When asked if he thought there is a Big 12 team out there that can run the table in conference play, Chris Whaley hesitated.
Hesitated like so many of his fellow Longhorns defenders have done on the field this year. Hesitated like his teammates on the other side of the ball when trying to run the ball in the second half of last weeks’ 44-23 loss to Ole Miss. Hesitated unlike his head coach when, after that defeat, he adamantly claimed the season salvageable if Texas wins the Big 12.
Mack Brown has beaten the we-can-win-the-Big-12 talking to point into the ground like BYU and Ole Miss have beaten his Longhorns into the ground the past two weekends.
Yet when thrown a softball question about if a team in the conference can beat the other nine Big 12 squads this year, Whaley hesitated.
“I don’t know,” Whaley said eight seconds after the question was asked. “There’s a lot of good teams in the Big 12.”
Instead of immediately responding by saying Texas can win its next nine games, even if nobody but him believes it, Whaley took eight seconds to claim he wasn’t sure.
Unsure like when the undisciplined and underachieving Longhorns defense faces the zone read that Kansas State is sure to run this week.
When asked about Texas’ effort in last year’s loss to Kansas State – who visits Austin this week – Wildcats linebacker Tre Walker did not hesitate, saying the Longhorns “laid down.”
“Texas sometimes lets their name get them in a pickle,” Walker told me at Big 12 Media Days. “We don’t have the players [Texas does] but, at the end of the day, we fight.”
Fight – that’s not something the Longhorns have done much of on defense the last couple weeks. Texas has done nothing to refute Walker’s comments, which he has since apologized for but nonetheless remain true. A quarterback less than a year removed from ACL surgery ran for 259 yards and three touchdowns against Texas two Saturdays ago.
“He’s not here with us every day,” senior linebacker Jordan Hicks said of Walker, who, like Hicks, missed Kansas State’s Big 12 title-clinching win over Texas last year with a knee injury. “He doesn’t know. Anybody who’s not around us has their own opinion and that’s his opinion. We’re not worried about him.”
The Longhorns allowed a school-record 550 rushing yards in that 40-21 defeat, cutting that number in half the following week as they surrendered 272 rushing yards in a 44-23 loss to
If that’s what they’re calling progress, the Longhorns have no chance at winning the Big 12 this year.
That doesn’t mean they won’t have a chance to beat Kansas State this week. Texas is favored to beat the Wildcats on Saturday night. Keep in mind that the Longhorns were also favored to beat BYU and Ole Miss. But Kansas State, who has won five straight against Texas, is working out the kinks of a two-quarterback system and did drop its season opener to FCS powerhouse North Dakota State.
“Kansas State has our number,” Hicks admitted.
Hicks and the rest of the Texas defense are going to have to play a whole lot better than they have the last two weeks if they want to prove Walker wrong. If they don’t do it this week, they never will.