Texas head coach Mack Brown
By Richard Anderson
Longtime Texas coach Mack Brown is looking forward to his trip to Laramie later this week.
And at least publicly, it’s not because his second-ranked Longhorns are 33.5 points favorites against a young Wyoming team that is looking to find its identity against a first-year head coach.
Instead, Brown said that he admires Wyoming’s football tradition and actually has never been in this part of the Rocky Mountains. Although the two teams have only played twice previously, he said there is some history between the two schools, specifically with Fred Akers coaching at Wyoming (1975-76) before moving on to become Texas head coach from 1977-86.
Brown himself also saw Wyoming, led by Jim Kiick, face LSU in the Sugar Bowl in 1968.
“When you look at all of the great coaches that have come through Wyoming -- Joe Tiller, Coach Akers, Pat Dye, Coach (Paul) Roach,” Brown said during Monday’s Big 12 Conference Coaches Teleconference. “You go back in their history and Wyoming has been a great place. It has been a great place where they are proud of their football. I’ve heard it is a difficult place to play. Every coach I have talked to said that you better grab a hold on now, they are going to be ready to play and their fans going to be rowdy. I’m really excited about going up there. I’ve never really been to Wyoming, it will be fun to go.”
Later in a local new conference, Brown went on to praise Wyoming head coach Dave Christensen and the Cowboys.
“He was the offensive coordinator and the architect of one of the best offenses in college football at Missouri, and he's a guy that we have seen for the 12 years that we've been here, so we know what they're going to do offensively,“ Brown said. “We were watching them last night and this morning against Weber State. It's the Missouri offense. He had Chase Daniel and did an outstanding job with him. They had 434 yards of offense during the game. They're playing two quarterbacks. They've got two tailbacks that they're playing. They ran the ball more and better than they threw it on Saturday with a big back named Darius Terry who weighs 209 pounds.”
Brown told the Texas media that the Wyoming defense is not as much blitz as Louisiana-Monroe, but at about 30 percent.
“They have a new defensive coordinator (Marty English), even though he was on the staff last year,” he said. “They'll still be a four-man concept like most people but they will play some 3-5 and go in and out. We're really not sure of what they'll do on defense because the system is new, but they did have five interceptions last week. That was something that got our attention. Their secondary is really good. They can all run.”
When asked if there was any extra motivation for his team after seeing rival Oklahoma get knocked off by BYU of the Mountain West Conference last weekend, Brown said they didn’t need any motivation after what the Cowboys have done against BCS schools in the last couple of years.
“When you go back, Wyoming beat Tennessee in Knoxville last year and they beat Virginia in the opening game two years ago in their place, 35-3,” Brown said.
Brown also said that he doesn’t think the difference in altitude will play a part in Saturday’s outcome. Austin, Texas, is 632 feet, compared to Wyoming’s 7,220. The highest the Longhorns normally play in the Big 12 in 5,430 at Colorado (Boulder).
“We don’t concern ourselves about that. We’re just going to go play. We have a lot of depth,” Brown said. “We know it is the highest altitude of any stadium min college football. I’ve been to Provo, we’ve been to Boulder. Those things are way over-played.”
As could be expected, most of the Texas players have never been to Wyoming. That was evident when center Chris Hall was asked about the state.
“I am excited to go. Any time you get to travel anywhere you haven’t been before, it’s always exciting. Especially Yellowstone National Park is there, Old Faithful and all that,” Hall said. “Beautiful country from what I hear, but we’re going there to win a football game. That’s our objective. So, it’ll be really nice to be there in a great state that I’ve never been to, but we’re looking forward to the game. That’s why we’re going."
Offensive tackle Adam Ulatoksi has never been to Wyoming as well.
“It’s exciting just to see it and everything, but we know we’re going up there as a business trip and there is one reason for going there,” he said.
Hall and Ulatoksi are happy to go to a little cooler climate.
“That sounds nice especially for us guys who have a little more insulation, like offensive linemen,” Hall said. “We’ll enjoy the cooler temperatures for sure.Ulatoksi is also excited to play in 70-degree weather.
“It probably doesn’t make that much of a difference, but we just like being cool,” Ulatoksi said. “You always see linemen wearing shorts and t-shirts when it’s 40 degrees outside, so we just like the cold weather. It’s just a break from the heat. I mean, it’s 90-something here, so 70 feels good.”
Texas All-America quarterback Colt McCoy was asked what he thought of the facing the Cowboys.
“Our team is really excited, but we definitely have to be prepared,” McCoy said. “ I watched Wyoming a little before I came over here, and their secondary had five interceptions in the first game. We definitely have to work hard to understand what they do. They play a three down front, and Coach Muschamp plays a lot of that. They play a little zone, a little man, and they blitz the quarterback. We’re going to have to prepare really hard, and go up there and play well.”