Culpepper's Commentary: Texas-Texas Tech

He was standing near the entrance to Section 29 on the east side of DKR-Memorial Stadium. He had on a green rain slicker and was wearing a Longhorn baseball cap. Approximately four hours earlier directly across the stadium from where he stood, his son <B>Chance Mock</B> had gone to <B>Mack Brown</B> and told the UT head coach it would be best to leave <B>Vince Young</B> at quarterback on the third possession of the game because Young was playing well and the Tech D couldn't handle his speed.

Sometimes players can coach themselves.

In fact, Chance Mock has always been a competitor. Last season, when Brown and offensive coordinator Greg Davis had opportunities to put Chance into ballgames when the Longhorns were sitting on a lead, giving the then-junior QB needed experience, but declined to do so, Mock remained ready for his time to come.

It never did, at least until garbage time in blowouts.

"Chris Simms needs more work" was the reason given by his coaches in big wins vs. North Carolina, Houston, Tulane, Baylor and A&M. Unfortunately, their decision robbed Chance of the game-on-the-line experience he needed heading into this fall.

Before every game last fall, Mike Mock walked down the steps of Section 29 to watch his son in pre-game warm-ups. The times I observed him, Mike never spoke a word, but with each snap Chance took, he measured every step and every pass as if this was the game his son would show what was on the inside -- a winner.

As soon as Vince Young decided to go to Texas, Chance was leapfrogged in the minds of so many Texas fans. Pressure built on Chance before he ever got the opportunity to develop. By leaving him on the bench in '02, the Texas coaches denied Chance the opportunity to prove himself in the minds of his teammates and Longhorn fans.

So Saturday night, with 83,596 looking on and with Texas Tech, led by a one-legged quarterback and helped by two Texas turnovers, owning an amazing 40-35 lead with only 2:03 left to play, the Texas coaches again turned to Chance Mock in a game's waning minutes. But rather than mop-up duty, this time it was to save the Longhorns' season. The reason given was "Chance has had more experience in the two-minute drill" and this time few were upset that Chance was in the game. Vince Young had often misfired throwing alley oop passes, leading to two INTs, and his lack of experience in the passing game was showing in the critical fourth quarter.

For Chance, it was like a pinch hitter taking over with an 0-2 count on the batter: 2:03 on the clock, 86 yards of real estate to cover against a defense jacked up to save a miracle win, with nothing but a TD an option.

After a first-down incompletion, Chance threw a beautiful, arching 54-yard pass that Roy Williams snagged between two Tech defenders. He rifled a bullet to Tony Jeffery for 10 yards to the Tech 20. He scrambled for 11 yards and got out of bounds. And with 46 seconds left, he lofted a corner route pass to B.J. Johnson who made a stretching, both-arms-out catch in the end zone. He topped off the dramatic drive by successfully completing the crucial two-point conversion.

After the clock mercifully ticked to zero on Tech kicker Keith Toogood's errant game-tying field goal attempt, I walked over to the elder Mock, who was standing ramrod straight against the concrete wall near the entrance to Section 29, watching the Burnt Orange masses exit the stadium.

"Your son proved he was a winner to 83,000 tonight," I said.

Mock looked me right in the eyes -- this is a big man who was coached by linebacker coach Bill Parcells at Texas Tech -- and said, "Chance has always been a winner and he will never quit."

In seven unforgettable fourth quarter plays, Orangebloods understood what Mike Mock knew all along.

 

Prediction: On November 28, it will be Texas 48, A&M 17.

Pat Culpepper played for The University from 1960-62 and graduated from UT with a B.A. degree with honors in history. He coached college football for 12 years as an assistant at Texas, Colorado, Tulane, Baylor and Memphis State and was head coach at Northern Illinois from 1976-79. He also spent 16 years as a high school coach in Texas at Midland, Lufkin, Galveston Ball, Westfield and his hometown of Cleburne. He was selected to the Longhorn Hall of Honor in 1991. His commentary will appear regularly in the Inside Texas magazine and at InsideTexas.com.


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