His Big 'Chance': Mock Coolly Paces Offense

You can relax now. QB <B>Chance Mock </B>already has. Case-in-point: there were two consecutive plays on the first team O&#146;s opening possession in Wednesday&#146;s scrimmage at DKR that demonstrated not only Mock&#146;s comfort level with the offense but also the fact that Texas&#146; quarterback situation will be better in 2003 than it was last year. And the year before.

The bottom line is Mock can beat you with his arm and he can beat you with his feet. On first down from the 37, Mock scampered along the left sideline for 11 yards on a quarterback draw. It set up the longest completion of the afternoon: a 52-yard, on-the-money toss near the right sideline to FL B.J. Johnson.

"(Mock) feels very comfortable with where he’s at," offensive coordinator Greg Davis said. "When Chance was recruited, he was pointing toward this time. He knew that he was coming in with both Major (Applewhite) and Chris (Simms) here. To his credit, he knew he needed some time. He’s handled that extremely well, and he’s going to have an outstanding year for us."

The first team O’s opening drive (against the No. 2 defense) covered 87 yards in eight plays in which Mock was a perfect 3-for-3 and 62 yards. RB Cedric Benson rushed four times for 14 yards in the opening series before calling it a day. Overall, Mock was 5-of-9 passing for 108 yards and two TDs in the lightning-shortened scrimmage, including a 23-yard scoring toss to FL Sloan Thomas.

This, of course, was after SS Phillip Geiggar ran the opening kick-off for what would have been a 95-yard TD (although don't get too excited; it came against walk-ons who let up on the play after Geiggar was closed in on near the receiving team's 25). Geiggar may eventually surrender his first-team backfield position when starter Michael Huff returns from a first-day knee injury, but the junior has found a starting spot on deep return alongside sophomore speedster Selvin Young. Just as impressive was DE Bryan Pickryl’s bruising downfield block on kicker Richmond McGee that sprung Geiggar for the final 28 yards.

As always, Mock was quick to credit his teammates and defer attention away from himself.

"I thought the protection was really good today," he said. "The O-line is really gelling. We’ve seen a lot of blitzes over the past two days, and none of them have gotten to me."

Added Mock, "This is my fourth year here so I’m feeling really comfortable. How can you not with the receivers and the line and the running backs and tight ends that we’ve got? I’ve just got to get the ball to them."

Meanwhile, Texas has the best backup QB in the nation. (Then again, doesn’t Texas always have the best backup QB in the nation?) While RS-freshman Vince Young was just 1-of-3 for 20 yards (a throwback screen to TE/LT Neale Tweedie, the heralded signal caller highlighted his uncanny knack for making something out of nothing.

"Vince is way ahead of schedule," Davis said. "He’s an extremely bright guy and he’s studying hard. He’s getting better every day."

I mentioned in the August issue of the Inside Texas magazine that Young’s best play this season may be…the broken play. Consider this: on third-and-two from the 40, Pickryl batted back an option pitch intended for RB Brett Robin. But Young caught it in mid-air, reversed field for a 5-yard gain and a first down. The drive was essentially snuffed out two players later when sophomore DT Rodrique Wright, demonstrating his new-found speed, threw Young for an 8-yard loss.

Coaches, however, were focusing on backup positions on both the offensive and defensive lines. Probable starting C Will Allen, wearing a sling for his heavily wrapped lower right arm, was held out of contact while junior Jason Glynn, who started all 13 games last year, handled the snaps for the first team O. While senior FS Dakarai Pearson led all tacklers with five stops, freshman RDE Tim Crowder was next in line with four tackles, including one TFL when he stopped FL Tony Jeffery six-yards behind the LOS on a reverse. RS-freshman MLB Brian Robison, freshman MLB/WLB Scott Derry and freshman SS Michael Griffin were credited with three tackles a piece.

"We took out four or five (defensive lineman and backers) early because we‘re trying to develop more depth than we did last year, where we can play them in ball games and trust them," head coach Mack Brown said. "That became a real issue last year."

The only surprise, offensively, was that superlative TEs Bo Scaife and David Thomas did not catch a pass, particularly considering the emphasis on TE during the first week of preseason. Obviously, coaches already know that their TEs can do and focused on younger talent during the first scrimmage. Of note: Mock attempted to connect with Thomas but freshman CB Brandon Foster looked like a seasoned veteran with his eye-opening PBU.

Third-team QB Matt Nordgren was 2-of-3 for 30 yards, but got help from freshman WR Limas Sweed. The youngster gathered in a nicely tossed 22-yarder off play-action down the left sideline on the last drive of the day.

P Taylor Landin averaged 42.6 yards on three punts, including a 48-yarder on the opening series. Both Justin Smith and Richmond McGee added a 43-yarder.

Texas returns to Denius Field Thursday for just its second two-a-day of the preseason, 7:15 a.m. and 7:05 p.m.

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