|Owls coach spices things up with tough talk|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 29 August 2008 12:42|
Florida Atlantic coach Howard Schnellenberger said this month the No. 11 Longhorns have a lot of polish but aren't very tough, and can easily be intimidated with a few hard hits.
``If we put three hats on them and make them not want to get up, that's the way to beat Texas,'' Schnellenberger said, although he's tried to back off those comments since then.
It's too late to backtrack. It's time to play. The Longhorns and Owls open the season Saturday night and Texas players certainly paid attention to the musings of FAU's 74-year-old ball coach, who actually spent a year at Oklahoma, tying the Longhorns 24-24.
``The players didn't say it,'' said Texas defensive tackle Roy Miller. ``When you don't have to get out (on the field) and do something, it's easy to say something about it. The real talk is when you line up.''
Texas coach Mack Brown didn't seem to get worked up by it.
``He's been around a long time,'' Brown said, noting Schnellenberger's history of leading programs at Miami and Louisville to national prominence. ``Anything he would say he's trying to motivate his team and that's fair.''
Toughness isn't the question for the Longhorns this season. Experience is.
Texas will start two freshmen at safety in a secondary that ranked among the worst in the country last season. The offense will start a new tailback and is still searching for a third receiver for quarterback Colt McCoy.
Florida Atlantic would seem to have just the right weapons to exploit a weak link in the secondary. Owls quarterback Rusty Smith was the Sun Belt Conference player of the year after passing for nearly 3,700 yards last season.
Smith's favorite target is Cortez Gent, who had 1,082 yards receiving and nine touchdowns and could be a threat to beat Texas deep. Smith wasn't buying any suggestion that Texas' defense won't be good just because it lacks experience.
``When they recruit they choose who they want. They have great athletes who can run very well,'' Smith said.
He has a point. Of the five freshmen on the depth chart at the two safety positions, three were high school All-Americans. Trying to mold that talent into a cohesive unit is new defensive coordinator Will Muschamp, lured away from Auburn with the help of a $425,000 contract that makes him one of the highest-paid assistants in the country.
Texas hasn't lost an opening game since 1999 and has won at least 10 games each of the last seven years. A half hour before Saturday's game, the Longhorns will retire former quarterback Vince Young's No. 10 jersey in a ceremony on the field. Young led Texas to the 2005 national championship, the Longhorns' first undisputed title since 1969.
Young joins Earl Campbell (No. 20), Ricky Williams (No. 34), Tommy Nobis (No. 60) and Bobby Layne (No. 22) as the only Texas football players to have their jerseys retired.
``I don't think anybody's ever deserved to have a jersey retired more than Vince Young with what he accomplished at this school,'' Brown said. ``He really put us back on the modern map.''