How about Arkansas?
For a team that refused to talk about the Hogs shortly after the 38-28 shocker, Texas players Saturday repeatedly referenced the upset loss as the cold slap in the face that has aroused a sleeping giant. In fact, SE Roy Williams (84 yards on 4 catches, 2 TD) referenced it on more than one occasion during the post-game press conference at DKR.
"The loss was a wakeup call for us," he said. "We cant lose no more. When you want to win, you have to put the points on the board and thats what were going to do."
Then, a few minutes later, Williams said: "Again, back to that Arkansas game. It really woke us up. I learned that this team could respond to the challenge that I put on them and that the coaches put on."
I honestly dont know what challenge Texas coaches issued two weeks ago, but nothing compares to Williams' statement that the Horns will run the table the rest of the season. His words echoed in third-team RB Brett Robins helmet as he was Texas leading rusher (87 yards on 15 totes). RB Cedric Benson was not far off the pace with 86 yards on 18 carries and three TD).
"When Roy challenged us to put our necks out and run the table, we had to back him up," Robin said, after subbing for the injured Selvin Young (groin). "We have a whole new attitude. Its too bad that it took a loss to get us to that point, but were turning it into a positive."
Quick: whens the last time youve seen Texas rush for more than 300 yards in two consecutive games? (Does the name Ricky Williams, who took in the game on the Longhorn sideline, ring a bell?) Texas generated 302 yards on the ground (52 attempts) on the heels of 322 rushing yards at Rice. So, is Texas that improved or these two teams that pitiful?
"Theyve got a lot of pride and they went back to work after the loss to Arkansas," head coach Mack Brown said. "The last two weeks, they havent taken anything for granted We dominated both teams, which we were supposed to. This gives us a lot of confidence coming into next week."
Junior Chance Mock entered the game as the NCAAs third-ranked QB in passing efficiency and did nothing to hurt his numbers with a 10-of-16 showing for 145 yards, and 4 TDs (3 passing, 1 rushing). As for QB Vince Young: get his autograph while you can. The stat sheet does not do justice to the magic this future phenom brings to the field. For the record, Young brought 68 yards passing (4-of-7 and 1 TD) and 69 yards rushing on three attempts (can you live with a 23 yards-per-carry?).
"Chance is playing at an extremely high level," offensive coordinator Greg Davis said.
And as for Vince?
"Vince comes in and brings another dimension because of his ability to get on the perimeter," Davis added. "I was pleased with his game tonight. When we started the season, we said we wanted to get him ready to play in the Big 12. I think weve accomplished that goal."
(Yeah, baby! Unleash this freak on OU!)
Give Tulane credit: they at least agreed to come back out after halftime and finish the game. Texas entered the contest as college footballs top-rated scoring offense (47.3 ppg) and exceeded its average by halftime (49). The first half offensive explosion was the biggest since the Horns reeled off 52 points against TCU in 1974. Texas would have scored on all eight first half possessions had not Benson fumbled at the Green Wave 16 with little more than two minutes remaining in the first quarter. It was so ugly that Texas had first-and-goal from the three before mercifully taking two delay of game penalties and then running the clock out. And the best part about the national TBS telecast is that former Sooner and current studio analyst Brian Bosworth had to watch it all.
The Tulane defense was as bad as advertised but props to Texas O-line for thoroughly dominating an opponent for the second consecutive week. Hey, last season Texas couldnt drive-block a snowman (which is to say, the line looked bad even against bad teams). Now, a re-focused Texas team has not allowed an inferior opponent (with quick strike capability) to hang around and make things interesting for the haters watching at home.
Texas top-ranked pass defense gave up 186 yards to Tulanes No. 8 passing offense, but that was still 150 yards below the Green Wave's average and nearly half of that total came on a 77-yard completion to WR Roydell Williams (129 yards on five catches and 1 TD). Tulane QB J. P. Losman, who entered the game as the national leader in both total yardage and TD passes, was harassed most of the evening en route to a 13-of-29 performance, including two INT and one fumble. Tulane RB Mewelde Moore was the games leading rusher with 114 yards on 21 carries.
WLB Derrick Johnsons two thefts were the eighth of his career, tying him with the immortal Tommy Nobis for second place on Texas all-time list for interceptions by a linebacker.
"His goal is to get two interceptions every game," defensive coordinator Carl Reese joked. "Hes fallen short a couple of games."
Texas did not punt until its opening series of the second half. After Richmond McGee averaged 49 yards on two punts, I asked Brown what the junior had for breakfast.
"I dont know, but whatever it was I wish he would have it more often," Brown said. "I thought his kicking was the difference in the ball game."
Well, maybe not the difference. But when McGee rocketed his fourth kickoff to back of end zone, Tulane coaches could understandably have insisted on a urine test.
The tight ends finally got involved in the passing game as both Bo Scaife and David Thomas came up with their first TD grabs of the season. Scaife finished with 24 yards on two catches while Thomas three grabs were good for 27 yards.
After the defense forced a three-and-out on Tulanes opening possession, Mock engineered a 9-play, 59-yard scoring drive on Texas opening possession. The deep handoff to Robin out of the shotgun has not only been one of Texas most consistently successful offensive plays the past couple of games but it set up Youngs 60-yard run on third offensive series. The play sparked the offense on the opening series as, on second down, Robin rushed over left end for 17 yards to the Tulane 42. Mock would have made Houdini jealous with the escape-ability demonstrated after eluding the grasp of DE Craig Morris at the Tulane 30 to complete a 15-yard sideline pass to Thomas. Mock capped the drive with a 1-yard sneak, his first rushing TD of the season.
DT Rodrique Wright forced a Losman fumble that Johnson recovered at the Green Wave 13. On second down, Mock found Williams in the right flat. Roys spin move at the 7 would have qualified him for the Temptations as he carried it in for the score.
Tulanes lone first-half bright spot came on its next possession when, on 3rd-and-13 from the 17, Losman hooked up with favorite receiver Roydell Williams for 77 yards over CB Cedric Griffin (evoking bad memories of the 3rd-and-forever completion that he and SS Michael Huff gave up against Arkansas). When Moore carried it in from 6, the TD broke a four-game scoring drought against Texas as Tulane fans (both of them) went nuts. DT Marcus Tubbs blocked the PAT attempt to make it 14-6 with 7:47 left in the first. (DT Stevie Lee would later block another PAT attempt when the Horns led 63-18 in the fourth quarter).
Just like the Rice game, Young and the second-team offensive line checked in during Texas third offensive series -- and the result was the same: a scoring drive. The defense bit on Youngs inside fake as his QB draw netted 60 yards down the right sideline to the Tulane 9. On third down, Young faked the dive play before tossing the first TD pass of his career to Thomas. At this juncture, Young had directed six TD drives in his first 8 series, as Texas led 21-6.
After Benson fumbled, Mock orchestrated a 5-play, 63-yard drive highlighted by: Robins 21-yard rush over right end (the longest of his career), Mocks 34-yard screen pass to SE Sloan Thomas and the 11-yard flag pass to give Scaife his first scoring reception of the season.
With Texas leading 28-6, its almost cruel to send Young back in at QB. The wunderkind can beat you with his hands (a perfectly placed 27-yard sideline pass to FL B. J. Johnson) and with his feet (there are at least three jock straps still left on the field following Youngs 13-yard, shake-and-bake, run-scoring QB draw. The 66-yard, 8-play drive made it 35-6.
"We jumped out on them so quickly they kind of went into shell shock," Brown said.
Johnsons second interception of the year set up Texas at the Tulane 29. From there, Mock handed the ball once to FB Will Matthews and five times to Benson, who carried it over from the one to make it a 42-7 laugher with 3:27 remaining until intermission. But Texas wasnt done.
CB/PR Nathan Vasher 22-yard return spotted Texas at the Tulane 45 to set up the Roy Williams drive: a 19-yard screen pass on first down and then a second down flag pass to score from 26 yards out.
Credit Tulane for not abandoning their running game despite the lopsided margin. The Wave answered in the third quarter with a 7-play, 80-yard drive to make it 49-12 with 7:09 remaining. A pair of personal foul penalties sustained the drive as Williams gathered in a diving 15-yard TD catch over Vasher. Losmans pass attempt on the two-point conversion fell incomplete.
Texas immediately answered with a 9-play, 70-yard scoring drive set up by Youngs sideline pass to Williams for 26 yards. (Defenders are draped all over Roy, one holding on to his ankle while hes twisting for extra yards and youre thinking: with a 37-point lead, get him out of the game!) Bensons five-yard run over right tackle made it 56-12 with 3:37 left in the third quarter.
D.J. came up big again, intercepting Losmans pass at the Tulane 28 and returning it 27 yards. Two plays later, Benson carried it in and K David Pino added the PAT to complete Texas scoring.
Against a Texas defense that was a mix of first and second teamers, Tulane added one more score with 12:28 remaining as Moore broke about 17 tackles in carrying it in from 32 yards out.
LB Marcus Myers left the game in the second quarter after reportedly injuring his left knee.
With the win, Texas upped its record to 3-1 and enters that critical stretch where it faces No. 16 Kansas State, 2:30 p.m., at DKR (ABC-Sports) followed by that little diversion at the Cotton Bowl on Oct. 11.