In-Vince-Able: QB Young Sparkles In Scrimmage

Imagine a taller, stronger <B>Roy Williams </B>lined up behind center. Imagine the &#145;Eureka!&#146; when the redshirt-freshman QB with unlimited potential reaches a comfort level with the offense. Imagine what the future holds for one <B>Vince Young</B>. For now, let&#146;s just savor what the dazzling youngster accomplished at Saturday&#146;s scrimmage at DKR.

It was simply Young’s best day in a Longhorn uniform. Oh, and starting QB Chance Mock wasn’t half-bad either. But while it took the first team offense a while to get rolling, Young brought the couple of thousand on hand for the annual Fan Appreciation Day to their feet with his dazzling display during his second series.

Just as Mock demonstrated on two successive plays Wednesday how he could beat you with both his arm and his feet, so Young followed suit when faced Saturday with a 3rd-and-9 from his own 40. Vince rolled right, avoided heavy pressure, and then hit a streaking WR Brian Carter on the money 19 yards down field (in front of senior CB Nathan Vasher, no less).

But then, Whoa Nellie!, Young finally showed the appreciative crowd what they had waited two years to see. On an option left, Young held on to the ball, cut up field, found a crease and then it was off to the races with his gazelle-like moves to the tune of a 40-yard TD sprint.

Two series later, Young turned a pair of quarterback keeps into 16 yards on successive plays: 5-yards to the left against Kalen Thornton and then 11 yards to the left against Marco Martin. If Young has an Achilles heal (other than the obvious learning curve), he suffers from an occasional bout of Simms-itis where he forces the pass trying to make something happen (occasionally just throwing the ball up for grabs in the general vicinity of the intended receiver). After moving the team to the 36-yard line on his keepers, SS Michael Huff deflected Young’s pass into the waiting arms of CB Cedric Griffin, who took it to the house on a 42-yard TD return.

Young finished the day with 4-ofo-9 passing for 35 yards. His numbers would have improved considerably had not a 51-yard completion to walk-on WR Eric Enard (the ‘Rudy’ of the 2003 Longhorns) been called back because of penalty. Young was so stoked, at this point, that he began to work the crowd at midfield, literally performing what appeared to be a series of jumping jacks, in the midst of the defense.

It’s a considerable bonus any time a QB ends up in the stat sheet with positive rushing yards. Saturday, Young was Texas’ leading rusher with 76 yards on just four carries. (Can you live with a 19-yard average?)

Granted, proven studs like RB Cedric Benson (who ran with bone-jarring authority) weren’t going to get the carries in a scrimmage intended primarily to evaluate younger performers. Benson had 51 yards on four carries, but his best of show was his 36-yard burst up the middle from the 35 on a delayed handoff. It was just a preview of things to come, Benson promised.

"I feel like the offense is 100 percent better, and so is the running game," he said. "We’re all coming together as one and making it happen. Everything you put in a pot all starts to stir together. It’s all coming together, and everything is starting to fall into place."

Defensively, coaches were focusing on defensive ends. LDE Bryan Pickryl continues to hold his own in Cory Redding’s old spot. On the opening series, the sophomore threw RB Selvin Young for a one-yard loss on a delayed draw.

Huff showed signs of shaking off the rust of a weeklong knee injury when he held FL B. J. Johnson to just a 2-yard gain on a screen during the first team O’s first play from scrimmage. Huff started all 13 games last year as a RS-freshman.

Remember this name: Aaron Ross. The true freshman DB gets better with each passing day, and with each passing down for that matter. One series stands out: on 1st-and-15 from the 27, Mock’s completion to Roy Williams (yes, Roy Williams) resulted in an 8-yard loss when Ross snuffed out the play-action screen. Two plays later, Ross was credited with a PBU when he swatted away a Mock pass intended for FL Sloan Thomas. Friends, this is a kid who’s never played a down at Texas, and he’s out there disrupting Texas’ superlative receiving corps on a series when coaches were wanting to give Mock (spotty up to that point) an opportunity to end the scrimmage on a positive note.

Mock started the morning slowly, hitting two of his first six in which several balls sailed high on him. But then the junior finished strong, connecting on 9 of his next 11 to finish with 89 yards and one TD. For Mock, it wasn’t a matter of settling down but rather, "I just got pissed off. Or, ticked off, maybe I should say."

We won’t mince words because this is the exciting part: rather than allowing mistakes to snowball into a deteriorating performance, Mock is able to harness the frustration, channel it toward increased focus and determination, and the result is a heightened level of play. Roy Williams confirmed earlier this year what many of us already knew about the otherwise multi-talented and supremely classy Chris Simms -- Simms was a perfectionist who just could not let go of a bad play. The former QB would be haunted for days, for example, by a bad throw in a previous practice. Not so with the slightly less heralded but gritty Mock.

"Everything started coming together on that last drive," said Mock, who iced his throwing hand for the final few minutes of Saturday's scrimmage after jamming a finger on a follow through. "I completed most of my attempts and drove down the field quite easily. I was starting to get in the groove, and then the scrimmage was over. We just have to learn to get it into gear quicker."

On his final series, Mock engineered a 5-play, 69-yard drive (against a hybrid of second- and third-teamers) that was highlighted by a 36-yard completion to freshman and future stud WR Limas Sweed. The drive culminated with a 15-yard scoring toss to WR Tony Jeffery. On this drive, Mock did an excellent job of looking off the primary receiver and finding the open man.

The scrimmage concluded with RB Albert Hardy’s 21-yard TD run up the middle.

One other cool thing, on several occasions Benson ran out on the field to encourage the younger running backs.

"I think we can play any team at this point in their (preseason) camp and come out and dominate," Benson said.

One More Time

For the second consecutive scrimmage, Phillip Geiggar dazzled the crowd with his opening kickoff return. On Saturday, the junior gathered the ball the six and scooted down the left sideline (along the east side student section) before being tripped up 61 yards later. He took it the distance (95 yards) during Wednesday’s scrimmage.

On the whole, it was a good day for Texas’ kickers. Starting punter Taylor Landin averaged 40.5 yards on two kicks, including a 51-yarder, while PK Richmond McGee tried his hand at punting and responded with a 45-yarder. Justin Smith, the only scholarship special teams player, averaged 37 yards on two punts. Smith has the leg but is a model of inconsistency. He contributed a 47-yarder on the second team O’s opening drive but later put up a wounded duck that fluttered for all of 27 yards. Junior Dusty Mangum was true from 21 yards out on his only FG attempt while David Pino connected on both of his PATs.

The team will be off Sunday, the first break since preseason began August 7, and will return Monday for a two-a-day (7:15 a.m., 7:15 p.m.).

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