Coming off a bye week and facing the only team in the Big 12 with a losing record and with the Red River Rivalry right around the corner would make it easy for Texas to overlook this week’s opponent.
But the Longhorns (2-2) can’t afford to write off their game against Iowa State (1-2) on Thursday night at Jack Trice Stadium as an easy win. Not much has come easy for Texas, which was off last week after beating Kansas State in its Big 12 opener but will be hitting the road in conference play for the first time this season.
“I think, after our second and third games, we’re not going to overlook anybody,” Texas coach Mack Brown said, referring to losses to BYU and Ole Miss. “If we play like we did [against Kansas State], the Big 12’s wide open, we have a chance. We just have to continue to play good.”
Junior quarterback David Ash will not play as he recovers from a head injury he suffered in the 31-21 win over Kansas State two weeks ago.
Senior Case McCoy, who has not won as a starting quarterback in two seasons, will start. Freshman Tyrone Swoopes will be the backup. The dual-threat quarterback has taken second-team reps in practice the last three weeks.
“He’s another great quarterback,” senior guard Trey Hopkins said. “He’s a very talented guy. A big guy who’s naturally athletic. If he gets in the game, it will definitely give the defenders a little more to think about.”
For the first time this year, Texas will take the field without linebacker Jordan Hicks starting. Hicks, who missed the final 10 games last season with a hip injury, is out for the season with a torn left Achilles tendon.
Junior Steve Edmond will sit out the first half of this week’s game against the Cyclones after being ejected on a targeting penalty in the fourth quarter of Texas’ win over Kansas State. That means the Longhorns will start three second-year players at linebacker, including redshirt freshman Tim Cole, who takes Hicks’ spot on the depth chart.
“The best way to get a coach’s attention is to play well on special teams,” Brown said. “Tim did a tremendous job against Kansas State on special teams. Because of that, and practice the last four days — three last week and yesterday — [defensive coordinator] Greg Robinson is convinced he wants Tim out there as a starter.”
Texas struggled in a loss to Ole Miss, the first game under Robinson after Manny Diaz was fired following a loss to BYU. But the defense was vastly improved against Kansas State and, with an extra week under its belt, the Longhorns’ defense feels even more comfortable with Robinson calling the shots.
“We’re trying to [know] him more and basically just find out exactly what he wants from us,” senior defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat said. “Nothing too complicated. It’s great that we can understand him.”
This week will mark the first time, excluding Thanksgiving Day games, Texas has played on a Thursday since 1993. Iowa State is 10-2 in its last 12 Thursday night games. The Cyclones’ weekday games include a double-overtime home win over No. 2 Oklahoma State on a Friday night in 2011 that dashed the Cowboys’ hopes of playing for a national championship.
It’s an unusual situation, flying to Ames during the middle of the week in early October for a football game. Is it one Brown relishes?
“I’ll let you know after Thursday night,” Brown said.
Texas at Iowa State
6:30 p.m. Thursday
Head to head