David Snow

David Snow made 32 starts over the last three years, showing his versatility by starting all 13 games this past season at guard after moving over from center, where he started all 12 games in 2010.

Photo Credit: Tamir Kalifa | Daily Texan Staff

David Snow has always wanted to be an NFL player. But come draft day on April 26, he won’t be sitting around eagerly watching the television. Instead, he will be out fishing with his friends.

“I’m going to be really excited,” Snow said. “But I’m not going to be sitting around.”

Once he was offered a scholarship to UT, the center from Gilmer knew that his dreams to play professionally could happen. Snow graduated in December and has been training and preparing for the draft ever since. Leaving UT was difficult for Snow, but he is ready to begin the next part of his career.

“I really like starting new stages of life and I am really excited about the opportunity of the next level and getting to play some more football,” Snow said. “You’re kind of sad, but at the same time you’re also really happy. It’s a weird combination of the two.”

Snow has no preference to what team he goes to, as long as he can continue playing football.

Snow appeared in all 52 games during his four-year career at Texas. Snow prides himself on versatility — he can play center, left guard and right guard. He said he will play wherever he is needed in the NFL. Scouts have told him they like his versatility.

“Being able to play multiple positions does ultimately help you a whole bunch in the NFL,” Snow said. “You never know when someone’s going to go down and you’ll need to move over and play a different position.”

In his senior year, he started all 13 games at left guard, but in his junior year, he spent most of the season at center. He plans to be ready to step up whenever his potential team needs him. The Longhorns’ practices are set up very similar to NFL practices, so he feels confident that he is ready to play professionally.

“Center is a unique position, of course, and you can’t get everyone to play that position,” said Texas head coach Mack Brown.

Texas coaches have helped him progress, and the advice and help of Longhorn alumni will also help him. Snow knows he won’t have any problems, but former players like Derrick Johnson and Jamaal Charles have told him to be responsible once he enters the NFL, especially early in his career.

“A lot of people when they go to the NFL and they get paid a bunch of money off the top, they want to go spend it,” Snow said. “That can cause you a lot of problems. They told me to get in there and work your tail off.”

Although Snow was not invited to the NFL Combine, he feels he performed well enough at Texas’ pro day to convince coaches and scouts that he is ready to play at the next level. But he knows that it’s a combination of four years that teams look at when determining who they will call on April 26. Last year 59 players who were not invited to the combine made it on a pro team.

“I put up a lot of solid numbers during my four years at Texas and that helps a lot, so now we just wait,” Snow said.

He has filled out questionnaires for all 32 teams and has worked out for coaches from Denver. But if he is not drafted, he will go as a free agent and try out. He hopes he will earn a spot on a team.

“Everything in life that I do, I always want to be the best at it,” Snow said. “When I started playing football, I always wanted to be the best at it. I’ve always felt like I could always outwork everyone. That was just my mentality about it.”

Snow graduated from Texas with a degree in corporate communication and could see a future for himself in commercial real estate. But he will always have his time at UT to look back on.

“I had a great time at UT,” Snow said. “The greatest thing is that a lot of the guys helped me do my spiritual walk and we get to play football together. The combination of the two gave me a great experience.”

No matter what the future holds for Snow, he is going to keep pushing and working.

“My work ethic is really great,” Snow said. “So I am just going to keep on working no matter what.”

Case McCoy tries to avoid the tackle at the end of a 25-yard run against Texas A&M. McCoy's gutsy run set up the game-winning field goal. McCoy's passing yards aren't stellar, but he has yet to throw an interception.

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

The Longhorns hope Case McCoy still has some magic left.

The sophomore quarterback, who will make his second start in a row in the season finale, always seems to come up big for Texas when it matters most.

He instrumented a game-winning drive in the final minutes of last Thursday’s win over Texas A&M. A week before, McCoy nearly completed a remarkable comeback against Kansas State. And early in the year, in the first meaningful game of his career, McCoy rallied the Longhorns in the fourth quarter to beat BYU.

“He does a really good job of making plays when we need them,” said senior left guard David Snow.

But McCoy, who has split snaps with David Ash for most of the year, will need to pull another rabbit out of his hat to beat Baylor. Still, the ball always seems to bounce his way. Two tipped balls should have been intercepted last week, but they found the turf before the Aggies could get their hands on them.

Against UCLA, McCoy severely underthrew to Mike Davis, only to have the ball bounce off a Bruin and into Davis’ lap.

McCoy’s success, though, isn’t all about good fortune. He’s yet to throw an interception in 106 attempts this season, and he’s a better runner than advertised, just watch his 25-yard scramble against A&M for proof.

“There’s times when a quarterback has to be a playmaker and make plays with his feet,” McCoy said. “It’s just instinct.”

McCoy doesn’t have the physical tools or prowess of Baylor quarterback and Heisman hopeful Robert Griffin, but then again, he’s used to it. McCoy’s been in the shadow of his older brother, Colt, ever since he stepped foot in Austin. Adversity is nothing new to him.

He began the season as the backup, started three games while splitting time with Ash, and then watched as the coaching staff gave the job to the freshman. But McCoy didn’t sulk, and he made the most of the snaps that came his way.

“He didn’t back off or stand off, he knew his opportunity would come up again,” said quarterbacks coach Bryan Harsin. “Case has done a good job, being there ready to go when it’s his opportunity.”

While Ash started five games in a row, McCoy watched from the sidelines and got mop-up work. But throughout the process, he was there when Texas called.

“He stayed level headed,” said senior linebacker Keenan Robinson. “He never complained. He’s a guy that’s going to buy-in every week. If the coach asks him to signal plays from the sidelines, he’s going to do it. If they ask him to go in and drive down the field in the fourth quarter to win the game, he’s going to do it.”

That’s exactly what McCoy did last week in his first start in more than a month, and now he has a chance to get the majority of the snaps during bowl practices if he can find a way to lead Texas past Griffin and BU. That means jump-starting a passing attack that’s been absent for the second half of the season.

If McCoy intends on keeping the starting job, he’ll have to do a better job moving the chains.

“I’d like to see him convert some more third downs and hit some easier throws,” Harsin said. “If he’ll continue down that road of not turning the ball over and managing the game, doing a better job on third downs, then you’ve got something.”

And he’d be wise not to try going throw-for-throw with Griffin.

“If it’s a shootout, we’re in trouble,” said Texas head coach Mack Brown, who is 12-1 against BU.

Case McCoy #6 and David Ash #14

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

With 12 weeks gone in the regular season, the Longhorns have yet to identify a reliable quarterback.

Mack Brown joked during the preseason that if he couldn’t find a quarterback by Thanksgiving, he’d be a truck driver. The head coach isn’t laughing about his QB situation anymore. Not with his two remaining signal-callers struggling to throw the ball.

Freshman David Ash has started the last five games, thrown six interceptions against no touchdowns and led Texas to a 2-3 record. Sophomore Case McCoy has played in the last four games and is responsible for the Longhorns’ only two touchdowns in more than eight quarters.

“Neither one of them has stepped up and taken over,” Brown said. “We will look at playing both again this week.”

A decision won’t be made on a starter until Wednesday night or Thursday.

Ash is 20 of 45 for 197 yards in his last two games, losses to Missouri and Kansas State. He was pulled after throwing his second interception against KSU on the first drive of the second half.

“I thought David played too hard early, then pressed and didn’t relax,” Brown said. “We’ve got to get him to relax because he’s done some great things for us this year.”

Ash was not available for comment and has only addressed the media this season in select post-game settings.

Turnovers have plagued Ash all year. He’s been intercepted eight times in 10 games and lost a fumble against Oklahoma. The only game he started and did not turn the ball over was against Texas Tech on Nov. 5, when Ash attempted just seven passes.

He may have blown his chance to start the final game of the 118-year rivalry with Texas A&M on Thursday after his underwhelming performance against Kansas State on Saturday, his second in as many weeks.

“Turnovers are always a negative for us and we’ve got to eliminate those things,” said Bryan Harsin, the play-caller and QB coach, after Saturday’s loss.

Read between the lines. Ash could have a head set on when Texas takes the field against the Aggies.

Ash hasn’t taken the Longhorns where they wanted to go since assuming the starting role. In his two wins against Kansas and Tech, he threw a total of 25 times while Texas totaled 880 rushing yards. But when leading rushers Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron went down with injuries, the run game stalled as well as the passing game.

“We had a hard time passing the past couple weeks because we weren’t able to get our run game going,” said junior wide receiver Marquise Goodwin. “And that’s really the main part of our offense, running the ball. It’s hard to get deep passes when we can’t really run like we want to.”

But Ash didn’t start the last five games because he was the best passer. In the end, the coaches liked his mobility more than McCoy’s.

“He’s a stronger runner and he gave you the ability to run our option off of the speed sweep packages,” Brown said.

Ash showed his athletic ability with a 47-yard run against Tech, but hasn’t scored on the ground since the KU game on Oct. 29. But his teammates aren’t blaming the freshman for his rookie woes.

They aren’t blaming McCoy for his either, though, as both are new to Harsin’s scheme.

“It’s what to be expected,” said senior left guard David Snow. “You have two really young quarterbacks and a brand new offense, it’s just really hard.”

Still, if Ash doesn’t start on Thanksgiving, he’s likely to play should McCoy struggle.

“We’re developing two quarterbacks for these types of situations,” Harsin said.

That’s not what Mack Brown envisioned three months ago.

Texas running back Fozzy Whittaker reacts on the field after hurting his leg during the first quarter against Missouri. The Longhorns will have a tough time replacing his leadership. (Photo Courtesy of L.G. Patterson)

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

The Longhorns have some big shoes to fill.

A season-ending knee injury to Fozzy Whittaker last week leaves a gaping hole in the Texas offense, but the senior’s leadership will also be missed. Whittaker led the Longhorns with nine touchdowns and 955 all-purpose yards and was the heart and soul of the team.

“It’s a big loss but somebody has to step up and assume that role,” said junior wide receiver Marquise Goodwin. “We all have to come together closer as a team and get the job done.”

Whittaker, UT’s third leading rusher, was most effective running the “Wild” package, where he used his vision, power and speed to near perfection in the red zone. He took 25 direct snaps, resulting in 164 rushing yards and five touchdowns.

Now, the onus is on play-caller Bryan Harsin to account for that lost production. He says the Longhorns can still use the “Wild” formation.

“We’ll have to change our personnel, but the scheme won’t change,” Harsin said. “We’ll have another variation of that and get one of those backs in there. Fozzy wasn’t the only guy that was doing it [in practice]. We’ll just figure out who we put back there.”

Junior tailback Jeremy Hills carried 11 times for 35 yards after Whittaker’s injury in the first quarter against Missouri last week. Harsin said he wants a running back to assume Whittaker’s spot in the Wild, and Hills or D.J. Monroe fit the mold.

Senior left guard David Snow believes Harsin can find a solution in just one week.

“He has a knack for finding players for situations and he created the Wild package in the first place,” Snow said. “He can find something else.”

But Whittaker’s absence will affect more than just one formation. He was an important part of the Longhorns’ power run game, and with leading rushers Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron nursing injuries (turf toe and hamstring, respectively), Texas needs more production from the rest of its offense.

The Longhorns were held to a season-worst 247 yards against Missouri without that trio, and Harsin’s offense failed to score a touchdown for the first time in his 75-game career as a coordinator (five seasons at Boise State, one at Texas).

“Everybody in every position has to step up,” said senior tight end Blaine Irby. “We can’t put so much weight on the next running back. Everybody that’s playing needs to do just a little bit more.”

That means more production from the passing game. Quarterback David Ash struggled in his first road start and couldn’t find a rhythm against MU. He missed open receivers down field and had more incompletions (16) than completions (13).

Sophomore wide out Mike Davis, though, has shown big-play ability and could be the spark Texas so desperately needs. Davis is first on the team with 33 receptions for 521 yards and has four catches of at least 45 yards.

“Coach Harsin always talks about if we’re a man down, someone has got to carry the flag,” Davis said. “So a man down means someone’s got to pick up the flag, carry it and lead.”

Still, Davis is most dangerous in play-action, meaning the Longhorns will have to be able to run the ball to set up the pass. They were unable to do that against Missouri, granted they were without Brown and Bergeron. But with their status unknown moving forward — head coach Mack Brown said he can’t plan on them playing Saturday — it’s unclear how effective the offense can be.

One thing is certain, though, Harsin remains committed to running the ball.

“The philosophy’s not going to change,” Harsin said. “We’ve got guys to play. That’s how we play, that’s what we believe in and that’s what we’ll continue to do.”

Now Texas just needs to find the next Fozzy Whittaker. That’s easier said than done. But if anyone can do that, it’s Harsin.

Luke Poehlmann was an integral part in Texas' run game against Kansas. He should see extended playing time as Texas hopes to keep its dynamic run game rolling.

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

The Longhorns have a new tight end. A big one.

Luke Poehlmann, a 6-foot-7, 295-pound junior, moved from the offensive line to tight end prior to last week’s win over Kansas. With Texas desperately searching for an answer to its blocking woes at that position, Poehlmann proved to be the answer.

“That’s what we’re looking for, more push and power off the edge,” said senior left guard David Snow. “He did a great job for us. He pushed off the line and that whole right side got a great push. We’re really excited about it.”

Poehlmann sealed the edge, allowing the Longhorns tailbacks to gain a season-high 441 yards rushing against the Jayhawks. Bryan Harsin, the Texas play-caller, decided to move the junior to tight end during the bye week to jump-start the outside running game.

“He dominated the 27 plays he was in there,” said head coach Mack Brown. “We’ve got to continue to grow with him.”

The decision worked so well that Harsin anticipates Poehlmann seeing more action in his new role over the final five weeks, beginning Saturday against Texas Tech.

“That helped us, just having a bigger body out there on the edge in some of those one-on-one blocks,” Harsin said. “I don’t see a reason why we’re not going to use him there again.”

But Poehlmann wasn’t a complete stranger to tight end before the move. As a redshirt freshman in 2009, he spent some time at the position in practice — albeit a brief stint.

“That didn’t last too long after he was running a couple routes,” said senior tight end Blaine Irby, smiling. “I haven’t seen him catch the ball in a while. Hopefully we’ll get him on a corner route or something.”

That could come as soon as this week against the Red Raiders, but don’t expect Poehlmann to become too involved in the passing game. His value is still as a blocker.

“He was asking if he could go out the back side (for a pass against KU),” Harsin said. “I don’t think he was quite ready for that yet. But maybe this week.”

While Poehlmann’s brief experience at tight end helped ease the transition, his background as an offensive lineman certainly came into play.

“He’s a guy that’s been in the trenches, he know exactly what it takes,” said senior running back Fozzy Whittaker, who rushed for 68 yards against KU. “He’s blocked defensive ends all the time. Having him on the edge was a big  help for us.”

Poehlmann switched his uniform from No. 77 to No. 82 to become an eligible receiver. And though he played a critical role in beating Kansas, he wasn’t immune from a little good-natured ribbing from some of his former lineman this week.

“No. 82 is not supposed to be on a guy that big,” said sophomore right guard Mason Walters, half-joking. “But at the same time he fought hard.

“He learned the technique early in the week, it’s not something we really knew we were going to do. Luke worked on it all week; keeping his hands inside, running his feet the whole time. He did a great job.”

Poehlmann missed the final 10 games of the 2010 season after tearing his ACL against Wyoming, the second game of the year. He saw limited action through the first six games of this season, and jumped at the chance to get more playing time at tight end.

“He was really excited about that opportunity and you could tell in the game,” Harsin said. “That vibe just helped across the board, just having him in there.”

Texas’ newest tight end just might be the most important one yet. He’s certainly the biggest.


David Ash prepares to snap the ball in a recent game for the Longhorns. The freshman has started the last two games, leading Texas to a 1-1 mark. Ash began the season buried on the Texas depth chart but assumed the starting role against Oklahoma State in his sixth game.

Photo Credit: Trent Lesikar | Daily Texan Staff

When David Ash was offered a scholarship to play football at the University of Texas, he didn’t hesitate to make a decision.

“We were in Coach [Mack] Brown’s office, and our whole family was there,” said Stephen Ash, David’s father. “When they offered him, he said ‘I accept.’ It was a very special time.”

If someone said Ash would become Texas’ starting quarterback two months ago, much less last February when he committed to play for the Longhorns, he or she would have been considered crazy. With junior Garrett Gilbert and sophomore Case McCoy towering over him on the depth chart, along with highly touted Connor Brewer set to join Texas in 2012, Ash’s chances to play seemed slim.

“He’s really got a single-minded focus,” Stephen Ash said. “He’s uncompromising with what he believes he should do and what should be done. I think he’s willing to give everything he’s got.”

Ash’s job was made much easier Saturday when Texas amassed 441 rushing yards and ran the ball on 72 of its 93 offensive plays. The Longhorns are relying on a run-first approach for the first time since the Vince Young era, and it’s finally paying off after futile attempts to install an effective ground game last season.

“If something’s going good, why not stay with it?” said senior guard David Snow. “That’s what we needed to do to beat Kansas. If we need to rear back and throw it, we can. David Ash has a great arm, and the receivers are good.”

At the beginning of the season, Ash’s playing time was restricted to a particular package that consisted mostly of zone-read plays. But as the year progressed, Ash’s passing workload increased with every game until he made his first career start against Oklahoma State. Ash threw 40 times against the Cowboys while only firing 18 passes against Kansas as Texas built an early lead.

“I thought he was more comfortable,” said co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin. “But we want to eliminate the turnover in the red zone. We want to eliminate the sack we lost all those yards on. There’s still some mistakes that we need to clean up, but I like his presence out there.”

Ash hit some road blocks when Oklahoma State visited Austin. The freshman quarterback committed two turnovers and averaged just 3.5 yards per pass. But he bounced back nicely against the Jayhawks, going 14-for-18 and running for his first touchdown from two yards out on third and goal. Ash did, however, throw another interception and took a sack for a 20-yard loss. Such mistakes may be frustrating but are to be expected from a true freshman behind center.

“There’s probably two or three plays in there that I’ve got to eliminate,” Ash said. “Other than that, I made pretty good decisions. I was completing passes. I’m just trying to do what I’m coached to do.”

Even after Ash’s impressive showing and the fact that McCoy has spent most of the last two games wearing a headset, there is still that pesky “or” between the two quarterbacks on the depth chart. McCoy completed both of his passes against Kansas, his first throws since the Red River Rivalry last month. Both Brown and Harsin said Monday that if the Longhorns played today, Ash would start because of his performance against Kansas. They also said the quarterback competition is still open.

“We’re not in a position where we’re ready to anoint anybody as the guy,” Brown said. “We’ve got five very difficult games coming up here. We can’t afford to have a bad game at that position.”

Ash has made significant progress between his first two career starts, especially considering he went from a loss to a win, which he cited as the most significant indicator of his improvement. But for Texas to have at winning its next five games, Ash, if he remains to be the full-time starter, will have to continue to improve.

Printed on Thursday, November 3, 2011 as: Freshman quarterback assumes starting role as Longhorns continue to rebuild program

Malcolm Brown made it two straight 100-yard games against Kansas, running for 119 yards and two touchdowns against the Jayhawks. The freshman is one of many reasons a run-first offenisve has worked well so far.

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

We learned Saturday in emphatic fashion that Texas can really run the ball.

Now we’ll begin to find out if they can actually run the table.

A 43-0 win over Kansas — perhaps the worst team in college football — was the perfect exhibit of smashmouth football that Mack Brown has so fruitlessly tried to install, as eight runners combined for 441 yards and five touchdowns on 72 attempts. Finally, for the first time since the early years of the Vince Young era, the Longhorns are a team that will use the run to set up the pass, and not vice versa. Because of that, senior tailback Fozzy Whittaker believes Texas can win out.

“There’s a great possibility we can do that,” Whittaker said. “Time of possession is key and if you can run effectively, you have a chance.”

There’s nobody left on the schedule with a more porous defense than the one the Jayhawks trotted out, but none of them will be confused with Alabama, either. The combined national run-defense ranking of Texas’ last five opponents is 63rd. This Saturday’s foe, Texas Tech, is No. 114.

“I feel that we do have balance on offense, but when something’s good, you stay with it,” said starting guard David Snow.

The rushing attack has been bolstered, of course, by the arrival of freshman Malcolm Brown and the improvement of Whittaker who, for the first time in his career, is completely healthy. Joe Bergeron emerged as a good third option against Kansas and D.J. Monroe and Marquise Goodwin are dangerous in their special packages.

But don’t sleep on co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin, who came to Austin from Boise State this offseason with a rather incorrect reputation as a past-first playcaller. Harsin likes to spread receivers all over the field and call elaborate trick plays, but the basis of his offense is the ability to run.

“The reason for our success has to be the change in philosophy, we ran the ball 72 times against Kansas,” Whittaker said. “His mentality when he got here was that we needed to rush for 200 yards each game.”

At Boise State, Harsin enjoyed the luxury of having Kellen Moore as quarterback. At Texas, he doesn’t have anybody close to Moore, so he’s had to find even more ways to run the ball. His most recent — and smartest — wrinkle was moving offensive tackle Luke Poehlmann to tight end.

“He set the edge,” Harsin said after the Kansas game. “He got us out there on the perimeter by just being physical and being a bigger guy there on the edge, and it helped the run game.”

The past few Augusts, Mack Brown has insisted Texas will become a power-running team, only to throw the plan out the window after the first few games. This year, it’s actually working.

“When we had Colt McCoy, we didn’t need to run the ball because we threw it so well,” Snow said. “But each team changes and at the end of the game, if you’re still winning, that’s all that matters.”

The offensive line has played well, especially considering most of them have spent their careers moving backwards, rather than forwards.

“We’re more downhill-focused,” Snow said. “We love to run block. We’re Texas, we recruit the best. We have guys who can either run- or pass-block. These are guys who have been pass-blocking their whole careers, and we still ran it for 400 yards Saturday.”

It would be smart to continue moving forward. No offense to David Ash, but he’s not exactly ready to be slinging the ball 30 times a game. And Texas shouldn’t need him to. After all, it was Darrell Royal — the namesake of the stadium — who once said that three things can happen while throwing the ball, and only one of them is good.

“By running, we’re putting the offense in manageable down-and-distance situations,” Whittaker said. “And the passing game has become a compliment to the run game, which is a lot different than in the past years.”

Texas isn’t even eligible for a bowl yet, so maybe it’s too early to talk about running the table, even if there’s only one ranked opponent left on the schedule.

But hey, at least we’re talking about it.

Printed on Tuesday, November 1, 2011, as: Horns' dominant rushing attack could allow them to win final five games

Senior linebacker Emmanuel Acho and the Texas Longhorns take a 4-0 record into the Cotton Bowl this Saturday as they face top-ranked Oklahoma, who also boasts a 4-0 mark. (Daily Texan file photo)

Photo Credit: Mary Kang | Daily Texan Staff

Texas is off to a great start this season. The Longhorns are 4-0, rapidly climbing the rankings, and have improved with each game this season.

Their reward? Unbeaten No. 1 Oklahoma.

The fact that these teams have not lost yet and are ranked among the top 10 teams in the most recent polls is not surprising. That’s the case nearly every year. The Sooners were the consensus preseason top-ranked team and fully expected to have an unblemished record coming into the Red River Rivalry. Texas, on the other hand, was coming off a dreadful 5-7 campaign and was even unranked in the Associated Press preseason poll. Now they’re on a roll and preparing to take on one of the nation’s best teams in one of college football’s fiercest rivalries.

“Both of us don’t like each other,” said senior guard David Snow. “It’s a big rivalry between the two teams. It’s very special. Two programs like ours going head-to-head at a neutral location — it just doesn’t get much better than that.”

With the Longhorns making such huge strides, the Cotton Bowl, like it usually does every October, will host two of college football’s finest teams.

“This rivalry is bigger than any of us,” said senior tight end Blaine Irby. “Walking down the tunnel and seeing the crowd split in half is a special feeling. It’s a great tradition. There’s a lot of passion. This week we’ve been really focused and anxious to get out there and really show the nation what we can do.”

The Longhorns will have their hands full this weekend. Junior quarterback Landry Jones and his favorite target, senior wide receiver Ryan Broyles are legitimate Heisman Trophy candidates. They’re part of a potent offense while the Sooners are not short on defensive talent either.

Oklahoma showed just how strong it is on both sides of the ball in last week’s game against Ball State. The Sooners routed the Cardinals, 62-6, scoring 52 unanswered points, 49 of them coming during a stretch between the second and third quarters that covered less than 12 minutes of playing time.

“Nothing we’re trying to do this week is anything that we weren’t trying to do last week,” said defensive coordinator Manny Diaz. “The opponent, in theory, doesn’t matter. What makes a team good is they punish you for your mistakes. That’s usually what good teams do. Instead of focusing on how good they are, focus on not making mistakes and you’ll give yourself a chance.”

Regardless of the outcome, Texas and Oklahoma will provide thousands of avid fans in Dallas and millions of television viewers nationwide with one of the oldest and greatest rivalries in college football. With Dallas being almost exactly halfway between Austin and Norman, Longhorns and Sooners fans are fittingly on either side of the 50-yard line as the State Fair provides an appropriate backdrop.

“Anytime you get up there and play OU, everybody’s pumped,” Snow said. “There’s so many emotions that are running through you at that time, especially when you’re playing at a neutral site. It’s crowded. It’s packed. It’s a great atmosphere.”

Texas knew it would have to rely on its younger players more than usual this season. But no one expected for the underclassmen to play as well as they have so far. David Ash has established himself as a reliable option behind center, Malcolm Brown has quickly become the team’s starting running back and Jaxon Shipley, the Longhorns’ offensive MVP three times this year, is picking up right where his big brother left off.

The Texas defense is not without its share of impressive youngsters, especially in a secondary that includes two sophomores and a freshman at cornerback. But now the Longhorns bring their inexperienced contributors to a unique atmosphere they haven’t seen before.

“Once those guys realize that it’s just another football game and don’t get caught up in all the State Fair, the big rivalry, and it being on national TV, I think they’ll be fine,” said senior safety Blake Gideon.

For some of the upperclassmen guiding their younger teammates, this will be their last crack at Oklahoma. This year’s seniors triumphed over the Sooners in 2008 and 2009 but fell to them in a 28-20 heartbreaker a year ago.

“It’s my last one,” said senior linebacker Emmanuel Acho. “It’s going to be emotional but I’m just ready for the game. This is how you dream it up. Both teams are 4-0. Both teams are ranked in the top 15. It’s going to be wild.”

Wild is the norm for the Red River Rivalry contests. Lead changes, ties and thrilling comebacks have characterized the most recent Cotton Bowl showdowns. And despite Oklahoma opening the week as nine-point favorites, this year should be no different.

Photo Credit: Lawrence Peart | Daily Texan Staff

During the bye week, the Longhorns had the opportunity to relax and take a break from football. Some members of the team stayed in Austin, some went home and a couple even went hunting.

“I just went home and ate and I ate some more,” said senior center David Snow. “Anytime when you get to go home and get some home cooked meals it’s really great. I gained a little weight over the weekend.”

Snow spent time with his five siblings and his family. He said while he’s at school, especially during football season, he doesn’t get the opportunity to spend much time with them.

Snow said the team’s practices over the week were very strong and he is excited for the game next weekend.

While Snow was in Gilmer with his family, senior safety Blake Gideon went to his family farm.

“I relaxed a little bit and hunted and hung out with my grandparents and probably ate way to much of my grandma’s food,” Gideon said.

He said it seems like it has been a long time since the team has played a game. He is anxious to get back on the field and play in another game.

“We’re chomping at the bit but it’s a good sign that we are ready to get back to our work,” Gideon said.

Senior tight end Blaine Irby also tested his hunting skills. He went to his girlfriend’s place in Victoria and went dove hunting.

“It went awesome,” Irby said. “It was great. I wasn’t too lucky with a couple of my shots but it was fun. It was a fun weekend just to kind of relax and just sit down and take advantage of our time off.”

While some players stayed in Texas, senior Emmanuel Acho went to Philadelphia for a wedding. Although the flight was three hours with a stop in Missouri, he was productive while in the air.

“On the flight I watched the three game tapes of Iowa State versus Northern Iowa, UConn and Iowa,” Acho said. “So I got to watch all three of those games. One of those games went into overtime so you got to see really what plays they called in crunch time so that was really good and that was very helpful.”

Senior running back Fozzy Whittaker said the team is considering the first three games of this year the “first season” and now they are preparing for their second season, which is the next three games against Iowa State, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.

Whittaker spent the weekend in Austin and went to a Little League football game.

“It was nice being able to relax and recuperate a little,” Whittaker said. “I am happy to be back this week getting ready to prepare for Iowa State.”

Senior Kheeston Randall said having a bye week is a nice break, but he is excited to get back on the field for a game.

“It’s bittersweet because you see everybody else playing on TV and you want to play,” Randall said.

Keenan Robinson also stayed in Austin and worked out. He said he made sure he focused on football during the break.

“All week we were practicing and watching film of Iowa State, so we were preparing for them,” Robinson said. “We were preparing on the tempo offense, we were preparing on how their quarterback can make plays with his feet and we were just preparing and making sure we could stay focused that week and get better and not just take the week off.”

Head coach Mack Brown confirmed Whittaker’s sentiments and said the break was beneficial for the players, but that the second phase of the season is the next three weeks.

“Our coaches and our players really enjoyed a weekend off with the bye week so they could rest their bodies and minds and got to see a lot of great football over the weekend and especially how good the Big 12 is,” Brown said.

Although the Longhorns got a break from games, they know that Iowa State is a strong 3-0 team with something to prove.

Just like them.

“It [the bye week] gets your body revamped and ready to go,” Snow said.

Printed on September 30, 2011 as: Enjoying the bye week

Daily Texan file photo.

Photo Credit: Lauren Gerson | Daily Texan Staff

Case McCoy and Jaxon Shipley know the comparisons to their older brothers will never cease.

Both have big shoes to fill at the same program where Colt McCoy and Jordan Shipley set records, won games, gained cult followings and blazed a trail for their younger siblings to follow.

Yes, the next generation of McCoy-to-Shipley is just getting started at Texas. The new legacy, however, will begin where the old one ended.

The Rose Bowl.

McCoy will make his first career start at quarterback on Saturday at UCLA. He’ll look to find Shipley open early and often as the two try and build on their breakout performance against BYU a week ago, when they hooked up for two completions for 34 yards.

The boyhood friends will start together for the first time on the same field where their older brothers played their final college game, a heart-breaking loss to Alabama in the 2009 BCS National
Championship game.

Their moment is finally here.

“We really dreamed of playing together for a long time,” McCoy said.

But don’t expect the kids to succumb to the pressure of matching their brothers’ performances on the field.

“We both have big shoes to fill,” Shipley said. “But that’s something that I think is only pressure if you see it as that.

“If you get caught up in the pressure side of things, trying to feel like you need to live up to what your brother has done — me and Case both — you can get caught up in that and we really don’t worry about that.”

Wherever they go in Austin, though, Case and Jaxon are constantly reminded of their older brothers’ presence and the deep adoration the fans had from them. Still, they should have a decent idea of what they’re in for.

This week, a chalkboard outside a clothing store on the Drag read, “McCoy to Shipley, #winning.”

The expectations are high, fair or not. But that’s what drives the young McCoy.

“The chip is on Case’s shoulder all the time,” said senior left guard David Snow. “You kind of have that big brother syndrome a little bit that I can see. Your brother was a Heisman candidate here, an All-American, you have big shoes to fill.”

Yes, the relationship between Colt and Jordan is well documented. But Case and Jaxon are out to forge their own story.

They remember playing pick up games at Abiline Christian University together when they were just eight years old. Countless fishing and hunting trips later, and Case and Jaxon are roommates at Texas, just like their older siblings. Yet things are a little different with these two.

“We’re probably a little bit closer,” Shipley said. “We’ve been with each other for a long time. Colt and Jordan really didn’t know each other as young as we did.”

When they’re not on the practice field late at night getting extra work in, McCoy and Shipley relax over music.

“I love to play guitar,” Shipley said. “That’s probably my favorite thing to do. When I get some time off, that’s what I’ll do. I’ll sit in there and play guitar.”

But while his older brother was known for writing his own songs on the guitar, Jaxon prefers to leave the singing to someone else.

“I haven’t quite gotten to that point yet,” Shipley said. “I’m not quite as fancy as he is, but hopefully some day I’ll be able to do that.”

Instead, Case handles the vocals.

The new Longhorn duo, though, wouldn’t be where they are now without a little help from their brothers.

If anything comes up, Case knows exactly who to call.

“I look to [Colt] for a lot of things,” he said. “He’s been here, he’s done this and he knows how it goes. He encourages whatever I need to do.”

Shipley elected to work out with Jordan this spring, rather than enroll early at Texas and take part in spring drills. Not a bad tutor, considering Jordan’s success as a wide receiver with the NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals.

The two spent long days on the practice field, running routes and catching passes. They even worked in the occasional race, tying three times in the 60-yard dash.

There’s just no separating them.

“Most of my game is probably from [Jordan],” Shipley said. “He’s taught me so much on the mental side, just having a strong mind and not letting things get to your head, especially when things aren’t going your way.”

But Jaxon learned more than just mental toughness from Jordan. They mirror one another on the football field. Co-offensive coordinator Major Applewhite says it’s “eerie” watching tape of them because of how similar they look.

Case, too, resembles his older sibling. Both play with a chip on their shoulder, a mentality fostered in high school and fortified in college.

“Their mannerisms are about the same, coming from a small country town,” Snow said.

When head coach Mack Brown and his staff where recruiting McCoy, they weren’t exactly sure which brother they were watching.

“If you put him in Colt’s number [12] and you throw out the names, they looked a lot alike,” Brown said. “He’s very smart, accurate, he’s got any easy ball to catch and he can make plays with his feet, those things
are similar.”

Case and Jaxon are making their first trip back to the Rose Bowl since watching their brothers play their final game in burnt orange at the same venue.

This time, though, they won’t be in the stands. They’ll be on the field. Playing the same game that brought them together as kids.