"I think its always hard to prepare for two if theyre a little different," Brown said. "In their case, theyre a little different and in our case theyre a little different. I do think its a problem, defensively. Reggie has played really well and ran a 10.5 100-meters in high school, and Dustin has such a great arm. Hes so accurate. He can move well but its just compared to a 10.5 100-meters, people dont talk about his movement."
One half of UT's QB combo, Vince Young, it seems, is more concerned with the Twelfth Man than whoever lines up behind center for Texas A&M come 2:30 p.m., Nov. 28. Part of the pre-game preparation this week is additional work on hand-signals to help compensate for the 80,000-plus screaming, swaying Aggies at Kyle Field.
"Theyll try to get loud and mess us up with our audibles," Young said. "Coaches told me it was going to be real loud so speak real loud so everybody can hear you. Once we take them out of the game, well be all right."
Young first met McNeal in late fall, 2001, halfway between Houston and Lufkin during a Houston Chronicle photo shoot highlighting two of the nations top quarterback talents emerging from the same region.
"Ever since then weve been good friends," Young said, adding that McNeal came to DKR last September to watch Texas play Tulane.
Texas recruited both McNeal and Long but, of course, signed high school All-Americans Chance Mock and Young out of the Houston area.
"Reggie wanted to go to A&M and Vince wanted to come to Texas," Brown said, "and it was a deal where our staff and R.C. (Slocums) staff said to both of them, We like you. And they picked more than we did. Youre lucky if you get one (QB) per year, but youre sure not going to get two."
Reggie committed first while Vince gave his verbal to Texas in December, 2001. McNeal played sporadically throughout his freshman year and, of course, engineered the improbable upset of Oklahoma in College Station last season. He was injured during an overtime home loss to Missouri the following weekend and did not suit-up for Texas 50-20 route of the Aggies at DKR. Last week, Long played the entire second half against the Tigers as the Aggies fell for the seventh time this season.
Save for that upset win over Oklahoma last season, there have been few bright spots as of late for the Aggies, who now have combined for a 10-13 mark in 2002 and 2003. Texas, meanwhile, is poised for a third straight Top 6 finish and the first BCS Bowl berth during Browns tenure. No small part of that is Texas has a pair of quarterbacks talented enough to start for virtually any school in the nation and who each have orchestrated fourth-quarter, game-winning TD drives.
"Weve gotten back in a position to where we were with Major (Applewhite) and Chris (Simms) in that its so comfortable for our staff and our tam that we know if one of them struggles the other one can come in," Brown said. "We lost (to A&M) in 1999 when Major got sick and Chris was a true freshman, and it scares you to death as a coach that you would ever put your job on the line, or a game on the line, for the health or the performance of one player. I always felt like it was unfair to the team, so youve got to have two ready. Even if you dont rotate them you have to have two ready."