2007 Football team earns Holiday Bowl berth
Look up "resilient" and "determined" in your Webster's dictionary and you'll find a team picture of the 2007 Texas Football squad.
Ditto if you look up "inconsistent."
Not really surprising when you consider that missing from Mack Brown's 10th team on the Forty Acres in the fall of 2007 was a combined 145 career starts from interior linemen Justin Blalock, Kasey Studdard and Lyle Sendlein on the offensive side of the ball.
Then, there were the 148 career starts from secondary standouts Tarell Brown, Michael Griffin and Aaron Ross on the defense.
And there were the injuries throughout the year, prematurely ending the seasons of ace receiver Limas Sweed, center Dallas Griffin and Tony Hills, who was quarterback Colt McCoy's security blanket in his left tackle spot.
With it all, however, the Longhorns were in the hunt for a spot in the Big 12 Championship game until the season's final weekend.
And on Dec. 2, they were invited to the Pacific Life Holiday Bowl.
The Longhorns (9-3) tangle with Arizona State (10-2) in the first meeting ever between the schools on Dec. 27 in San Diego.
"We're looking forward to preparing for another great Holiday Bowl," Brown said. "As a team, our focus will be to get our 10th win of the season."
This marks Texas' fourth trip to the Holiday Bowl during Brown's tenure as head coach. While a trip to San Diego is always pleasant, Brown, his staff and his players certainly had their eyes on a larger prize.
Yet, the Longhorns have an opportunity for an unprecedented seventh consecutive 10-win season if they prevail in the bowl game.
"These kids have won a lot of games, so they thought they were going to win," Brown said.
That kind of belief was evident in come-from-behind victories against Nebraska and Oklahoma State.
Even with McCoy back at quarterback following a stellar 2006, the integration of those new players in the offensive line caused the Horns to be inconsistent offensively at the outset of the year, especially in the running game.
That ended in a big way when junior running back Jamaal Charles had a breakout game of 290 yards against Nebraska and 180 yards and 174 yards against Oklahoma State and Texas Tech, respectively. Those performances thrust Charles into Hesiman conversations, especially looking toward 2008.
"The swagger is back," Brown said after the Tech triumph last month.
But even then, the coach noted, "We still have lots of things we can fix."
Of course, Brown told those gathered for Big 12 Media Day in late July that lofty predictions for his team might be premature. "We have a lot of question marks with our team," he said then.
McCoy, who tied the NCAA mark for touchdown passes by a freshman with 29 and who became the first UT freshman QB to win 10 games in a season, was impacted the most by an offensive line that was learning on the job.
Without a consistent running game, McCoy was under siege much of the early season. His leadership was apparent as the team stayed together during the trying start.
The on-the-job training was evident on the other side of the ball, too. The secondary was tested early and often, yielding un-Texas-defense-like yardage totals through the air.
"Inconsistency was the biggest thing all year," said Duane Akina, the co-defensive coordinator who called the plays for the first time this year.
But so was resiliency and determination.