Baylor Game Turning Point

<B>turning point</B> - <I>n.</I> The point at which a very significant change occurs; a decisive moment.

This game was a given. Everyone knew Texas would come out of this weekend with a victory over the Bears and a 4-0 record heading into the biggest game of the season against you know who. All that remained undecided was the final score.

After the first quarter, the blowout that most expected didn’t look as probable as the Longhorns led only by a touchdown, 14-7. That by itself had to be somewhat disconcerting to the Texas players, coaches and the 82,626 fans in attendance. The fact that Baylor had any points on the board in the first quarter, or any quarter for that matter, was stunning considering the Baylor offense had been shut out each of the last two seasons by the Texas defense.

All the thoughts, delusional at that, of a possible Baylor win were officially snuffed out early in the second quarter. Following the Baylor touchdown late in the first quarter, the Horns took possession of the ball and started at their own 30. On first down, Texas ran the zone read. Quarterback Vince Young took the snap and faked the handoff to Cedric Benson who was cutting across to the left. At that point, the fleet-footed Young was off to the races. If not for one Baylor defender and the sideline, Young would have had a one-play answer to the Baylor score. Instead, Young finished the play 47 yards later at the Baylor 23.

After a Benson run for no gain, a rarity; a procedure penalty, something that has happened too often this season; a completion to Tony Jeffery, Young’s main target at wide receiver; and the conclusion of the first quarter; Texas lined up for the first play of the second quarter at the Baylor 23.

What happened next to conclude the four-play drive was what might be remembered as not only the turning point of the game as Texas quickly answered Baylor, but the turning point of the season for the Texas passing game.

Young dropped back to the 30, set his feet and lofted a nice pass to a streaking Tony Jeffery who had beaten the Baylor coverage down the right sideline. Jeffery caught the ball at the 3-yard line and scurried into the end zone for the first TD reception by a receiver this season. Dusty Mangum converted the PAT and the Horns led 21-7 with just a few seconds gone in the second quarter.

On the next Baylor possession, the Texas defense shut down the Bear offense and forced a three-and-out, confirming that the drive and touchdown on the previous possession for the Bears was just an aberration. The Longhorn special teams unit stepped up big again for the second time in as many quarters as Michael Griffin blocked the punt by the nation’s second best punter, Daniel Sepulveda, that caromed through the back of the end zone and gave Texas a commanding 23-7 lead.

The defensive stand was solid as it dispelled any thoughts that the Baylor offense would score with any regularity. The punt block and safety were also important as they showed the Texas special teams can also manufacture a few points. But the offensive possession just prior that concluded with the first touchdown pass of the season to a wide receiver just might be the confidence the Texas offense, and more specifically, Vince Young and the young receiving corps needs to become a factor in the next huge game against OU and for the remainder of the season.

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