Orangebloods are the best or, depending on your point of view, the worst kind of Texas football fans. They yearn for the good ol' days when Darrell Royal was striding the sidelines in Austin and the Longhorns could have listed the Cotton Bowl as their permanent New Year's Day address. Orangebloods are tired of the mediocrity that has plagued the Longhorns recently, and they have let coach John Mackovic know that they expect Texas to close out the last year of the Southwest Conference by hooking 'em one more time, for auld lang syne, in 1995.
For the moment, Mackovic, the former Kansas City Chief coach who's 19-14-1 in three seasons at Texas, has the Orangebloods' support. However, if Texas gets blown out by Notre Dame on Sept. 23 or loses to Oklahoma on Oct. 14 or gets barbecued by somebody in the SWC, all bets are off. After all, isn't sophomore quarterback James Brown the next Bobby Layne? Shouldn't the defense, which was hit hard by injuries last fall, be vastly improved? After spring practice Mackovic told the Orangebloods what they wanted to hear: "This was the best spring we've had. I'm excited about every part of this team."
The most exciting part of the team might be the 6-foot, 190-pound Brown, who spearheaded the Longhorns' season-ending surge. He was 4-0 as a starter and was named conference Player of the Week for his performance in each of the three regular-season games he started after replacing Shea Morenz. Brown, who completed 69% of his passes, also brought a new dimension to the Texas attack with his scrambling. "There has to be a catalyst out there, and James has been a catalyst," says Mackovic.
On defense, All-SWC tackle Tony Brackens, a part-time rodeo cowboy who has participated in team-roping competitions, and cornerback Bryant Westbrook, who held Colorado All-America receiver Michael Westbrook to one reception in their head-to-head battle last season, will be the foundation of a group that needs to prove it's no longer a liability. In the spring game the defense, which finished 55th in the nation a year ago, dominated the offense. That didn't displease the coaching staff. "We want to make people look bad," says linebacker Robert Reed.
What they don't want is to make Mackovic look bad. Everybody knows the Longhorns are on unofficial probation with the Orangebloods, even if the coach won't admit it. "We want people to know our program has survived," Mackovic says. "We are alive and well. They have kicked us every way we can be kicked. We have taken every blow that could be passed. But we are still alive, and we are going to have success."