Running back Johnathan Gray and defensive tackle Chris Whaley both went down in the West Virginia game. Tackle Josh Cochran missed eight games. Steve Edmond developed into Texas’ top linebacker in Hicks’ absence and is now done for the year too.
But Texas keeps clawing back. It started with beating Kansas State. It had last-second road victories at Iowa State and West Virginia. And convincing wins over TCU and Texas Tech. And the masterpiece, a surprise blowout of No. 12 Oklahoma. Each game became as much a must-win as the next.
“I still feel like we don’t get the credit we deserve,” cornerback Quandre Diggs said.
And that’s just the on-field business. It’s possible this season has been as infuriating off the field as any for Brown, whose work has been undermined for months by constant chatter that he’s finished.
The message boards sources say Nick Saban could ditch his dynasty and Terry Saban is house shopping and that Mack knows he’s done, that the end of his tenure is imminent and his fate irreversible.
And maybe the rumormongering will prove right. But win or lose, the talk doesn’t die. Brown has been asked to coach and recruit and win and smile through it all.
“What I’ve learned is, this place helps you focus on your job and not worry about all the stuff around it. That gets you in trouble,” Brown said. “What I’ve learned is, my job is to try to win the game on Saturday and keep these guys focused and keep our coaches focused. The rest of it is really unimportant.”
What is important? When this season was on the brink of disaster, when injuries mounted and critics called for his job, Brown and his team survived. Once again, against Baylor, they'll be the underdog. Pull this upset, though, and we can safely say this: one of Brown's toughest jobs ended up being his best.
Baylor is a two-touchdown favorite over the Texas they’ll face this weekend in Waco. Say what you want about Vegas, but the line speaks to perception. And perception says these two teams couldn’t be more different.
Though they share I-35, the Bears and Longhorns took two completely opposite roads to get to this game, and yet they’re both 7-1 in the Big 12 and playing for the same goal on Saturday.
For Baylor, 2013 has been the dream season. The No. 9 Bears are 10-1 and chasing their first 11-win season in school history. They’ve won 14 of their last 15. They’ve been one of the great stories of the season.
They have the nation’s No. 1 scoring and total offense, the best QB in the Big 12 in Bryce Petty, a much-improved defense and a coach in Art Briles who’s now revered as one of the best coaches in college football.
“Our focus from day one was to win every game we play this year,” Briles said. “We haven't done it but we've been pretty close and we get another opportunity Saturday."
Texas, meanwhile, has survived the season from hell to reach 8-3 and a No. 25 BCS ranking.
By the time Big 12 play began, the Longhorns already had two losses and a new defensive coordinator. Instead of taking on nonconference cupcakes like Baylor did, Texas scheduled games at BYU and against Ole Miss and lost both. Four games in, they’d lost their quarterback and best linebacker, too.
“I thought we would be really good before the season started,” coach Mack Brown said. “Then the two weeks were just a collapse for us. Then, as we said, we were excited about starting over and challenged by it.”
They’ve won seven games since, including an upset of then-No. 12 Oklahoma, and kept fighting. Brown has survived a season filled with speculation he’ll be fired -- including chatter that Briles could take his job -- and led Texas further than anyone expected.
So here they are, same record in the Big 12. A share of the conference championship is on the line. By the time they kick off, an outright title and Fiesta Bowl trip could be on the table, too.
There are two obvious reasons why, when their paths converge this weekend, these two teams are playing the second-biggest game in the Big 12 on conference championship Saturday. Both lost to Oklahoma State, and both have injuries to blame.
Of course, as is the case with everything else, the narratives are different on that front. Baylor, with the exception of the OSU loss, kept rolling in November despite losing receiver Tevin Reese, running backs Lache Seastrunk and Glasco Martin, tackle Spencer Drango, linebacker Bryce Hager and several others. The rushing duo returned to play TCU, but for much of that game the Bears were without three starters in the secondary.
Meanwhile, Texas is right up there with Georgia and Florida among the most injury-ravaged teams in the country, at least when it comes to critical players.
Somehow Texas has found a way to scrap together wins without quarterback David Ash, running back Johnathan Gray, linebacker Jordan Hicks, defensive tackle Chris Whaley and tackle Josh Cochran, and a few more starters have missed games. Now linebacker Steve Edmond is out too.
The laundry list of ailing players has these two teams in similar shape this week. Texas has obvious weaknesses. Baylor no longer looks invincible.
And Oklahoma State made both look bad, with relatively similar beatdowns on back-to-back weeks. That’s why the Cowboys control their own destiny entering Bedlam, and why Texas and Baylor will be watching the scoreboard all the way up to 2:30 p.m. CT.
By then, Briles and Brown will know where things stand in the Big 12. Then comes the real fun: finding out just how far apart their programs stand.
2. Robinson deserves praise: He isn't one of the 40 finalists for the Frank Broyles Award honoring the nation's top assistant coach, but the job Greg Robinson has done to help Texas' defense get back on track this season remains impressive, almost shockingly so. You can tell that, nine games in, he's comfortable with the personnel at his disposal because he and his fellow defensive coaches are bringing new wrinkles to the table. The use of Jackson Jeffcoat in the "Viper" role with a three-man front against Tech was especially impressive. Robinson inherited a lot of talent, and this defense has proved to be a dangerous unit when playing to its potential.
3. The clouds overhead: Let's be honest, if Texas had stumbled and lost to a clearly inferior Texas Tech team, we all know what the narrative would've been. You would've heard people saying that was Mack Brown's final home game at DKR-Texas Memorial Stadium. There will still be a few regardless, sure, but that kind of a convincing performance helps Brown's cause. The score was a lot closer than this game ending up being, truthfully. If Texas plays Baylor close or pulls off the upset, no matter the bowl result, Brown would have the right to say "good luck with that" to anyone calling for his job.
AUSTIN, Texas -- There's no better cure for a 25-point loss than responding with a 25-point victory.
That's not some old Darrell Royal saying or an axiom that coaches have been known to share. It's just a fact. And just when we thought we had Texas and its troubles figured out, this team fought to live another week.
The Longhorns who won six conference games in a row showed up again, keeping their Big 12 championship hopes alive with a 41-16 victory over Texas Tech on Thanksgiving night.
There was plenty of talk in the past two weeks that Oklahoma State finally exposed Texas and its various flaws, that the six Big 12 wins that came before it were somehow less meaningful or some kind of mirage.
If the meltdown against the Cowboys revealed Texas' thin margin for error, Thursday's victory reminded how good Texas can be when it achieves everything it sets out to do.
Brown wanted a slowed-paced game, not a shootout. Texas had to control the tempo. Check.
He wanted to pound Texas Tech's recently awful run defense. Joe Bergeron and Malcolm Brown both surpassed 100 yards. Check.
He hoped Texas' defense could force erratic play by the Red Raiders' young quarterbacks. The Longhorns netted nine sacks, including three each from Jackson Jeffcoat and Cedric Reed. Check.
"It's not a pretty brand of ball. It's not very stylish," Texas co-offensive coordinator Major Applewhite said. "But it's what we had to do."
Thursday's performance was about as close to a defensive masterpiece as Texas could have hoped for. The Red Raiders' No. 1 ranked pass offense finished with 5.8 yards per attempt. They went 5-for-18 on third downs. Tech's leading rusher on the night? Punter Ryan Erxleben, who dashed 51 yards for the first score of the night. Texas' special teams gave up that score. Its defense allowed one touchdown the rest of the night.
"It was a good game. I don't know if it was better or not. I guess you guys make those decisions," defensive coordinator Greg Robinson said. "We played real well here against a good offense."
But since so many will discount the result, pointing out that Texas Tech lost five in a row after starting 7-0, let's cut to the chase: If this is Texas, if these are the real Longhorns going forward, can they do enough to beat No. 9 Baylor?
Ask Brown whether his team played up to its formula for victory against Tech and he'll rattle off the things his team didn't do. Texas turned the ball over twice. Other than placekicker Anthony Fera, a Groza Award finalist who's now 19-for-20 this season, the Longhorns are still a mess in several areas of special teams.
His players were no different. They see a need for improvement. They won't celebrate this win much this weekend. They know what they're up against next.
Preparing for Baylor will require that kind of perfectionist attention to detail. Like Texas, the Bears showed their vulnerabilities against Oklahoma State. They're not at all unbeatable. But they have the respect of their next opponent.
"We fully assume Baylor will win [against TCU] and be right there," quarterback Case McCoy said. "It'll be a game that, as a senior class, we want to go out with a chance to put numbers on these walls and have a Big 12 championship."
The Longhorns made their senior night count. They made the next game matter. They're not done yet.
"We're still in the race," Jeffcoat said. "We had to win this one. This was a must-win. And we have to win the next one."
AUSTIN, Texas -- When Mack Brown introduced his latest recruiting class on signing day of 2010, he did so with great pride.
“I've been asked over the last couple of days, ‘Is this the best class that we've ever had?’” Brown said that day. “We feel like it definitely has the potential to be, because from top to bottom it covers every position and that's a very difficult thing to do.”
On Thursday, seven of those signees will take the field at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium one final time. Senior Night has a tendency to elicit mixed emotions, a bittersweet cocktail of pride, sadness and sentimentality.
It’s hard to assess this Texas class with anything else but mixed emotions. You wonder if they feel the same. After all, this four-year run was not what these seniors signed up for or expected back in February 2010.
Of the 13 scholarship seniors being honored during Texas’ Thanksgiving home finale against Texas Tech, more than half came from the 2010 class that ranked No. 2 nationally. They signed after Texas won 13 games and played for a national title. The senior class that departed after 2009 went 45-8 in their four seasons.
Today’s seniors made their debuts for a 2010 team that was No. 5 in the preseason AP poll. Expectations were as high as ever. Brown seemed poised to chase another championship.
Instead, this class ended up inheriting the task of helping lead a rebuilding project, one that still isn’t complete. They hope this is their legacy, that their efforts will get this Longhorn program back on track.
The fourth-year seniors enter Thursday night’s home finale against Texas Tech with a career record of 29-19. If the Red Raiders pull the upset, this group will drop to 17-17 in Big 12 games.
They haven’t been particularly successful at DKR, either, with a record of 13-11 at home in the past four years. They’ve won six conference home games and lost nine.
Most of these seniors been playing from the very beginning. Guard Mason Walters, a 2009 signee who redshirted, and receiver Mike Davis were starters on the 5-7 team of 2010. Defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat, cornerback Carrington Byndom and guard Trey Hopkins are three-year starters. All together, this senior class has combined for 266 starts.
It's a group that, to this point, has endured an awful lot. The first losing season of Brown’s tenure. A coaching staff shakeup. The end of the Texas A&M rivalry. One win and three losses to Oklahoma. No Big 12 championships. No BCS bowl games.
“It's been a roller-coaster ride, ups and downs,” Jeffcoat said. “I think I'm better for that.”
Jeffcoat signed to play for then-defensive coordinator Will Muschamp. Case McCoy has been tutored by three different quarterback coaches and playcallers. These Texas seniors received an education in embracing change.
“A lot of things have gone good, a lot of things have gone bad,” McCoy said. “That's part of the game, that's part of life. One thing I know in this game and in life, you’ve got to battle. You can't give up. That's why I love this team. I love the way they're playing. I love their hearts because we haven't given up.”
They know they had Texas-sized standards to live up to in their careers. When a program bottoms out the way the Longhorns did in 2010, everything achieved since has been in the commitment to getting back on top.
There have been high points along the way, but it all seemed to be building toward 2013. Brown believed Texas had a chance to win every game this season. That didn’t work out.
To the seniors’ credit, he said, they didn’t fold after starting off 1-2 this year. They didn’t give in and they rallied to win six in a row.
“They were very, very strong-willed in stepping up with their leadership and telling the other guys, ‘This is our last time now, we’re going to make this work,’” Brown said. “I’m really proud of them. I’m proud of the way they’ve handled adversity, proud of the way they fought through it.”
And Jeffcoat believes the legacy of these seniors is unfinished. They’ll earn a share of the Big 12 title, and perhaps more, if they win out. Three games left means three more chances to get the Longhorns back in the right direction.
“I think we definitely have that opportunity,” McCoy said. “We have the opportunity right now to put our final stamp on it and put it where we need to go.”
Texas’ seniors have had a rough journey. As the end nears, though, they still believe their story can have a happy ending. And they seem to have few regrets.
“If I had to choose all over again,” Jeffcoat said, “I’d come to Texas.”
First comes a Thanksgiving night game against a foe that already has four conference losses. Then a regular-season finale on the road against one of the teams atop the Big 12 standings. A share of the Big 12 title could be on the line, but not if Texas can’t win the first one.
Here’s what’s fascinating about that statement: It was just as true on Nov. 22, 2012, as it is today.
This time it’s Texas Tech and Baylor on the slate. Last season, Texas was eyeing a trip to a BCS bowl and maybe even a slim hope of winning the conference with TCU and Kansas State standing in the way.
Those hopes were dashed by a Turkey Day disaster, a 20-13 home loss to the 6-4 Horned Frogs after Texas had clawed its way up to No. 16 in the BCS standings and back onto the national radar.
“We missed a great opportunity to get back in the mix for some things," Texas coach Mack Brown said afterward.
Then came a 42-24 loss to K-State, sending the Wildcats to the Fiesta Bowl. Before this season, Texas players said they remember the bitter taste left from having to watch their opponent celebrate a co-Big 12 championship.
Now they get an opportunity to replace that negative memory with a positive one.
“We just have to go back and regroup knowing that we still have a chance to win the Big 12,” cornerback Carrington Byndom said after Texas’ 38-13 loss to Oklahoma State. “We just have to win out.”
Last year, it was a Baylor win over Kansas State that created a glimmer of hope for Texas. This time around, Baylor’s loss to Oklahoma State has made perfectly clear what UT needs to do to snag a share of the Big 12 title: win out.
Two wins plus an Oklahoma victory over OSU in Bedlam means an outright title for Texas and the elusive BCS bowl trip.
That’s not much different from last year’s scenario, except Texas was crossing its fingers for a Sooners loss in 2012. Doesn’t matter if you don’t take care of your own business, though. And the Longhorns stumbled.
Texas turned the ball over four times, two coming on interceptions thrown in the red zone by an injured David Ash and one on a last-ditch effort to rally from Case McCoy. TCU won the rushing battle 217-86. The Longhorns squandered their big opportunity by squandering lots of little ones that night.
“At times we all didn't play well tonight. That's football,” lineman Mason Walters said after the loss. “Someone's got to step up and be the man, and we didn't have anyone doing that.”
That Texas team was coming off four straight wins. This one strung together six Big 12 victories in a row before the Cowboys came to Austin and blew them out. Nine days have passed since then.
This team has to defeat a Texas Tech team that began the year 7-0 and has now lost four in a row, then go on the road and beat a Baylor team that, despite revealing its vulnerabilities in a 49-17 loss this weekend, is still No. 9 in the BCS and capable of putting up 50-plus on the Longhorns.
What's it going to take to get to 9-3? Some of Texas' best football yet at a time when six starters are injured or out and the margin for error is slim.
"I don't think anybody is capable of playing perfect football. Football is a game and nothing's going to be perfect," receiver Jaxon Shipley said after the loss to OSU. “Ultimately, I think it's if you can be persistent. If you are facing adversity, can you overcome those?
"Today we didn't do that, but I think we can bounce back and we've still got a shot at winning the Big 12 championship."
And to pull that off, the Longhorns need a perfect 2-0 record to close the season. They need to do something they couldn't one year ago.
He’s fresh off the field and out of the locker room speech. His adrenaline is usually at a high, win or lose. He thinks the setting leads to too many hastily thought-out answers, to the occasional comment he ends up regretting in hindsight on Sunday.
So after Texas’ 38-13 loss to Oklahoma State, Brown changed up his routine. On six occasions, he responded to questions by saying he needed to review the game film first. He didn’t want to force an answer.
“We'll have to look at it on video,” he said.
So Brown was asked again. What about the interception for a touchdown McCoy threw to Justin Gilbert?
“We'll have to look at all of them on video,” Brown said. “For me to sit here and analyze what he did without looking at anybody else, the route or anybody else would be unfair to him.”
With Texas on a bye week, Brown hasn’t had a chance to reveal his findings to reporters. But there isn’t much that needs to be said at this point in the season: Case McCoy is Texas’ quarterback and, right now, it’s only legitimate option at quarterback.
McCoy is coming off the worst start of his senior season, at least by raw QBR standards. His stat line -- 26-39, 221 yards, no TDs, three INTs -- drew a QBR of 29.8. The quality of OSU’s defense improved that number to 65.4 in opponent-adjusted QBR, his second-worst start behind the Kansas game.
The only number that mattered on Saturday was his three interceptions, each one costly. He’s now thrown more interceptions than touchdowns in 2013, all nine turnovers coming in Texas’ last five games. He won six straight games, but those miscues aren't the results the Longhorns expect from their game manager.
Texas’ offensive futility in the second half against OSU -- six drives, 3 points -- has some clamoring for more playing time for true freshman Tyrone Swoopes, who has appeared in three games since burning his redshirt. He’s put up 18 passing yards and 40 rushing yards, with all of his appearances coming in the final minutes of ballgames.
Brown didn’t offer up a postgame answer on his Swoopes-related plans, but the philosophy on his usage hasn’t changed much. He still has a lot to learn. He’s not ready.
And neither is David Ash, who appeared on the sidelines last weekend for the first time in two months. He wore a hat and sunglasses. He’s not in playing shape. He’s not yet capable of a full week of practice, much less a game.
As long as Texas is chasing a Big 12 championship, McCoy gives Brown his best shot at winning. And teammates have bought in to that plan.
“We are all a family in this thing, and I know what Case did out there,” guard Trey Hopkins said. “I know he is the quarterback that we are backing, and I know he is still the guy we are backing.”
McCoy’s response to his poor showing against Oklahoma State was similar to his coach’s. He’s reviewing the tape, learning from it and moving on.
“All we can do is go back to the film room and go back to work,” McCoy said. “What we did, we dug ourselves in a hole. We had bad field position from the get go and just got behind, and with an offense like that and we weren't playing well, that's something we've just got to get fixed because we've got two more offenses in the next couple of weeks that can score points too.
“So me, personally, I have to get things fixed, and we have to be able to score points.”
Games against Texas Tech and Baylor could demand lots of points. Both could develop into high-scoring shootouts. The Longhorns might have to ask a lot of their game manager, and they can’t afford turnovers. McCoy knows that.
“It’s on me,” he said. “My team knows it’s on me, and we’re going to get it fixed and go win.”
It was Sept. 14. After losing 44-23 to Ole Miss, Brown tried to espouse hope and confidence about leading a troubled two-loss Texas team on a Big 12 title run. At some point during the discussion, he was asked what fans should think about where the program is heading.
“Forget the coaches, come for the kids,” Brown said. “Come for the young guys who are really trying, and come watch them try to beat Kansas State, which we haven't done very often. They just need to keep supporting the players.”
The goal seems long gone now, after Oklahoma State sent the Longhorns crashing back to reality with a 38-13 loss, but it isn’t. Texas can claim a share of the conference if it wins out. And once again, that’s all the Longhorns are clinging to after a loss that sincerely shocked some players.
“I’m very surprised. As a team, we had some momentum,” safety Adrian Phillips said. “We had a close game last week, and we had a good week of practice. On game day, everything didn’t work out the way that we wanted it to, and these are one of the ones you wish you could have back. It’s not a good feeling.”
Such a thorough loss like that stings. The victory over No. 12 Oklahoma was Texas’ signature win of 2013, no doubt about that, but it seemed those six victories were building toward an opportunity like this. A top-15 team had to come to DKR, its Big 12 title hopes on the line. For Texas, the table was all set for this moment.
And it slipped away quickly. The Longhorns dropped out of the polls one week after entering. A Big 12 title is attainable but Texas no longer controls its own fate. An upset of No. 4 Baylor in Waco on Dec. 7 is now an absolute necessity.
“It was frustrating, but we can’t get too down,” sophomore defensive tackle Malcom Brown said. “We still have two more games going into the Big 12 championship. We have to stay focused and go play Texas Tech like we didn’t even lose.”
For players like fourth-year seniors Phillips and cornerback Carrington Byndom, there was unmistakable encouragement. They’ve had to pick themselves up and keep going before and will do it again.
“It was a bit of a shock,” Byndom said, “but that’s just called the game of football.”
Last time the Longhorns lost, though, they followed through on what they vowed. The post-Ole Miss promises worked. Improvement happened, leadership emerged. Texas’ offense found a way to win without David Ash. Its defense is getting by without Jordan Hicks again.
The circumstances have changed plenty since Sept. 14. Guard Trey Hopkins conceded after OSU that there’s no margin for error now. There are no easy games left.
Texas is on a bye week before hosting Tech on Thanksgiving. The Longhorns have plenty of time to regroup. There is plenty of time to review the Oklahoma State film, and plenty more to move past it.
But perhaps in this stressful off time, they’ll think back to September. Back then, folks were questioning if this was Mack Brown’s next 5-7 team. Texas players were determined to prove just how wrong that fear was.
Now they’re facing what could be a similarly unsatisfactory finish.
“It’s a setback, but it’s a setback for a major comeback. That is what we say,” running back Joe Bergeron said. “Honestly, it is just a speed bump in the road and we will get over this. We still have two more games and we just have to get everybody to understand it is not the end of the world.”
Nor is it the end of the season. The Longhorns have six more days to figure out what they’re going to do about that.
Disappointment of the week: The Longhorns had a chance to set up a de facto Big 12 title game with Baylor in the regular-season finale. Instead, Oklahoma State handed Texas its biggest home loss of the Mack Brown era. The Cowboys completely shut down the Texas offense, including quarterback Case McCoy, who threw three interceptions. Texas is still technically alive in the Big 12 title race. But Brown has a better chance of being the coach in Austin next year than Texas does of winning the Big 12 championship.
Big (offensive) men on campus: Oklahoma State quarterback Clint Chelf, Kansas running back James Sims and Baylor receiver Levi Norwood.
Chelf delivered the second-highest adjusted QBR (97.3) of the weekend in college football while leading Oklahoma State to its biggest win of the season. He threw for 197 yards and ran for another 95 while accounting for four touchdowns.
Sims was phenomenal against West Virginia, with 211 yards and three touchdowns on 22 carries. His 68-yard scoring run 28 seconds before halftime proved to be the pivotal play in the game. Sims (914 yards) trails only West Virginia’s Charles Sims (946 yards) for the Big 12 rushing title.
Norwood picked up where Tevin Reese left off. With Reese out with a dislocated wrist, Norwood exploded against Texas Tech with 156 yards receiving. Norwood also had touchdown receptions of 40 and 58 yards and a 58-yard punt-return touchdown.
Big (defensive) men on campus: Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert and Kansas linebacker Ben Goodman.
Gilbert had maybe the finest game of his career, picking off McCoy twice. Gilbert leads the Big 12 with six interceptions.
Goodman halted a potential West Virginia scoring drive in the third quarter. He picked off quarterback Paul Millard at the line of scrimmage, then rumbled 54 yards to the Mountaineers' 14-yard line. Sims capitalized on the turnover with a 2-yard touchdown that put the Jayhawks up 24-7.
Special-teams players of the week: Kansas State kicker Jack Cantele and Oklahoma returner Jalen Saunders.
Cantele had never attempted a game-winning field goal before. But when the time came, he delivered, nailing a 41-yard kick with three seconds remaining to lift the Wildcats to a 33-31 win over TCU. Cantele converted his other three field-goal attempts, too, and the Wildcats needed every one of them.
With Iowa State leading OU 10-3 in the second quarter, Saunders broke off a 91-yard punt return TD to tie the game. The Sooners scored 45 unanswered points the rest of the way to rout the Cyclones.
Play of the week: Late in the second quarter of Oklahoma State's victory at Texas, Gilbert intercepted a McCoy pass intended for Kendall Sanders (who decommitted from Oklahoma State to sign with the Longhorns) and then raced 43 yards for his second pick-six of the season. The play put the Cowboys up 28-10 just 18 seconds before halftime, and Oklahoma State was firmly in control the rest of the way.
Stat of the week: Baylor now has six 60-point games this season. The only other FBS team with more than two is Ohio State, which has three.
Quote of the week: “I've warned them, this is different than the Big East. The days of just showing up and playing [are over].” -- West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen, after his team became bowl-ineligible after a loss to Kansas
1. There’s zero room for error
The Longhorns started off horribly at West Virginia and got away with it. Case McCoy threw six interceptions during the streak but got away with it. Texas had to run the ball 50 times a game to win and still got away with it.
Its defense seemingly made tangible weekly improvement but also faced only one top-50 scoring offense along the way, a Kansas State unit that’s playing far better today than it was in September. Texas’ defensive line wrecked the Mountaineers but couldn’t find any semblance of a consistent pass rush to hurry Clint Chelf.
And imagine if Mike Gundy hadn’t backed his Cowboys off in the second half. This was a pure meltdown that could’ve been much worse. Credit Texas’ players for the 6-0 start they engineered in Big 12 play, but they learned just how little room for error they have in big games with the way this team is currently constructed.
Mack Brown's team might get away with stuff against a Texas Tech team that has lost four in a row. But these Longhorns would have to play a near-perfect ballgame to stand a chance of going four quarters with Baylor.
2. Small-play offense
There was just way too much dink-and-dunk going on with this offense against OSU, which is probably a product of injuries, a restrained approach with McCoy at the helm, his own checkdowns and a stout Cowboy defense.
McCoy had one completion of 15-plus yards on the day. He completed four or more for 15-plus in each of Texas’ past five games. Without Johnathan Gray, Texas managed just two rushes of more than 10 yards. When this offense was trying to take shots and mount a rally in the third quarter, only three plays gained more than 10 yards.
Against OSU, Texas faced second down and 6-plus a total of 17 times and third down and 6-plus on nine occasions, putting a team that’s overly dependent on the run into too many difficult spots. The kind of spots that can’t always be solved by screen passes.
3. Pass defense doesn’t pass test
The Texas secondary has avoided scrutiny for the most part this season, but that unit didn’t challenge Chelf and his receivers much on Saturday. Safety Mykkele Thompson snagged his first career interception when Chelf threw into double coverage. That was the high point.
Chelf averaged 8.95 yards per attempt and gained first downs or touchdowns on 45 percent of his throws. And he only had to throw the ball 22 times to pick apart Texas. Getting no pass rush up front didn’t help Duane Akina’s crew, but then again, none of his DBs recorded a pass breakup.
If you take a quick skim of the box score, you’ll see the Cowboys had 197 passing yards and no completion longer than 29 and you might call that a mild success for “DBU.” But again, that’s only because OSU had no need to throw the ball in the second half. Not when trading punts ensured an easy victory. Texas Tech and Baylor won’t be so merciful.
4. Special teams struggling
Disclaimer: Anthony Fera has hit 17 of his 18 field goal attempts this season. He should be a Lou Groza finalist. He’s that good, and he’s basically beyond reproach at this point compared to the rest of the Longhorns’ special teams foibles.
The kick returns are ineffective, none worse than a botched reverse that put Texas at its own 6 to start the second half. The kickoff defense isn’t any better. Bad starting field position hurt Texas a number of times.
And the returners are in a real funk. Daje Johnson might be sitting a few of those out going forward. He can break a big one ever so often, but he’s also liable to drop one at any moment. And his longest kickoff return against OSU went 18 yards. That’s a problem.
When Fera agreed to transfer to Texas from Penn State, Brown proudly declared that Texas could have some of the best special teams in the country. Surely, he’s not saying that right now.
5. The QB run still works
Kudos to Gundy and his staff for recognizing a weakness in the Texas defense and exploiting it. Its defensive linemen aren’t particularly adept at playing the read-option offense with consistent success, and the Cowboys knew Chelf would have some nice run lanes if OSU could get Texas’ linebackers spread out over the field and out of position.
Chelf picked up gains of 14, 22 and 18 yards on the ground, and those were just on his first four rushing attempts. He finished the day with 95 yards and two scores running the ball.
Baker Mayfield has three rushing scores this season. Bryce Petty has 10. You know Texas Tech and Baylor will both find ways to test the Longhorn defense with their feet.
AUSTIN, Texas -- Texas got handed a beatdown on Saturday. There’s no other fair way to put it.
In a game billed as one of the Big 12’s biggest of the season, between two teams streaking and in control of their conference title hopes, No. 12 Oklahoma State took control early and never let go in a 38-13 victory over the No. 24 Longhorns.
OSU won a big-time conference test with a stingy defense, a superior run game, far better special-teams play and three forced turnovers. All against a Texas team that had won six straight and truly believed it could play with the Big 12 title contenders.
“I’m disappointed,” Brown said. “I don’t get stunned about anything anymore.”
The Longhorns, who hadn’t lost in two months, never led in this game. They started slowly, rallied back to 14-10 and then gave the game away in a matter of only seven plays.
The first six came on a 67-yard touchdown drive sparked by a 29-yard pass from Clint Chelf to a wide-open Jhajuan Seales on third-and-10. Two plays later, Chelf sent a pass right into the hands of Texas safety Adrian Phillips that bounced off and into the grasp of receiver Tracy Moore for a 12-yard score.
“It’s just a play I have to make,” Phillips said. “I make that play every day. It just went through my hands. Sometimes when you roll the dice, it doesn’t go your way.”
Down 21-10 with 75 seconds left in the first half, Texas’ offensive coaches opted to roll the dice and go for a score. They got one. OSU corner Justin Gilbert baited Case McCoy into throwing an out that Gilbert picked off and returned 43 yards to the end zone.
“Yeah, I was forcing things. There’s no doubt about it,” McCoy said.
McCoy threw two more interceptions on the day, including one swiped by linebacker Caleb Lavey that the Cowboys turned into a 21-yard touchdown one play later. That was the final score of the day, and with 1:54 left in the third quarter, the game was over.
“The quarterback goes out and throws three picks, you’re not going to win the ballgame,” McCoy said. “It’s very rare that happens. So it’s on me, my team knows it’s on me and we’re going to get it fixed and go win.”
That's not to single out McCoy and Phillips. There were mistakes all over the field in this game, and OSU repeatedly capitalized. Texas had no answer in the second half. One field goal and no spark. No big plays, no momentum, no change. It hadn't faced that feeling in a long time.
And there’s not much to second-guess. Oklahoma State was the far superior team. Brown was asked afterward about his usage of freshman quarterback Tyrone Swoopes, which remains one of the great red herrings of Texas’ issues this season. Brown offered as honest an answer as he could have.
“You never make decisions when you’re tired and when you’re frustrated,” he said. “I’d say we’re both tonight.”
The clichés his players will lean on after this one -- about 24-hour rules and not letting one loss become two -- are actually apt. Texas still has plenty to play for. This team needs help to get to the Fiesta Bowl, yes. But Texas (7-3, 6-1 Big 12) gets more than 10 days to prepare for a Thanksgiving meeting with Texas Tech. Win that one and it'll still be in the thick of things with a trip to Waco on the horizon.
For now, though, all the Longhorns can worry about is fixing themselves. They made things far too easy for a talented Oklahoma State team that had very little trouble doing what it wanted to do in.
Brown wasn’t ready to assign much blame after the game. A thorough film session is needed before he can reach some conclusions, and he knows this season isn’t over yet.
“There’s a lot of football to be played,” Brown said. “You just can’t get your head down and lay down and quit when you have a bad night. You have to go back to work.”
There’s plenty of work to be done, even after the two-month run this team was on. Texas got its big moment on Saturday and got flat-out beat. Its Big 12 title hopes took a blow. We’ll know in two weeks whether it was a fatal one.
Back again with more stats and tidbits courtesy of SID departments across the league and ESPN stats and information. Did you know …
- TCU coach Gary Patterson returns to his alma mater for the first time as a head coach when he visits Kansas State on Saturday. He played linebacker and safety for the Wildcats before graduating in 1983. He was born in Larned, Kan., and lived in Rozel, Kan.
- TCU's Trevone Boykin is the only player in the nation with a 100-yard rushing, 100-yard receiving and 200-yard passing game this season.
- TCU leads the Big 12 with 70.4 percent (2,379 of 3,380 yards) of its scrimmage yards from underclassmen.
- Deante' Gray, who started two games at receiver this season, started at cornerback for TCU against Iowa State last Saturday and had two tackles and a pass breakup. He also leads the squad in special teams tackles.
- Iowa State's DeVondrick Nealy's 98-yard kick return for a touchdown snapped TCU's 135-game streak without allowing a kick return for a score, which was the nation's longest.
- TCU is tied for the conference lead and sixth in the nation with 25 forced turnovers this season.
- TCU holds the nation's third longest streak of games without being shut out at 265, dating back to a 32-0 shutout loss to Texas in 1991.
- Kansas State coach Bill Snyder earned victory No. 175 overall and No. 100 in conference play with the Wildcats' 49-26 win over Texas Tech last Saturday. He's the 46th coach to reach the 175-win mark and just the 11th reach that standard at one school. He joins Tom Osborne of Nebraska and Barry Switzer of Oklahoma as the only Big 8/12 coaches with at least 100 wins at one school.
- K-State has turned it on in the fourth quarter of recent games, outscoring opponents 56-14 during its three-game win streak.
- The Wildcats are 49-17 in November under Snyder since 1991.
- KSU is looking to become the fourth Big 12 team to start 2-4 or worse yet still make a bowl game. 2001 K-State, 2002 Oklahoma State and 2004 Iowa State are the only teams to achieve that feat thus far.
- Since 1999, K-State ranks No. 1 nationally in non-offensive touchdowns with 91.
- John Hubert is averaging 109.5 rushing yards per game and one touchdown in KSU's last four games after averaging 53.6 rushing yards in the Wildcats' first five contests.
- KSU sophomore defensive lineman Travis Britz has blocked four kicks this season, which leads the nation.
- Texas is 6-0 in the Big 12 for the fifth time under Mack Brown (1999, 2005, 2006, 2009).
- The Longhorns has scored 30 points or more in their last six games, matching their longest streak since 2009.
- UT is No. 5 nationally in sacks in its last six games. The Longhorns have gotten to the quarterback 24 times during their last six contests.
- Longhorns' guard Mason Walters has started 47 straight games, the second-longest streak in the nation among offensive linemen (Mississippi State's Gabe Jackson owns the longest streak).
- Texas has scored 11 touchdowns on plays of 45 yards or more this season. Eight different Longhorns have achieved that feat.
- UT receiver Jaxon Shipley is clutch with 30 of his 46 receptions resulting in a first down this season, including three on fourth down. His fourth-down catch kept hope alive in the Longhorns' 47-40 overtime win over West Virginia last Saturday.
- UT defensive end Cedric Reed is the lone FBS defender with at least six sacks, four pass breakups and four forced fumbles. The junior has seven sacks, four pass breakups and four forced fumbles.
- Oklahoma State has won 10 of its last 11 games in the state of Texas.
- An OSU win over Texas would be the Cowboys third-straight victory in Austin and make the Cowboys the first team to do it since Colorado in 1990, 1994 and 1997.
- OSU has scored 20 or more points in 48 straight games dating back to the start of the 2010 season. It's the longest streak in the nation.
- OSU has forced a turnover in 17 straight games.
- Cowboys cornerback Justin Gilbert leads all active players with six kickoff returns for touchdown in his career after his kickoff return for a score to open the game against Kansas.
- OSU is one of seven teams ranking in the nation's top 20 in both scoring offense (40.7 points per game) and scoring defense (19.7 ppg). Alabama, Baylor, Florida State, Oregon, Ohio State and Louisville join the Pokes in that category.
- The Cowboys are averaging 6.11 three-and-outs forced per game this season.
- OSU ranks No. 9 nationally in yards per play allowed at 4.67 yards per play. Michigan State leads the nation at 3.47 followed by Baylor's 4.08.
- The Cowboys lead the Big 12 in third down conversion percentage at 29.6 percent which ranks sixth nationally.
- The Cowboys could feature the league's most balanced offense. OSU has 343 rushing attempts and 343 passing attempts heading into its battle with Texas.
- Texas Tech's series with Baylor is the longest in school history. The Red Raiders hold a 36-34-1 lead in the series.
- The Red Raiders have scored 20 points or more in 25 straight games, dating back to 2011.
- Linebacker Will Smith has either led or tied for the team lead in tackles in six of TTU's last eight games. He has 72 tackles in 10 games, including 50 solo stops.
- TTU had its nation-leading streak of 257 straight PATs snapped when KSU blocked Ryan Bustin's attempt last Saturday. It also snapped Bustin's personal streak of 101 consecutive PATs.
- TTU tight end Jace Amaro had nine receptions for 67 yards against Kansas State to make it nine straight games with at least eight receptions for the junior, tying Michael Crabtree for the school record. He also moved to 10th on Tech's single season receptions list with 88 catches this season.
- Baylor head coach Art Briles is a 1979 Texas Tech graduate and was an assistant coach on Mike Leach's staff from 2000-02.
- It's been a full year since Baylor lost a game and the Bears 12-game winning streak is a school record. Oklahoma was the last team to defeat Baylor on Nov. 10, 2012.
- The Bears' 8-0 start is the best in Baylor's history.
- Baylor is hoping to win three straight games against TTU for the first time since 1984-87.
- Baylor leads the nation in total offense (686 ypg), scoring (61 ppg), pass efficiency (201.5), yards per play (8.64) and passing yards per completion (19.29).
- The Bears defense has more interceptions (11) than passing touchdowns allowed (8).
- Baylor leads the nation in fewest three-and-outs per game (1.02) and is No. 2 in three-and-outs forced (7).
- Baylor is on track to set NCAA records in points per game (61) and yards per game (686). Army averaged 56 points per game in 1944 while Houston averaged 624.9 yards per game in 1989.
- BU's starting offense has 85 drives resulting in 52 touchdowns, getting into the end zone on 61.1 percent of its drives.
- Baylor has won a school-record eight straight conference games. The previous high was five in 2010.
- The Bears lead the Big 12 in tackles for loss with 8.9 per game. That ranks No. 2 in the FBS.
- Baylor has converted 52.7 percent of its third down attempts, which leads the Big 12 and ranks No. 8 in the nation.
- Baylor leads the Big 12 in sacks at 3 per game. That number ties the Bears for 14th nationally.
- BU quarterback Bryce Petty leads the nation in pass efficiency (210.6) and yards per completion (19.68).
- BU running back Lache Seastrunk has 10 games of 100 rushing yards or more in Baylor's last 12 games. He's averaging 8.7 yards per carry, which ranks No. 2 nationally.
- Seastrunk leads the league with 111 rushing yards per game and 11 touchdowns.
- Teammate Shock Linwood, a redshirt freshman running back, is second in the Big 12 with 89.3 rushing yards per game.
- BU receiver Antwan Goodley leads the Big 12 with 121.8 receiving yards per game, which is No. 4 nationally.
- Baylor is 12-1 in November and December since 2011, which is tops in the FBS. That record includes a 5-1 mark against Top 25 teams.
- Iowa State's loss to TCU was the fifth time this season the Cyclones lost a game by eight points or less, including losses to Big 12 foes Texas, Texas Tech and TCU by a combined 12 points.
- ISU and Rutgers are the only two teams with two different players who have returned a kickoff 95 yards or more for a touchdown.
- Nealy has scored in four straight games in three different ways for the Cyclones.
- ISU has used eight different starting offensive lines in nine games. With injuries ravaging its offensive front, 10 different Cyclones have starting along the offensive line.
- Receiver Quenton Bundrage is the only Cyclone to start every game on offense.
- ISU linebacker Jeremiah George has recorded double digit tackles in seven of nine games. He leads the Big 12 with 11.3 tackles per game, ranking fourth nationally.
- Even with ISU's struggles on the field, the Cyclones have had three sellouts this season (Oklahoma State, Iowa, Northern Iowa) and are averaging the highest attendance average (55,617) in program history.
- ISU has converted 23 of 24 red zone possessions into points (18 touchdowns, five field goals) to lead the Big 12 and rank No. 4 nationally at 95.8 percent.
- West Virginia is making its first trip to Memorial Stadium in Lawrence, Kan.
- Two of the top-20, single-game rushing performances in KU history have occurred on Nov. 16. June Henley rushed for 209 yards against Texas in 1996 (15th best) and John Riggins rushed for 189 yards against K-State in 1968 (19th best).
- Mountaineers running back Dreamuis Smith played at Wichita (Kan.) Heights and was committed to the Jayhawks before spending two seasons at Butler County Community College.
- KU's Michael Reynolds has 5.5 sacks this season, the most by a KU defender since 2009. He has a sack in four of KU's last five games.
- KU punter Trevor Pardula has punted for 3,044 yards this season, nearly 1.73 miles. He leads the nation at 338.2 yards per game.
- West Virginia has scored 30 points or more in 24 games, 40 points of more in 12 games, 50 points or more in six games and 60 points or more in three games during Dana Holgorsen's tenure.
- WVU running back Charles Sims leads the Big 12 in all-purpose yardage, averaging 124.2 yards per game.
- WVU has forced a turnover in 16 straight games and 28 of its last 29 contests.
- WVU's is looking to extend its streak of making bowl appearances to 12 with wins over Kansas and Iowa State to close the season.
- WVU is 3-1 on the road in November under Holgorsen
- Oklahoma has won 14 straight games against Iowa State and is 8-0 under Bob Stoops.
- The Sooners are 13-1 on Senior Day under Stoops.
- Stoops has 156 career victories and will be looking to tie Barry Switzer at 157 with a win on Saturday.
- OU will honor 17 seniors on Senior Day. This class is 39-10 during their time in Norman.
- The Sooners are seeking a perfect home record for the 11th time in 15 seasons under Stoops and the first time since 2010.
- The Sooners-Cyclones contest will feature a battle of brothers. Tom Farniok is ISU's starting center while Derek Farniok is a backup tackle at OU.
On this Saturday, a three-hour football game is just an extended reprieve in what should be a long day of recruiting for Brown and his coaching staff.
They're anticipating this will be Texas’ biggest home recruiting weekend of the year, at least during the season. Recruits and their parents want to see how Texas fares against the 12th-ranked Cowboys.
The Longhorns will have at least 13 members of the ESPN 300 for the classes of 2014 and 2015 in attendance Saturday afternoon at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium. As many as 65 more prospective recruits will be in the stands. More than 15 commits will be on hand, too.
“This has been one that most of them marked for a long time,” Brown said.
Among those with front-row seats when Texas and OSU square off will be the No. 1 recruit in the nation, New Orleans St. Augustine running back Leonard Fournette, as well as three official visitors of critical importance.
Five-star cornerback Tony Brown (Beaumont, Texas/Ozen) and No. 3 ranked safety Jamal Adams (Lewisville, Texas/Hebron) want to find out if this Texas team, winners of six in a row, is legit. They want to see a program that really is on the rise.
They’ll be joined for their weekend in Austin by one of the gems of Texas’ 2014 class, Denton (Texas) Guyer’s Jerrod Heard. The ESPN 150 quarterback plans to do plenty of recruiting during his two days on campus.
“I can’t wait. Very excited,” Heard said. “It will be really fun. I’ve hung out with them before, and I’m just happy to be reunited with them.”
Swaying Fournette, who seems likely to end up at Alabama or LSU next year, is still a bit of a pipe dream. But Texas has been working on Brown and Adams for years. This pair of elite defensive backs has been at the top of the Longhorns’ board for a long time.
And, understandably, they’ve been taking a wait-and-see approach when it comes to the Longhorns. Brown encouraged that patience this summer and vowed the Longhorns were ready to make another run.
Perhaps two early losses damaged that claim, but starting 6-0 in the Big 12 to climb to No. 24 in the BCS standings has Texas right back where it wanted to be with its recruiting momentum.
Brown said Monday the feedback from prospects during the win streak has been “really good, a lot better than perceived,” and he believes the Longhorns are getting the attention of their top targets.
“It’s got us back in the mix with some fun kids,” Brown said. “We’re out of the grave with a foot and an arm. Got a little air.”
During the brief September stint in the grave, no member of Texas’ recruiting classes decommitted. The staff has picked up one in-season commitment, from ESPN Junior 300 running back Jordan Stevenson (Dallas/South Oak Cliff) after the impressive Oklahoma win. The home stretch is fast approaching.
Brown doesn’t tend to believe one win or one loss will drastically change Texas recruiting, but he does know more winning is the best way to win over the state’s best.
“We're right in the middle of good stuff right now, and we've got to keep winning,” he said. “They wanted to make sure we were back on track and see what we were made of.”
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