Texas rebuilding its mindset after loss

AUSTIN, Texas -- In the wake of Texas' humbling loss to Oklahoma, the Longhorns gathered, as they usually do on Sundays, to watch the film and listen to the postmortem.

It was then, during the replay of a 55-17 loss, that the coaching staff stopped the film and started to single out players -- not for what they did wrong but for what they had done right.

"Last year we didn't acknowledge guys that played well," Texas coach Mack Brown said. "We thought that was wrong. So this time we wanted the players to see who on the team played well and understand that not everybody stunk.

"By a lack of acknowledgement in front of the team, it was a show of who did not play well and who needs to pick it up for the next week."

Step one in the healing process had begun. That is what Texas had to do this week: heal itself mentally before it could fix itself physically. Most of these players had never been through such a loss. Four games in, and the 18 freshmen that Texas plays might have thought themselves invincible. Some of the older players might have thought that as well. It was, after all, Jordan Hicks who just two weeks ago talked about how Texas could be a title contender.

Maybe the egos were inflated and the ranking was too high, but now Brown must get his team back up in time for No. 6 Oklahoma State.

"You can be direct. You can be fair," Brown said. "You don't have to embarrass them more than they have already been embarrassed. And you want to move forward and make some hard decisions during the week and they will respond better to that than anything else."

Some of those hard decisions will involve playing time. Ashton Dorsey was moved out of the starting lineup at defensive tackle in favor of Calvin Howell. Senior Tray Allen is being pushed by freshman Josh Cochran. Wide receiver Marquise Goodwin has been told to pick it up, and quickly. The quarterback rotation very well could change or tilt in either David Ash or Case McCoy's favor.

"The loss might have even been a wake-up call for a lot of people," H-back Blaine Irby said.

But is Texas mature enough to answer that bell? That shouldn't even be a question, safety Blake Gideon said.

"They knew from the start what they were signing up for. They were going to be placed in high-pressure situations from the beginning."

The pressure is even greater now that Texas has lost. Memories of last season's slide have no doubt flooded into the minds of the players and the fans. But, as Brown has pointed out, this team shows none of the same characteristics from last year.

For instance, in the fourth quarter, with nothing left to play for, Christian Scott, whose right hand is casted, was still fighting and forced a fumble. On offense, Fozzy Whittaker, who had tweaked his ankle early, refused to come out of the game. Such plays or spirit would not have happened a season ago.

"We are getting our teeth kicked in there at the end of the game, and everybody is still playing their hearts out," Gideon said. "Nobody is wanting to come out of the game for any reason. People were still wanting to be out there and fight."

That is what Texas wanted to build on this week as it has tried to repair its collective psyche.

"Last year we pouted after losses and one loss beat us twice," Brown said. "We're not going to do that this year. We're going to go back to work. We're going to pick ourselves back up. We said we were starting over. We said we were young. We said we were inexperienced at some key positions. And we're going to go back and get better each week. If you will take this as what it is -- they whipped us good -- and learn from it, we should have a higher learning curve with this team."

Carter Strickland covers University of Texas football and recruiting for HornsNation

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