Texas gears up for Kansas, goes for first Big 12 home victory

Christian Corona

Davis bested Kansas safety in high school

Texas has always had its fair share of the nation’s best high school football players. And the Dallas area has always been one of the state’s richest recruiting hotbeds.

Sophomore wide receiver Mike Davis, a Dallas Skyline product, knows this better than most and recalled a matchup with Kansas junior safety Lubbock Smith, who played at Dallas Carter. Davis’ Skyline team triumphed over Smith’s Carter squad 35-0 in 2007, Davis’ sophomore season.

“He’s a pretty good player,” Davis said. “He made some plays and I made some plays. But I think, at the end of the day, I got the best of him.”

Longhorns need to win turnover battle

Turnover ratio has been a good indicator of how Texas has played this season. 

The only two times the Longhorns have lost have also been the only two instances they’ve been on the wrong end of the turnover battle. But Texas is also worried about how many explosive plays — runs of at least 12 yards or passes of at least 16 yards — it makes.

Senior tailback Fozzy Whittaker said co-offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin wants at least seven explosive plays from his offense each game. The Longhorns have reached that mark in each of its first six games, but the only two times they allowed more than seven explosive plays from the opposing team, they lost.

“It doesn’t matter how we get them,” Whittaker said. “It’s something that we always look at because we know that if we win the turnover battle and we win the explosive plays, you give yourself almost 100 percent chance to win.”

Vaccaro, Walters earn unique accolades

Keenan Robinson is a Butkus Award semifinalist. Emmanuel Acho is in the running for the Lott IMPACT Trophy and Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award. Whittaker has been named national kick returner of the week twice. But Kenny Vaccaro

He’s the biggest trash talker in the Longhorns secondary, according to Davis. But Vaccaro wasn’t the only one to garner honors from a teammate. When asked who the team’s meanest offensive lineman was, senior tight end Blaine Irby did not hesitate.

“Meanest guy is definitely my good friend Mason Walters,” Irby said. “He’s a big, mean guy. On the field, you don’t want to look into his eyes or else he’ll attack you. He’s so passionate about the game and that’s what we need on the offensive line.”

Wylie took workouts to new heights

Texas is still looking for its first home victory in Big 12 play and should get it this week when the Longhorns play Kansas. 

In fact, Texas’ last conference win at home came against the Jayhawks in 2009. UT went 0-4 against Big 12 opponents at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium last season. So, strength head coach Bennie Wylie had players run up and down the stairs of the upper deck on the west side of the stadium so they would better appreciate what their fans are paying for. Wylie even had Davis thinking he could see San Antonio and Shamu.

“They left their lunch up there,” said head coach Mack Brown. “Bennie said they have a really good view from up here and you have to remember when you play at home, this guy paid a lot of money to sit up here and watch you play. So make sure he enjoys it.”

Teammates are impressed with Cochran’s play

Freshmen, particularly on offense, have infiltrated nearly every position this season.

While David Ash made his first career start at quarterback against Oklahoma State, so did true freshman left tackle Josh Cochran

The first-year player from Hallsville, a small town near Dallas, has quickly impressed his fellow offensive linemen, including Walters and senior guard David Snow.

“He’s playing really well for a freshman playing left tackle,” Walters said. “Week in, week out, every team has a good pass rusher and I watch him and go, ‘He’s pretty good.’ I think he’s playing technically sound and that’s what has helped him the most.”

Printed on Thursday, October 27, 2011 as: Horns hope to limit mistakes against Kansas on Saturday