Coach Royal once said "football doesn't build character, it eliminates the weak ones." On Saturday, the University of Texas football team can take another step toward eliminating weakness by honoring the memory of Coach Royal, exorcising the final demons of 2010 and building on the biggest Longhorn win since 2009.
Given the time that's passed it's likely that few of the current Longhorns knew Coach Royal beyond the pictures on the wall and the trophies in the case. He'd been away for quite some time battling his illness. But there should be no question about what each of them needs to do in honoring the memory of the man who made Texas Longhorn football what it is today.
Two victories would put Texas at 9-2 playing Kansas State for a possible berth in the Cotton Bowl. Who might they play in the Cotton Bowl?
Most of the current Longhorns however do remember what the Iowa State Cyclones did to them just two years ago — the last time they visited Austin. Texas had just come off a great win against a #5 ranked Nebraska team. It would be the last win against a ranked team for Texas until last weekend.
Following that game, the Texas Longhorns came home to face Iowa State and got the tar beat out of them. Texas would lose five of their next six games, leaving an indelible 5-7 stain on Mack Brown's record and digging a hole the Longhorns are still trying to climb out of.
The comparisons between 2010 and this game are more than obvious. Saturday, Texas can put the last shovel full of dirt on top of those bad memories by beating down an Iowa State team that is probably better than their 5-4 record would suggest.
Motivation should not be problem
The Horns come off their most complete team win in years. Building on that victory on the road against Texas Tech is job one for the Longhorn coaching staff and nothing less than a dominant win would be acceptable. Yes, Mack Brown will tell you "a win is a win." and of course he's right. But if this team is to pave the road back to greatness, sliding backwards is not an option.
Texas' offense ran the ball into the heart of Tech's very good defense, they must do that again. David Ash found the deep touch he had lost and along with it, he found a deep relationship with receiver Mike Davis, let's see that relationship grow.
Texas' defense laid the wood to Tech. The team tackled better, stuffed the run and dominated one of the best offenses in the country. There is still much to fix, but the trend line is pointing the right direction.
Saturday: Same song second verse.
Iowa State can play. They beat TCU in Fort Worth and they dominated Baylor at home. They held #2 ranked Kansas State to just 27 points, losing by just six. If Texas does not build on last week, they will lose, just ask Mack Brown. "To be a really good football team and have a chance to win all the games here at the end — which we're planning on doing — you can't sit around and talk about how bad you were at Kansas or how great you were at Texas Tech. You've got to go play the next week.... We're not good enough to play without full intensity."
But the team is good enough to win the next two. They play TCU here in Austin on Thanksgiving. Those two victories would put Texas at 9-2 playing Kansas State for a possible berth in the Cotton Bowl. Who might they play in the Cotton Bowl? Well there's a team about 90 miles northeast of here playing some pretty good football in another conference. They have some hot-shot freshman quarterback they call "Johnny Football," hmmm...
Which takes us to another thing Darrell Royal used to say, "I try not to make the same mistakes today that I made yesterday." The Longhorn football team would do well to remember that one.
What to watch for
- Start fast. There is one simple rule to beating a less talented team playing in your home stadium — never let them even think they can win the game. That means you score first and you stop them on the first series. Texas must let Iowa State know who's going to win from the very first snap of the ball.
- Turnovers. Texas suffered five turnovers against Iowa State in that game two years ago. Enough said.
- Hard core defense. The Horns made big strides against Texas Tech last weekend. They must continue improving.
Texas Longhorns vs Iowa State Cyclones
Time: 11:00 a.m. at Darrell K Royal - Texas Memorial Stadium
Television: The Longhorn Network
Radio: KVET-FM 98.1 / KVET-AM 1300
Honored: There will be a lot going on at this game besides the game. You can certainly expect a moment honoring Coach Royal. Colt McCoy and Phil Dawson will be at the game as honorary captains, Texas inducted Dawson and Major Applewhite into the Longhorn Hall of Honor on Friday. Also, in honor of Veterans Day, there will be a pre-game flyover and Lieutenant Michael Thornton, a Medal of Honor recipient will be recognized.