Taylor Martinez

LINCOLN, Neb. — Senior defensive end Sam Acho pounded his chest and pumped his fist as he bounced up and down the rows of his stretching teammates, revving them up with encouraging words before kickoff on Saturday. As the team’s inspirational leader on and off the field, Acho takes it upon himself every week to get his teammates ready to play. This week’s pep talk was especially important, as the Longhorns were a rare underdog facing fifth-ranked Nebraska.

“My brother is a great player and a great leader and the whole team feeds off of his emotions,” junior linebacker Emmanuel Acho said. “He’s very emotional in every game, but in this game, he got rollin’ and he got rollin’ early.”

Sam Acho was indeed “rollin’” early. On Nebraska’s first offensive series, he crunched tailback Roy Helu, Jr. and Nebraska ended up going three-and-out. On their second series, the Huskers fumbled at their own 21-yard-line, setting the Longhorns’ offense in prime field position to score a touchdown. The third time was not a charm for Nebraska’s offense, as they went a second three-and-out on the following series.

Heading into Lincoln, Texas knew that if it were going to win, the key to the game was simple: Neutralize quarterback Taylor Martinez, and you stop the entire Nebraska offense. The Longhorns’ defense achieved that goal, holding Martinez, who had been averaging 147.4 rush yards per game, to 21 yards on 13 carries. His passing stats weren’t impressive either, as he went a measly 4-of-12 for 63 yards.

Once the Longhorns took the magic out of T-Magic (Husker fans’ nickname for Martinez), he was eventually replaced by backup senior Zac Lee in the third quarter.

“We had an answer for everything they came out in,” junior safety Blake Gideon said. “Our scheme was to take the legs of Martinez out of the game. Everybody saw what he was able to do to previous teams and we wanted to get into a situation where he was giving it up, putting it in the air. And that’s what we did.”

Nebraska had the nation’s second-best rushing attack before playing Texas, as it averaged 337.6 yards per game. On Saturday, the Longhorns held them to a total of 125, a complete 180-degree turn after allowing UCLA and Oklahoma to combine for 388 yards on the ground.

“We definitely wanted [Martinez] to know that we were going to be here and we were going to be here for four quarters,” Acho said.

After a sluggish start to the season, defensive coordinator Will Muschamp was not going to let his defense lie down and take a beating for the rest of the year. He explained that last week’s bye was a perfect way for the team to regroup and get their act on a more consistent basis.

“Our performance had been up and down and we were able to put four good quarters against a really good running football team,” Muschamp said. “We told the players before the game: we execute, we tackle, we win.”

And that’s what Texas did. Through assignment football, minimal mistakes and gameplan execution, the Longhorns were able to take down Nebraska against all odds.

“It just goes to show how good we can be when we play to the Texas standard,” Acho said. “It’s time to get things rolling now and it’s time to play Texas football.”

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.”