Men At Work

By  | 

AUSTIN (AP) - The cranes tower over the Austin campus skyline
and the north end zone for Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium
looks, well, like an unfinished construction zone.
The stadium even got smaller - reduced by about 5,000 seats -
because of the project to refurbish the north end of the stadium.
But Texas officials say once it's done, the home of the number
four Texas Longhorns will be bigger and better than ever in time
for the 2008 season.
UT opens the 2007 season Saturday night against Arkansas State.
Construction crews began demolishing the old end zone horseshoe
in December.
The new structure moves the seats about 30 yards closer to the
action, wiping out the large green space between the field and the
stands.
Eventually, the north end zone will get an upper deck and 47 new
luxury suites, all of which have already been purchased, Texas
Athletic Director DeLoss Dodds said.
The changes dropped stadium capacity from almost 85,000 to about
80,000 this season.
Dodds says season ticket holders who lost their seats will be
first in line for renewal.
Once completed, capacity could approach 96,000.
It's part of a 176 million dollar improvement project, with
about 35 million coming from donations and the rested financed with
30-year bonds.
Coach Mack Brown says: "It looks beautiful."
---
CHILES CHALLENGE: If anyone knows the value of a backup QB, it's
Texas.
UT fell out of the national championship and Big 12 races last
season when starter Colt McCoy got hurt against Kansas State and
didn't play well when he returned too soon against Texas A&M.
And Jevan Snead, who was Number 2 last season, has transferred
to Mississippi, leaving Texas painfully thin at the position if
McCoy gets hurt again.
Thrust into the backup role this season is freshman John Chiles,
who moved up a notch when redshirt freshman Sherrod Harris was
injured in preseason.
Brown said he's scheduling a rotation to get Chiles into the
game. But if it turns into a rout expect Chiles to seem some
action.
---
FLOWER POWER: Football is a tough guy's game, so expect to the
Longhorns to take some ribbing over the newest decoration on their
uniform: a 1-inch decal of Texas bluebonnets.
The decal will be worn on the back of the helmet this season as
a tribute to former first lady Lady Bird Johnson. She died July
11th.
Lady Bird was 94.
The Texas graduate was known for her love of wildflowers and
beautification efforts across the country.
The idea for the bluebonnet decals came from Longhorns equipment
manager Chip Robertson.
The Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library is located on the
Texas campus, a short walk from Royal-Memorial Stadium.
---
LOKEY'S RETURN: Defensive tackle Derek Lokey will be back on the
field for the first time since breaking his leg against Nebraska
last October.
While the pain is gone, Lokey is still carrying a metal plate
and 10 screws doctors inserted.
---
KICKER'S REWARD: Ryan Bailey, a walk-on kicker who took over the
starting field goal duties with his game winner over Nebraska last
season, has been put on scholarship.
Bailey had never kicked in a game before he was forced into duty
late in the game against the Cornhuskers. He was 6-of-6 on field
goals last season.
---
QUOTABLE: "I just tell (the younger guys) that there will be
nothing like the first time they walk out there. I just tell them
that when they run through the tunnel and run through the smoke,
they just have to handle the emotions because they still have to go
out there and play." - Sophomore QB Colt McCoy, whose second pass
in his first game in 2006 was a 60-yard touchdown.