Loss to K-State would give Texas Longhorns worst start since ’56

The last time the Longhorns lost two of their first three games, Mack Brown was in his first season at Texas. There are some who believe that Brown could be in the midst of his last, especially if the Longhorns fall to Kansas State on Saturday.

“Let’s go back to ’98,” Brown said. “We’re 1-2 and the world is coming to an end. In fact, [a friend] told me he couldn’t even find me enough friends to be pallbearers. I’d have to be cremated after 1-2.”

Texas (1-2) opens Big 12 play at 7 p.m. Saturday when it hosts Kansas State (2-1), a team it has not beaten since 2003. The Longhorns have lost five in a row to the Wildcats and are looking to avoid their first 1-3 start since 1956.

“All of us are disappointed,” co-offensive coordinator Major Applewhite said. “We went back and asked hard questions of ourselves. Did we have the right guy in? Did we have the right tempo here?”

Applewhite’s offense failed to score in the second half of last weekend’s 44-23 loss to Ole Miss, producing only 8 rushing yards after halftime. That game also marked the first start of the year for Case McCoy, who went 24 for 36 with 196 yards and a touchdown.

Quarterback David Ash will start Saturday after being cleared to play. Ash practiced Wednesday for the first time since suffering injuries to his head and right shoulder in the fourth quarter of a 40-21 loss to BYU two weeks ago.

While Ash will play, wide receiver Mike Davis, who has a team-high 20 catches this year, remains questionable.

The Longhorns are expecting improvement on defense in their first full week with defensive coordinator Greg Robinson. After allowing two early touchdowns, Texas clamped down on Ole Miss before the Rebels scored 30 unanswered points. The Longhorns are allowing 308.7 rushing yards per game, 121st out of 123 FBS schools.

“We still have to work out some kinks. It’s hard to put in a new defense in a week,” senior defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat said. “It’s getting better, but it’s not where it needs to be. There’s little things we need to do here and there. We need to make sure we trust each other on defense.”

Since Texas allowed Ole Miss to run for 272 yards last week, less than half as many as they surrendered to BYU the week before, Brown has hammered home one thing — the Longhorns can salvage this season by winning the Big 12.

“We’ve been talking about the Big 12 championship since January,” Brown insisted. “It looks to me like the Big 12 is wide open, so why shouldn’t we have a chance? We just have to play better.”

Brown is tasked with the challenge of righting the ship against a Kansas State team that has outscored Texas by an average of 14 points per game in its last five meetings with Texas. The Wildcats, who lost to North Dakota State in their season opener, are running a two-quarterback system with junior college transfer Jake Waters and mobile sophomore Daniel Sams.

But it hasn’t mattered recently how the teams have looked on paper. Kansas State has had Texas’ number.

“Let’s get it fixed,” Brown said. “And let’s get it fixed this weekend.”

Texas vs. Kansas State

7 p.m. Saturday, Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium

TV: WFAA/Ch. 8

Radio: KRLD/1080 AM

Head to head

Category Texas (1-2) Kansas State (2-1)
Points per game 33.3 35.3
Total offense 493.3 410.3
Pass offense 288.3 237.3
Rush offense 205 173
3rd down conv. 34.9% 48.6%
Points allowed 30.3 19.3
Total defense 491.3 353
Pass defense 182.7 181.3
Rush defense 308.7 171.7
3rd down conv. 40.8% 48%

Cat scratch fever

Texas must beat Kansas State to avoid its first 1-3 start since 1956, something the Lonhorns haven’t done since 2003. A look at the five-game losing streak to the Wildcats:

Year Score
2006 Kansas State 45, Texas 42
2007 Kansas State 41, Texas 21
2010 Kansas State 39, Texas 14
2011 Kansas State 17, Texas 13
2012 Kansas State 42, Texas 24