Mack Brown knows how to get the Longhorns to forget about the Oklahoma game and move on.
He’s never lost a game following the Red River Rivalry in his 13-plus years at Texas. Brown said he learned early on the difficulties of coaching before and after the OU game.
So what’s his secret?
“We’ve made a real conscious effort to not talk about that game the week before, but to put it to bed really quickly, win or lose, immediately afterwards.” Brown said. “Its such an emotional game and it means so much to everybody that it can linger.”
The Longhorns have been in this position before: coming off a loss to OU and preparing for a top-10 opponent. Last year, Texas upset No. 5 Nebraska on the road after a 28-20 loss to the Sooners.
Now, senior tailback Fozzy Whittaker says the Longhorns are looking forward to another tough matchup against No. 6 Oklahoma State.
“We’ll be ready to answer the bell,” he said.
Keenan Robinson believes Texas will be able to pull off another upset this year, just like in 2010. The senior linebacker says this group of young Longhorns is ready to turn the page and get back to the success that followed them before a disappointing trip to the Cotton Bowl.
“The loss doesn’t discourage me at all,” Robinson said. “We’re still the same team we’ve been all season. We played four great games. We just have to focus on the little things. We’ll be fine.”
The Longhorns pouted after losses a season ago and would let one loss beat them twice. But Brown maintains that Texas is a changed team and that his players won’t make the same mistake twice.
“This team’s got a lot of pride,” he said. “Especially after last year. They’re not to let what happened last year happen again. They’re going to fight every week and make sure we don’t get the down games we had last year.”
Senior linebacker Emmanuel Acho saw that happen one too many times in 2010. But the Longhorns are a year older and a more mature team than that 5-7 outfit. He says Texas will get the mistakes that plagued them a week ago against OU fixed — and quickly.
While the Longhorns don’t want the results off last week’s debacle to carry over, they think there’s room to learn from their mistakes and take those lessons forward.
Acho expects to see growth in the green Texas secondary this week after a tough matchup in OU game — one that’s typically an eye-opener for the younger players.
“It grows you up quickly and it helps you mature,” Acho said. “I think that’s what they’ll do.”
Sophomore cornerback Carrington Byndom is one of a handful of first-year starters in the back end who got a first-hand look at a high-powered offense in the Sooners last week. They’ll face a similar opponent in OSU.
The Cowboys have an all-American wide receiver in Justin Blackmon and a Heisman Trophy candidate in quarterback Brandon Weeden.
The Sooners torched the Texas secondary for 347 yards passing and three touchdowns. But Byndom and company views it as part of the learning curve for this inexperienced defensive backfield.
“We can definitely learn from what happened,” Byndom said. “It’s just an experience you have to go through. Sometimes you have to experience things to learn from them.”
Brown said he spoke with his team this week about his 2003 team that lost to OU, 65-13. That was a similar game to the Longhorns’ 55-17 loss this season. Texas turned the ball over at least five times in each game and had a freshman quarterback throw multiple interceptions. But the coach reminded his squad that the ’03 team ran the table in the regular season after the OU game and finished 10-3.
It’s part of the positive mentality Brown is trying to create in the locker room.
“It’s my job to pick them up,” he said. “I’m not going to let them get down because it obviously didn’t work last year.”
Brown’s been around long enough to know the ins and outs of coaching after the Red River Rivalry. But his staff features six coaches in their first-year with the Longhorns.
Bryan Harsin got his first taste of OU weekend, and the co-offensive coordinator is looking forward to the Longhorns’ response on Saturday.
“This is a great opportunity to see where we are after a difficult loss,” Harsin said. “How we come back and how we prepare and our mentality going into this week. I’m excited to see how we respond. Because I think we’ve got guys who are going to respond well and execute.”
Texas has done it before.