Texas Coach Mack Brown Blogs about the 3 Things that will Determine a Longhorns Win against the Buckeyes: exclusive to Every Game Counts
It’s deja vu. Last year at this time we faced number one ranked Ohio State but in their territory. The Buckeyes had won 39 straight non-conference games and we were going into the horse shoe which without a doubt is one of the most daunting places ever to play the college game. We played hard but not well. We had three explosive plays but when it was over the game became an instant classic.
By the end of the season they were playing so well that many fans thought they could’ve and would’ve won the national championship if it wasn’t for the game against the Longhorns. Now we’re ranked number 1 and 2 again facing each other in our own Darrell Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium and it’s conceivable that if both teams play their best on Saturday, the game will immediately become an “instant classic” literally overnight.
There’s a tremendous risk/reward ratio in playing such a difficult non-conference game like this great match-up. When it was scheduled twelve or thirteen years ago there was no way to have known just how challenging an opponent Ohio State would be. But people ask me all the time if I knew what I know now would I schedule them again. Honestly I don’t know for sure. What I do know is that winning that game last year gave us the confidence to make the run for the national championship. I know games like this are good for college football and if other schools would schedule them I would too. The risk, it’s real tough for the team that loses!
When you open your season with a softer opponent there’s risk too. Your team hasn’t been tested and sometimes that can lead to tensions and uncharacteristic on field mistakes. A few years back Auburn had an easier schedule and it just happened that there were three undefeated teams that season and it worked against them. Today strength of schedule isn’t as important in the rankings. So would I schedule a match-up like this? If the teams were rewarded for tough non-conference games like this one- yea I’d do it because it’s really good for NCAA Football.
I was trying to figure out how I will feel Saturday compared to last year at this time but it’s hard to know because the circumstances are so different. Last year we really hung in and overcame adversity. Toughness has become the trademark of this team. But this season we have a very different team personality.
So you’re probably wondering how you’ll know if the Longhorns will win? There’s a formula that’s foolproof for me. I look at three things: 1) are we out rushing our opponent? 2) are we making more explosive plays? (Explosive plays for Texas are runs of 12 or more yards and passes of 16 or more.) 3) are we making fewer turnovers- protecting the ball? When you’re watching me on the field you might see me looking at a little card in my hand. I’m keeping score – how many big plays? Turnovers? At half time I’ll ask for our rushing stats. When we’ve won explosive plays and turnovers our record is 50 and 0. When we’ve lost both against an opponent in a single game we’ve lost every time.
The game planning is over and I don’t need to motivate this team. My job now is to settle them down so they can relax, have fun and focus when we need to focus. They can laugh and dance in the locker room but to win we need to balance being confident and focused.