Louisiana-Lafayette Game Turning Point

turning point - n. The point at which a very significant change occurs; a decisive moment.

Since Jan. 1 in Pasadena, anticipation gripped the Longhorn nation waiting for the kickoff of the 2005 college football season. On September 3, 2005, that anticipation turned into excitement. It was here. A new beginning (but with a lot of old faces) and what Orangebloods hope will be a season for the ages.

The Horns stampeded into Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, and promptly stampeded the visitors from Louisiana. (An aside: Before the opening kickoff, Coach Mack Brown appeared on the DKR jumbotron to remind fans of the devastation left by Hurricane Katrina in the states of Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. The majority of the players for Louisiana-Lafayette come from the areas hit by Hurricane Katrina. Please remember to keep their families and friends in your thoughts and prayers.) In a game like this one, the turning point actually came when the Texas players didn't get stuck in the lockerroom. But the extent of the rout was determined shortly thereafter, also at the south end of the stadium.

The Longhorn offense took the opening drive of the game and methodically covered 56 yards in six plays, moving in sight of the Ragin' Cajun goalline. But a Selvin Young fumble at the end of a nine-yard gain gave ULaLa its one, and probably only, chance to wrest momentum from the No. 2 team in the country.

Gene Chizik's defense had other ideas. On the Cajuns' first offensive play from scrimmage at the Texas 12, DE Brian Robison brought down RB Chester Johnson for a loss of one. Rod Wright did the honor on second down, sacking QB Jerry Babb eight yards deep (and just three steps from a safety) to put the visitors in a big hole. And when Johnson's third-down run over right guard gained just two yards -- 17 short of a first down -- forcing the visitor's to punt, the blowout was virtually inevitable, despite a still scoreless game.

The offense, led by Vince Young, overwhelmed the Ragin’ Cajuns from that point forward. Despite a limited gameplan, Young showed that he can be a true dual threat by completing 13 of 17 passes for 173 yards and 3 touchdowns and running for 49 yards and a touchdown on just seven carries. Young connected to seven different receivers and hit David Thomas for two TDs. The question mark of the night was the running game, but Selvin Young and Ramonce Taylor plus true freshmen Jamaal Charles and Henry Melton looked solid as the team racked up 418 total rushing yards. Charles turned in a freshman debut record with 135 yards and a touchdown, but the "BIG" surprise of the night was the 6-3, 270-pound Melton, who barreled through the Ragin' Cajun defense for two touchdowns. He finished the night with 6 carries for 65 yards, but the numbers don't do justice to the damage he inflicted on those runs. On his two touchdowns, the Grapevine product broke 11 tackles! He was unstoppable and reminiscent of the hard nose running of UT great and Heisman winner Earl Campbell.

But it was Chizik's exciting, hard-hitting defense -- anchored by DTs Rod Wright and Frank Okam, by Aaron Harris at linebacker, and by a secondary that gave up just 166 yards receiving -- that provided the turning point with its early defensive dominance.

Dusty Mangum played for Texas from 2001-2004 and holds several Longhorn kicking marks. His final kick in the Orange and White, a 37-yarder in the 2005 Rose Bowl, provided the ultimate turning point in the Horns' first-ever BCS win.

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