"We did not have to show very much from a scheme point of view," head coach Mack Brown said, "and that's what we wanted."
In other words, Ohio State ain't seen nothin' yet. The defense was base, and QB Vince Young was held more in check by the game plan then he was by the Ragin' Cajun defense. The offense was "real vanilla," according to speed demon Ramonce Taylor who averaged 13 ypc (65 yards on just five totes) while adding 23 yards on two receptions.
"Everything we ran, we executed really well," said RT, who scored on a reverse that went for 30 yards with 7:38 remaining until half time.
As expected, Texas opened with a three-wide set with Vince Young in the 'gun and Selvin Young at the wing. VY found TE David Thomas in the flat (seven yards) and then connected with SE Limas Sweed for 10 more on the deep out. The Horns then went into the I formation, resulting in RT's end-around run for 23. In other words, it was the same look that we have seen throughout the spring and during our limited exposure at fall camp.
But what we did see Saturday was Texas completely dominating at the LOS on both sides of the ball as well as the coming out party of a couple of true freshmen RBs, Jamaal Charles and Henry Melton. In fact, Charles' 135 yards on 14 attempts (can you live you 9.6 ypc?) broke the freshman rushing debut record (96 yards) that RT set just last season against North Texas. He contributed a game-high 45-yard run and a TD.
"He did tonight what we've see him do in every scrimmage," Brown said. "He picked up the offense really well. We saw in him tonight what we hoped we'd see."
Charles scored his first collegiate TD on a 14-yard run over left end on Texas' third possession of the first quarter. He was responsible for 32 of the 65 yards of the seven-play drive that produced a 13-3 lead.
"I wasn't trying to do too much," Charles said. "I was just trying to hit the holes and show my speed. I appreciate the linemen opening the holes up."
When Brown inserted Melton late in the ballgame, the intent was to run some clock rather than run up the score. The word that coaches use to describe the 6-3, 270-pound Melton is actually "nimble." He is a load, has deceptive speed and looked virtually unstoppable Saturday.
"We wanted the young backs to get pressed and get hit some when they were tired," Brown said.
Not that the Ragin' Cajuns represent a chest-thumping gauge for the remainder of the season. But if Texas is truly the leading candidate to face two-time national champ USC in the BCS title game, it needed to reveal that it was a mature team that could remain focused on an outgunned opponent and then methodically dominate for four quarters.
"I believe the whole team just went out there and took care of business," said VY, who was a poised 13-of-17 passing for 173 yards including three TDs and one INT.
Brown and Davis have gushed all year about how much VY has improved just since the Rose Bowl. There was one play that was particularly indicative of his maturation as a QB. On 3rd-and-5 from the UL-Lafayette 10, Vince dropped back and went through his progressions with the ample amount of time (nearly five seconds) afforded by his offensive line. He found FL Nate Jones, his fourth receiver on that play, for a 10-yard TD. The sophomore's first collegiate score came 78 seconds into the second quarter.
How dominant? Consider that...
...Texas did not punt until there was 8:02 remaining in the mismatch (a 44-yarder from McGee).
...Texas scored all the points it would need less than seven minutes into the game when Selvin Young scored the first TD of the season.
...Texas generated 400 yards of total offense by halftime. All told, Texas tallied 591 yards (418 rushing, 173 passing) while the defense held UL-Lafayette to just 72 rushing yards on 34 attempts.
...Texas saw six-of-seven first half possessions end up in the UL-Lafayette end zone. The only drive that didn't reach pay dirt during the first 30 minutes was the opening series in which Selvin Young fumbled at the Ragin' Cajun 9. The junior atoned for the drop on Texas' next possession when he carried it in from the nine off right tackle for the first Longhorn TD of the 2005 campaign.
Typically, UL-Lafayette is not a blitzing team. But its D came early and often, trying to clog the inside running lanes. When Melton wasn't impersonating a human clog-buster, Texas countered with end-arounds, sweeps, the option, passes over the middle to TE David Thomas and its patented zone read.
Hey, as long as the Ohio State game doesn't come down to a PAT, you gotta love Texas' chances in Columbus. McGee missed three of his first four PAT attempts, including a block. Brown attributed the first miss to McGee being a little unsettled in his first collegiate PAT attempt. The second miss had to do with McGee hitting the ball too low, Brown said. The blocked PAT attempt was the result of a botched blocking assignment on the wing. Backup David Pino appeared more at ease when he was inserted after Texas' third possession of the third quarter but Brown said there would not be any changes in kicking game personnel.
"For whatever reason, (McGee) got off to a bad start," Brown said. "I thought he did a great job after the first three (misses)."
In fact, Brown seemed more displeased by the fact that Michael Adams returned the first KO of the season 31 yards, leading to a 7-play, 39-yard drive and a 47-yard Sean Comiskey FG.
There were lapses other than the missed PATs.
There's not much in this life that Mack Brown hates more than a turnover. Texas put the ball on the grass four times, losing it once on its opening drive deep in Ragin' Cajun country. QB Vince Young suffered his only INT of the night when Michael Adams came up with the pick at the UL-Lafayette one-yard line on its opening possession of the second half. Granted, it was a 39-3 Longhorn lead at the time but, "We can't do that next week and expect to win," Brown said.
Brown said all last month that we would see a more explosive Aaron Ross at punt return now that the junior has overcome a hamstring injury that nagged him last season. Ross notched 106 yards on five returns, including a game-best 52-yarder to the Ragin' Cajun 10. That led to VY's only rushing TD of the night, a QB option play on 4th-and-goal from the two. When VY picked himself up reallll slowww with a 43-point lead, you knew he was done for the night.
Sure enough, backup QB Matt Nordgren checked in with 6:06 remaining in the third following a 28-yard Ross return. The fifth-year senior engineered a six-play, 34-yard TD drive capped by Melton's 14-yard scoring run up the middle.
"I'm not sure what kind of message this sends (to Ohio State)," MLB Aaron Harris said of the 60-3 shellacking. "We just wanted to put on film that we're aggressive and that we're a good defense."
The defense forced 10 punts and held the visitors to 238 yards on 67 plays. Most of UL-Lafayette's numbers came against backups-to-backups, as the Ragin' Cajuns managed just 17 rushing yards on 17 carries at the break.
"What we're really pleased with is that they played hard," Co-Defensive coordinator Gene Chizik said. "We tried to execute our defense, but we played a lot of base defense. Obviously, we have a lot of work to do on some things. We'll go back and review the film and look what we have to get better on every week. Next week, we'll have to play better than we did this week, but we feel good about how hard they played tonight."
"Overall, I am really pleased with the play of all three linebackers," Chizik said. "They really tried tonight to do what we've asked them to do in playing our defense."
"We're always trying to come up with the best combination of people," he said. "Cedric and (SS) Michael (Huff) are blessed with a lot of ability. We're always trying to build depth. You always want to put in your next best players. That was the objective with Cedric. He played (SS) quite a bit tonight."
Including Melton and Charles, eight true freshmen lost their redshirts. The list includes DE Aaron Lewis, NT Roy Miller, WR/PR Quan Cosby, LB Roddrick Muckelroy, DE/LB Chris Brown and FB Michael Houston.
FL Jordan Shipley suited up but clearly did not need to play. There were no Longhorn injuries Saturday, although Selvin Young sat out most of the second half with a tweaked ankle (a purely precautionary move, according to the coaches. SY would have played on the ankle in a tight ballgame.)
As the Horns made their way into the dressing room, the remnant of the announced crowd of 82,519 chanted, "Beat Ohio State!"
So, yeah, bring on the Buckeyes!! Bring on Southern Cal! Heck, bring on TCU!