Taking Stock: Who's Up, Who's Down

This is the ninth in a series of post-game reports throughout the season that will evaluate players, positions, units, coaches, and any other thing that is worthy of scrutiny. No, it’s not your typical player X did well, so his stock is up. We will touch on some of those, but we want to provide a closer look at some of the less obvious and explain why the subject received a certain grade. Check back each week for the latest report. You might be surprised.

Stock Up

Ramonce Taylor -- When describing former Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Cris Carter, the sports announcers used to say, "All he does is catch touchdowns." Taylor should have a similar mantra because all he ever does when he gets the ball is make big plays. OSU found that out and then some. Taylor touched the ball four times -- two rushes, one pass play and one kickoff return. His final yardage numbers: 116, or 29 yards per touch. On his lone kickoff return he gained 17 yards. On his lone catch, a quick pass in the left flat, 44 more. And on his two rushes, one was a reverse for a measly seven yards and the second was yet another reverse for 48 yards and a touchdown, his first of the season. Not too bad for a true freshman.

Bo Scaife -- After being shut out the week before in his home state against the Buffs, Scaife looked like he had a chip on his shoulder. Scaife finished with five catches for 70 yards but more impressively made several outstanding grabs where it looked like he actually jumped higher than his 6-foot-3-inch, 250-pound frame and bad knees would allow including his huge 22-yard catch on the final drive in the first half that eventually he capped off with a grab and overpowering move to the goal line for the momentum-changing touchdown.

Limas Sweed -- Finally, a receiver makes the "Stock Up" category. It's been a long time coming. Sweed came up big against the Cowboys, including a good catch and even better run on a post route that set up the score for Texas at the close of the first half. The redshirt freshman caught four passes for 70 yards in the game and his most impressive came in the third quarter on a catch that can only be described as Roy Williams-esque. Wearing the number 4, not to mention his similar size, will always give reason to compare Sweed to the Detroit Lions' newest star, but it's the way Sweed makes catches that jogs memories of the Horns' greatest receiver. On a pump and go route, Young lofted the pass. It was somewhat underthrown, but Sweed came back and snatched the ball out of midair and away from the defender. I think what is so strikingly similar to his predecessor is the way he correctly catches the ball with his hands and not his body. Watch the tape and you'll see.

Tim Crowder -- Crowder provided the one highlight for the Longhorn defense in that miserably played first half with a sack of OSU quarterback Donovan Woods that eventually resulted in the lone stop for the Texas defense in the half. What was most impressive about this sack was the fact that he wasn't even on the field when both teams were set at the line of scrimmage. Crowder sprinted to his right end position, wasn't even set at the snap of the ball, then overpowered his offensive counterpart and made the sack. He picked it up even more in the second half where he recorded two more sacks. He accounted for all the sacks for the Horns during the game. Three sacks is impressive enough but Crowder realistically could have had five as he applied heavy pressure to Woods on two other occasions. He finished with five tackles including the sacks and has become the answer to a lacking pass-rush defense from earlier in the season.

Vincent Young -- This season, Young has taken Longhorn fans for a rollercoaster ride. One game he struggles and the next he looks superb. Against OSU, he condensed it into halves. In the first quarter he made several good throws, but those were overshadowed by his last pass of the first quarter and first pass of the second quarter, both of which resulted in interceptions. Then, as we all know, Young caught fire. He finished the first half on an 80-yard drive completing 7 of 8 passes, with the incompletion being a drop by David Thomas. In the second half, Young had the most brilliant half of his career completing 8 of 9 passes for 142 yards. He finished the game completing an incredible 18 of 21 for 278 yards. Oh yeah, did we mention that he rushed for 123 yards on 12 carries. If ever there were a game that Young turned into a leader, not to mention gaining confidence in his ability as a passer, this was it.

Stock Down

First Half Defense -- Two words sum up the first half -- missed tackles. And one play epitomizes the missed tackle epidemic that plagued the UT defense in that half. With the game tied 7-7, OSU quarterback Donovan Woods threw a pass in the right flat to running back Vernand Morency two yards behind the line of scrimmage. What happened next was simply atrocious. Morency made not one, not two, not three, but seven Longhorn defenders miss (Michael Huff gets the dubious distinction of two missed tackles on the play) and more than a couple look plain silly. Now granted, Morency made some pretty shifty moves, but there is no doubt he should have been brought down for a maximum gain of eight yards. Instead, he added a six before the eight, as in 68, and scored a touchdown to give OSU a 14-7 lead.

Texas Kickoff Return Team -- What the hell happened? This unit has looked solid all season. Against Oklahoma State they went MIA and could be pinpointed as the one unit that got the ball rolling against the Horns in the overwhelmingly unimpressive first half. On the game's opening kickoff, Oklahoma State returned the ball 54 yards to the Texas 46. The Cowboys had another 46-yard return in the second half as the OSU return man knifed right through the middle of the Texas defenders. After that return, Mack Brown was noticeably hot on the sidelines, as well as he should be.

Offensive Unit and False Starts -- On back-to-back plays in the first quarter, the Horns (Justin Blalock and David Thomas) tried to get an advantage by taking off before the ball was snapped. Uh-uh-uh. Can't do that. This has been an all-too-frequent occurrence this season and it was especially costly against the Cowboys as the two back-to-back penalties in the first quarter effectively killed the momentum of the Texas offense on a potential game-tying drive. Blalock and Thomas had one apiece in the second half as well.


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