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Texas facing difficult challenge after Tech loss

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

The loud battering of pads that should be audible later today far outside Texas' Frank Denius Practice Fields will be coming with a reason.

Texas coach Mack Brown said his team needs physical work as it tries to hammer out the residue from a disappointing 39-33 loss to Texas Tech last week in Lubbock in preparation for Saturday's game against Baylor.

And even with a banged-up team that features injuries to several key players, Brown said his team needs the tough workouts heading into the final three games of the regular season.

"We're going to go back and have a really physical practice," Brown said. "We'll go back to work. We have no choice. We'll act like it's the first game of the season."

Brown's back-to-basics strategy after the Tech loss is understandable after some of the problems that surfaced against the Red Raiders.

Texas' offense fell into an early 19-0 hole as it converted on only one of its first seven third-down plays. Longhorn receivers dropped seven passes as the offense produced a season-worst 80 rushing yards.

There was also the continuation of tackling problems that have dogged the team in recent weeks. Poor technique enabled Michael Crabtree to get loose on his game-winning touchdown reception. It was part of an overall tackling malaise that saw the Longhorns miss 15 tackles that provided the Red Raiders with a chance for 93 extra yards.

Graham Harrell was extremely proficient on third down, extricating his team from third-and-8, third-and-10, third-and-8 and third-and-14 situations. It enabled the Red Raiders to carve up the Longhorns for 579 total yards -- the most since Oklahoma State last season and the fourth-worst performance by the Longhorns' defense in Brown's 137-game coaching tenure there.

The Longhorns also missed several chances at picking up a turnover -- most notably Blake Gideon's drop on a sure interception on the play before Crabtree's game-winning touchdown.

"You work through a lot of pain and disappointment," Brown said. "There's some depression, usually, and anger. I don't feel very good about myself. You lose a lot of things that are out there for you. But you can't let it bother you."

Despite the loss, the Longhorns are fourth in the most recent Bowl Championship Series standings and still have a legitimate hope for a Big 12 South Division title. Their hopes at a national title also remain present.

Penn State and Alabama both will be facing tough road games this weekend. And Texas Tech's upcoming gauntlet will include tough games against top-10 foes Oklahoma State and Oklahoma before closing with Baylor.

But Brown said his team has bigger concerns than any scoreboard watching.

"What we've really got to do is play better," Brown said. "I'm not worried about the rest of it. If we win the rest of our games, something good will happen to us. We can't sit around here after a loss when we didn't play well and worry about the end. We'd better play better, or we'll have some trouble this weekend."

The Longhorns have been a resilient bunch in the past, winning their next game the last 11 times after they have lost to a ranked opponent. The Longhorns have endured back-to-back losses only four times in Brown's time at Texas.

But Brown is expecting a challenge from Baylor, a team that he has never lost to and has beaten by at least 21 points in each of the last nine seasons.

"We're going to need our fans this week. It's a very difficult week for our players and our coaches. They're emotionally and physically tired," Brown said. "Baylor is improving, so we have a lot of work to do and we can't let one loss beat us twice."