Vince Young Or Cedric Benson: Pick Your Poison

During Texas&#146; pre-conference slate, <B>Mack Brown&#146;s </B>quarterback tandem was dubbed the two-headed monster. What has emerged in the wake of Texas&#146; 31-7 dismantling of the Children of the Corn this past Halloween weekend is that the real two-headed monster is QB <B>Vince Young </B>and RB <B>Cedric Benson</B>.

Saturday’s contest marked the first time in school history that two players rushed for more than 150 yards. Benson gorged the heart of the Husker defense with a season-best 174 yards on 28 carries (6.2 average) while Young literally glided for 163 on 14 attempts (11.6 ypc). The output came against (statistically) the Big 12’s best run defense (NCAA No. 4) that entered the game yielding but 97 yards per contest.

"We clearly ran the ball well and I wish we had thrown it a little better," Brown said during Sunday‘s teleconference, "but we need to make sure the same team that showed up yesterday shows up Saturday in Stillwater."

While Brown gushes over his offensive line (and there is noted improvement) the argument here is that Young is largely responsible for opening up the lanes for Benson. After Young earned his first start against Iowa State, Benson responded with what was then a season-best 140 yards on 32 carries. Part of the result Saturday was 10 explosive plays (runs of 12-plus yards and completions of 14-plus yards) to Nebraska’s five.

Most of Texas’ real estate came off counter plays and zone reads. Young has been running the zone read out the shotgun as if he invented it, while the quarterback counter was a little something coaches added after watching film of Missouri’s win over Nebraska earlier this month.

"It (offense) is a work in progress and we’re doing it on the run," Brown said. "We add a little something here and a little something there because of what they do to stop us. Nebraska’s answer in the third quarter was to blitz everybody on the outside in to try to take our running gaps away and keep Vince from being able to run. That’s when our offensive coaches did a great job of adjusting and getting the ball more in Cedric’s hands. He hit the creases inside to hurt the defense that was set up to stop Vince."

Young did most of the damage in the first half while Benson picked up most of his totals following intermission. Part of the reason for Benson’ improved numbers is that he is getting the ball more in games that are more competitive than some of the early season blowouts.

"He’s a guy that needs the ball a lot," Brown said. "He’s better in the fourth quarter then he is in the first which most backs are that are strong. He’s not the 4.3 guy who’s going to take the 80-yard run and not be physical. He’s the guy that makes a lot of yards after contact. In the two games we lost, we were behind so much the whole game we were not able to establish our running game with him like we wanted to. And some of the other games have been such blowouts he didn’t play in the fourth quarter. I think his trademark, and what he likes the best, is taking over a game in the fourth quarter. We’ve got three more games that, if we play well, they’re going to come down to fourth quarter games."

Benson raised some eyebrows when he referred to the Nebraska contest as a "graveyard game." The reference is to a Longhorn locker room tradition of noting key wins over Top 10 teams. Nebraska entered Saturday’s game ranked No. 9 in both the coaches poll and in the BCS ratings.

"Any time we have won a game of that magnitude," Brown explained, "that game goes up on the wall in the dressing room with a tombstone and it has the date of the game so that those players who come back from years in the past can walk in there and see that was a great game, we played a great team, we played a team that was rated higher than we were, and we won. So, they put a little tombstone there. It’s very much like Florida State taking the grass back home from an opposing field. A lot of people do different things like that, but that was done at Texas before I got here. I’m not sure who started it but I thought it was a great idea."

Now if only coaches can find a way to get the ball into SE Roy Williams hands despite double coverage and the new emphasis on running. Last year, Williams was the difference against Nebraska but had just 35 yards on five grabs. The Legend has not eclipsed the century mark since the Arkansas game.


Several publications, including Longhorn statisticians, credited LDE Tim Crowder with blocking a Nebraska punt in the second quarter while Inside Texas attributed the block to MLB Brian Robison. Brown clarified things Sunday:

"Crowder got the credit but Robison was the one who blocked it," Brown said.

More important, the blocked FG attempt, along with a partially blocked punt and the taking over on downs at the Nebraska 10 following a mishandled deep snap, offset three Longhorn turnovers and helped give Texas an average starting field position at their own 38-yard line.

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