Lamar Houston has turned into a leader on the Texas team.
Neither defensive tackle nor a vocal leadership role came naturally for Lamarr Houston.
Now Houston has progressed well enough that he has turned into this season's version of Roy Miller, easing a major Texas concern.
Going into Saturday's game with Colorado, Houston is tied for the team lead in tackles-for-loss with five, while ranking second on the team in quarterback pressures (11) and fumbles recovered (two).
The Horns are not looking past Colorado.
To keep the Longhorns grounded in the present — as in this Saturday — coach Mack Brown is using recent history to illustrate what can happen when teams look past opponents.
On Sunday night, when Brown convened a team meeting after a bye weekend, he brought up Houston's late Saturday game against Texas-El Paso.
That's the game the Miners won 58-41 over the then 12th-ranked Cougars. It was the same UTEP team that lost 64-7 the week before to the second-ranked Longhorns.
Then Brown mentioned No. 13 Iowa's harrowing, 24-21 home win over Arkansas State.
One key area for the Colorado game:
The Texas-Colorado matchup appears to be one-sided in most areas. But there's one that will pit unit strength vs. unit strength.
Colorado boasts the third-best kick return defense in the nation, allowing just 15.8 yards per return this season.
"They fly down the field and just hit people," Texas coach Mack Brown said.
Texas, however, is one of the best return teams in the country, averaging 37.2 yards per return. That ranks No. 2 in the country.
This game is also a defensive test.
Texas is looking at Colorado (1-3) as a test of its defense. Don't snicker. The Buffaloes will represent the first power running team Texas has seen this season.
The Buffs are a good tuneup for upcoming games against OU and OSU.
In many ways, Brown said the Buffs could serve as an ideal tuneup for upcoming games against No. 19 Oklahoma (Oct. 17) and No. 15 Oklahoma State (Oct. 31) because all three teams feature "downhill" ground games utilizing a fullback and tight end in their blocking schemes.
"This is a great test," said safety Earl Thomas. "This gets us prepared for down the line. We’ve just got to hold up out there."
Sam Acho has an opinion about all the excessive celebration penalties.
The Texas defensive end watched the bizarre conclusion to the LSU-Georgia game, including two excessive-celebration penalties that drastically affected the outcome in the Tigers' 20-13 win.
"I thought the calls were a little excessive," Acho said.
The Buff coach on the Texas defense:
"They've got the full package. They a great job scheme-wise, they're very hard to line up against and get a beat on and they're very talented and athletic and they've got all of the above. That's why they're one of the best teams in the country and deservedly so because they've got good players and they've got experience and they've got a good scheme. They do the full package. They're hard to move it on.
"You have to keep them off balance a little bit and try not to let them zero in on you as much as possible and that's all you can do. You have to make some plays and not turn the ball over and cut down on your penalties and maximize your opportunities when you get them. You have to hope that plays out in your favor."
CBS Sports has a game preview.
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The Aggies are just moving on. A&M just wants to put the loss to Arkansas behind them and prepare for Oklahoma State.
The Texas Aggie football
teamhas two major jobs this week, first put its first loss of the season behind them, the second learn from Saturday night's mistakes and "move on".
"We were able to dwell on Saturday's 47-19 loss to Arkansas all day Sunday," said defensive back
"Today we got up at 5am and started preparing for Oklahoma State," concluded Hunter.
Jerrod Johnson cannot shoulder the blame for the loss.
But after A&M's last offensive play, Johnson was laying face down on the turf at JerryWorld. He had been leveled by Arkansas redshirt freshman defensive end Tenarius Wright, who forced a fumble to cap a 47-19 victory for the Razorbacks.
As Johnson pulled himself up and checked his body parts, he had to be asking himself what happened to make such a good start to a game end so badly.
It was pretty simple. He certainly didn't have his best game. But he also didn't get enough blocking from his offensive line or the best support from head coach Mike Sherman. That's not the balance A&M was looking for.
Johnson was sacked only twice, but he took more hits in three hours than monster.com did.
Texas A&M freshman Stephen Barrera is the Aggies' left tackle. This poor kid is a true freshman. Need we say more?
"It's a tough position for a young player," Aggies coach Mike Sherman said.
Barrera, who's 6-foot-5 and 302 pounds, is far from alone in making adjustments on the fly along the Aggies' line. Following last weekend's 47-19 loss to Arkansas in Arlington — and with Saturday's 11:30 a.m. Big 12 opener against No. 15 Oklahoma State at Kyle on tap — A&M's line is again its biggest concern.
"We struggled in pass protection," senior left guard Mike Shumard said. "Jerrod won't make it through the season if we have something like that again."
The Pokes aren't fooled by A&M's big loss to Arkansas.
"Interesting game, score somewhat deceiving," Gundy said Monday. "Arkansas hit a few big plays. A few missed tackles changed the game.
"I think there's a lot of parity out there and a few plays can make the game swing one way or the other.
"The talent level round the country and in this league is going to be similar in most cases. The ability for certain guys to make plays in space can make the game swing one way or the other."
What is missing from OSU's offense this season?
That explosiveness is exactly what the Cowboys have been missing early this football season.
OSU averages 39 points per game, ranking among the nation’s leaders in scoring, but continues to search for the big play on the ground.
The Pokes are getting blasted by the national press.
Oklahoma State. Why are the Cowboys still hanging around the top-15 livery stable? Oklahoma State gave up 45 points at home in a 10-point loss to Houston, a team that just gave up 58 points in a double-digit loss to Texas El Paso.
Pete Flutak lists the Cowboys as one of the biggest disappointments this season.
There’s still time and there are still plenty of chances to be the superstar team that was going to hang 50 a game on everyone, but QB Zac Robinson has been disappointing, RB Kendall Hunter and WR Dez Bryant have been banged up, and even though there has only been one loss, to Houston, the team doesn’t seem to have it to become anything special.
This is Mike Gundy's most challenging season.
"We've had a lot of things happen," he said Monday. "You've got to move forward, you know?"
Instances of alleged criminal activity and a flurry of injuries have resulted in stress for Gundy, whose 15th-ranked Cowboys open Big 12 play at Texas A&M (11:30 a.m. Saturday, Fox Sports Net). Both teams are 3-1.
Gundy admits to having some bad days, but says he hides it from his players. Even on his worst day, he says, he attempts to maintain a business-as-usual approach for meetings and practice sessions.
"Nobody will ever know," Gundy said. "What good does it do? That's what my job is."
Bob Stoops is in a bad mood.
Ask Bob Stoops about the weather, or his kids, or how hard his Oklahoma Sooners played in Saturday's tough loss to Miami.
Just don't ask him about the status of Sam Bradford, the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback who has missed three games with a shoulder separation. Oklahoma (2-2) hosts Baylor on Saturday.
The quarterback situation is not a distraction for Landry Jones.
The most famous mustache in football was MIA, but while the look is new, the words coming from beneath it weren’t. The redshirt freshman quarterback was adamant that a second week of uncertainty under center wasn’t a distraction.
"If Sam comes back this week, that’ll be great,” Jones said. "If he doesn’t, I’ll be ready to go.”
The Sooner special teams looked good against Miami.
Dan Hawkins press conference.
Buff quarterback Cody Hawkins has not had an easy time.
Cody ranks last among Big 12 starting quarterbacks in pass efficiency with a 104.2 rating. The next lowest is the 116.9 rating of Kansas State’s Carson Coffman. Blaine Gabbert of Missouri leads with 168.6.
"I think we’re on to a few things and will try to clean up a few things here or there," Dan Hawkins said of Cody’s mistakes. "That involves a lot of different scope and sequence.’’
Through four games, Cody has thrown for seven touchdowns and seven interceptions. No other Big 12 quarterback has thrown for as many picks.
The best news about this season? Rodney Stewart.
Texas coach Mack Brown held his weekly news conference Monday, during which he fielded questions about not overlooking CU. He had some things to say about "Speedy":
"Tough as nails, quick as can be; he has really good vision, but he’s never down," Brown said. "He just keeps fighting, and we saw that last year. He is a guy that really concerns you"
If the season isn't tough enough, fans are calling for Hawkins dismissal.
Colorado fans continue to chirp about firing coach Dan Hawkins after the Buffs' surprising 1-3 start, and the potential of another embarrassing loss at No. 2 Texas this week isn't helping.
Calls for the coach's ouster will probably grow louder, especially if the Buffs are blown out this week.
But would getting rid of the coach really solve the program's problems or would it lead to two or three or four more years of scheme and personnel changes, further attrition and delayed player development?
Bo Pelini is not impressed by his defense.
Oklahoma and South Florida allowed enough points Saturday to allow for Nebraska to become the national leader in scoring defense.
Through four games, the Huskers have allowed 28 points for a 7.0 average.
Bo Pelini was asked about that at his weekly press conference -- moved from Tuesday to today because of the Thursday night game -- and the Nebraska coach gave a predictable answer.
"I don't pay attention to that,'' Pelini said. "We have a long way to go as a defense yet. I don't really get caught up in statistics and all those things. I go off what I see on the film and the execution that we have. Obviously I'm not satisfied with where we are as a defense.''
Missouri likes the role of underdog.
Oddsmakers have made Nebraska an early 2½-point favorite — a setup that falls in line with Missouri’s approach this week.
"We’re going in as underdogs this year," MU tailback Derrick Washington said yesterday. "A lot of people didn’t think we’d be 4-0 coming into this game. Everybody’s doubting us."
Things are already heating up in the Nebraska-Missouri battle.
For instance, the K.C. Star on Sunday wrote that "Missouri has a better football program than Nebraska'' and intimated the Huskers are also behind Kansas. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch wrote, "Nebraska's second-year coaching staff and presumed new era notwithstanding, it's on the Huskers to prove they can compete with Mizzou.'' Finally, there's the Columbia Tribune, which started a story about the game this way: "Only a drunkard intoxicated by the red brew that flows from Nebraska can dispute the Big 12 North's recent shift in balance, tilting away from the Cornhusker State and toward Missouri.''
Well, the last time I looked, Nebraska tied Missouri for the Big 12 North title last year at 5-3. NU also won the North title outright (thank you, Bill Callahan) three short (or is it long?) years ago. Mizzou has yet to win the North outright. Yes, the Tigers have trashed Nebraska the last two years. But shift in balance? Better program? After two years?
By the way, didn't Nebraska beat Kansas and finish ahead of KU last year? Never mind.
Some bad news for the Cyclones.
Raider quarterback Taylor Potts' status is still unclear. No matter what happens, Steven Sheffield is ready to go.
"If my number is called again, I’ll be ready just like I was this time," Sheffield said. "I’m going to watch just as much film as anybody else and when Leach is going over the game planner for this week, I’ll be taking notes and seeing what I need to do. Kansas State, I'm ready."
Leach being Leach:
On the status of quarterback Taylor Potts: "He's doing fabulously well. A great member of our team."
A reporter followed up by asking if Potts could play Saturday after being injured against New Mexico.
"First of all, I’ve never acknowledged that an injury exists," Leach said.
The reporter astutely noted that Potts left the game after a hard hit, which would constitute powerful circumstantial evidence.
"You can go ahead and write whatever you want," Leach said. "You don’t need my help. Since he’s not injured, I certainly could (see him playing)."
Why is Leach so evasive? Well, lets face it, he just lies.
"We don't have injuries here and if we did we wouldn't acknowledge them,'' Leach said. "I am truthful on nearly everything, but I am honestly telling you I will lie about injuries should any ever occur, if I feel like it.
"I may just do the standard, "I don't talk about injuries.'' I may make something up, because quite frankly you are who you are and you got what you got.''
Wildcat, Wildhorn, now Bearcat.
Baylor broke out its "Bearcat" formation in Saturday’s 31-15 win over Kent State at Floyd Casey Stadium.
The Bearcat is Baylor’s version of a Wildcat formation that has become popular in the last two years. It’s basically a single-wing formation in which the ball is snapped to a player other than the quarterback.
Freshman Jarod Monk, a tight end who played quarterback at Wylie High School, scored on a 1-yard run out of the Bearcat in the first quarter for the Bears’ first touchdown.
Even without Robert Griffin, the Bears are optimistic.
Stop. Before you cram your season tickets into the paper shredder or make weekend plans that conflict with the rest of Baylor's home games, take a second. Exhale.
While Robert Griffin's injury hinders the Bears' attempt to snap a 15-year bowl drought, Baylor's season is still meaningful. In his short tenure as Baylor's head coach, Art Briles has developed talent that he inherited in 2007 (Jay Finley and David Gettis), and recruited assets (Kendall Wright and Jarred Salubi) to construct a well-balanced offense that helps alleviate the loss of Griffin.
Thanks again to the Aggies. Arkansas is already salivating over the possibility of Texas recruits.
From 2004-08, the Lone Star state produced 974 players who signed with BCS schools, according to SI.com recruiting writer Andy Staples. Florida was tops in that category with 981. During that time, Arkansas had 87, less than any other state with an SEC school, a clear signal that the Razorbacks cannot win with only in-state players.
As the home team in the Southwest Classic last week, Arkansas could have handed out tickets to high school prospects to use as unofficial visitors.
More than a year ago, Arkansas beat A&M for a commitment from an offensive lineman from Pilot Point, Texas. During the summer, the Aggies outdid Arkansas for three players. If Arkansas continues to beat up on the Aggies, they’ll win more of those recruiting battles.
Aggies got a big dose of reality last Saturday.