Culpepper's Commentary: Texas-Louisiana Lafayette

Texas vs. Louisiana-Lafayette was no test for the 2005 Longhorn football team. Until Saturday night in Columbus, Ohio the Texas squad is still a work in progress.

Yes, the veteran offensive line created holes vs. the Ragin Cajuns for running backs Selvin Young and Jamaal Charles. But those holes will turn into tiny cracks this weekend in Columbus and everyone from coast to coast will find out which one of these ball carriers can take a hit and come back for more.

Young had a careless fumble early vs. ULaLa but displayed improved toughness overall and Charles showed lots of acceleration but has yet to experience a big-time hit in college football. He will be initiated Saturday at the Shoe.

Vince Young is in total command on the field. Several times before the snap, when the Longhorns were in the shotgun formation, Young "explained" assignments to true freshman Charles. Young's passing was accurate and when he chose to run he left defenders scattered in pursuit.

Offensive coordinator Greg Davis got Ramonce Taylor involved early with a nice reverse and served notice that Taylor will be a constant threat for future defensive coordinators' plans.

David Thomas might be the best tight end in college football. He is a blue-collar blocker and always knows where the first down marker is on his pass routes. Without exception, he has the best hands on the team and he is the target when the Longhorns are in trouble.

Believe me, the Longhorns need the power running of freshman Henry Melton. The Texas attack is full of bells and whistles but Saturday at Ohio State Melton will be called on to hammer for short yardage and running the clock. His eyes will be wide when he sees 100,000-plus in Buckeye red but he will grow up fast and leave his share of bruises.

From four rows just behind the opponent's bench where I sit for the Longhorn home games, I was impressed with the Texas defensive front. Tim Crowder, Frank Okam, Rod Wright and Brian Robison never stopped bringing the pressure. Larry Dibbles will have a difficult time winning back his starting position, but what an option off the bench, and freshman Roy Miller is a solid addition to the rotation. At defensive end, Chris Brown is an athlete like Crowder and will make big plays as he matures.

Orangebloods already know what middle linebacker Aaron Harris can do, but they'll have to wait a week to find out if Drew Kelson, Eric Hall or Rashad Bobino will take on a big-time running game. With those outstanding linemen working so hard up front, the Texas linebackers must fill holes and make tackles. We'll see what they're capable of under the lights in Ohio.

Defensive coordinator Gene Chizik proved he won't hesitate to play man-to-man in the secondary. This will help near the goalline but will be tested in the field by Ohio State's excellent receivers.

As far as the two blocks and cold miss by extra point kicker Richmond McGee and his teammates, I suspect coach Mack Brown -- with great Buckeye special teams on tap -- will bring his full attention to those problems. The threat of capital punishment might be too severe but it might be mentioned!

I look forward to going to Columbus, Ohio. OSU middle linebacker Anthony Schlegel's father coached for me at Lufkin High School in 1984-85. I know how Anthony was raised and, when he squares off with a Longhorn, you can bet it will be good against good.

For many reasons -- the Texas offensive and defensive lines, Vince Young, David Thomas and Longhorn speed -- I think it will be Texas 35, Ohio State 31.

Pat Culpepper played for The University from 1960-62 and graduated from UT with a B.A. degree with honors in history. He coached college football for 12 years as an assistant at Texas, Colorado, Tulane, Baylor and Memphis State and was head coach at Northern Illinois from 1976-79. He also spent 16 years as a high school coach in Texas at Midland, Lufkin, Galveston Ball, Westfield and his hometown of Cleburne. He was selected to the Longhorn Hall of Honor in 1991. His commentary appears regularly in the Inside Texas magazine and at InsideTexas.com.


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