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Three & Out with Texas...
• Kansas Jayhawks (1-6 overall, 0-4 Big 12) vs. Texas Longhorns (5-2 overall, 2-2 Big 12) •
— 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 27, Memorial Stadium, Lawrence, Kan. —
Opening Las Vegas Line: UT -23
Current Las Vegas Line: UT -21
Three and out, with Texas...
Like many Big 12 coaches this season, one of UT coach Mack Brown’s biggest challenges as he prepares to face a KU squad that has lost 16 straight conference games is the idea of making sure his players take the Jayhawks seriously.
Brown said a couple of KU’s recent efforts should help in that area.
“(Our players) saw how Oklahoma State moved the ball against us and they didn't against (Kansas),” Brown said. “They know that TCU scored 53 points this weekend against Texas Tech and they scored 20 in Lawrence. So they’re not stupid. They can see. And I watched video late (Sunday) night, all (Monday) morning, and it’s a different Kansas team at home than it is on the road, and one that will play very well with a bunch of older kids.”
While Brown believes that the couple of strong performances the Jayhawks have had against Big 12 foes this season will be enough to get his team’s attention, he’s hoping that something else that took place in the past will as well.
“Needless to say, the last time we played at 11 a.m. we didn't play well at all,” said Brown, referencing UT’s 63-21 loss to Oklahoma in Dallas on Oct. 13. “I think we really have our hands full. To win on the road you've got to stop the run. You've got to run the ball. And you've got to play great in the kicking game, and those are things that we will have to do better this weekend.”
Monday morning on the Big 12 teleconference, Brown talked about how the Longhorns (5-2, 2-2) are still in the process of starting over and have been saddled with having to play a bunch of young guys while trying to get back to their traditional UT ways.
One of the toughest parts of that, Brown said, was convincing these inexperienced players that simply showing up with Texas written across the front of their jerseys wasn’t gonna cut it.
“We’re not good enough right now to beat anybody unless we’re playing with intensity and playing at our highest level,” Brown said.
Most of UT’s games this season have proven that. In wins over Ole Miss, Oklahoma State and Baylor, the Longhorns’ offense averaged 54 points per game and looked nearly unstoppable. As for the defense, UT has long been known to have a defense that produces big-time NFL players. And while that’s certainly still the case this year — DE/OLB Jackson Jeffcoat (injured), DE Alex Okafor, CB Carrington Byndom and SS Kenny Vaccaro all are slated as first- or second-round picks in mock drafts — the Longhorns have had their share of trouble defensively so far this season.
In their two losses, WVU and OU averaged 569 yards of total offense and rumbled for 343 (OU) and 192 (WV) yards on the ground. For the season, the Texas defense is giving up an average of 216 rushing yards per game.
Although such news is surely music to KU coach Charlie Weis’ ears considering the fact that his squad’s biggest strength has been running the football, Weis cautioned against reading too much into UT’s defensive “struggles.”
“You have to look at who they’re giving up those bunch of points and yards to,” Weis said. “This league has got a lot of offensive firepower. Three of those teams we are talking about, giving up those points to Oklahoma, Baylor, West Virginia, those teams score a lot of points every week. I think Texas has a lot of good football players who are capable of playing very good defense. I think sometimes you go up against some of these offenses and they spread you out and make plays all over the field. It’s a nightmare for defensive coordinators and defenses.”
Unlike last week, when Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops barely even mentioned the fact that the Sooners were or at least should have been preparing for KU to play two quarterbacks, Brown addressed the issue early on this week.
“You start looking at them — Crist is a thrower, and he's a guy that Charlie had in the system at Notre Dame,” Brown said. “He recruited him, and he knows his offense very well. And they've struggled some offensively. And what Charlie did, he brought in Michael Cummings, who is a red-shirt freshman from Killeen, and he's running the ball so much better. So they're actually running some option and quarterback runs. So defensively, as tough as it's been for us. (We've) got to try to figure out now which offense (we’re) going to see, because we'll probably see both during the ballgame.”
Brown also made mention of the fact that current UT wide receivers coach Darrell Wyatt actually recruited Cummings when Wyatt was on Turner Gill’s staff at Kansas.
Texas leads the all-time series between these two schools, 9-2. The Longhorns have won nine straight in the series, including all eight meetings since KU and UT became members of the Big 12.
KU’s last victory against the Longhorns came in 1938, when the Jayhawks picked up a 19-18 victory in Lawrence. KU’s two wins in the series both came in Lawrence, including a 12-0 victory in the first ever meeting between the two in 1901.
Last season, KU traveled to Austin, Texas, and lost 43-0. In that one, KU did not register a positive number in total offense until the final drive of the game. That drive also saw the Jayahwks’ offense cross midfield for the first time in the game.
One of the most memorable KU-UT games, of course, came in 2004, when former KU coach Mark Mangino unleashed a postgame rant that remains talked about to this day.
What inspired it? KU owned a 23-20 lead and had possession of the ball, needing one first down to run out the clock and nail down the upset of the sixth-ranked Longhorns. It looked as if the Jayhawks got that first down when Charles Gordon made a tough catch on an out pattern near midfield. However, referee Freeman Johns flagged Gordon for offensive pass interference, the Jayhawks punted and Texas and QB Vince Young scored a touchdown with 11 seconds left to win 27-23.
"You know what this is all about, don't you?" Mangino asked reporters at the time. "That’s right BCS. That's what made a difference today in the game. That's what made a difference in the call in front of their bench. Dollar signs."
Mangino later issued an apology but still drew a $5,000 fine from the Big 12 Conference office. Texas went on finish the season 11-1 and defeated Michigan, 38-37, in the Rose Bowl, a BCS game, as an at-large selection. Had UT lost to Kansas during that Nov. 20 game, it most likely would not have played in the Rose Bowl.