Big 12 Football Preview - Texas

A second consecutive race for the roses begins in Austin. How far can the strong arm and speed of Vince Young take the Longhorns?

Last season: 11-1 overall (7-1 Big 12). Iowa State and Texas did not meet

 

This season: Iowa State does not play Texas this year.

 

Key Returners – The Longhorns will return 13 starters.

 

Offense:

 

Seven starters return to last seasons Rose Bowl Champion, including Rose Bowl MVP Vince Young.

 

The junior quarterback has a strong arm and good foot speed. In his 24 games with Texas (19 as a starter) he has accumulated 3,004 passing yards and 18 touchdowns, while rushing for 2,077 yards and 21 touchdowns.

 

 "We know that Vince had a tremendous run at the end of the year, and after the Rose Bowl the first conversation I had with Vince he said, ‘Coach, I have got to improve some areas here, these are the areas I need to improve,' and basically he didn't want to throw bad passes to start a game," Mack said. "But he has a chance to be the winningest quarterback in Texas football history, and we are really excited about him going forward."

 

One team's loss is another's gain and with Cedric Benson joining the Chicago Bears in the NFL Draft, Texas is left with a huge hole at running back – at Texas Benson rushed for 5,540 yards and 64 touchdowns, including four consecutive 1,000 yard seasons.

 

The Longhorns hope that junior Selvin Young can fill some of the holes left by Benson. Sophomore Ramonce Taylor also may get a shot, he topped the running back depth chart throughout the spring, while Young was nursing an ankle injury he suffered last fall.

"Our guy in the past with Cedric had been Selvin Young," Mack said. "Vince has been around him a lot this summer. It sounds like he is 100 percent. He is on track. He is 220 pounds. He is really motivated. He was giving Cedric a run for his money for playing time two years ago before he got hurt. So you would have to think that he would be the lead candidate.

"Then you have some other guys. He has done it so far, and he has been there. I am really pulling for him to stay healthy and have a great year. Our coaches did a tremendous job last year of taking Vince in an inexperienced state without much confidence early, a really good offensive line that they are basically all back, two really good tight ends, and Jason Thomas and Bo Scaife and any receiver and figuring out what to do offensively to give us a chance to win will be a different offense this year."

Taylor is speed-burner; he has been clocked running a 40 yard dash under 4.3. Last season in limited action he rushed for 283 yards on 27 carries and one touchdown, an average of 10.5 yards per carry.

Defense:

Last year Texas had the third best total defense in the Big 12 and it looks as if defense will again be the strength of the Longhorns. Texas returns nine starters and will have a new defensive coordinator in Gene Chizik.

Defensive tackle Rod Wright has compiled 181 tackles and 13 sacks in his 37 games at Texas. He was a second team all-American selection by The Sporting News and was tabbed an all-American by Pro Football Weekly.

"Rod Wright is a young guy that started every game he has been at Texas that he has been healthy," Mack said. "[Offensive tackle] Jonathan [Scott] and Rod did not red-shirt, but Rod is a guy that played alongside of the best players that we have had in the defensive line, and he is ending up his career as one of the great ones to ever play at the University of Texas."

Also deep is Texas' secondary, lead by all-Big 12 safety Michael Huff. Joining Huff in the backfield is senior cornerback Cedric Griffin who led all defensive backs with 73 tackles last fall.

Gone is outside linebacker Derrick Johnson, who was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in the sixth round of the NFL draft. Senior Aaron Harris returns, he led the Longhorns in tackles a season ago with 118.

Special teams:

 

Former walk-on David Pino will enter fall drills as the Longhorns starting kicker. He has appeared in 17 career-games and is 3-of-4 on field goal attempts and 17-of-18 on PATs.

 

Competing at punter will be Greg Johnson and Richmond McGee.

 

Fast Fact:

 

Vince Young's first start came in Texas' seventh game of the 2003 season at Iowa State. Since that time he is 17-2 as a starter.

 

The Schedule:

 

9/3/05           vs.       Louisiana-Lafayette

9/10/05        @         Ohio State

9/17/05        vs.       Rice

10/1/05        @         Missouri

10/8/05        vs.       Oklahoma (in Dallas, Texas)

10/15/05      vs.       Colorado

10/22/05      vs.       Texas Tech

10/29/05      @         Oklahoma State

11/5/05        @         Baylor

11/12/05      vs.       Kansas

11/25/05      @         Texas A&M


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