Kind of late, indeed. This is not to say Texas was ill-prepared for KU's defense (serious lapses in both the Texas' special teams and defense are what brought Saturday's game to the brink of disaster). Still, I asked Young to specify what Kansas did defensively that caught the Horns off-guard.
"They brought more of the blitz than we thought they were going to bring. They brought more blitzes to stop the running game."
RB Cedric Benson had another bruising, Benson-like outing (161 yards on 28 carries) but was limited to just seven yards on four carries in the fourth quarter. Young was sacked twice in the fourth quarter, one on each of the TD-scoring drives.
"They hit us in the mouth and we weren't expecting it," VY continued. "But you've got to watch out right now for A&M because they're going to try to do some unexpected things as well. So, we've got to be alert for them."
"From looking at the film, we were making the plays," Young said. "It was the little things that were killing us."
Little things like a defense that still misses too many tackles and fails to manufacture a sustained pass rush. (Fourth-team junior QB Brian Luke, who will likely start his first-ever collegiate game at Missouri Saturday, came off the bench and had a career against the Horns, passing for 225 yards on 14-of-25 completions and no INT).
Little things like 103 yards in penalties. Kansas had just three flags for 23 yards, but the third infraction (the offensive pass interference call against DB Charles Gordon) made up for the rest.
Little things like (in my estimation) the sorriest special teams play since the 1999 loss to North Carolina State. Texas surrendered 108 yards in kick-off returns. Texas' return team took the ball out of the end zone and returned it all the way to the 15 (Ramonce Taylor, first quarter), to the 10 and to the 13 (Tarell Brown, both in fourth quarter). Richmond McGee netted just 32.3 yards on seven punts. A Longhorn failed to enter the game on an extra-point try. Less than eight minutes after Dusty Mangum did his best Terrell Owens gyrations at midfield, the senior was off on a 33-yard attempt that was darn-near critical.
Little things like Young's prerequisite two INTs per game, plus a handful of passes batted down, before he rallies the troops in a manner that is so poised and fluid that he makes it look effortless.
The bottom line is summed up in what teammates told Young when Kansas jumped to a shocking 23-13 lead with 7:41 remaining: "Just win, baby!"
"We just got back on track and stayed focus," Young said, "and fight, fight to the end."
In the end, Young had a career-passing day of his own (22-of-40 for 289 yards) while FL Tony Jeffery turned in a career receiving day (131 yards on seven grabs), including his season-saving TD grab with 11 seconds remaining. Despite Luke's outing, the defense held KU to 40 yards rushing on 27 attempts (1.5 ypc).
"It's so hard to come back in college football these days," head coach Mack Brown said. "You never want to be behind. That's important, but it's even more important to show the character, the class and the confidence -- from the coaches to the players -- that nobody panicked and were able to come back and win two games like that."
Texas, of course, rallied from a 35-7 deficit against Oklahoma State on November 6 to stake the largest comeback in school history, 56-35. Last Saturday in Lawrence, Kansas took a 10-point lead with 7:41 remaining.
"I'm not sure it wasn't harder (to come back) Saturday," Brown said. "We were in a tighter spot later in the game than it was against Oklahoma State because our trouble was at halftime. We got back in that game at the end of the third quarter and Saturday's was really late."
Really, really late. As in, with 11 ticks on the clock in a game that Texas ultimately refused to lose.
The Horns have a bye week before concluding the regular season at home against Texas A&M, Friday, November 26, 2:30 p.m. (CST) in an ABC national telecast.