What American-Statesman staffers Kirk Bohls, Cedric Golden, Randy Riggs and Mark Rosner took away from Monday’s press conferences with head coach Mack Brown and Longhorns players:
Bohls: This may be the new Mack. I’ve never seen Mack Brown looser, more upbeat and more confident than he is right now. Maybe it’s the five-game win streak and the chance to win the Big 12, but the Texas head coach seems to all but feel he’s almost bullet-proof. He’s coaching for his life, and it’s easy to see his players are feeding off his confidence and energy.
Golden: This is where the fun starts. I agree with Mack that the Big 12’s schedule over the last half of the season is one of the best slate of games you’ll see in the country. Starting with Thursday’s showdown between Oklahoma and Baylor, it only gets better. Here’s a sampling of what you’ll see over the next month: Texas-Oklahoma State, Texas Tech-Baylor, Oklahoma State-Baylor, Texas-Texas Tech, Baylor-Texas and Oklahoma-Oklahoma State. And the one unranked team in that lineup (Texas) just happens to be tied for first place in the conference. Buckle up. Should be fun.
Riggs: It’s reached the point where I’m beginning to think I have a better chance of quarterbacking the Longhorns before the end of the season than David Ash does. Mack said Monday that Ash, who threw some passes last week but had a recurrence of concussion symptoms, is definitely out for Saturday, but hasn’t been ruled out for Oklahoma State on Nov. 16. But there’s handwriting on the wall, and it doesn’t say Ash will be back anytime soon, especially since Brown also said Ash is out of football shape. So it looks like it’s in the hands of Case McCoy and Tyrone Swoopes the rest of the way. Or maybe me, if Texas is in the market for a 60-something walk-on.
Rosner: Junior safety Mykkele Thompson, recruited by Texas as a multiple-position “athlete,” is relieved to be playing safety instead of quarterback. Quarterback, Thompson said, involves “too much pressure.”
Other Longhorns notes:
Injury report: Ash and right tackle Josh Cochran will keep their streaks of missed games going on Saturday. Ash will miss his fifth straight game because of concussion issues, Cochran his sixth because of a shoulder injury that’s impacting his arm.
“The trainers worked David out last week, and he had recurring symptoms,” Brown said. “Josh has a strain in his arm, and until he gets his strength back, they are not going to let him go back out there.”
Under UT guidelines, Ash must be symptom-free for a week before he’s allowed to return to practice. If Ash isn’t back at practice by this Wednesday, he’s unlikely to play against Oklahoma State next week.
Brown said the only possible loss coming out of the Kansas game is backup linebacker Tevin Jackson, who’s questionable with a sore knee.
Fera advances: Anthony Fera is one of 20 national semifinalists for the Lou Groza Award, given to the country’s best placekicker. Fera has connected on 11 of his 12 field goal attempts, and 32 of 33 extra points. His 91.7-percent accuracy mark on field goals leads the Big 12, and he’s tied for seventh nationally.
Etc.: This will be Texas’ first-ever trip to play in Morgantown. Brown has never played there either. … The Mountaineers have never lost to Texas; West Virginia leads the all-time series, 2-0. … It’ll be definite football weather in West Virginia. Weekend forecasts say Saturday’s high there will be only 58, with a low of 41. “Bring a coat,” Brown ended his press conference by saying.