At his press conference Monday, Mack Brown had plenty of nice things to say about Nebraska and it's fans.
Is that environment Nebraska, talk about the environment. Is it as intimidating as it once because?
It's intimidating, but classy and fun. Their fans understand football. They appreciate kids and coaches coming in there. They like their games. Even as you're walking out on the field, they just have small ropes that are between the dressing room and the field. Their fans applaud you as you're walking in and coming back out at halftime, after the game.
I've seen our fans in the north end zone starting to applaud the other team after the game. It's just such a classy thing. In a lot of environments now on the road in sports, you really worry about being hassled and things being thrown at you. We have never been treated any better than the way we were treated at Nebraska.
In fact, Coach Royal was with us on one of those trips. When he got back, he said, "I wish everybody's fans could be like the Nebraska fans, because they really handle it right. They want to win. They get angry if they're not playing well, I'm sure." I mean, we're not perfect here as we look at it, but I think their fans are a great example of what everybody should be across the country.
But still you can't hear. It is intimidating, but they've done it in a classy way, which is very unique.
Even Texas, we don't hate, do we? I don't hate. Hate is a bad word. It's too strong. I was there when Ricky Williams ran, in 1998. It was our first home loss in seven years. Think of that - SEVEN years, and we lost to to Texas. I remember standing next a guy and we'd say "He got three" and Ricky'd get five. "He got five" and it was seven or eight. And it hurt, and we could see it coming, but not admit it. We'd finally stop Ricky, and they'd throw to Garrity. Ouch, and Argh, and much stronger words that I won't print here.
But hate. We don't hate. We're Nebraskans. We respect. Right?
About this game
It's another opportunity for the No. 3 winningest program in the country to play No. 4. It makes it fun for our kids. I forget, it's been four years since we've been up there. We asked yesterday. Only our five year seniors have ever been to Lincoln. This will be a new experience and a fun experience.
I'll never forget the Nebraska fans giving Ricky Williams a standing ovation in '98 when we left the field and a chant of Heisman. That was one of the highlights of my time in sports, because I thought it was one of the classiest things I've ever seen and continues to be so.
I have great respect for the Nebraska fans, their coach, their players, that program. It will be a challenging week and a fun week.
You look at the two programs right now, we're averaging 42 points a game, they're averaging 37. We're converting 46% on third down offensively, they're converting 47%. We're stopping people, holding people to 47 yards rushing; they're holding people to 98.
We're giving up 13.7 points per game. They're giving up 13.4. We're stopping people 31 percent of the time on third downs with our defense. They're stopping people 30 percent. You start comparing numbers, this one looks like it could be one of those fourth quarter games that both teams play well.
Oh, hell. I was one of those people chanting, but with this game, this year, Mack Brown is right. Despite how Texas fans feel abotu themselves, this game is truly up to the fourth quarter - who feels better, who wants it more, and most importantly, like Mack basically says - who makes the least mistakes. We can talk (and we will) about what needs to be done to win, but it comes down to the last quarter - who's there. Who's going to wrench their guts out on this one?
For your program, how big was that '98 win?
Probably the fact that we won coming in after a 4-7 season on the road against such a great program was really, really important.
The fact: Nebraska is Nebraska. Maybe for me growing up liking Coach Osborne, I really went to Iowa State because I wanted to coach against Oklahoma and Nebraska and see what those programs were really like as a young coach. Coach Osborne is one of the guys that we really patterned ourselves and the program after when we got to North Carolina. We were running the option. We were doing a lot of things they were doing.
So for me personally, to be in the Big 8 twice, then to go back and coach in that environment, have a chance to win as a head coach, was really satisfying.
For our program, we'd had some really great games. We had some great years. We had not been consistent. So it at least got us some national attention where people thought, 'Maybe we should look at this place again.'
Hmm..... Texas on the upswing. Us on the downswing in '98.
Our record against Texas in the Big 12 is, what, 1-5? They've pretty much owned us. Badly. At least in football. In 1998, weren't we the Cat's Meow? Remember the 90's? T.O. didn't stand for that jackass receiver they have playing for the Dallas Cowboys- the inititals "TO" stood for something good. Good times.
Oh, enough of that as we move to present day:
The running game, does that play into your hands? It does. At the same time with all of our injuries in the secondary, we've given up more big plays off play action than we would like. We've got to continue to get better and do a good job of stopping the run each week. We did it against Oklahoma, which was a great opponent. Iowa State didn't run it very much against us. Ohio State didn't run it very much against us. It will be interesting to see if the Nebraska game plan as we start the first part of the game.
Whooeee! There it is! It WILL be interesting, Mack has got something right. What offense - what GAME PLAN - will we see? Does Bill decide that we must esablish the run against the Longhorns, or do we see that explosion that we saw against Kansas, wehre the sky lights up, and we throw long balls to Hardy and Purify?
We're not going to run successfully against the Longhorns. Their defensive line is too good. This is where the game is - the two lines. We'll talk more about it as the week goes on, but that's it for Nebraska. Our offensive line against theirs. Their defensive line against ours. If there ever was a game about "winining in the trenches" - this is it.
You talk about the offensive numbers, defensive numbers. You saw a lot of those Nebraska defenses back in the day. How does this one compare?
They're really good. Both ends are big, strong prospects. The nose tackle is the same. It's why they're doing such a good job against the run. Plus they've got a pro style defense. They're doing an outstanding job of disguising. They're moving around a lot. They're blitzing in the 38 to 40 percent range. They're taking a lot of chances.
When you get in an environment like that that's so loud and they are changing up so much and doing such a good job of disguising with an older defense, then it also puts your quarterback in a tough spot. Colt will have to do a good job, and we'll have to have a good plan for him this weekend. That probably means it's a little bit more simple than some others just because you don't want to go in where you're checking all the time.
Is Nebraska back the level it used to be at?
This one is getting back to that. Watching them last night and this morning, it sounds funny for a coach, when they walk out on the field, they dress out nice. They're big, good looking guys that can run. It's the way it used to be up there now. They're getting that pride back of the black shirt defense.
Notice that Texas didn't capitalize "Black Shirt Defense" - so in their eyes we mustn't be that good. Oh, the nitpicking!