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

This is the 10th 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

Vince Young - Damn him! Damn him! Damn him! (See Stock Down) You have to admit one thing -- this guy makes it interesting. It's maddening. It's exhilarating. Bottom line -- it's successful. Young pulled another rabbit out of the hat against Kansas, leading the Horns on consecutive touchdown-scoring drives late in the game to seal the victory. Against the Jayhawks he surpassed his career best of a week earlier by completing 22 of 40 passes for 289 yards, including the perfect pass to Tony Jeffery with 11 seconds remaining. He also had two picks but as we have all grown accustomed to seeing this year, Young tends to start off rocky and put himself and the Horns in a bind, only to find his magic and lead the team to victory. Whatever works, Vince. Whatever works.

Cedric Benson - It's a shame that this guy won't win the Heisman. He will probably get invited to NYC, but he won't win it and it won't be because of his numbers. He's not flashy, just as consistent as the sunrise. Against Kansas, the senior had another workmanlike performance, accruing 161 yards on 28 carries or a 5.8 yards per carry average and had one touchdown, which set the NCAA career mark for games with a touchdown at 36. For whatever reason, the playcalling shied away from him at times but he could have easily broken the 200-yard barrier had he been given the chance. He also hauled in three catches for 18 yards.

Tony Jeffery - After weeks of no receivers in this category, we've now had back-to-back weeks with a receiver earning some kudos. Jeffery makes his second appearance and deservedly so, after a six-week hiatus. The fifth-year senior came up big in this one. There's the obvious -- the game winning catch, but he did a lot more than that. On the lone first-half scoring drive, Jeffery had a pair of receptions on back-to-back plays. In the third quarter Jeffery made the key play on another scoring drive hauling in a 46-yard pass that eventually resulted in a Dusty Mangum field goal. Also in the quarter he improvised on a Vince Young scramble and caught a ball for 25 more yards. In the fourth, Jeffery made two more key grabs, both of which resulted in first downs and kept crucial drives alive. He finished with seven catches for 131 yards and the all-important one touchdown. Now that's senior leadership.

Stock Down

Secondary - Where did this come from? Against Tech -- stellar. Against Oklahoma -- stellar. Against Kansas -- horrible. What gives? How does a unit that all but shut down two of the best passing offenses in the country give up 308 yards passing to a pair of quarterbacks who wouldn't even be allowed to carry Vince Young's jock strap? Blown coverages and poor tackling, that's how. There is no better example of both than the 73-yard completion from the fourth string Kansas quarterback Brian Luke to receiver Mark Simmons in the fourth quarter. Luke lofted the pass into double coverage. One of three things should have happened and all of them were much less catastrophic than what eventually happened: 1) Michael Griffin turns around in time and deflects the pass, or 2) possibly intercepts it, or 3) Simmons catches the ball and Griffin or Phillip Geiggar make the tackle immediately and it's only a gain of 18 yards. Unfortunately, none of those things happened. Instead, Griffin went flailing by the play and whiffed on the ball and the tackle leaving it up to Geiggar who subsequently whiffed on the tackle. 55 yards later Simmons was brought down by Cedric Griffin at the one. That pretty much sums up the day for the secondary. And lest we not forget about the final two plays of the game. Not only did the secondary give up a 17-yard completion that put Kansas in prime Hail Mary position, but they also let the pass get tipped and get behind them. How dangerous and depressing would that have been?

Anyone who's supposed to tackle - The Texas defense has played at a high level all season, with a few exceptions. But anyone who knows anything about football recognizes they have too often lacked in one fundamental area -- tackling. I hate to say it, but it has to be said -- sometimes it has been of Mackovician proportions. Yes, that bad. Fortunately, this team has so much talent and speed that they get away with it more often than not and are able to recover and bring down the ball carrier, but the underlying problem still exists. Use them hands boys.

Special Teams - How many ways can you mess up on special teams? Let me count/list the ways. 1) A Kansas kickoff return of 45 yards (anyone remember last week?); 2) a pass interference call (questionable at that) on Tarell Brown on a fake punt that results in an automatic first down, 3) a delay of game call taken deep in Texas territory on a punt, 4) on the punt play that followed the delay of game penalty, Cedric Griffin runs over the Kansas punt returner and puts the Jayhawks in even better field position, 5) Dusty Mangum misses a 33-yard field goal attempt, 6) Richmond McGee kicks off and the ball goes out of bounds, and finally, 6) McGee averages 32.9 yards on seven punts. Enough said.

Vince Young - Okay, we've talked about the good, but make no mistake about it, there was plenty of bad. Batted down passes, fumbled snaps in the shotgun formation (this has happened more and more as the season has progressed), poor decisions on several passes, two interceptions and of course, numerous misfires. But if you're being totally honest with yourself, you can overlook the bad considering all the good he does. Yes, it's difficult and would be a lot less strenuous on the heart if he didn't make the silly mistakes and put the Horns behind the proverbial eight ball, but the guy produces results when it matters most.

Refs - The one call everyone is talking about is the questionable offensive pass interference called late in the game. Tell us what you really think about it, Mangino. But what Mangino will see when he reviews the game film is numerous other bad calls or no calls by the men in stripes. Cedric Benson fumbled and it wasn't called. Tarell Brown is called for pass interference on a fake punt but the ball was horribly underthrown and the Kansas receiver went over the top of Brown to get it. Phillip Geiggar tattooed Kansas receiver Lyone Anderson and he dropped the ball and it wasn't called. The Texas coaching staff is flagged for an unsportsmanlike penalty on the sideline for coming on the field and tripping an official during play. Shouldn't a sideline warning have been issued before that ever came close to happening? You get the point. The zebras didn't bring their A game and if you ask Mangino, he'll tell you it cost his team the win.

Greg Davis - Greg, oh Greg. Why? Why do you do this to yourself, to the team, to the fans? You are the owner of your own demise and once again fans are calling for your head. After last week's creative gameplan getting the ball into the hands of Ramonce Taylor, throwing the ball down field to numerous receivers, and other unexpected twists and turns, you pull out this gameplan. Where was Taylor this week? Why not give Benson the ball 10 more times and let him bust the 200-yard mark easily and quite possibly punch it in one more time? To be fair, your unit did rack up 581 yards but with just more than seven minutes left to play in the game, you only had 13 points to show for it. Granted, your quarterback didn't help your case a great deal of the time but it was that same quarterback and his unbelievable talent that bailed you out in the end. Please, for your sake, the team's sake, and the vocal fans' sake, find some creativity against A&M. It could be your last time to show off your craft at DKR.

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