In a game where nearly everybody played but RB Cedric Benson, Texas especially needed its young defensive ends to continue to get quality snaps at the seriously thinned position. Sophomore RDE Mike Williams forced a fumble that led to Texas first score and then completed the onslaught with his 30-yard TD return of QB Aaron Karas fumble late in the fourth. The plays provided the apropos bookends for an outing that was never in doubt but saw explosive results from every phase.
These kind of blowouts against the Little Sisters of the Poor are a Mack Brown trademark in the best and worst sense of the word. There was a time when Texas would mail-in lackluster performances and play down to the level of woefully inferior teams, even to the point of allowing for an unthinkable upset. Browns teams come out focused, energized and go for the jugular against the weaklings on the blocks but then too often (with the exception of the Kansas State game) turn in inept performances in high profile games against formidable competition.
But that can change in a hurry. Now comes the fun part. There are no more gimmes on the Longhorn schedule. A Top 10 Nebraska team, hell-bent on revenge and leading the Big 12 North, visits DKR, 11 a.m. (Central) Saturday followed by Texas scariest road trip of the year to explosive Oklahoma State. But Saturdays blowout was a positive indicator that the Horns are determined to keep this train on track.
During its opening possession, Baylor was on the move following Karas 25-yard completion to WR Trent Shelton, setting up a first down at the Texas 39. But after Williams forced a Karas fumble, WLB Derrick Johnson gathered it up, rumbled downfield, and then lateraled to CB Nathan Vasher to combine for 44 yards on the return.
From the Bear 11, four Brett Robin carries (the first was a fumble on the exchange) resulted in all the points Texas would need at 7-0. In his first start, Robin rushed for 61 yards on 10 carries.
"I had unbelievable blocking," Robin said. "We only ran two different running plays all night."
On Texas next possession, head coach Mack Brown opted to go for it after a running into the kicker penalty following a Richmond McGee punt set up fourth inches from the Baylor 35. After QB Vince Young lunged for the first down, he found Sloan Thomas three plays later on a 17-yard curl route. A 16-yard Robin run on an option pitch followed by a 14-yard pass play to SE Roy Williams gave Texas a first down at the Baylor 18. Following an offsides penalty, Young connected with FL B.J. Johnson on a 12-yard toss before carrying it over from one yard out.
Texas led 14-0 with 3:51 remaining in the opening frame. The Horns overcame two holding penalties plus a botched officiating call robbing Williams of a 20-yard completion. The call sent Brown into a tirade, as he hurled his headset to the turf and was still whispering sweet nothings into the ears of the zebras two plays later.
MLB Aaron Harris' 7-yard QB sack at the Texas 42 snuffed out Baylors next drive, and Chance Mock checked in on Texas third possession. The result was a three-and-out and a 38-tard McGee punt into the stiff wind.
Behind Cedric Griffin's clearing block, Vasher returned Daniel Sepulvedas line-drive punt 53 yards to the Baylor 18. From a four-wide set, RB Selvin Young darted to the 2-yard line on a quick-hitter. From there, the Bears deftly defended the play action pass but could not contain an adlibbing Vince Young, who reversed field and carried it in from the two. The Horns led 21-0 with nearly five minutes eclipsed from the second quarter.
Young's two-yard touchdown run with 10:11 remaining in the second quarter was his eighth of the season. The touchdown tied him for second on the freshman rushing touchdowns list, passing Earl Campbell on the charts and leaving him two short of Benson's record of 10. Young led all rushers with 101 yards on just nine carries and completed 7-of-13 passes for 65 yards.
"Our chemistry is getting better and better," Young said. "I think we are able to improve every game. I had great blocking all night and was able to pick up some good yards."
Another successful fourth-and-inches conversion, this time from the Baylor 22 on a 3-yard Selvin Young rush, kept alive a 9-play, 48-yard scoring drive on Texas next series. The margin became 28-0 after Selvin carried it over from one yard out.
Mock checked back in with 2:53 remaining until intermission. After spreading the wealth to Johnson (13 yards), Sloan Thomas (9 yards) and Young (9 yards), Mock found Roy Williams, who stiff-armed LB Justin Crooks and raced 41 yards on a vintage TD reception.
"We just made a lot of mistakes and beat ourselves," Crooks said, after Texas eked out the 56-point win.
The 6-play, 76-yard drive took all of one minute off the scoreboard clock as Texas jumped to a 35-0 lead. Mock finished a crisp 11-of-15 for 158 yards.
After both teams exchanged punts to open the second half, Vince Youngs highlight reel 64-yard run to the Baylor one (replays showed that Young hit the pylon before going out of bounds) set up Robins second TD of the night to make it 42-0. Youngs scamper was the second longest run by a QB in Longhorn history while Robins score capped a 7-play, 78-yard drive.
Vasher collected his fifteenth career interception on Baylors next series, tying him for third all-time with Derrick Hatchett (1977-80) in the UT record book. The senior needs two more picks to equal Noble Doss school record set in 1941.
Texas last offensive scoring drive could be dubbed the David Thomas series. The tight end (someone must have alerted offensive coordinator Greg Davis that they were eligible receivers) first collected 23 yards on an out pass from Mock to the Bear 43. He capped the scoring drive with a 34-yard TD catch and run, with a diving-across-the-goalline finish. Backup PK David Pino added the PAT from nearly 25 yards out following a celebration penalty. The score stood at 49-0 just 35 seconds into the fourth quarter.
Williams 33 yard TD return of Karas fumble (and dive into the end zone) completed the rout at 56-0. Texas finished with 477 yards (248 rushing and 229 passing) while limiting Baylor to 260 total yards (91 rushing, 169 passing).
Meanwhile, the Longhorn defense forced nine punts, three turnovers and came up with seven sacks. MLB Aaron Harris improves each week and had three sacks on the night. The defense also held RB Rashad Armstrong, the Big 12s third-leading rusher, to 66 yards on 18 carries.
"When we play tough defense like we did today it makes it that much easier on the offense," Brown said.
With the win, Texas is 6-2 on the year and bowl eligible (for probably either the Holiday Bowl or Alamo Bowl, depending of course, on the results during its pivotal November stretch against the Huskers, Cowboys, Red Raiders and Aggies).