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November 23, 2011
Ultimate preview - UT vs. A&M
It doesn't get any easier for the Longhorns following back-to-back losses to Missouri and Kansas State. Instead, Mack Brown and his Texas squad get the final installment (for now) of a rivalry game on a short week.
Texas A&M started the latest round of the conference carousel moving when it decided to bolt the Big 12 for the SEC, and because of a combination of scheduling concerns and snippiness, Texas has said this move means the end of the series. Generations of Longhorn fans who have been taught to hate the Aggies from birth, and their Aggies compatriots who can't speak of the Longhorns without spitting out the words, will have to find different schools to hate.
In the meantime, the schools meet again on Thanksgiving. That doesn't give the Longhorns a lot of time to recover from a grueling 17-13 loss to Kansas State in which Texas dominated most of the game on defense but failed to generate the offense it needed to win.
But the fact that this game is against the Aggies means that getting everyone motivated won't be a problem.
"The thing I told our players is you'll be part of history because this may be the last one that's played, so you can tell your kids and your grandkids, and you want to make it a good one," Brown said.
The players have gotten the message, looking forward to a chance to make some headlines in what promises to be a game that folks will remember for a long time.
"Well, I wouldn't have it any other way. It's my senior year, to go out this way," safety Blake Gideon said. "Want to make sure we send those guys off right. So it's definitely been a discussion that this game will be remembered. The score will be remembered, just because it is the last one in a long series. We have talked about that, and we want to make sure that we do everything we can this week to make sure we do send those guys off right."
Added linebacker Emmanuel Acho: "You know it's going to be fun. It's going to be just crazy. I know the atmosphere is already hectic, but with this being the last regular season one for a while, it's going to be extremely loud, extremely rowdy, and just for me personally, just trying to make a good memory. We have no regrets. Leave nothing out there on the field and just try to make sure we go out with a 'W.'"
• The Longhorns defense played very well against Kansas State, but there was one note of concern. Against the Wildcats, as in the week before against Missouri, it failed to record a turnover.
"As we said, we tried. We're trying to strip it. We're trying to knock it loose. But right now our offense needs our defense to force some turnovers," Mack Brown said.
• RBs Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron were back in the lineup last week, but were still bothered by their respective injuries (turf toe for Brown, and an injured hamstring for Bergeron). Coach Mack Brown said that both will likely be fighting these ailments for the rest of the season.
• Coach Mack Brown didn't explicitly say so Monday, but expect Case McCoy to get the start at quarterback this week. He's come in to relieve David Ash in each of the last two games, and Brown noted that the freshman Ash seemed to be pressing in the loss to Kansas State.
"I think down the road I'll appreciate it in a different sense. But you know, especially after the Aggie supper we had (Sunday) night with all the former lettermen coming back and really telling us what they thought of this rivalry and what they thought of this place and sacrifice at this place, a few guys telling us what they thought of the Aggies specifically, then I feel like I have a pretty good understanding of what this rivalry is about.
"I don't want to let those guys down. There's a lot of tradition that goes into this rivalry and this series, and we want to make sure that we end it the right way."-Texas senior safety Blake Gideon, on whether he will appreciate the game against A&M more as he gets older.
-- Sports Xchange
THREE AGGIES TO WATCH
PK Randy Bullock - Named a finalist for the Groza Award, Bullock tied the A&M record for field goals in a season, connecting on his 21st against Kansas. By scoring 11 points to boost his season total to 114, Bullock is within reach of the school record of 128 points set 84 years ago by Jeff Hunt.
WR Ryan Swope - With nine receptions for 137 yards against Kansas, Swope set A&M season records for receptions (78) and receiving yards (1,069). The mark for catches was 72, which Swope and teammate Jeff Fuller set last season.
KEYS TO THE GAME
1. Force turnovers - The Texas defense has been playing great of late, but Manny Diaz really needs his guys to pick it up in the turnover department. If Texas can force a couple fumbles and/or interceptions and win the turnover battle, the Horns have a solid chance of winning.
2. Pound the rock - Texas is getting healthier at the running back spot (despite the loss of Fozzy Whittaker). If Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron are able to keep Texas from getting behind the chains, it will really help the QBs.
3. Hit your marks - The Texas passing game has really gone into a funk of late. There have been chances for big plays, but the passes have been off target. Be it Case McCoy or David Ash, Texas needs its QBs to settle down and connect on some throws, both short and long.