Culpepper's Commentary: Texas-North Texas

Forget the stats. Forget the final score. The most important thing to come out of UT's season-opening win: this Texas Longhorn football team played with both relentless execution and passion.

It wasn't a "we took what North Texas gave us" kind of effort; it was a brutal whipping by a talented team that lined up on offense the way it did for six straight October and November Saturdays in 2003. The zone read, the misdirection pitch, passes to the very good Texas tight ends and even a nice screen pass! It was Mack Brown football at its best.

Much of the offensive success can be attributed to the guys up front. To put it in today's lingo, the Texas offensive linemen are "bad asses". Not since the wonderful wishbone days has the Longhorn front wall -- LT Jonathan Scott, LG Kasey Studdard, C Jason Glynn, RG Will Allen and RT Justin Blalock -- played with such fury. They moved their feet after making contact, which is the heart of run blocking. And the promise of Jonathan Scott may finally be reality. On two occasions I watched the junior knock defenders into the end zone. Several times he sprinted far downfield to throw blocks.

The receivers also blocked downfield. In this run-centric offense, Brown will put somebody in their place if they don't. Tony Jeffery's crack block was a symbol of the commitment to the team over the individual. No declarations by the Texas wideouts wanting more catches; they will take pride in blocking and running good routes.

And if there was any doubt, coaching does make a difference. The proof was in the play of the Texas defense. The Longhorn defenders not only ran to the ball with abandon but their fundamentals have changed for the better:

*I saw Derrick Johnson take on a lead blocker like a linebacker must do to create a wall so his teammates can pursue, limiting the running lane for the ball carrier. (And MLB Aaron Harris and Johnson were impact linebackers that by my count caused four fumbles because of their hits.)

*I saw the Texas secondary back pedal on the snap of the ball and break to make plays. The pass breakups were full speed affairs and the DBs came up to hit on the runs. Because of the zone coverage, the Texas secondary was in the game.

*Huge defensive tackle Stevie Lee forced the North Texas quarterback to pitch on the option and Tarell Brown from his cornerback position cut the pitch man in two. Teamwork is the core of great defense.

And with fiery Defensive Coordinator Greg Robinson on the field, nothing in his message will be lost in translation.

This is a fine football team that is set to have a great season.

Here are a few possible concerns:

1. Selvin Young is a work in progress. Cedric Benson ran like he did at Midland Lee High School but Young does not possess Benson's level of toughness -- yet. He has the speed but he needs to fight harder for those 3-4 yard gains. An injury to Benson would be devastating at this point.

2. The Texas defense will begin to see more than their share of 3-4 wideouts in an attempt to get the UT's play-making linebackers spread out. Also, expect opponents to employ reverses and rollback passes to slow what was a relentless Longhorn pursuit vs. the Mean Green.

3. Whatever triggered the emotion within the Texas football team must be captured and duplicated by the coaching staff. The weekly practice schedule must be studied.

This Texas team didn't need the crowd of 80,000-plus cheering them on -- they enjoyed hitting the other football team. This will be one of the keys to beating Arkansas in Fayetteville Saturday night in front of 72,000 howling Razorback fans. I think they will. Call it Texas 27, Arkansas 10.

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

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