AUSTIN — Texas accomplished a lot on Saturday.
The Longhorns beat Kansas for the 11th consecutive time, extending their undefeated record against the Jayhawks in Big 12 competition. They rebounded from a scoreless first quarter to earn a one-sided victory, but more importantly they remained perfect in conference play.
Texas is 5-0 is the Big 12 for the first time since 2009, situating itself atop the standings along with Baylor, which was idle on Saturday.
Although the victory was far from flawless, Longhorns head coach Mack Brown is excited about the future.
“We had an exciting dressing room, and then (on Sunday) we can get all over them about the things they didn’t do well,” he said. “But when you win like that and there’s a lot of things you can fix, that shows we can get a lot better, and we’ll have to do that. We’ve got a chance to improve each week.”
The Longhorns are preparing to embark on their toughest stretch of the schedule, playing three teams currently ranked in the top 20 over the final four games. Texas travels to West Virginia this week before hosting No. 15 Oklahoma State and finishing the regular season against No. 25 Texas Tech and No. 5 Baylor.
While Texas controls its own destiny, nobody on the team feels anything is in hand just yet, but like his coach, running back Johnathan Gray sees potential within the team.
“We really haven’t had success,” Gray said. “As far as in our eyes, success is getting a BCS bowl, winning the Big 12 championship and winning a BCS bowl. We’re headed to success, and we’re doing a great job right now. We’re climbing that ladder and getting better and better each week.”
One area the Longhorns have shown recent consistency in is the running game.
Texas is averaging 221 rushing yards per game over its three games, producing exactly that amount against the Jayhawks as junior Malcolm Brown led the way with 119 yards on 20 carries to go with a career-high four touchdowns, becoming the 10th player in school history to score four or more rushing touchdowns in a game.
After recording each of his first three touchdowns in short-yardage situations, Brown broke free for a 30-yard scoring run in the fourth quarter.
“We want to run tough every week, and I think that the offensive line did a great job and made it a whole lot easier on me,” he said. “I know we just want to ground those yards out, and that is what we came to do.”
Brown was not the only player to deliver an impressive performance against Kansas.
Sophomore Daje Johnson finished with a career-high seven receptions for 46 yards en route to posting 146 all-purpose yards, and defensive tackle Chris Whaley became the first Texas lineman to score multiple touchdowns in recorded school history by taking a fumble 40 yards to the end zone during the third quarter.
Against Oklahoma, the senior scored on a 31-yard interception return.
“He’s just making plays,” said Texas defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat, who had six tackles against Kansas.
“He’s doing what he’s supposed to do and, actually, extra. You just have to applaud him. He keeps making plays, and we hope he keeps doing the same thing.”
The Longhorns will need everybody to continue producing if they intend to become Big 12 champions for the first time since 2009 – the last time they started 5-0 in conference.
“We’ve got a lot that we can improve, and we’re sitting here with a four-game stretch to win the Big 12 Conference,” Brown said, “and that’s important to us.”