Texas returns home a different team after dominating wins

Posted Monday, Oct. 28, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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More information Kansas at Texas 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Royal-Memorial Stadium, Austin TV: Longhorn Network

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Going into its previous home game, Texas was 1-2, its head coach was on the hot seat and its season was seemingly spiraling out of control.

The Longhorns have since won four consecutive games, all in Big 12 play, preserving their season-salvaging goal of winning their first conference championship since 2009. They traveled to the Metroplex as underdogs for each of their last two games. But Texas dominated Oklahoma in a 36-20 victory at the Cotton Bowl, then blew out TCU 30-7 this past weekend.

Texas (5-2, 4-0) returns to Austin this weekend for its first home game in six weeks when it hosts a Kansas team that has lost 25 consecutive games against Big 12 opponents. The Jayhawks are 2-5, 0-4.

But the Longhorns are a much different team than the one that lost two of its first three games for the first time since 1998.

“We have a lot of momentum coming into this game,” said senior defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat. “It feels good to get these wins. But we’re not satisfied. We’re not done working. We have a lot more to do. We have a lot more games to play. We’ve got five more left. So this game is very important.”

Four distinct goals were outlined before the season began — win the season opener against New Mexico State, break a three-game losing streak against Oklahoma, capture a Big 12 title and win a bowl game for the third year in a row.

“All of those things, after OU, are still intact for us,” coach Mack Brown said. “We could go back and say, ‘OK, we’re not happy with those two [losses]. Wish we could have them back but we don’t. But all of your tangible goals are still there. Nobody’s going to believe you. Just shut up and let’s show them.’ And the guys have continued to do that.”

Texas beat Kansas State by 10 points in its Big 12 opener before taking down Iowa State 31-30 in Ames two weeks later. But the Cyclones and Wildcats have combined to go just 4-10 this year, with one win in conference play between them. It wasn’t until Texas’ convincing 16-point triumph over the Sooners that the Longhorns proved they were legitimate Big 12 title contenders.

The Longhorns showed that Red River Rivalry win wasn’t a fluke when they dominated TCU — both before and after a 3-hour, 6-minute lightning delay. The Horned Frogs’ only score that night came on a trick play. Texas held TCU to 45 rushing yards while running for 187 yards. The Horned Frogs entered the game with the conference’s best rush defense.

“It’ll be good to get back in front of the home crowd. I think people are getting excited about Texas football,” senior guard Mason Walters said. “We’re doing all the small stuff right. I don’t think we need to get too big-picture as a team but just focus on the process after the game to get into the next one.”

Texas has endured a few changes over the last four games. The Longhorns have adjusted to a new defensive coordinator in Greg Robinson. They have gotten used to Case McCoy taking over for an injured David Ash at quarterback. They are relying more on their tailbacks, running the ball 61 percent of the time over the last four games — up from 48 percent during the first three.

What hasn’t changed is that they’re winning.

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