Longhorns searching to define identity

Updated: October 28, 2003, 3:23 PM ET

AUSTIN -- Meet MackBrown, Texas football coach and team psychologist.

It's two months into the season andBrown says he's still searching for the personality of the 2003 Longhorns, a team that began the season ranked in the top five but stumbled badly after getting bloodied by Arkansas and Oklahoma.

And with No. 12 Nebraska (7-1, 3-1 Big 12) coming to Austin on Saturday, now would be a good time to find it.

"I still don't know the personality of this team,"Brown said this week. "Usually you do by the eighth game of the year ... I've liked it six times. I didn't like it twice."

Consider November a monthlong Rorschach test that will determine whether the No. 16 Longhorns (6-2, 3-1) are legitimate Big 12 title contenders or just crazy enough to believe they were more than pretenders.

After Nebraska, there's a road trip to No. 14 Oklahoma State before ending the season against rivals Texas Tech and Texas A&M.

"After a couple of games, a team should have a personality," said senior wide receiver B.J. Johnson. "It should know itself."

Wide receiver Roy Williams says the Longhorns have a "split personality," one that sometimes walks with the swagger of a schoolyard bully pulverizing the weak, only to follow it with a performance that exposes a glass jaw that can be shattered with an early punch.

Just look at October. The Longhorns showed enough moxie to rally in the fourth quarter against Kansas State, only to get squashed 65-13 by top-ranked border rival Oklahoma. While critics called Texas soft, the Longhorns smashed Iowa State and Baylor.

"All but two games they've seemed relaxed, had fun (and) played great,"Brown said. "In two they got behind and didn't respond well."

Even some of the responses from Texas players about Nebraska raise the question of how the Longhorns look at the next month.

While sophomore defensive end Mike Williams said it's "not really a make-or-break" stretch, he acknowledges "there's a lot of questions up in the air."

Roy Williams calls the Nebraska game a chance to prove critics wrong, to earn back respect after the embarrassment of playing so poorly against Oklahoma.

"The whole nation will be watching," Williams said. "Hopefully a win would turn some heads."

Offensive lineman Jason Glynn doesn't quite see it that way.

"I don't think (respect) is really big to us," Glynn said. "We know what we can do."

The Texas coaches have had a hand in creating this hard-to-define personality.

Early on,Brown was determined to establish a running game, but it never took off. It wasn't until quarterback Vince Young -- now the team's leading rusher -- started weaving all over the field that Texas start piling up yards on the ground.

And it wasn't until the Iowa State game -- the week after Oklahoma -- that Texas showed any real play-calling razzle-dazzle, unveiling a reverse pass from Williams to B.J. Johnson.

Texas finally took the reins off a four-wideout set in last week's 56-0 rout over Baylor. The passing game was supposed to be Texas' strength, yet it took nearly two months to get that scheme rolling.

"As a wideout, we've been screaming for them to put it in a lot more," Johnson said.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index