AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -Texas cornerback Brandon Foster can catch the ball when it counts. That's why he now holds the school record for defensive touchdowns in a season.
But when it doesn't count? Forget it.
``If you see me drop them in practice you wouldn't understand why I get them in the game,'' Foster said. ``I drop a bunch. My hands aren't that great.''
They've been good enough to grab two interceptions and pick up a fumble and take all three back for touchdowns. The latest was a 39-yard interception return Saturday against Iowa State, giving him the school single-season record for defensive touchdowns.
Foster can only think of one way to explain why his hands are so much softer in prime time than practice time.
``God,'' Foster jokes. ``He's definitely a Longhorn fan.''
A fifth-year senior, Foster has waited a long time to this chance. The Longhorns' secondary was heavily populated with future NFL players the last few seasons, and his only start before this season came because another player was suspended.
Foster said he and the other defensive backs have tried to learn from predecessors Aaron Ross, Michael Huff, Michael Griffin and Nathan Vasher, all of whom are now in the NFL. Ross and Huff won the last two Thorpe Awards as the nation's best defensive backs.
``We go in by ourselves sometimes and just look at their old film and see where they started and where they finished,'' Foster said.
He's made the most of his chances this year, with both his knack for the big play and solid coverage skills in a secondary that was supposed to be among the team's weakest areas when the season started.
``Brandon has got a great knack of breaking on the ball,'' coach Mack Brown said. ``Hopefully Brandon will get his chance to play in the NFL.''
That will likely depend on whether the NFL needs a cornerback on the smallish side. At 5-foot-9, 180 pounds, Foster can sometimes be a target for offenses with big, tall receivers.
Foster held his own last week against Iowa State's 6-foot-5 Todd Blythe. Foster and teammate Ryan Palmer held Blythe to three catches for 37 yards.
What Foster and Palmer lack in height they can make up for in speed. They were high school teammates at Arlington Bowie and ran on the 800-meter relay team in 2003 that clocked a time of 1 minute, 24.13 seconds at the state meet. That remains the third-fastest time in prep history, even though Palmer got beat at the finish line by Port Arthur Memorial's Danny Gorrer that day.
Football coaches have long used turnovers as a barometer for success, and Texas' wins and losses provide a striking example of how a touchdown off a fumble or interception can make a huge difference.
In their losses to Kansas State and Oklahoma, the Longhorns committed six turnovers and didn't force any. Foster's fourth-quarter fumble return for a touchdown against TCU broke open a close game, and his first-half interception TD against Central Florida helped the Longhorns escape Orlando with a 35-32 victory.
``We all want turnovers, but there are certain players that have the ability to do it,'' co-defensive coordinator Duane Akina said. ``Brandon has proven to be one that just naturally has a feel for the game.''
Even if he doesn't have that feel in practice.
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