Texas Trying to Stay Fresh in Tough Run

Longhorns, Red Raiders kick off at 7 p.m.

Texas defensive tackle Roy Miller said he felt "relieved" after a tough win over Oklahoma State. Quarterback Colt McCoy's left hand -- he throws right -- was bruised and scratched.

As a group, the Longhorns' defensive backs are nicked up and sore.

After three straight wins over teams ranked 11th or higher and another big game coming at No. 6 Texas Tech, the top-ranked Longhorns are finding it harder to stay healthy and sharp in the middle of a brutal schedule.

The tough games mean extra time in the training room getting treatment for those bumps and bruises and grabbing a few extra minutes of sleep at night.

It's about this time in the season when a lot of teams start feeling weary, coach Mack Brown said Monday.

"We're telling our guys to get in bed, get off your feet ... we're trying our best to make sure they can handle this stretch physically and emotionally," Brown said. "These kids are enjoying playing and what they've accomplished and they're having fun. That really helps."

Texas (8-0) has little time to rest. Come Saturday night, the defense will be running all over the field chasing Tech's tricky offense. The Red Raiders (8-0) keep teams on edge mentally and physically with a passing scheme that can score on any play.

The Longhorns say they will be ready.

"Everybody is good, rehabbing right now, icing their bodies and ready to go," defensive end Brian Orakpo said. "We know how big of a game it's going to be."

McCoy, who set a school record last week with 38 completions, is returning to the site of one of his biggest wins. In 2006, Tech jumped to a 21-0 lead before McCoy, then a freshman, led the Texas rally to a 35-31 win with four touchdown passes.

McCoy said the scratches on his non-throwing hand came during the game against Oklahoma State and won't be a problem against Texas Tech. He didn't have the hand wrapped when he met with reporters Monday.

"It's OK. It's bruised," he said.

Against Oklahoma State, Texas had its worst tackling game of the season with 12 missed tackles that led to 125 yards. The Cowboys pounded out 217 yards on the ground, and Texas defenders bounced off big tight end Brandon Pettigrew all game.

Tackling will be a premium against the Red Raiders, who like to get the ball to receivers in space looking for one-on-one matchups.

"Miss a tackle against Tech and it could cost you 15, 20 or 30 yards every time," linebacker Roddrick Muckelroy said.

It would seem to be a week where the Longhorns would do extra tackling drills in practice, but defensive coordinator Will Muschamp said they have to be careful about avoiding injury. Other teams are likely scaling back this time of year as well, Muschamp said.

"It's a long season for everybody," he said.

The secondary will be put to the ultimate test at a time when some players are already hobbling. Cornerback Ryan Palmer has struggled with a sore elbow but played against Oklahoma State. Cornerback Chykie Brown sat out the last game with a sore ankle.

Chykie Brown's injury forced Texas to start Curtis Brown, who is finally recovered from a preseason hamstring pull. Although the Longhorns hope Chykie Brown returns this week, Curtis Brown played well against Oklahoma State and adds depth where it's needed most.

The last time Texas lost in Lubbock, in 2002, the Red Raiders' speedy receivers picked apart a secondary riddle by injuries.

"In this game, you've got to have fresh legs," Mack Brown said.


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