AMES — It's been yet another trying week for Texas football coach Mack Brown.
Now more than ever, Brown can't afford to lose at Iowa State.
Beloved Longhorns legend Earl Campbell suggested over the weekend that it was time for the school to move on like Southern California did in firing Lane Kiffin. Texas athletic director DeLoss Dodds, perhaps Brown's most ardent supporter, announced Tuesday that he's retiring in 2014.
It's under all that tumult that Brown brings the Longhorns (2-2, 1-0 Big 12) to Ames for a Thursday night matchup against the rebuilding Cyclones (1-2, 0-1).
With an extra week to prepare for Iowa State — and with Oklahoma next on the schedule — this isn't a game Brown can let slip away.
The "bye week gave us an opportunity to go back and look at things, positive and concerns, over the first four ball games and prepare for the next two opponents. It also gave us a chance to get some guys better," Brown said.
It's almost easy to forget that the Longhorns are coming off a Big 12 win.
Texas opened league play with a 31-21 win over Kansas State, which halted a two-game losing streak. The Texas defense showed marked improvement after a pair of dismal outings and Johnathan Gray had 141 yards rushing and a pair of TDs.
"There is (less tension), but there's still that sense of urgency," Texas lineman Mason Walters said. "We are where we want to be in conference right now. As we learned early in the season, anything can happen at any time."
The big question mark for the Longhorns will be at quarterback. Backup Case McCoy will start in place of David Ash, who is out with concussion-like symptoms.
McCoy has thrown for 330 yards and a touchdown on just 5.8 yards an attempt.