HICKS: Brown says 'Horns have lost swagger

Texas coach Mack Brown addresses the media at the Grand Hyatt Republic Room in San Antonio on Monday. (Phil Hicks | ETFinalScore.com)

SAN ANTONIO — Texas coach Mack Brown, during his annual Texas High School Coaches Association news conference, said there are four key elements that will determine if the Longhorns are back to an elite level.

No. 1 on the list, he said Tuesday at the Grand Hyatt Republic Room, was “We’ve got to get our swagger back. It used to be we would walk into a stadium knowing we would win; we just didn’t know by how much. Right now we are wanting to win. Last year, we fought and competed. ... We have to get our depth back so injuries will not change the course of our team.”

No. 2 — “We have to be more consistent at quarterback (he didn’t say who might be the starter — David Ash, Case McCoy or Connor Brewer). I don’t mean Vince Young. I don’t mean Colt McCoy. I mean manage the game. ... Get some explosive plays, but protect the ball. We have to win the turnover ratio.”

No. 3 — “We have to grow up fast on defense. We have some talented, but young players.”

No. 4 — “We have a talented kicking game, but they have not punted or kicked in a game.”

He topped it off by saying he felt the Longhorns will be successful this year if things come together.

“We went from passing so well we quit running it; and last year we ran the ball so well we quit passing,” Brown said. “We have to have a balance.”

Brown added he thinks the Big 12 is stronger than ever.

“I love the Texas-Texas A&M game,” Brown said. “It was good for the country — not just for our league and our state. It was good for the kids; it was good for the high school coaches. It is like Alabama-Auburn. You pick one when you were kids, you like one and didn’t like one as much. But there was respect there. I loved you choose a side; and the split families on Thanksgiving.

“And this is no slam at Texas A&M and Missouri, with TCU and West Virginia coming in, I think the Big 12 is stronger than ever. You bring in two teams that have been very positive in the BCS picture the past few years. I saw what West Virginia did to Clemson in the Orange Bowl (70-33 win) ... unbelievable ... It scared me to death. I wanted to call Deloss (Dodds, Texas athletic director) and say are you sure — you want to rethink this?’”

While the math does not add up, Brown feels 10 schools are right for the Big 12.

“With 10 teams you get a true champion with everyone playing each other,” Brown said. “It is a better path to the national championship. Sometimes if you play a championship team, you might get upset. It sounds like to me there is a long-term commitment. I don’t see us adding anyone from what I’m hearing. I know there is talk about Notre Dame.”

He added, “I’m hearing long-term. I think we are through with the rumors about what may happen — who’s leaving, who’s going. I think we all got smarter. A commitment is a commitment. Obviously, the past four or five years there was not a commitment from anyone. Everyone was on the phone with someone.”

As far as the team, Brown said the offensive and defensive lines are keys.

Brown said Tyler native and defensive lineman Ashton Dorsey is one of the Longhorns’ top players, but “needs to be consistent.”

“Ashton can be as good as he wants to be,” Brown said of the John Tyler High School graduate. “He is very talented. He has made some special plays for the last two years. We just need for him to be consistent. He is so quick and talented.”

NOTES — Brown noted former Texas coach and legend Darrell Royal celebrated his 88th birthday July 6 and more than 100 ex-players and coaches came to Austin to celebrate. He said coach Royal was doing great.

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