Texas coach Mack Brown brings crazy talk to Sports Illustrated
Is Mack Brown finally developing some swagger?
The University of Texas' football coach normally gives new definition to bland, even in a coaching profession where saying nothing is considered as important an art as the ability to teach the zone blitz. Yet Brown let loose (for him) in Sports Illustrated's College Football Preview issue, telling the magazine that the Longhorns are "going to do what Ricky Williams did" with their rushing attack this season.
Forget for a moment that this is almost like Matt Leinart vowing to do what Brett Favre did (Texas had its worst ground numbers since 2002 last season and there aren't any Ricky-sized talents in this jumbled backfield). What's more important is the tone Brown is setting for a running game that needs to regain its fight.
Brown is so committed to the run that he's arguably going away from the Longhorns' strength to make sure his team can grind out yards better. He's putting prized first-year quarterback starter Garrett Gilbert under center much more than Colt McCoy ever was, moving away from the shotgun to get more downhill running lanes.
The first look at the retooled scheme will come in Houston this Saturday at Reliant Stadium when Rice can expect the Longhorns to rush for more than 200 yards against its overmatched squad. Brown wants to make a running statement and he'll have no better chance to do it than in this ESPN-shown opener.
Easy opponent? Check. National exposure? Check. An obsessed mad man calling the shots? Check.
Whether it's Cody Johnson — who seems to have won Texas' starting tailback job by default more than anything else — or Tre Newton and Fozzy Whittaker (expect to see plenty of all three), the Longhorns will do everything they can to convince future opponents that things are different this year. That's why Brown is invoking the name of Ricky Williams (who once rushed for 318 yards and six touchdowns in a single game against Rice) in the most important sports magazine in the country.
The rest of the SI issue is more Texas mundane. The Longhorns are SI's No. 4 team in the country — no surprise, considering that Texas is ranked fourth or fifth in virtually every preseason poll. The University of Houston is projected to win the Conference USA West Division with a `10-2 (8-0 in conference) record and Rice ... well, the Owls are destined for a 2-10 (1-7) season in SI's book.