Mock Still Running Ahead Of The Pack

When you see a Texas quarterback running like hell this fall, it typically won't be because he is running for his life as in previous seasons. This year, when <B>Chance Mock </b>and <B>Vince Young </b>are on the move, it will be by design. Halfway through spring drills, the one thing that jumps out at you is the speed each QB brings to the playing field.

"We've always talked about making plays with our feet," head coach Mack Brown said. "These quarterbacks will have a better chance to make plays with their feet than a lot of the other quarterbacks in the country because of their speed."

All three quarterbacks, including Matt Nordgren, have been clocked at no worse than 4.7. Most of the new wrinkles in the offensive playbook -- from sprint options to quarterback draws to rollout passes -- are geared toward exploiting the kind of jet fuel that Brown has not had behind center in his six years at the Forty Acres.

"Chance and Vince are really fast, so what it does is it gives you an extra back in the backfield," Brown said. "We're not going to use any of them as a back very much, but people usually don't have a defensive player responsible for the quarterback. There were times last year when the quarterback draw, or a scrambling quarterback, hurt our defense. It also gives you another dimension in your offense where a broken play becomes a really good play."

Young has been compared to Atlanta Falcon QB Michael Vick even before he stepped off the team shuttle bus at Frank Denius Field. Mock, meanwhile, reminds me of Green Bay's Brett Favre in both style and stature. At times this month, I've seen the rifled-armed Mock fling the pigskin with such accuracy and velocity that I wonder in what situation Young will set foot on the field. Mock's throws are typically on the money, but you can't help but wonder if some of B.J. Johnson's drops have left him longing for the softer-touch days of Major Applewhite.

Young, meanwhile, is like a 6-5 Eric Metcalf in the open field. On a quarterback draw earlier this week, Young dashed ten yards before a defender could make a swipe at him, and then darted laterally like a gazelle, picking his spots until coaches blew the play dead. It's hard to imagine keeping that kind of speed and innate ability on the bench for any appreciable length of time. As far as Young's arm: let's just say he's shown he can launch it 60 yards on the run when his receiver has covered 50. For Young, it's still primarily about timing.

Nordgren is fast and confident. His tosses tend to be on the low side, so either the receiver makes the grab or risks his progeny.

With four practice days remaining before the March 29th Spring Game at DKR (12:30 p.m), it's evident why the fleet-of-foot Young has sprinted ahead of Nordgren on the depth chart (even though Brown said they are equally back-ups). It's also clear why Mock will enter the fall as the top field general.

"Right now Chance is way ahead of the other two quarterbacks because he's been around three years," Brown said. "We're excited about what Vince is doing and we're excited about Matt, but they just haven't had the number of reps that he's had. Right now, Chance is the guy."

Brown and Young remained huddled long after practice ended Tuesday. When inquiring minds wanted to know what to make of it, Brown said he simply was offering "words of encouragement."

"This place is a tough place to play quarterback," Brown said, "but it's a great place to play quarterback. When you pick up USA Today, and two of your quarterbacks who have never played are on the front (sports) page at the start of spring practice, you know it's a pretty important position here. But with that comes a lot of attention, and you've got to learn how to handle that attention. Thank goodness for them (three QBs), they were all very highly recruited and they had a lot of attention in high school and they handled the attention then."

The team will scrimmage 4 p.m., Thursday, at DKR.

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