Going into the Tech game everyone knew the Texas defense would have to step it up big. Could the Horns stop the vaunted Red Raider offense? After the first half, the answer appeared to be yes. While Tech had managed to gain 200 total yards offense including 194 of it through the air, Greg Robinson's Texas defense had held Tech to just 14 points. Nice start. With 30 minutes of football left to be played, the question remained, could the UT D withstand the continual aerial assault in the second half? This was answered quickly in the third quarter and provided the turning point of the game.
With the Horns leading 24-14 coming out of the break, the Texas offense got the ball first and started at its own 35. With a steady dose of Cedric Benson, who accounted for 40 yards on eight carries, the Horns marched 64-and-a-half yards. On fourth and one, Vince Young, on a quick count, dove over the top for the last half yard to cap off the 13-play drive with a touchdown that increased the Texas spread, 31-14. In most games a 17-point lead is considered more than just a little breathing room. Against the Tech air-it-out offense, 17 points is about as sizeable a lead as one presidential candidate currently has over the other.
What happened in the next six plays from scrimmage sealed it.
Tech's first offensive possession after the break started on its own 20. On first down, Tech quarterback Sonny Cumbie threw a pass that was tipped by Texas' Michael Huff before reaching intended receiver Trey Haverty. Haverty jumped and got his hands on the ball but Longhorn Tarell Brown made sure he didn't come down with it on a great hit from his cornerback position. On second down from the shotgun formation, Cumbie took the snap. Longhorns Brian Robison and Michael Huff were almost immediately in Cumbie's face and the Tech quarterback, still inside the tackle box, threw it into the ground nowhere near a receiver and nowhere close to the line of scrimmage. Intentional grounding and loss of down. With the penalty, Tech now had the ball at its own 8 staring at a third and 22. Before the next snap Tech coach Mike Leach got flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct for arguing the previous intentional grounding call. Imagine that. Mike Leach showing no class. The result of Leach's temper tantrum: half the distance to the goal. On third and 26 and a scary play for Longhorn fans knowing what has happened on third and long situations in the past, Cumbie threw a quick pass to receiver Nehemiah Glover. Glover caught the ball at the 3 and appeared to have room to run. That is until Texas linebacker Aaron Harris appeared out of nowhere to bring down Glover at the 6. Great play and even greater three and out for the Horns defense.
From deep in his own end zone Tech punter Alex Reyes took the snap and Michael Griffin, after a stumble, came right behind it. Reyes shanked -- and that's being kind -- the punt a whopping five yards to the Tech 11.
The Texas offense took the field. On the first play Young took the snap from center in the shotgun formation, dropped back to pass, then took off up the middle. With two solid blocks, one from Cedric Benson to the inside and another from Limas Sweed to the outside, Young scored his fourth touchdown of the game to put Texas up 38-14 with just more than eight minutes to go in the third quarter.
There you have it. A great opening scoring drive to start the second half by the offense and an even greater stand by the defense. Without question, the second half start by both units gave the Longhorns an heir of confidence, a swagger, that continued until the final gun and resulted in an impressive 51-21 victory in Lubbock.