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Winning at home an emphasis for Texas

10/26/2011

The heights were dizzying from where Mike Davis stood.

"You could see everything,’’ the Texas wide receiver said. "The freeway. San Antonio. Shamu.’’

What Bennie Wylie wanted the Texas players to see well before the season, from the top of the west side of Darrell K. Royal Memorial Stadium, was the team’s future.

Texas had fallen from on high. The descent had been humiliating and humbling. Through one season, Texas -- in the past a team that had been nearly impenetrable at home -- had lost all four of its Big 12 Conference home games. The last time Texas had been 0-fer in conference home games was 1988.

Wylie, the newly hired strength and conditioning coach, had been charged with not only fixing the players’ bodies over the summer, but reprogramming their minds as well. This was another of his mind-over-matter motivation tactics. After the 6 a.m. conditioning runs in June and July, Wylie would bring the players to these new heights in the hope that, in 2011, the team would reach, well, new heights.

The emphasis was twofold: Get in shape, and understand who and what you are playing for.

"You see the stadium in a completely different perspective while you are up there," said Blaine Irby. "You really appreciate the fans that are paying to watch us play football."

Said Texas coach Mack Brown, "You need to remember when you’re playing at home, those guys paid a lot of money to sit up here and watch you play. So make sure he enjoys it."

Not that he was running the steps with them. Brown couldn’t -- a fact he no doubt still laments today. NCAA rules don’t allow him to be a part of summer workouts. But Brown did watch the videos and was all for the idea.

"We tried to put a huge emphasis on [winning at home] this summer,’’ Brown said.

So far Texas is 2-1 at home. Still, with the loss to Oklahoma State almost two weeks ago, Texas is now 0-5 in its last five conference home games. The Longhorns have not lost that many consecutive home conference games since 1937-38. Texas has never lost more than five conference games in a row at home.

The Longhorns have three to go this season: Kansas, Texas Tech and Kansas State. Texas is a 24-point favorite to beat Kansas on Saturday. But it just so happens that the last time Kansas beat Texas was in 1938. It was on the road, though, so go ahead and wipe the sweat from the brow and let out a "whew."

"We've got to make sure we do well at home to have the season that we want," Brown said.