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the score

Getting to Know You

Texas fans grin at scary blind date with 2011 Longhorns

By Joe O'Connell, 6:00PM, Tue. Sep. 27, 2011

Mack Brown and the 2011 Longhorns: Getting to know you, getting to know all about you
Mack Brown and the 2011 Longhorns: Getting to know you, getting to know all about you
Image courtesy of UT

“It’s kind of exciting to watch a team where you have no idea what’s going to happen,” my brother-in-law said the other day.

This is Chris, the diehard Texas Longhorn fanatic and former member of the Iron Spikes who has crossed into his thirties only to understand what Mack Brown figured out a year ago when lowly Iowa State skittered into town as a creampuff-in-waiting for a Texas team still celebrating a gorgeous victory at then No. 5 Nebraska. The Cyclones tore through DKR-Memorial Stadium, amassing a 28-6 lead. A semi-valiant Longhorn comeback fell short at 28-21 and everything burnt orange began to reek of despair.

So here we are in 2011 when all we know is that we know nothing at all. Texas beat up on UCLA 49-20 at the Rose Bowl and then had a bye week of weirdness: Garrett Gilbert, the presumed quarterback at the season’s launch has shoulder surgery and is gone, baby, gone. Not even our whipping boy and disappointing backup this year. The Texas Aggies are officially vamoosing to the SEC but promise to write (just don’t mention how the Farmers disintegrated last week against a powerful Oklahoma State team led by scary QB Brandon Weeden’s school-record 438 yards aloft, please). Baylor may well be the best team in the Big 12 (yes, I said it).

And unranked Iowa State is 3-0 and lying in wait for a visit from a 3-0 Texas squad that is ranked No. 17 (at this one moment in time). Nobody thinks the Cyclones are any good this year. But nobody is quite sure who Texas is either. Is Case McCoy the slightly less photogenic second coming of that guy leading the Cleveland Browns to victories? Is receiver Jaxon Shipley the slightly more photogenic second coming of the guy who made Colt a Heisman finalist? Is Rush Limbaugh really selling something called Two if by Tea online and does it come with a free oxycotton sample? I digress.

Iowa State is led by Steele Jantz, a quarterback with a porn star’s name and a Las Vegas-like unpredictability—he can score or he can turn over the ball. You pick. Gamblers say Texas by 10. But didn’t they say that last year? Perhaps that’s the Texas 2011 mantra. Remember the Iowa State game. Don’t forget how easy it is to fall apart. The pine trees in Bastrop took years to grow but hours to transform into glowing red nothings.

My brother-in-law Chris knows what Mack Brown knew going into this season: The Longhorn football team is a blind date. She may have a gun in her purse. She may smell slightly like your grandmother. She may be as beautiful, witty and smart—in a non-threatening way—as your best friend promised. Or perhaps she has fangs clotted with fake blood and once worked as Rush Limbaugh’s maid.

Sometimes you have to sit back and let life flow over you. We don’t know if David Ash will get some decent reps at Longhorn QB or if there will be an anonymous third-stringer waiting to spell him just in case. The new set of young Longhorn coaches are grimacing Buddhas with tricks to be removed from their sleeves at a later date. We don’t really know if this so-far-impressive Texas D can really, truly stop the run. We don’t know if the Big 12 is rotting away one team at a time. We just don’t know.

And that’s OK, Chris tells us in dismay. He never thought he’d admit it. But it is OK. Which is the postal code for No. 1 Oklahoma, which is waiting in the wings when Iowa State is done with the Longhorns. Followed by Oklahoma State. Followed by …

One week at a time. Expect nothing but chaos. Accept the gift you are given. Fear the future but live in the moment. Dream. Play. How bad can it get? Gulp.

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