Brendan Maloney-US PRESSWIRE
A handful of takes from the Texas head coach on Monday.
The early-week injury report featured a few more updates than normal with the sophomore safety and the freshman wide receiver being ruled out already.
Evans missed the Baylor game with a leg injury sustained against Oklahoma, continuing a series of injuries for him going back to high school. At least it isn't his hamstring, which has bothered him multiple times in the past.
As for Jones, the Austin High product had seen more playing time in recent weeks, with two near catches along the sideline against Oklahoma that showed off his strong hands. Jones also had some problems in high school playing through nagging injuries.
Brown said that the rest of the injured players would be evaluated later in the week. The three major injuries continue to be junior linebacker Jordan Hicks, sophomore running back Malcolm Brown, and junior left tackle Donald Hawkins, who missed the Baylor game with a left ankle injury suffered against Oklahoma. Brown was walking around on the sideline Saturday night without a noticeable limp or an apparent brace on his injured ankle.
Not many significant changes this week, but junior safety Adrian Phillips is once again listed as a starter after spending several weeks as a co-starter at this position and sophomore defensive end Cedric Reed is listed first as a co-starter with junior defensive end Reggie Wilson opposite senior Alex Okafor on the other end of the defensive line.
Charlie Weiss is the best coach ever
Cue the jokes, because Brown called the Kansas head man a "great coach, not a good coach" on Monday, sparking a flurry of sarcastic responses on Twitter.
Brown then went on to talk about the early kick time, the cold weather, and the fact that Kansas will try to run the ball against Texas, perhaps even more so than every other team in the last several weeks.
The general consensus from most Texas fans is that Brown is simply trying to prepare fans for another 250-yard rushing game by an opponent.
If Brown is telling the same things to his team during practice and meetings, he's setting his team up for failure, the type of comments that received a scathing assessment from Scipio Tex last week:
I love watching the Longhorn Network, but the most disconcerting element of practices and team meetings is Brown's constant, unceasing chatter - a nattering chorus of self-talk disguised as motivation where he gives voice to his doubts and angst by nervously negating them in front of the team, a constant dilution of his voice, thanking his players for irrelevancies and false achievements; treating the "sudden change" of a pre-game hotel move that didn't affect the players one bit with the same gravity as preparation for Oklahoma State.
Providing ready-made excuses to the press to use the next week is one thing, but providing his own team with excuses? That doesn't seem like a successful strategy right now, as much as Brown may be trying to make his team understand that they need to show up.
Given that Alex Okafor knows that "any team can gash us right now" in the running game, I'm guessing that they're prideful enough to realize they need to show up every week to have a chance to win.
Maybe Texas should never defer
An odd note by Brown during his press conference was that Texas is 100-14 when scoring first, shedding some light on his decision to take the ball instead of kicking off to Baylor. Given how poor the defense has been this season, and the apparent importance of scoring first, it may be a strategy that the Longhorns need to continue to use this year to generate some positive momentum early.
It's one thing to say that you want to kick, get a stop, and then get the ball, with the chance to also start out with it on the first possession of the second half, but stops for Texas these days are turnovers or holding the opponent to field goals.
Fourth-down conversions are killer
Once again, the Longhorns had difficulties stopping Baylor when they used four downs, running the season mark to 12 of 15, which is an 80% conversion rate for opponents. Competition caveats apply, and the perfect conversion rate on five attempts West Virginia represents a significant part of that sample, though the number is just flat-out bad.
In fact, Brown said the conversions are "killing us" and he was probably right, adding that it likely cost the Longhorns the game against the Mountaineers.
Baylor converted both of their attempts, but opted to kick a field goal on a 4th and 4 from the Texas 27 in the third quarter and punted from their own 47 on a 4th and 7 in the fourth, the first of which was definitely a missed opportunity for the Bears and the second of which could well have been converted with Texas giving up about that many yards per play this season (6.56).
Converting turnovers into points
The Longhorns have a +7 turnover margin this season that has been a big reason for the success in victories, having converted both of the Baylor giveaways into touchdowns on Saturday night.
In fact, Brown broke out the numbers this season -- Texas has scored 77 points off of turnovers, while opponents have only turned the six Longhorns turnovers into 10 points, though Brown was probably not including the touchdown that Baylor scored immediately after the snap by Kyle Ashby went over Alex King's head early in the game on what Brown revealed was a fake punt.
The defense hasn't been good this season, but in terms of putting out fires in sudden-change situations, the group has been solid, as the numbers indicate.