Wildcats with momentum for Texas
By ARNE GREEN
Special to The Hays Daily News
For all the heartburn, Mack Brown refused to question his Texas Longhorns' heart.
As the Longhorns limp into Big 12 play Saturday night against visiting Kansas State, Brown defiantly pushes on and insists his players are just as determined.
"You've got to believe in your team, and I made a statement a few years ago when we were struggling that I'm never going to make again," the embattled Brown said Monday during the Big 12 coaches teleconference. "These kids are really trying; these coaches are trying.
"In fact, sometimes I think we're probably trying too hard."
Try as they might, the Longhorns (1-2) are coming off back-to-back losses at Brigham Young and at home to Mississippi. BYU gashed them for 679 total yards -- 550 rushing -- in a 40-21 victory, while Ole Miss outscored them 28-0 in the second half to prevail, 44-23.
"We've had the perfect storm with injuries; we've had a lot of tough luck in two weeks," Brown said. "I do think Ole Miss and Brigham Young are good football teams and we'll see that at the end of the year.
"So we've just got to continue to work. Our goal was to win the Big 12 championship and we've still got a chance to do that."
While Texas slipped the past two weeks, K-State brings a two-game winning streak into the game after a disappointing 24-21 loss to North Dakota State in its season opener. Granted, Louisiana and Massachusetts aren't BYU and Ole Miss, but coach Bill Snyder said his Wildcats are headed in the right direction.
"I don't think we've made a dramatic turnaround, I just think it's been gradual progress," he said. "We still make a plethora of mistakes in all facets of the game.
"The consistency has been maybe the biggest issue. As we've become a little bit more consistent in our play, then that translates itself into gradual improvement and I think that's the direction that we're headed."
The Wildcats followed the opening loss with a 48-27 victory over Louisiana and handled UMass, 37-7, at Saturday. They also have a five-game winning streak against the Longhorns, dating back to 2006.
"K-State's the normal K-State football team," Brown said. "They're well coached, they're disciplined, they're tough (and) they've got great athletes."
Brown said he is working to restore confidence in a Texas team that entered the season with high hopes and a national ranking.
"What we did is we took all the great plays that we made on Saturday night during that stretch where we were playing as well as we have in a long time, both sides of the ball, and showed them that's who we need to be," he said. "Instead of being inconsistent, we just need to pound on the positive and let them understand that we're not as far away as it looks like after three weeks."
Snyder, whose Wildcats have had their own issues on defense, wasn't about to criticize Texas'.
"I see a team that is playing hard. I see a team that has talented young people," Snyder said of the Longhorns, who rank 114th nationally in total defense and 121st against the run. "I see schemes that are as good as anybody's.
"I just see them getting closer to playing as they're capable of playing, because they can be a tremendously gifted football team."
Kansas State cornerback Kip Daily, who had recorded his first two career interceptions and returned one for a touchdown Saturday against UMass, was named the Big 12 defensive player of the week Monday.
Daily, a senior, gave the Wildcats a 6-0 lead when he returned a first-quarter pick 38 yards for a score. He got the second one in the third quarter.