Texas players took great offense when Kansas State's senior linebacker Tre Walker said laying down in games is “just what [the Longhorns] do” at Big 12 Media Day in July.
“It’s basically a slap in the face,” senior safety Adrian Phillips said. “You don’t want to hear that. You want to be known for being physical, fighting throughout the whole game, getting wins. When you have a player talking like that, it’s a slap in the face. Our team took it personally.”
The Longhorns have the opportunity to prove Walker wrong this Saturday when they host Kansas State for their Big 12 opener. More importantly, though, they are eager to snap a dubious streak against the Wildcats that’s plagued them for the past decade.
Texas enters Saturday with a five-game losing streak against Kansas State, dating back to 2006. These losses include a 42-24 drubbing in last year’s regular season finale, allowing the Wildcats to clinch a share of the 2012 Big 12 title.
“It’s time to break that hold that Kansas State has on us,” Phillips said. “They have had it on us for the last few years. I don’t know why. I couldn’t tell you why. We have to get a win this Saturday.”
While many players stress the importance of ending the streak, co-offensive coordinator Major Applewhite looks at Saturday’s matchup as just the next game on the schedule. Applewhite realizes that many of the contributors from earlier in the decade no longer play, and he believes past games have no bearing on this one.
“All those games carry their own identity,” Applewhite said. “They all were played a certain way with certain players. [Kansas State head coach Bill] Snyder isn’t telling them the 1999 game matters. He’s talking about 2013.”
That said, it is difficult to ignore the Wildcats’ stranglehold over Texas in recent history. Since Mack Brown took over as head coach in 1998, the Longhorns are just 2-7 against Kansas State while posting a .788 winning percentage against all other opponents.
“Some teams seem to match up better than others,” Brown said. “They get the confidence that whatever happens we’re going to win the game. We got to flip that switch this weekend.”
Senior defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat is ready to put those struggles behind him, and he expects his team to be prepared and determined to defeat the Wildcats and pick up its first conference win.
“It’s all in the past,” Jeffcoat. “It’s all about this year, all about what we’re going to do this year. We’ll have to see what they do on film, where we can capitalize on things they do, what kind of technique we have to play with, how we can beat them.”
Between Walker’s comments in the summer and the lingering losing streak, there is no shortage of motivators for the Longhorns to win this week. Following a 1-2 start to the season, the Texas players know that no storyline is more important than picking up a win.
“We’ve been waiting on this game since [Big 12] Media Day,” Phillips said. “The game is more amped up now. For us being in the place that we’re in, the defense knows the game is going to be on us. We’re just ready for Saturday.”