Chizik, Brown Renew Acquaintances
Friday, October 12th 2007, 2:47 pm
By: News On 6
AMES, Iowa (AP) _ Iowa State coach Gene Chizik will be thrilled to see Mack Brown for the first time in months. Chizik just wishes his mentor wasn't bringing the Texas Longhorns with him.
No such luck for Chizik, who left his job as the co-defensive coordinator at Texas last winter to take over Iowa State (1-5, 0-2). The 23rd-ranked Longhorns don't promise to be a happy bunch, either.
Texas (4-2, 0-2 Big 12) has lost four straight Big 12 games.
``I'd be even more excited to see him if it was out for coffee or something,'' Chizik joked about Brown. ``I'm excited to see all those guys. Coach Brown knows what he means to me.''
Brown feels the same way about Chizik, who played a crucial role in the Longhorns' national title run in 2005. But once the pregame pleasantries are over, Texas has work to do.
The team's current Big 12 losing streak _ which began with a loss at Kansas State last season that ended any hopes of a national title _ followed a conference-record 21-game winning streak. Texas hasn't been ranked as low as 23rd in The Associated Press poll since Oct. 8, 2000, when they were 25th.
``We have to get our first win in conference. We have to get back on track and they're the next team on the schedule, so you have to take it like that,'' Longhorns defensive tackle Frank Okam said.
Texas followed a stunning 20-point home loss to Kansas State with a much better effort against No. 6 Oklahoma _ albeit with the same result. The Texas offense has been going through some uncommon struggles, with quarterback Colt McCoy throwing as many picks, 10, as touchdown passes. The unit lost one of its best playmakers this week when wideout Limas Sweed was sidelined for the season with a wrist injury.
But Brown believes McCoy may have turned a corner during the Red River Rivalry. McCoy threw for 324 yards and two touchdowns against the Sooners.
``The problems Colt has had this season haven't been Colt's problems. It has been what we have done around him. I thought the protection was better and he played with more confidence and we made some good plays for him,'' Brown said.
Chizik's familiarity with the Texas defense could come in handy. Chizik spent the last two years with those players, and he still knows what the Texas' defenders can do.
Brown knows it, too. But he's more concerned about Iowa State picking up his signals, which is why the Texas staff focused on changing things up this week.
``I don't think personnel is as big a deal because you can see everything on film. What's big is snap counts, checks, signals, those things are in-house that people don't have,'' Brown said. ``All those things are different this week. We'll change all those things because those are what's important.''
Iowa State's defensive performance through two Big 12 games suggests the Cyclones would struggle to shut down Texas even if they had the Longhorns' playbook.
Iowa State has allowed 77 points in losses to Nebraska and Texas Tech. Last week's 42-17 loss to the Red Raiders wasn't even that close _ Iowa State tacked on a pair of meaningless fourth-quarter touchdowns _ and Chizik said that for the first time all season, the Cyclones didn't improve from the preceding week.
Iowa State knew coming in that this season _ and possibly the next few _ would be about rebuilding. That task gets even tougher over the next three weeks. The Cyclones will face Oklahoma and No. 11 Missouri after its date with Texas.
``Whether you're 1-5 or 5-1, every week you're focused on improvement,'' Iowa State wide receiver Todd Blythe said. ``I'm real frustrated by the last game.''