Vince Young: 'We Can Make History'

There aren't many things that current Texas football players can accomplish that their renowned predecessors haven't already done. That's why Longhorn QB Vince Young says the program's first-ever matchup at Ohio State Saturday is an opportunity to stake a place in the college football history book.

"We can go down there and make history," Young said Monday. "It's the first time these two team have played. There's a big tradition at both of these schools so, yeah, it's going to be a game that you'll always remember."

The game is of such importance that Young received an unexpected phone call following Texas' 60-3 annihilation of UL-Lafayette. Buckeye quarterback Troy Smith was calling from Columbus. Young considered it a courtesy call.

"Most athletes don't do any smack talking," Young said. "On the field, it's just a part of the game and having fun talking trash to each other. On the phone, Troy Smith and I don't get into too much talk like that."

The two signal callers have been acquaintances since they first attended the Elite Eleven football camp as prep stars.

"Troy Smith and I are pretty cool (with other other)," Young said. "I talked to him a little bit. He was just saying that most people don't know that he and I have a relationship. And he told his guys that it (Young) is a different athlete that they're going up against. It's the same for our guys. He's a different kind of athlete as well."

But how much of Smith will the Horns actually see after the ball is kicked at approximately 7:08 p.m. (Central)? The senior completed a two-game suspension Saturday after accepting approximately $500 last season from a booster. Junior Justin Zwick, whom Texas tried to recruit, has been impressive in consecutive outings. He engineered the dismantling of Oklahoma State in last December's Alamo Bowl and then connected on 17 of 23 passing for 155 yards and a TD in leading the Buckeyes to a 34-14 home-opening win over Miami (Ohio).

Regardless of who lines up behind center, Young intends to address his troops during Monday afternoon's practice at Denius Field.

"I know that before Coach (Mack) Brown speaks, I'm going to have a little word with our guys," VY said.

I asked VY what he thought would be the essence of his message.

"We've worked during the summer and we've worked hard during (August) camp," he said. "It's time to pay off. It's another team that we've got to get out of our way in order to reach our goals. It's just another team, but we're going into a great stadium and two great traditions of schools. What I'm saying is that we can make history right now if we just go out there and take care of business."

Young knows his affectuous personality and unbridled confidence has produced a trickle-down effect among his teammates.

"They already know my character," he said. "They already know I'm going to be pumped. I'm gonna try to bring the radio with us that we have in our locker room so we can get everybody pumped into it. They know I'm gonna be crazy. They know I'm gonna be talking trash to every last one of 'em. They know my character."

So, that's the message: be business-like, but have fun, in this otherwise unprecedented clash of the titans.

After all, Texas (788 wins) and Ohio State (765 wins) rank third and fifth, respectively, in NCAA All-Time victories. Texas is ranked No. 2 in the Associated Press poll while the Buckeyes aren't far behind at No. 6. It marks just the fifth time in school history that Texas has played in a Top 10 matchup in September (the Horns are 3-2 in those games) and the first time in nearly a decade. Saturday's matchup marks the first time since 1996 that Texas faces a Top 10 team this early in the year (the last time, No. 6 Texas fell late in the fourth quarter to No. 9 Notre Dame in Austin).

It's precisely the kind of environment in which Vince Young excels.

"I'm just blessed with (the fact) that I love to compete," he said. "If I have to, I'm going to put in on my shoulders. I'm gonna let my guys know that they should just play the game and take what the game is letting you have. If the defense lets you have five yards, take it. As long as we're ahead of the chains, take it play by play. That's what I've learned over the years. If I throw an interception, it's all about the next play."

Young modified his statement when he later added: "It's not just on my shoulders. It's about me getting the ball to the right person who is out there making the plays. It's time for me to step it up and get the guys going. It's about being a leader, basically."

Plenty of pigskin pundits have labeled Saturday's historic tilt as a national championship elimination game. Young doesn't quite see it that way, even though the loser will have no room for error.

"After Ohio State, we've still got big games," he mentioned. "Whatever happens out there, we're still in the hunt. We've still got big games at Texas. We're not looking too forward right now at a national championship."

Yet, Oklahoma's 17-10 home loss to TCU Saturday makes this game even bigger. Even if the Sooners right their Schooner and get past UCLA in California on September 24, pollsters (and computers) will now point to Saturday's game as the primary gauge in assessing the national championship caliber of the 2005 Longhorns.

"We're just looking at taking it a game at a time," Young said.

Few statements in athletics is more trite, but few are more true. And for the 2005 Longhorns, it's a way to make history.

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