AUSTIN, Texas – The Texas Longhorns are feeling good again
They've won three in a row, quarterback David Ash is coming off his best game of the season and fan discontent with coach Mack Brown has cooled a bit with a 31-22 road win at Texas Tech.
Even the much-maligned defense has a shot of confidence.
"We're getting better," sophomore defensive tackle Desmond Jackson said Monday. "We're getting a lot better."
Next up for No. 19 Texas (7-2, 4-2 Big 12) is Iowa State (5-4, 2-4), the team that ripped the heart out of the Longhorns' season in 2010. Texas had just returned from an upset win at Nebraska — which until Saturday had been its last win over a ranked opponent — only to stumble to a 28-21 loss to the Cyclones that sent the Longhorns skidding to a 5-7 finish.
Brown certainly remembers that one. It took him about 30 seconds to bring up that loss during his weekly meeting with reporters and said he had already talked to his team about avoiding a similar letdown.
"It's a team that wants to do well. It's a team that wants to grow up," Brown said. "This is a huge week for us."
The Longhorns seem to have the ingredients to avoid a meltdown similar to 2010. Although inconsistent over the last month, the offense seemed to find its groove again against Texas Tech. Ash shook off getting benched the week before against Kansas to pass for 264 yards and three touchdowns, two to wide receiver Mike Davis.
"I had a lot of desire to redeem myself for the week before," Ash said.
Oddly enough, Ash refused to give his opinion on the Longhorns at this stage of the season. Others were more willing.
"'If we put it together and play as a team like we did last week, we can be really good," senior guard Mason Walters said.
"We're gaining confidence each week," sophomore cornerback Carrington Byndom said.
Brown heard a lot of similar comments back in 2010. Texas had snapped a two-game skid with a big win at Nebraska that was supposed to get the Longhorns back on track. Instead, Texas came out flat for a game that started at 11 a.m. and had several turnovers.
"This is a team that played inconsistent," Brown said. "What I told them is it's time to grow up. If you're playing in a parking lot you should still win."
There is little doubt the defense played arguably its best game against the Red Raiders. The Longhorns allowed just two touchdowns and forced the Red Raiders to kick three field goals where earlier this season opponents had little trouble marching to the end zone.
Brown, who had said he would get more engaged with coaching the defense, downplayed his role in the resurgence on Monday.
"They seem to be playing with more confidence and more urgency the last two weeks," Brown said. "We're at least covering people.".