Young's Gun, Pass Rush Key Rout

Just a passing thought, but QB <B>Vince Young&#146;s </B>ability to elevate his passing game while the defense&#146;s knack for disrupting Oklahoma State&#146;s air assault made most of the difference in Texas&#146; 55-16 shellacking of Oklahoma State. We already knew Vince could carry the mail but his complementary 9-of-13 for 195 yards including one TD and no INT was exactly what head coach <B>Mack Brown </B>was looking for from the freshman phenom.

"I think Vince threw the ball much better in this game than I’ve seen him throw it, or definitely better than I saw him throw it last week." Brown said during Sunday‘s teleconference. "When we have the ability to run and throw, right now we’re pretty explosive."

Earlier last week, Brown referenced Texas’ 13-of-27 for 131 yards and three INT showing against Nebraska as "not good enough". Young, apparently, took the challenge personally and turned in his most complete game in his fourth start, including that magnificent 67-yard TD strike to SE Roy Williams just before intermission.

"We took the momentum back the last five minutes of the first half and then dominated the third quarter," Brown said.

The TD toss to Roy "was perfect", Brown added, and the throw across the middle to TE Bo Scaife "went right between two defenders, and he got hit hard and knocked down by a blitzing linebacker right after he let the ball go. I thought all of his throws were special throws."

But arguably Young’s best play of the night was one that never showed up in the stat sheet. Brown was particularly impressed with the completion to FL Tony Jeffery nullified after officials ruled Young had crossed the line of scrimmage.

"He was really close to the line, he was barely over," Brown said. "That was such an awareness play. That’s a sack by most players, and he stepped up, and then stepped to his right and then finds the open receiver, so he’s doing a much better job of feeling the pressure and keeping his eyes downfield because he’s such a running threat. When he gets so he can do both out of the pocket, it’s really going to cause problems."

At the same time, the defense was finally able to consistently harass QB Josh Fields after intermission.

"We got more pressure on the quarterback in the second half and Josh didn’t get to hold the ball as much," Brown said. "When you get to the quarterback and you hit him, and you hit him, and you hit him, it’s tougher for him to play in the fourth quarter than it is the first."

The defense recorded two sacks and twelve QB pressures.

"I thought one of the keys was (DE) Kalen Thornton’s sack in the second half," Brown said. "It sent a message that we were going to come after them. (MLB) Aaron Harris put some pressure on them (note: that’s putting it mildly. Harris laid one of his patented wicked hits on Fields midway through third quarter) and then (DT) Rodrique Wright had a sack and the guys just started getting around (Fields) and making him get rid of the ball more and throw the ball before they were ready to make their breaks down field."

Fields finished 11-of 31 for 149 yards and two INT, including CB Nathan Vasher’s pick on the Cowboy’s second offensive series. The play set up FB Will Matthews2-yard TD plunge. More important, Vasher blanketed WR Rashaun Woods all night, limiting the Big 12’s leading receiver to just 43 yards on four catches.

"I’ve never seen Nathan Vasher play better," Brown said. "The interception early (on OSU’s second possession) turned the momentum of the game back in our favor. Rashaun Woods is going to make his plays, but I thought Nathan played him as well as anyone possibly can in man coverage, and we did a good job in zone."

Brown praised the O-line for protecting Young against "a sack team that brings pressure." He said the line gave up no sacks against the Cowboys.

Although backup QB Chance Mock only saw action during one first-half series, Texas will continue to use both quarterbacks.

"He can run those same plays that Vince is running," Brown said, "It’s just that no one in America is going to look like Vince running them. The guy is just a phenomenal athlete with the ball in his hands."

Brown was asked why it is that his teams seem to play their best following a loss to Oklahoma, and this was his response:

"I’ve been accused of being a guy that hasn’t been tough. Number one, if you’re not tough you can’t keep this job because it’s a hard job. Number two, I’ve been accused of being too sensitive. If you’re really sensitive, you couldn’t stay after losing to Oklahoma. The thing we’ve done the best job of is that we haven’t worried about the critics. We’ve gone back to work. And our players have enough toughness and strength and character that they don’t sit and listen to all the negative things. They try to work on the things that we are doing well and be positive. I am not a guy that will sit and listen to everything that’s said and start changing philosophies. We’re going to do what we feel like is best and, at the same time, I’m not stubborn enough to where if something is not working, we’ll go fix it. I really believe those are the key elements that we have after a tough loss."

I include this because, for a guy who insists he’s not concerned about the ‘toughness’ issue, Brown tends to interject the topic even when it is (at best) peripheral to the question being asked. (It’s sort of like when fat, bald guys keep insisting that it really doesn’t bother them that they are fat, bald guys.) To his credit, Brown does not allow his team to crater following a disappointment and has not lost consecutive games in four seasons. It’s just the team has cratered in the highest profile games of the season (four Oklahoma games, 2001 Big 12 Championship game, and last season when a win at Texas Tech would have led to a shot at the league title).

Regardless, the Horns are surging and may not even be close to peaking. And BCS officials continue to take note.

Texas last home game of 2003 is set for 6 p.m. (CST) Saturday (Fox Sports Net broadcast).

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