Explosive Offense May Be Ahead Of Defense

Many expected the Texas defense, with nine returning starters, to be the team's strength heading into the fall. But with Vince Young at QB and speed demon Ramonce Taylor at RB, the offense is leaving would-be tacklers in its dust more often than head coach Mack Brown would like. It begs the question: do Young and Taylor represent a dream backfield for the Horns?

"The offense has had more good days than the defense this spring," Brown said Monday. "The defense has made some great plays, some great stands and has forced some turnovers. But, right now, there are still too many (offensive) explosives."

Although he has commended RT throughout the spring, Brown has yet to give the sophomore a blanket endorsement. Taylor knows this, and realizes he has a golden opportunity during this final week of spring drills to convince coaches that he can be the featured RB next fall.

"I have a little thing I have to work on to show coach Brown that I can be the starter," Taylor said.

And what might that be?

"I think the biggest thing would have to be my pass blocking and stuff away from the ball," he concluded.

Even so, coaches may have taken a step Monday to suggest that RT will be the featured RB next fall. The offense began running the option for the first time this spring, according to Taylor.

"With me and Vince running the option, it's gonna be pretty scary," Taylor said. "It feels great. You've got a fast quarterback and a fast running back running the option. I don't think there's going to be too many people that can stop that."

Even though Brown is still looking for proof positive that RT is Cedric Benson's heir apparent, there is no shortage of confidence on the youngster's part.

"With me running the ball," Taylor said, "anything can happen."

RB Selvin Young has played in 26 career games, including a couple last season before suffering a season-ending ankle injury at Arkansas. The junior-to-be is missing spring ball for academic reasons and is expected to regain his eligibility by the fall semester. It's no secret among Orangebloods that Brown places a premium on a) experience and b) explosive RBs who stand at least 6-0 and weigh somewhere between 200-230 pounds. For the record, Young is listed as 6-0, 210 while RT is 5-11 and is up to 197 (according to Brown).

But whether RT is the featured back or an all-purpose back, Vince Young is convinced the hiccup-quick Belton product is not only a new offensive weapon for the Horns but also a sheer spectacle.

"Ramonce Taylor, with the speed he has, the way he hits the holes with the speed he has, aw man!, that's a sight to see," VY said. "Y'all are gonna see it Saturday (during the Orange-White Game)."

Taylor is now wearing jersey number 11, worn by All-American Derrick Johnson last season. RT wanted No. 5, but that already belongs to LCB Tarell Brown. Offensive and defensive players may share the same jersey number but, for now, both Taylor and Brown are the starting deep backs on KO return.

"I don't think Derrick knows I have No. 11," Taylor said. "I just switched it a couple of days ago and he hasn't been here."

And as far as the offensive fireworks, Brown just wants to make sure it has more to do with jet fueled ball carriers than breakdowns in a defense that, although improved in 2004, was erratic down the stretch.

"There were some times last year when we didn't play very good on defense," Brown said. "Sometimes we played great, but the 35 points (yielded) in the first half against Oklahoma State, and if you look at the bowl game (37 points surrendered to Michigan), I told the guys there's a lot of room for us to improve. And we need to do that to get where we want to get. We put the pressure on Vince some in the last half of the season."

The second team offenses and defenses, for the first time this spring, competed against their first-team counterparts.

"We told the twos that if they can't compete with our ones then they're not ready to play," Brown said, "because against the twos, they looked good. Some guys got their eyes opened today (because) they felt like they had been doing really good and they didn't show up as much. We may do a similar type thing (Tuesday) and then we'll spread it around some Saturday, but we'll definitely start ones-against-ones (in the Orange-White Game)."

Brown prefers not to reference his team in terms of "ones" (starters) or "twos" (back-ups) but wants to field a squad that is two-deep across the board.

"We're trying to get 22 ones on each side of the ball," he said. "That's what we want. We don't want twos. If a guy's a two, we feel like he's not ready to play and win the ball game. We're trying to be two-deep at every position that can win every game that we play, and we're sure not there yet."

The Horns will return to practice Tuesday afternoon at Denius Fields for their last session in full pads prior to Saturday's scrimmage.


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