Texas desperate to find offense in time for Aggies

BY foxsports • November 21, 2011

With the end of the Texas-Texas A&M rivalry coming up on Thanksgiving night, Longhorns players would have preferred to talk Monday about their favorite memories in the historic series.

Instead it was more of the same: What's wrong with the offense?

After scoring just one touchdown in back-to-back losses, Texas looks ready to make its fourth quarterback change of the season in search of some kind of spark Thursday night against the Aggies.

Sophomore Case McCoy, who started three games earlier this season, is now listed above freshman David Ash on the depth chart. Ash struggled for the second straight game and had two more turnovers in a 17-13 loss to Kansas State and was pulled for McCoy in the third quarter.

Officially, McCoy and Ash were listed as ''or'' on the depth chart, and coach Mack Brown insisted no decision has been made on who will start. That will depend on who practices well in a short week and what plays the Longhorns plan to use early, Brown said.

Still, it's a question Brown hoped to have left behind a long time ago. He had even joked over the summer that if Texas was still unsettled at quarterback at Thanksgiving, he'd likely be out of a job and off driving trucks somewhere.

''Did I say that? There's no way I'd have been stupid enough to say that,'' Brown said with a wink. ''I don't think I could drive a truck anyway.''

Quarterback problems have been the focus of the Longhorns' struggles for two years. Last season's starter, Garrett Gilbert, threw 17 interceptions. He was pulled in the second game this season, had shoulder surgery, and announced he would transfer.

McCoy went 2-1 as a starter but was supplanted by Ash after a loss to Oklahoma. Ash is 2-3 is a starter and has had a problem with turnovers.

''Quarterback is the most important player on your football team,'' Brown said.

The problems on offense were glaring in the last two weeks while the defense played good enough to win. Texas held Kansas State to 121 total yards but still lost because the offense, once again, couldn't find the end zone against a competent defense. When Texas bashed Kansas and Texas Tech, the Longhorns piled up huge yards rushing against two of the worst defenses in the country.

Freshman tailbacks Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron both returned from injures to play against Kansas State but were mostly ineffective. Freshman wide receiver Jaxon Shipley missed his third game in a row and still ranks second on the team in catches and yards.

Texas players insist there is none of the same finger pointing between the offense and defense that happened last season when Texas went 5-7 and missed a bowl game for the first time in 13 years.

''We've matured as a team,'' senior linebacker Emmanuel Acho said. ''We know the offense will get there. We have to trust that.''

Acho said the defense has taken on the mindset that ''we have to get a shutout.''

That's a tall order against an Aggies offense that scored 61 points last week against Kansas but may have lost top running back Cyrus Gray to a shoulder injury.

Whichever quarterback gets the start will be walking into a wild atmosphere Thanksgiving night at Texas A&M's Kyle Field.

The stadium already has a reputation as one of the rowdiest in college football. Nothing would be sweeter for Aggie fans than to leave the Big 12 for the SEC by beating Texas on their way out the door.

Texas players remember beating Nebraska last season in the last matchup before the Cornhuskers left for the Big Ten, a symbolic kick out the door.

''That scoreboard is going to be remembered,'' Acho said. ''We know that.''