Archive for Monday, August 15, 2011

Longhorns learned from rare down year

August 15, 2011


This story is part of the KU Edition, a special section that runs in the Lawrence Journal-World.

Longhorns at a glance

Coach: Mack Brown

Coach Year at school: 14th

2010 Record: 5-7 overall, 2-6 Big 12

Last Year vs. KU: Did not play. Last time these two met, No. 3 ranked Texas topped Kansas, 51-20, on Nov. 21, 2009.

Returning Starters: 15

Impact Newcomers: Malcolm Brown 6-0, 215, RB; Quandre Diggs 5-10, 192, CB; Jaxon Shipley 6-1, 183, WR; Chet Moss 6-2, 235, LB.

Key Games: Sept. 10 vs. BYU; Oct. 8 vs. Oklahoma in Dallas; Oct. 15 vs. Oklahoma State.

Vs. Kansas: Oct. 29 in Austin, Texas.

During 2010, the University of Texas football team turned in a very un-Longhorn like season, finishing 5-7 overall, 2-6 in the Big 12 and missing out on postseason play while finishing last in the Big 12 South.

Make no mistake about it: UT coach Mack Brown wasn’t happy. But now that he’s through it, Brown believes what went down in 2010 might have been good for his team. Seriously.

“Sometimes you need to get kicked in the face to wake up,” Brown said. “We’ve been one of the top teams in America and last year we weren’t. The challenge for us is to get to work and make sure we get there again. It’s a fun time for us, a challenging time for us. And it’s time to get to work.”

One of the first items on Texas’ to-do list is to identify a starting quarterback. Last season, the ’Horns entered the summer with the belief that Garrett Gilbert was the next in a long line of top-tier UT quarterbacks. That idea came about after Gilbert’s admirable effort in filling in for the injured Colt McCoy in the 2009 national championship game. But that team had more weapons, better chemistry and, in most spots, better talent.

Gilbert returns with experience this season, but not as the clear-cut starter. Brown said he’d open up the competition to all quarterbacks on his roster. Part of that is because he wants to make it a best-man-takes-the-job scenario. The other part of the equation is that Brown wants to give co-offensive coordinators Major Applewhite, 32, and Bryan Harsin, 34, a fair chance to evaluate what they’ve got and then proceed with the best fit.

Brown outlined what it would take to win the QB job weeks ago.

“The No. 1 thing we want is leadership,” Brown said. “We want somebody who can bring the swagger back. Second, we want someone who’s going to protect the football.”

Last year, the Longhorns were 116th in the country in turnover margin, giving the ball away far more often than they took it. That, Brown said, was the difference between winning just five games and winning eight or nine.

“My wife told me that usually most hotels don’t even have a 13th floor, and that was my 13th year (at Texas),” Brown said. “I should have skipped it. Some people thought I did. It didn’t work well, so we’re starting over on year 14.”

Starting over means renewed dedication from every player.

“Any time you come off a season like we had last year, there’s gonna be a chip on everybody’s shoulder,” senior safety Blake Gideon said.


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