The dismissal of a defensive coordinator did little to get Texas righted.
Although the Longhorns scored 23 unanswered points to gain a halftime edge, they failed to hold on at home and were thumped 44-23 by Mississippi. The Rebels scored 30 unanswered points of their own to close the game and did so against a UT defense that was restructured during preparations.
Manny Diaz was fired as coordinator after Texas allowed a school-record 550 yards rushing in a Sept. 7 loss at BYU. Greg Robinson, a former coordinator for the Longhorns and a longtime NFL coach, was hired as the replacement, but was unable to make any halftime adjustments that were needed. Ole Miss scored on drives of 80 and 81 yards to begin the third quarter.
"They were running the same thing over and over again. It was pretty disappointing," senior linebacker Jordan Hicks said. "We're all bought in. There's no change. It's still a player-run team. We're trying to get this thing back right."
The next opportunity for the Longhorns, again at home, comes with the opening of Big 12 play against Kansas State. Mack Brown, in his 16th season as Texas coach and under fire like never before, looked to the start of conference play as a chance for a turnaround. Texas last started 1-2 in 1998, Brown's first season, yet won eight of its last nine games that season when Ricky Williams won the Heisman Trophy.
"I don't know why we're playing inconsistent," Brown said. "We can get this righted by winning the Big 12 championship, and that's what they've got to do."
Seems like a mighty tall order. In addition to defensive shortcomings that led to a 274-yard rushing output for Ole Miss, the Longhorns struggled offensively in the second half. Case McCoy, who started at quarterback in place of injured David Ash, completed 24 of 36 passes for 196 yards and one touchdown. The Longhorns rushed for just 8 yards on 13 second-half carries.
First up on the Big 12 card is Kansas State, which has not lost to Texas in 10 years, mounting a five-game win streak in the series. Beating the Wildcats would be a good way to begin the breakthrough Brown wants, and needs.
"Forget the coaches, come for the kids," Brown pleaded to Texas fans, who numbered 101,474 at Royal-Memorial Stadium. "Come for the young guys who are really trying, and come watch them try to beat Kansas State, which we haven't done very often. They just need to keep supporting the players."
FIVE BIGGEST TAKEAWAYS FROM WEEK 3 IN THE BIG 12
1. Oklahoma found the right quarterback, though Blake Bell just happened to be the top candidate going into fall camp. After serving admirably as a situational backup his first two seasons, Bell was not named the starter initially. All he did was fire for 413 yards, the best output for an OU quarterback in his first start.
2. Texas Tech is responding well to the easy-going approach of Kliff Kingsbury. The young first-year coach had every reason to bark at De'Andre Washington after he dropped the ball in front of the goal line to negate a 49-yard touchdown reception against TCU. Instead, Kingsbury calmly instructed Washington to atone for the mistake.
3. Texas switched defensive coordinators, firing Manny Diaz and hiring Greg Robinson after the Longhorns were trampled at BYU. UT coach Mack Brown said after a loss to Ole Miss that no one expected miracles from Robinson in his first week on the job. Still, corrections are needed quickly with longtime nemesis Kansas State next up.
4. Kansas State finally got production from its ground game, though backup quarterback Daniel Sams is capable of providing an instant impact in that phase with his speed and vision. The Wildcats seem more intent on achieving a balanced look provided by starting QB Jake Waters, though the junior college transfer still struggles with proper reads.
5. TCU was considered a darkhorse to claim the Big 12 title, thanks to a solid defense and the return of quarterback Casey Pachall. Pachall is out with a fractured arm, leaving the Horned Frogs to rely on Trevone Boykin, was mistake-prone in the loss to Texas Tech. The defense remains solid, but it cannot carry TCU exclusively in the explosive Big 12.