Ask Brian Jones

Former Longhorn and NFL linebacker Brian Jones answers your questions.

Q: Brian, answer this for me please: Why is everyone outside Texas downplaying Cedric Benson because we lost to OU? Shouldn't he still be mentioned as a top candidate for the Heisman? I mean look at what he has done. His worst game this year is 92 yards and of course it had to be against OU, and all of a sudden the man is Peterson from OU. I don't get it. It takes more than stats to be the best player. Cedric carries his team to the finish in the 4th quarter, his leadership is there, he is an all-around back. I wish people will get off of his case because he hasn't beaten OU. If I am wrong please correct me!

B.J.: Well, I'm going to correct you because first of all, it is about stats. It's about the skins you put up on the board. Football's not a beauty contest; they keep score. So, it's all about statistics, the way you win and how you win and the way you're able to ground those yards out. But the main reason Peterson is getting more accolades than Cedric is because look at what he did in the big games, which thus far have been Texas and Oklahoma State. What did Adrian Peterson do in those games? How many yards did he get? Well over 200 in both of those big, rivalry games. And Cedric Benson, to his credit, he's played well in every ballgame this year but he didn't get 100 yards against Oklahoma and he didn't look as powerful and as dominating as did Adrian Peterson in his big games. Now, if Cedric plays well against Oklahoma State, which is a big game, and A&M, and gets some big runs in those games where he's over 200 yards, that's going to help his cause, but Adrian Peterson has done it in the huge games, the games they circle on the schedule and that's what the scouts are going to look at, that's what the nation's going to look at, the writers, everyone, they're going to look at the tough games, the hard-knock games. At Florida State, they're looking at the Miami game. How did the Florida State players play against Miami? Miami, how'd they play against Florida State? And so forth and so on. Georgia, how'd they play against Tennessee, how'd they play against Florida, because those are the elite programs and you want to see how guys fared against the elite programs, not just the North Texas's and the Rices. You should play well against them. But how do you compete against guys who are on your level or maybe above your level, that's going to be the key. [Follow-up: Do you believe Cedric still has a chance to win the Heisman?] Yes, I believe he has a chance to win the Heisman, but right now he's behind Adrian Peterson. Adrian Peterson may be the first freshman ever to win the Heisman if he keeps going like he's going right now. Cedric's worthy. He's still on my Heisman list. Right now I have Adrian, Cedric and Reggie Bush from USC but Cedric deserves to be up there.

Q: When Texas came out throwing the ball so much against Colorado in the first quarter, did you want to bang your head -- or better yet, Greg Davis' head -- against the wall?

B.J.: [Laughs] I don't understand that mindset other than wanting to get Vince comfortable throwing the ball right off the bat, but you dance with who brung you, and that's Cedric Benson and that offensive line and the running game. So I can understand they wanted to get the young fellow comfortable right off the bat but he made some bad decisions with the passes. They stuck with that same passing philosophy as far as rolling him out and getting the ball to the wide receivers out on the perimeter and they also targeted the middle as well with the tight ends, but I can't see other than wanting to get him comfortable early in the ballgame as a reason to abandon your No. 1 weapon which is your running game. [Follow-up: Earlier this week, Greg Davis said he believes Vince has been a better pocket passer than a passer on the move. Do you agree with that sentiment from what you've seen?] Greg Davis said he's a better pocket passer? Well, he throws the deep ball fairly well from the pocket, I'll give him that, but I just can't see that right now. But they see him every day and they see him at practice and of course they see him in the game, and that's the only time we get to see him, and thus far in the game I haven't seen him as an exceptional pocket passer. He's been better when he gets out on the perimeter, I believe, but maybe I'm missing something. Like I said, they see him every day and he has been able to throw the deep ball from the pocket. I just think that if you give him some latitude, allow him to roll out and run the boots and waggles, that puts extra pressure on the defense because as a defender, you don't know whether you want to come up and try to get him because you fear him taking off or whether you want to stay back and cover the receiver because he can hit him. Right now, I believe that's a benefit that Vince and the Longhorn offense has when rolling him out.

Q: In your opinion, why is it that Oklahoma State has been blown out at home by Texas recently yet they've been able to play UT close in Austin? And what do you think that portends for this weekend's game?

B.J.: You're talking about different teams. I know one thing, when they came in here in 2002, they had a very, very good defense with Kevin Williams leading the way, so they were tough up front and Texas was very lucky to get out of the stadium with a win that day. But OSU is a good football team. This is going to be a tough, physical football game. Texas will have a very good test. I thought they would last week but Colorado is not a very good football team and they're all banged up. Bobby Purify was definitely banged up. Vernand Morency comes in here as one of the best running backs in the nation, you're going up against one of the top running games, and the last time Texas faced one of the top-notch running games, it was Adrian Peterson and Oklahoma, and he put 225 on 'em. So the Horns are going to have to contain Morency and (QB Donovan) Woods, who didn't pass well in the first half of that ballgame last week but did get better and more accurate in the second half and he can also take off with it. [Follow-up: Did what you saw in Colorado last week point to Texas having a good defensive effort vs. Oklahoma State?] Totally different schemes. Of course, Colorado wants to run the ball at you, be a physical power football team, but they weren't able to do that with the young guys up front and the banged-up Bobby Purify, so this week is going to be a big test. Yes, this Texas defense has played excellent the past couple of weeks, but this is going to be their biggest test since Oklahoma since it's a much more physical football team than the last two weeks. It's a good test to see how far they've come along because they've been flying around against a passing team and then against a team that is all beat up and not at its best, so we'll see what they can do against a team that can run the hell out of the football. This is a big, big test and this can help them take a giant step forward. If they're able to come in and dominate a team that likes to run the ball like Oklahoma State does -- if they can dominate them or keep them below their statistical numbers they've had thus far this season, it'll really show that Greg Robinson and his guys have come a long way.

Q: Mark Kissinger, in his weekly Inside Texas column today, wrote (this is a paraphrase) that college offenses can be simple yet successful and win a lot of games if you have better talent and you create confusion in the defense through play-calling. Do you agree with that, and if so, is that why the Texas offense has been successful over the last couple of weeks?

B.J.: Yeah, it can be simple. Oklahoma doesn't do anything that's sophisticated. Actually, they run conventional run plays, isos, they run leads, they run the stretch play, they run the zone play, they run traps and counters, so that's basic football and that's physical football. But they can also throw the ball at you and they run traditional routes there. They just happen to have a very good quarterback and very talented, athletic wide receivers who make plays and make the tough catches, so you can live with simple football. Look at the Dallas Cowboys, when they were winning Super Bowls in the 90s, they ran a basic offense. Hand it to Emmitt, throw it to Michael Irvin and Alvin Harper and Jay Novacek. You knew what they were going to do, it's just could you stop 'em and you couldn't because it all starts up front, the offensive line moving people out of the way. You can be as simple as you want. You can tell them where you're going, but if your horses up front can move them out of the way, it doesn't matter because you're more physical in the trenches.

Have a question for the next 'Ask Brian Jones'? Send to insidetx@realtime.net.

Brian Jones played middle linebacker for the Longhorns in 1989 and 1990, leading the team in tackles both seasons and earning all-SWC honors as a senior before an eight-year NFL career with the Colts, Dolphins, Raiders and Saints. He also recently worked as the sideline reporter for the Longhorn Radio Network, host of Longhorn Sports Center and co-host of a popular radio sports talk show in Austin. His 'Ask B.J.' columns appears weekly during football season on InsideTexas.com.


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