Kheeston Randall

Kheeston Randall (91) extends his hands to block Ryan Tannehill’s (17) pass. Randall has consistently improved over his four years at UT. (Daily Texan file photo)

Photo Credit: Lawrence Peart | Daily Texan Staff

Editor’s Note: This is the second in an eight-part series about Longhorns hoping to be drafted into the NFL.

Kheeston Randall is a workhorse. Next year when he enters the NFL, his need to continue to improve and evolve with the sport will continue.

His experience at Texas will help him do that, no matter who calls his name on April 26.

“I think I will be one of the most prepared players,” Randall said. “Coming from Texas, we have so many guys that are already in the league and guys that go to the league all the time; and [head coach Mack Brown] runs the program like an NFL program from top to bottom, so you know what’s expected of you once you make it to the NFL.”

Randall has been working out in Arizona, preparing for draft day. He feels confident in himself that he has done everything he can to show teams what he is capable of.

He was one of four Texas players to be invited to the NFL Combine, and he was happy with his times and his performance. In addition, he and teammates Keenan Robinson and Emmanuel Acho, participated in the Senior Bowl.

Even though he finished his career at Texas with 35 starts, 98 tackles (49 solo) and four sacks, he sees a need for improvement within himself.

“There’s a lot of things that I can work on,” Randall said. “The game is always evolving. Whether it’s hand placement, how I rush the passer, how I pick up on keys from the offense, there’s always things that you can do better.”

Brown has been impressed with Randall’s work throughout his four years as a Longhorn.

“You [have] probably never seen a guy improve more than Kheeston Randall,” said Brown in a press conference. “He really improved a lot for us.”

Although Randall hopes to be drafted as high as possible, he will be content with any team who chooses him. He said being drafted is just the beginning and that there is work to be done once his name is called.

His strong work ethic will continue in his career in the NFL.

“It’s a great accomplishment,” Randall said. “But at the same time it will just be the beginning of a new journey. It’s like going from high school to college. Everybody is pretty much top ranked and you’ve just got to start over from the bottom. I’m just looking forward to a new start in a new city.”

Randall has been playing football since seventh grade and with the support of his mom, he has continued to improve and grow as a player. She was always there for him when he was growing up and gave him advice when he needed it.

Now, he has the opportunity to be drafted. Watching players graduate and get drafted made him realize that he had the potential to play professionally.

“My main focus wasn’t always on the NFL,” Randall said. “My focus was to be the best player I could be. When I got to college, I saw people like Lamarr Houston, Roy Miller and Brian Orakpo go to the NFL. I started to gain the confidence that this was something I could actually obtain.”

Houston, Miller, Casey Hampton and Chykie Brown are some of the many Texas alumni that have supported and advised Randall throughout his career and during the tough process of preparing for the draft.

“Lamarr [Houston], he always tells me, ‘Dude, just do you. Stay true to yourself,’” Randall said.

Although Randall will be leaving Austin to pursue his career, he said his time at Texas was the best experience of his life so far. From his teammates to the education he got, he is very pleased with his time at Texas.

His favorite memories include playing in the National Championship and beating Texas A&M for the last time his senior season.

“I will really miss the love that we get in the city from the fans and how the kids look at us when we’re walking when we go volunteer at the schools and whatnot,” Randall said. “Just the whole college experience and being in the locker room with the guys. The friendships I’ve made will always be important to me.”

Linebacker Emmanuel Acho, who led Texas with 131 tackles last season, injured his quadricep while running the 40-yard dash at last month’s NFL Combine. Acho will be joined by many of his teammates at Tuesday’s Pro Timing Day.

Photo Credit: Tamir Kalifa | Daily Texan Staff

Earlier this month, four Texas players had the opportunity to show NFL teams their potential at the NFL combine in Indianapolis. But now they, along with more Longhorn NFL hopefuls, will be able to show their athletic potential at Texas’ annual pro timing day.

Today Emmanuel Acho, Kheeston Randall and Keenan Robinson will be able to continue their journey to the draft as they participate in drills. But players who weren’t invited to the combine will be able to show scouts what they can do. Running back Fozzy Whittaker was also at the combine, but due to his season-ending injury that he suffered while playing Missouri, he was not able to participate in many of the events. He is still recovering from the injury and will be limited in today’s events.

Today, players will participate in the 40-yard dash, the bench press, the vertical jump and drills that will display their finesse for their specific positions. In addition, they will be measured and weighed. Although the environment at pro days is intense, many alumni and current players will come to support those participating.

Along with that, representatives from NFL teams will be watching the pro hopefuls intently. All 32 NFL teams had representatives at Texas’ pro day last year. Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin and Detroit Lions head coach Jim Schwartz were two of the many people attending.

Linebacker Emmanuel Acho was one of the top linebacker performers in the 40-yard dash and broad jump at the combine. But, he pulled a muscle in his quad during his second attempt at the 40-yard dash and was unable to compete in the rest of the drills.

“My initial plan was to come back to Austin and prepare for pro day in Austin, but since I did pull my quad muscle, I will stay here in Arizona until I am 100 percent, or until pro day,” Acho said last week. “Then I will go to Austin for pro day, compete at pro day, and then stay in Austin and travel from there to different team visits until the draft.”

At the NFL Combine, Randall had a vertical jump of 34 inches — which tied him for 11th-best overall among defensive linemen. He ran the 40-yard dash in five seconds.

There will likely be between 13 and 19 Texas players participating in pro day. Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M already had their pro days.

Printed on Tuesday, March 20, 2012 as: Former Horns hope to impress NFL teams at this year's Pro Day

With conference play beginning, the competition is about to get a whole lot better. Naturally, the quarterbacks will, too.

But before Texas can get their hands on OU’s Landry Jones or Oklahoma State’s Brandon Weeden, it has to go through Steele Jantz. The Iowa State field general doesn’t have a household name like Jones and Weeden do but he’s kept his team unbeaten just like the Oklahoma-based gunslingers have.

Jantz can throw. He’s got six touchdown passes in three game and he’s also the team’s second-leading rusher. Jantz will be first the dual-threat quarterback the Longhorns will face this season but they’re hoping Jantz doesn’t help Iowa State hand them their first loss of the season.

“Steele Jantz? Sounds like a heavy metal band,” said defensive coordinator Manny Diaz. “He plays like it, too. You have to defend two plays with him: the play they call and the play he makes. That’s what makes them explosive. That’s a challenge that keeps you up at night because it’s very hard to scheme against.”

Most of the quarterbacks Texas has faced haven’t tried to run much. UCLA’s Kevin Prince ran for 26 yards on three carries, including a 19-yard sprint in the Longhorns’ last game. Collectively, quarterbacks have taken off just 16 times against Texas.

But Jantz will test Texas through the air and on the ground. The junior has rushed for 112 yards and two touchdowns this year and can also use his mobility to extend plays and hurt teams with his arm.

“He can make a play that’ll last for eternity,” said senior defensive tackle Kheeston Randall. “We broke down film on him and he had some pretty good runs. We just need to bring a friend to the quarterback when we get there.”

The Longhorns will be looking to bring Jantz down Saturday. But they’ve only registered two sacks this season, none of which have come from their starting defensive ends Jackson Jeffcoat and Alex Okafor. The next closest thing to a sack Texas has had is when Randall nearly stripped Prince two weekends ago. Randall and the rest of the defensive line will need to wreak havoc when the Longhorns go to Ames this week.

“The quarterback decides whether he gets sacked or not,” Diaz said. “UCLA’s [Kevin Prince] had a choice when Keenan Robinson was coming at him. He had a choice on that play to be sacked or put the ball in harm’s way. And he put the ball up, Blake Gideon tipped it and Adrian Phillips caught it.”

To its credit, Texas has notched 28 quarterback hurries (to their opponent’s five) this season. Jeffcoat and Okafor each have three while senior linebackers Emmanuel Acho and Robinson have five apiece, sharing the team lead. As long as the Longhorns can pressure Jantz into making poor decisions, they might not rack up a bunch of sacks but they’ll give themselves a good chance to win.

“The first guy’s not always going to get the sack,” said sophomore defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat. “He makes the quarterback move outside the pocket. Then, someone can make the sack while he’s running away.”

However, Jantz is often at his best when he’s running away. He’s much quicker than any of the other players that have taken snaps against Texas and when pressured, Jantz can avoid oncoming defenders and find receivers open downfield. Jantz has proven to be prone to making mistakes as he’s thrown six interceptions but when he’s out of the pocket is when he’s most dangerous.

“We are based on pressure,” Diaz said. “What we talk to our players about is pressuring the quarterback and a lot of quarterbacks will do things under pressure that they won’t do otherwise.”

As good as Jantz has been in leading Iowa State to a 3-0 record, the Cyclones could just as easily be 0-3. Their three wins have been by one, three, and four points, with the three-point victory coming in a triple-overtime triumph over Iowa, Iowa State’s first over their in-state rival since 2007. The Cyclones haven’t exactly made mincemeat out of their opponents but they have displayed their ability to come through when it matters most.

Brown mentioned that he’s heard some compare to Jantz to Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers and Jantz have similar builds (both are around 6-foot-2, 225 pounds) but Jantz isn’t winning a Super Bowl anytime soon.

That doesn’t mean he can’t beat Texas.

Printed on September 30, 2011 as: Texas defense focused on pressuring Jantz

Editor's note: Texas released its depth chart Monday morning and there was plenty of movement across the board. The Longhorns will take the field with six new starters, three on offense, two on defense, and one on special teams.

Up:

Marquise Goodwin
When the depth chart was released last Monday, Goodwin’s name was nowhere to be found. His intentions to remove his redshirt and return to football were not officially announced until late that evening. This week, the junior wide receiver and long jump extraordinaire finds himself atop the depth chart as both a starting receiver and kick returner.

“It was great being out there, doing the little bit that I did to help the team get the W,” Goodwin said. “It was great. I feel complete. It’s just great to be out there and back with the guys.”

Ashton Dorsey
Dorsey also did not see the field when Texas faced Rice as he was suspended due to a violation of team rules. But the sophomore defensive tackle came back with a vengeance in the Longhorns’ latest contest against BYU. Dorsey notched two tackles, both for loss, and a sack, Texas’ first of the season. The performance earned him a starting spot beside senior defensive tackle Kheeston Randall.

“Ashton played great,” Randall said. “He’s a force down there. He plays with great pad level. He brings it every single play.”

Quandre Diggs
Texas led BYU for only nine minutes and when they did it was by just one point, 17-16. But the Longhorns defense held their ground and on the Cougars’ last drive, it was Diggs that put the nail in the coffin, picking off BYU quarterback Jake Heaps for his first career interception. Now Diggs tops the depth chart at cornerback.

Down:

Garrett Gilbert
To say that Gilbert had a tough night against BYU would be a gross understatement. The junior quarterback from Lake Travis completed as many passes to Texas receivers as BYU defenders. In five possessions, Gilbert’s offense produced only one first down — on a 14-yard run by freshman Malcolm Brown — and no points.

“What Garrett will do is work really hard to get his job back and he’ll compete,” said head coach Mack Brown. “He is a great young man who’s tough and smart. He’ll do everything right to try to help this football team and obviously to help this team win.”

Calvin Howell
With Dorsey’s resurgence, Howell finds himself on the outside looking in as he is no longer listed as a starting defensive tackle. The sophomore, now Dorsey’s backup, has made only one tackle, a second-quarter stop against BYU, in two starts. Howell should still see the field occasionally with the way defensive coordinator Manny Diaz likes to rotate his defensive linemen, but Dorsey has quickly established himself as the team’s second-best defensive tackle.

John Harris
Harris took a step back in the Longhorns lineup after Goodwin’s return from the IAAF World Championships in Korea. Harris, a redshirt freshman, was listed as a starting wide receiver each of the last two weeks and made catches against both Rice and BYU, registering two receptions for 13 yards on the season. With Goodwin back, however, Harris will likely play a diminished role the rest of this season.

Printed on September 13, 2011 as: Choaches shake up depth chart

BYU's rushing attack presents big test for Longhorn Linemen

Forget about the Rice game, the Longhorns will have their first true test of the season on Saturday against BYU.
Texas failed to dominate the point of attack in the season-opener and the team won’t have it any easier this time around against a Cougars squad coming off a hard-earned road win at Ole Miss.

The key to success this week will hinge on the Longhorn’s ability to control the line of scrimmage. Texas must win the battle of the trenches for it to come out on top.

The Longhorns’ run defense was not up to par in Week 1 as the Owls gashed them for 130 rushing yards, with most coming in the middle of the field. Questions about Texas’ toughness remain and head coach Mack Brown is ready for some answers, which he thinks he will get some against BYU.

“We’ve been concerned about our toughness on both lines of scrimmage,” Brown said. “We’ll get some answers Saturday night because this bunch (from BYU) is tough. There’s no question they come in here tough.”

Brown has the Longhorns preparing for an old-fashioned, grind-it-out affair.

“This will be a street fight,” he said. “They’re so physical, they’re big, they’re strong, the strength of their team is both lines of scrimmage. They will fly to the ball and hit you.”
The Longhorns pride themselves on stopping the run, and senior linebacker Keenan Robinson says his team will need to limit the Cougar’s run game early and often. But the key to Texas stopping the BYU tailbacks starts along the defensive line with senior tackle Kheeston Randall.
Randall will certainly have his hands full going against an imposing Cougars front five.

“They’ll probably be one of the biggest offensive lines that we face this year,” he said.

Randall wasn’t pleased with the defense’s performance against Rice, when the Longhorns reverted to their form from year ago — a unit that allowed 138.2 rushing yards
per game.

“We gave up entirely too many yards up the middle,” Randall said. “We didn’t get enough penetration, we went back to the old way that we played and that’s unacceptable.”
No defensive lineman recorded more than one tackle against the Owls. That needs to change. Randall is a proven player, but someone else must emerge and solidify the line. And with Texas’ next two games against quality opponents in BYU and UCLA, the time is now for a second and third tackle to rise to the occasion.

“I don’t think we’re at the point right now where we’ve answered that other tackle spot,” Brown said. “And we need at least three to get where we need to get. We need two more guys to really step up.

“For the next two games, both of these will have physical offensive lineman blocking them, we’ll know more (then). Our guys are going to see really good looking teams for the next two weeks.”

Sophomore tackle Ashton Dorsey will return against BYU after missing the Rice game because of a suspension. Still, the Longhorns are young and inexperienced inside. Randall is the only senior at a position that includes three sophomores and two freshmen.

“We have a lot of maturing to do as a unit,” Randall said.
Texas will also be tested along the offensive line. While the Longhorns plowed their way to 229 rushing yards a week ago, they will need a better effort against the Cougars. BYU limited Ole Miss to 64 yards on 29 carries and knocked out three of the Rebels running backs.

“It’s going to be a big test for us,” said senior left guard David Snow.

The Cougars are coming to Austin with something to prove. They beat an SEC school on the road last week and they’d love to put a Big 12 school on their resume.

The Longhorns, though, welcome the challenge. They have something to prove as well.

“If it is a dog fight we’re going to be ready,” said senior linebacker Emmanuel Acho.

The Longhorns’ toughness up front will be tried early and often. It’s up to them to fight back. Expect a “street fight.”

Forget about the Rice game, the Longhorns will have their first true test of the season on Saturday against BYU.

Texas failed to dominate the point of attack in the season-opener and the team won’t have it any easier this time around against a Cougars squad coming off a hard-earned road win at Ole Miss.

The key to success this week will hinge on the Longhorn’s ability to control the line of scrimmage. Texas must win the battle of the trenches for it to come out on top.

The Longhorns’ run defense was not up to par in Week 1 as the Owls gashed them for 130 rushing yards, with most coming in the middle of the field. Questions about Texas’ toughness remain and head coach Mack Brown is ready for some answers, which he thinks he will get some against BYU.

“We’ve been concerned about our toughness on both lines of scrimmage,” Brown said. “We’ll get some answers Saturday night because this bunch (from BYU) is tough. There’s no question they come in here tough.”

Brown has the Longhorns preparing for an old-fashioned, grind-it-out affair.

“This will be a street fight,” he said. “They’re so physical, they’re big, they’re strong, the strength of their team is both lines of scrimmage. They will fly to the ball and hit you.”

The Longhorns pride themselves on stopping the run, and senior linebacker Keenan Robinson says his team will need to limit the Cougar’s run game early and often. But the key to Texas stopping the BYU tailbacks starts along the defensive line with senior tackle Kheeston Randall.

Randall will certainly have his hands full going against an imposing Cougars front five.

“They’ll probably be one of the biggest offensive lines that we face this year,” he said.

Randall wasn’t pleased with the defense’s performance against Rice, when the Longhorns reverted to their form from year ago — a unit that allowed 138.2 rushing yards per game.

“We gave up entirely too many yards up the middle,” Randall said. “We didn’t get enough penetration, we went back to the old way that we played and that’s unacceptable.”

No defensive lineman recorded more than one tackle against the Owls. That needs to change. Randall is a proven player, but someone else must emerge and solidify the line. And with Texas’ next two games against quality opponents in BYU and UCLA, the time is now for a second and third tackle to rise to the occasion.

“I don’t think we’re at the point right now where we’ve answered that other tackle spot,” Brown said. “And we need at least three to get where we need to get. We need two more guys to really step up.

“For the next two games, both of these will have physical offensive lineman blocking them, we’ll know more (then). Our guys are going to see really good looking teams for the next two weeks.”

Sophomore tackle Ashton Dorsey will return against BYU after missing the Rice game because of a suspension. Still, the Longhorns are young and inexperienced inside. Randall is the only senior at a position that includes three sophomores and two freshmen.

“We have a lot of maturing to do as a unit,” Randall said.

Texas will also be tested along the offensive line. While the Longhorns plowed their way to 229 rushing yards a week ago, they will need a better effort against the Cougars. BYU limited Ole Miss to 64 yards on 29 carries and knocked out three of the Rebels running backs.

“It’s going to be a big test for us,” said senior left guard David Snow.

The Cougars are coming to Austin with something to prove. They beat an SEC school on the road last week and they’d love to put a Big 12 school on their resume.

The Longhorns, though, welcome the challenge. They have something to prove as well.

“If it is a dog fight we’re going to be ready,” said senior linebacker Emmanuel Acho.

The Longhorns’ toughness up front will be tried early and often. It’s up to them to fight back. Expect a “street fight.”

Senior defensive tackle Kheeston Randall is one of three Longhorns on the All-Big 12 Preseason team.

Photo Credit: Tamir Kalifa | Daily Texan Staff

If the 2011 All-Big 12 Preseason team is any indication, the rest of the league has some catching up to do.
Oklahoma paced the conference with a total of nine selections, five more than any other school, and the Sooners’ own Travis Lewis was tabbed as the Defensive Player of the Year.

After a 5-7 season, Texas had just three players make the team, all on the defensive side of the ball — Keenan Robinson, Blake Gideon and Kheeston Randall. With the trio, the Longhorns are tied with Missouri for fourth-most preseason selections. Texas A&M and Oklahoma State each have four, with OSU’s Justin Blackmon the Offensive Player of the Year. Incoming Texas running back Malcolm Brown was chosen as the Newcomer of the Year.

Here’s the full list:

Offensive POY: Justin Blackmon, WR, Oklahoma State
Defensive POY: Travis Lewis, LB, Oklahoma
Newcomer of the Year: Malcolm Brown, RB, Texas

Offense:

QB: Landry Jones, Oklahoma
RB: Cyrus Gray, Texas A&M
RB: Bryce Brown, Kansas State
RB: Roy Finch, Oklahoma
WR: Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State
WR: Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma
TE: Michael Egnew, Missouri
OL: Levy Adcock, Oklahoma State
OL: Kelechi Osemele, Iowa State
C: Ben Habern, Oklahoma
OL: Lonnie Edwards, Texas Tech
OL: Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M

Defense:

DL: Brad Madison, Missouri
DL: Ronnell Lewis, Oklahoma
DL: Kheeston Randall, Texas
DL: Frank Alexander, Oklahoma
LB: Travis Lewis, Oklahoma
LB: Jake Knott, Iowa State
LB: Keenan Robinson, Texas
DB: Coryell Judie, Texas A&M
DB: Markelle Martin, Oklahoma State
DB: Blake Gideon, Texas
DB: Demontre Hurst, Oklahoma

Specialists:

PK: Grant Ressel, Missouri
P: Quinn Sharp, Oklahoma State
KR: Coryell Judie, Texas A&M
PR: Ryan Broyles, Oklahoma 

Texas defensive tackle Kheeston Randall was named to the 2011 preseason Lombardi watch list. The award goes to the best lineman in the nation.

Photo Credit: Corey Leamon | Daily Texan Staff

Two Texas seniors were announced as members of the 2011 preseason Lombardi Award watch list, given annually to the nation’s top lineman.

Kheeston Randall, who has started 22 games in three years at defensive tackle, is also on the watch lists for the Nagurski and Outland trophies.

Keenan Robinson, a linebacker, is eligible for the award because he meets Lombardi Award requirements: play as a down lineman, or play no farther than five yards away from the line of scrimmage. The most recent Texas linebacker to be in the running for the award was All-American Derek Johnson, a finalist in 2004.

The fifth-year outside linebacker from Plano East was earlier named to the Bednarik and Nagurski watch lists.

In 2008, defensive end Brian Orakpo took home the Lombardi; the third Longhorn to do so and the first since 1984. 

With the weekend off, the Longhorn players had a chance to get away from football.

“It was definitely a great time to relax and have a normal Saturday,” said safety Blake Gideon. “I’m not used to those weekends, but bye weeks can be pretty nice to rest up and get fresh.”

Quarterback Garrett Gilbert enjoyed a nice round of golwith his father, Gail, and several family friends. Gilbert wasn’t very proud of his play, but in a closest-to-the-cup-style game, his score didn’t matter much.

“I was trying really hard to relax,” Gilbert said. “But I still wound up watching hours and hours of football all weekend.”

Cornerback Aaron Williams, whose muffed punt at the end of the Oklahoma game was heavily scrutinized, said he wanted to get as far away from Austin as possible. So he went one hour north to Florence for dove hunting and shot enough to make a meal out of it. His mother has a special recipe for dove that Williams can’t get enough of.

“She puts some jalapeno and cream cheese in there, and you can call it a day,” Williams said with a smile.

Defensive tackle Kheeston Randall went home to Beaumont for his mother’s cooking. She prepared shrimp alfredo and banana pudding, and he also got to attend his church in his hometown. But like many of his teammates, Randall just wound up watching football when he attended a game played by Lamar University.

“It was pretty cool to see my friends play, and I got to be a spectator for a change,” Randall said.

Practice dummy

Every Longhorn defensive player is well aware of the sensational game that Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez had Thursday night.

The dual-threat quarterback lit up Kansas State, passing for 128 yards on just seven attempts and rushing for 241 yards on 15 carries. On the season, he’s averaging a staggering 10.3 yards per pass, 10.8 yards per rush attempt and he also leads the country with 12 rushing touchdowns. With his ridiculous statistics, the Longhorns are already crediting him as a Heisman front-runner, and he’s drawing big comparisons.

“I don’t even remember Vince running for that many yards,” said head coach Mack Brown, forgetting about Young’s visit to Oklahoma State in 2005 when he rushed for 267 yards.

But to simulate Martinez’s abilities in practice, the coaches have utilized athletic scout team receiver Brock Fitzhenry, who played quarterback at Giddings High School. Fitzhenry has quite a resume — in 2008, as a senior at Giddings, he rushed for 9.2 yards per carry, and his 36 100-yard rushing games rank ninth in Texas high school football history.

“Brock does a good job for us, but it’s tough to simulate Martinez,” said defensive coordinator Will Muschamp. “He’s a great player who’s not only quick, but he’s very fast as well.”

Static depth chart

Despite losing consecutive games, the Texas coaches didn’t make many changes in the depth chart.

Freshman receiver Mike Davis, one of Texas’ most reliable playmakers early in the season, is probable for the game. Davis suffered a knee injury in the loss to UCLA and was unable to play against Oklahoma, but he’s listed as one of the either/or starters at flanker, along with seniors John Chiles and James Kirkendoll.

After a solid game against Oklahoma where he rushed for 53 yards on nine carries, junior Fozzy Whittaker is still the starter at running back.

On defense, sophomore Alex Okafor solidified his starting spot at defensive tackle on the inside with Randall. Muschamp praised Okafor’s progression and feels he gives the Longhorns the best chance to stop a Nebraska run game that averages 337.6 yards per game and ranks second in the nation.

“He’s improving every day,” Muschamp said. “He’s a guy who’s a really good athlete with a great attitude and work ethic, and he’s got a lot of potential for us in there.”

With the weekend off, the Longhorn players had a chance to get away from football.

“It was definitely a great time to relax and have a normal Saturday,” said safety Blake Gideon. “I’m not used to those weekends, but bye weeks can be pretty nice to rest up and get fresh.”

Quarterback Garrett Gilbert enjoyed a nice round of golwith his father, Gail, and several family friends. Gilbert wasn’t very proud of his play, but in a closest-to-the-cup-style game, his score didn’t matter much.

“I was trying really hard to relax,” Gilbert said. “But I still wound up watching hours and hours of football all weekend.”

Cornerback Aaron Williams, whose muffed punt at the end of the Oklahoma game was heavily scrutinized, said he wanted to get as far away from Austin as possible. So he went one hour north to Florence for dove hunting and shot enough to make a meal out of it. His mother has a special recipe for dove that Williams can’t get enough of.

“She puts some jalapeno and cream cheese in there, and you can call it a day,” Williams said with a smile.

Defensive tackle Kheeston Randall went home to Beaumont for his mother’s cooking. She prepared shrimp alfredo and banana pudding, and he also got to attend his church in his hometown. But like many of his teammates, Randall just wound up watching football when he attended a game played by Lamar University.

“It was pretty cool to see my friends play, and I got to be a spectator for a change,” Randall said.

Practice dummy

Every Longhorn defensive player is well aware of the sensational game that Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez had Thursday night.

The dual-threat quarterback lit up Kansas State, passing for 128 yards on just seven attempts and rushing for 241 yards on 15 carries. On the season, he’s averaging a staggering 10.3 yards per pass, 10.8 yards per rush attempt and he also leads the country with 12 rushing touchdowns. With his ridiculous statistics, the Longhorns are already crediting him as a Heisman front-runner, and he’s drawing big comparisons.

“I don’t even remember Vince running for that many yards,” said head coach Mack Brown, forgetting about Young’s visit to Oklahoma State in 2005 when he rushed for 267 yards.

But to simulate Martinez’s abilities in practice, the coaches have utilized athletic scout team receiver Brock Fitzhenry, who played quarterback at Giddings High School. Fitzhenry has quite a resume — in 2008, as a senior at Giddings, he rushed for 9.2 yards per carry, and his 36 100-yard rushing games rank ninth in Texas high school football history.

“Brock does a good job for us, but it’s tough to simulate Martinez,” said defensive coordinator Will Muschamp. “He’s a great player who’s not only quick, but he’s very fast as well.”

Static depth chart

Despite losing consecutive games, the Texas coaches didn’t make many changes in the depth chart.

Freshman receiver Mike Davis, one of Texas’ most reliable playmakers early in the season, is probable for the game. Davis suffered a knee injury in the loss to UCLA and was unable to play against Oklahoma, but he’s listed as one of the either/or starters at flanker, along with seniors John Chiles and James Kirkendoll.

After a solid game against Oklahoma where he rushed for 53 yards on nine carries, junior Fozzy Whittaker is still the starter at running back.

On defense, sophomore Alex Okafor solidified his starting spot at defensive tackle on the inside with Randall. Muschamp praised Okafor’s progression and feels he gives the Longhorns the best chance to stop a Nebraska run game that averages 337.6 yards per game and ranks second in the nation.

“He’s improving every day,” Muschamp said. “He’s a guy who’s a really good athlete with a great attitude and work ethic, and he’s got a lot of potential for us in there.”