Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
AUSTIN, Texas -- It wasn’t the kind of resounding conquest that would give Texas any claim to being the nation’s best team -- even as other contenders around them either struggled or lost earlier in the day.
Heck, it wasn’t even the payback that most of the record crowd of 101,297 at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium were hoping for after last year's nightmarish last-second loss on the High Plains.
But Mack Brown won’t complain too much about his team’s gritty 34-24 victory over Texas Tech.
“If everybody’s bragging on one team, you better look out,” Brown said. “It’s survival. It’s not playoffs or anything else. It’s just survival.”
And on a day when USC and BYU stumbled and Tim Tebow and Florida didn't look unbeatable, Texas players were happy with merely escaping their conference opener with a closer-than-expected triumph.
“We don’t take these games for granted,” Texas wide receiver John Chiles said. “We don’t take Wyoming or Texas Tech for granted when you see stuff like that happening. We saw it.”
The Longhorns sputtered through another rough early performance as Colt McCoy looked mortal for the second-straight week.
Despite the struggles, Brown was happy to see his team slog through the first half before erupting after the break again.
“I thought it was good that things weren’t easy for us,” Brown said. “Sometimes we were mad about some things about last week and we still scored 41 points. We’re not happy tonight and we scored 34. That’s good.
“We’re a work in progress, but I’m proud of the way they grew up and worked.”
Some of McCoy’s early struggles were understandable. He was waylaid earlier this week with a bout of the flu that caused him to miss practice on Tuesday and limited his participation later in the week.
The rustiness showed early as the Longhorns produced only 10 points in the first half and none of those came from the offense. McCoy appeared winded as he was limited to only five yards rushing on eight carries.
His passing numbers were pedestrian -- 205 passing yards, two interceptions on tipped passes, one touchdown pass -- but still good enough to beat Tech coach Mike Leach in Austin again.
Credit the Texas victory to perseverance. Or maybe just a healthy dose of chicken soup.
“We were winning at halftime,” said McCoy, who misfired on seven of his 16 passes in the first half. “Sometimes, everything is not going to go our way. And to give us credit, we came out and played a completely different game in the second half.”
Texas offensive coordinator Greg Davis opted to go with a no-huddle offense to change the pace after halftime. The Longhorns responded by scoring touchdowns on their first two drives to snap out of their funk and take control of the game.
Brown said McCoy’s mood brightened as the Longhorns experienced more success after the break.
“In the second half he had a blast,” Brown said. “He was laughing. They would score and he would say, ‘Look out, we’re going to score, too.’”
For most of the second half, that was true. And then the Longhorns’ defense answered the challenge by exacting their own form of revenge on Tech quarterback Taylor Potts.
Tech’s junior quarterback blistered the Longhorns for 420 yards and three touchdowns. But Texas came up with two big fourth-quarter turnovers that sealed the victory.
There were other positives in the game. Tre’ Newton is emerging as Texas’ feature running back after rushing for 81 of his career-high 88 yards in the second half.
Dan Buckner appears to be filling the hole at tight end after producing six receptions for 75 yards -- matching his career high for receptions for the second-straight week.
And while Texas' players tried to discount the retribution angle in their public statements earlier in the week, it still was sweet for them to beat the Red Raiders after what happened last year in Lubbock.
“It wasn’t a revenge win, but we had all had what happened last year on our minds,” Texas defensive end Sam Acho said. “Some people use that as motivation or a way to play better. It was definitely an opportunity to go back out there and get back what they took from us.”