Same Song, Different Verse: Passing Game M.I.A.

There were two things coach Mack Brown would not discuss during Sunday's teleconference: next week's game in Lubbock ("We're still putting Missouri to rest") and possible changes at QB ("I will not entertain any questions about personnel").

The deficiencies in the passing game are glaring, but Brown said QBs Vince Young and Chance Mock made some "really good plays" in Texas' 28-20 win over Missouri.

Brown singled out Young's reception on the 48-yard toss from RB Ramonce Taylor, as well as his 23-yard TD run to cap the drive.

"I thought his run out of the pocket was as good as I've ever seen," Brown said. "Both the quarterbacks made some plays. It's just evident that our passing game has been missing for two weeks in a row, and that's a concern. It's one that we've got to get fixed."

Young was 3-of-9 passing for 19 yards and two INT. He left the game mid-way through the second quarter after taking a shot from MU linebacker David Richard. (VY said he suffered a bruised sternum while Brown said Saturday it was his ribs.) Either way, Young is cleared to play against college football's most lethal passing attack Saturday. But will he?

"We haven't met with players yet so it's way too early to be asking questions about who's playing where," Brown said.

Mock was 4-of-10 for 39 yards but his job Saturday was primarily to get the ball into the hands of RB Cedric Benson, who finished with 150 yards on 28 carries.

"He got off to a rough start but that was just getting the edges out," Brown said of Mock. "I thought he made a great play on the screen (to Benson) even though he had a blitz around him, and the little slant on the bubble (screen) on a key third down play that kept the long drive going. Those two plays were really key."

Texas did not dominate the game statistically (Missouri outgained the Horns 358-292) but would have tacked on a couple of more scores had Benson's 61-yard TD run not been nullified by Will Allen's* holding penalty, or if Benson had not fumbled at the Tiger 10 on Texas' opening series. Brown also expected one more score from his offense but Missouri overcame a 2nd-and-17 before converting a 4th-and-four on its final scoring drive.

"Our defense was disappointed that we didn't stop them there but we came back and at least made them use the rest of the clock," Brown added.

Texas won its 18th straight conference game at home (dating back to the Kansas State loss in 1999), but can Texas get past high-flying Texas Tech with the kind of offensive performance it showed yesterday? Brown's response was non-committal: "Each game is a different entity in its own. We start the season over and take this one at a time and play as good as we can this week."

Brown praised his coverage teams (particularly Michael Griffin) but lauded junior P Richmond McGee for the second consecutive week. His third quarter boots into a stiff, southerly breeze were pivotal during the 15-minute frame when neither team scored. McGee averaged 42.3 yards on six punts.

"Missouri had outscored their opponents by a bunch in the third quarter," Brown said, "and to put them way down there, and our defense was playing well, and that gave us a chance to get on track offensively."

Awarded a scholarship just last August, McGee placed four punts inside the 15 against OU and set up RDE Brian Robison's first-quarter INT return for TD when he pinned the Tigers on their own three.

"He was not a guy, at the first of the year, that we thought was a great pooch punter," Brown said. "He's really doing a much better job at that than we've ever seen him these last two weeks. He had the wind at the end (Saturday). That's why we weren't going to throw the ball on third down. We were trying to kill as much clock as we could and make them use their time outs. They didn't use them, so we were able to waste two-and-a-half minutes there and we punted it back to them. We thought that was key. They were going to have to go 70 yards against a defense that was playing hard. We wouldn't have done that if we didn't trust Richmond or our cover teams."

Texas is now 5-1 and a Top 10 team (No. 9 in the just-released coaches' poll and No. 8 in the AP rankings) but the Horns hardly resemble a BCS-caliber squad due to an inept passing game. The first BCS poll of the season will be released Monday.

It's been a tough-growth with our young receivers and the quarterbacks and it's been tough for everyone to get on the same page," Brown said. "We've just got to keep coming. Thank goodness we won."

*The original version of this story mistakenly identified Jonathan Scott as the Texas player flagged for holding.

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