No. 2 Texas started getting ready to face No. 1 Alabama for the national championship without a game plan or a depth chart.
At least not yet.
With the BCS title game against not being played until two weeks from Thursday, coach Mack Brown is taking his time.
Brown figures it's too early for players to delve into specifics about the Crimson Tide, so his practices thus far, and for the next few days, are focused mostly on fundamentals. He calls them similar to summer two-a-days, except that these workouts are full contact. Brown believes in a lot of hitting to keep guys sharp during the long layoff between games.
Brown has used a similar plan for many years and it's easy to see why. Texas has won five straight bowl games and seven of its last eight, a run that includes the national championship in January 2006.
Well, there is one new wrinkle this time. That whole thing about no depth chart.
Unhappy with the way his offense played in the Big 12 championship, and still upset with the defense's performance against Texas A&M in the game before that, Brown decided to really make practices interesting by threatening everyone into thinking their job is on the line.
"What we're doing is we're going back and being really, really hard on the guys," Brown said Monday. "We're having a lot of tough, physical drills and we're changing the depth chart daily."
Colt McCoy's job is certainly safe. But the guys who got him sacked nine times against Nebraska are among those who probably better be sharp _ or else.
"There's always the possibility there will be some changes there, yes," offensive coordinator Greg Davis said. "At 13-0, we're not going to reinvent ourselves in a month. But I do think we have to be smart enough to tweak some things."
McCoy hasn't chewed out his line because he still believes in them. Besides, he has a simple answer for anyone who says they played lousy against the Cornhuskers.
"We found a way to win," he said. "We understand we struggled a little bit. We've come through a lot. Now we're in the national championship. That's where we wanted to be when we started the season and we're going to do everything we can to play our best."
McCoy is among seven Texas players who were on the sideline in jerseys and jeans watching Vince Young lead No. 2 Texas to an upset of No. 1 Southern California in the Rose Bowl four years ago. Brown has talked to the team about the similarities between that game and this one, from the rankings to the setting.
Another coincidence is that the Longhorns have a Heisman Trophy finalist (last time Young, this time McCoy) and the foe has the winner (last time Trojans running back Reggie Bush, this time Alabama running back Mark Ingram). But the similarity goes even deeper on the Texas end.
Davis sent Young a text message right after the ceremony four years ago telling him, "You're my Heisman Trophy winner," and the quarterback responded: "Game on, coach," knowing that the Longhorns would be facing Bush and the Trojans in the title game.
When Ingram beat McCoy, Davis sent the same message. McCoy sent the same response.
Davis said he's told the story of that text exchange enough times that McCoy probably copied it on purpose. Asked which was the case, McCoy played it vague.
"I answered the way I felt," he said. "I think last year was a lot more disappointing. I was fine afterward this year because I know how much more we have to play for."
Brown mentioned in passing Monday that Texas has won 26 of its last 27 games, then later mentioned in passing that Alabama has won 25 of its last 27 games.
Coincidence? Perhaps. But don't be surprised if he's using stats like that to help keep his team confident as they find themselves in the rare position of being underdogs.
Of course, whenever that gets mentioned, all he has to do is remind them about the '05 title game, when the Longhorns weren't just underdogs, but a big part of the game's storyline was whether that Trojan squad deserved to be considered the greatest college football team ever to lace 'em up.
"This is not about who had the best season. This isn't even about the history. This isn't even about who has the best team. It's about whose going to play the best for 3 1/2 hours," Brown said. "That's what I learned in 2005. The rest of it's going to be chatter. It's going to be who plays the best for 3 1/2 hours."