Charles States His Case In 51-10 Rout Of Rice

The outcome of Texas' game against Rice Saturday was never in question. But is there any question that Jamaal Charles should be the Longhorns' starting RB following the Horns 51-10 dismantling of Rice?

The first Texas freshman to start a game this season, Charles darted for 189 yards and three TDs on just 16 carries. He shattered Adrian Walker's UT starting freshman debut mark for yards in a game (151, set against Rice in 1989) before halftime. Subbing in place of the injured Selvin Young (left ankle), Charles reported that he was unaware of his starting status until just before kickoff.

"I just want to be a big-time player for this team," he said. "I just want to step up every game and go out there and play every game like I did today."

If he does, you'll be smelling Roses by mid-November. Charles set a goal of rushing for 200-plus yards against Rice and would have had that had UT coaches not limited him to but two second half carries.

He arrived on campus assuming he would be redshirted.

"I didn't know it was going to be like this," he said. "It's a blessing to me. I thank God for this."

The Hallejuah Chorus you hear is from Horn fans everywhere who have to wonder if Selvin Young will ever be healthy, or if Charles might not have nailed down a starting role for the remainder of the season.

"We've just got to get Selvin well," OC Greg Davis said. "With the open date coming up, we wanted to do the smart thing and not play him tonight. Each week we'll evaluate Selvin and evaluate everything else before we make any decisions."

It's no decision, as far as I'm concerned. And that's based primarily upon Charles' clutch performance at Ohio State. ("He stepped in and played against Ohio State like he was older," Brown said Saturday.) You could see his 11.8 ypc against Rice coming from a mile away. Charles is simply one of the most complete running backs -- he can catch, he can block, he can pick up blitzes -- that you'll ever see for this stage in his career. One other thing that's critical: he doesn't take direct hits. He has terrific vision and can mange to squeeze his 6-1, 195-pound frame through a hole at the blink of an eye. He can only get better. Here's hoping he'll get two starts under his belt by the time Texas plays OU.

Head coach Mack Brown was noncommittal about Charles' long-term starting status.

"The good thing about our being able to develop depth is that we don't have to talk about starters," Brown said. "We need Selvin to get better, we need to get (freshman RB) Henry Melton more carries and we need Jamaal to stay healthy."

Melton added 75 yards rushing, including one TD, on 14 carries. QB Vince Young contributed 77 yards on the ground, including a game-high 51-yarder as part of Texas 99.5 yard drive in the first quarter. All told, the offense rolled to 361 yards rushing (on 47 attempts).

Most of Charles' damage was done in the first half. He eclipsed the century mark with his 26-yard run on his first carry of the second quarter and posted 171 yards on 14 totes by halftime. His last carry came just five minutes into the third quarter.

"Jamaal continues to impress us each week," Brown said. "He's very mature and is a very smart football player. He did not miss a (pass) protection tonight. He did not miss one at Ohio State. We took him out (tonight) because we thought he'd had enough. We think he can be a special player."

We still haven't seen what UT coaches want to do with speed demon WR/RB Ramonce Taylor. The sophomore carried twice for 14 yards Saturday.

"In different ball games we'll feature different things to get him the ball," Davis said. "We wanted to get him some work late in the game at tailback because it's an easier spot to give him the ball. We had other things set for him that we just didn't get to."

The stingy Longhorn defense scored enough points on their own to win this game, tallying two second quarter Rice turnovers into TDs. The unit held Rice to 110 rushing yards on 46 attempts and the Owls did not complete their first pass (after six previous attempts) until late in the third quarter.

"You guard against a letdown all week," Co-DC Gene Chizik said. "We were adamant about not being letting down. You don't let down if you want be a championship defense. I'm proud of the way we came out tonight. We came out very focused. That was really nice coming off of an extra-big win last week."

Texas may (with emphasis on 'may') have found a kicker. Junior Greg Johnson, a freshman All-American while at Vanderbilt, handled all KO chores in place of Richmond McGee and actually placed the ball in the back of the end zone (albeit with a steady, southerly breeze). Johnson's kicks reached the Owl 9, the 4, the 3 before finishing the first half with two touchbacks. He then kicked off to the Rice 7, the 1 and added another touchback in the second half.

P Richmond McGee got into the act following Texas' third possession and responded with a 41-yard punt, with no return, into the wind. His 56-yard punt set up Frank Okam's fumble recovery in the end zone for a 35-0 lead with 5:27 left until the half. He added a 56-yarder in the third quarter

RS-freshman Jordan Shipley was sidelined after re-aggravating an injury to his right hamstring during Thursday's practice.

"I was running a route in practice (Thursday) and I strained it a little," Shipley said. "It's just really sore right now. I'm disappointed that I (wasn't) able to play, but I don't need to push it. I need to rest and focus on getting healthy so I can get back and help the team as soon as possible."

Shipley sustained the hamstring injury during a non-contact passing drill on August 11. He missed the 2004 season after tearing his ACL on his left knee.

DT Derek Lokey saw action for the first time this season after suffering a foot injury during voluntary workouts last July.

The one negative in this lopsided affair was that Texas was guilty of 10 penalties totaling 87 yards.

"That's entirely too many," Brown said. "That's something we've not had in our first two games. In a game that was closer, that would have got us killed tonight."

But Charles put this one away early, scoring on consecutive 25-yard runs to launch the runaway. He accounted for 43 yards on two carries during Texas' opening drive, including a 25-yard TD run to make it a 7-0 ballgame with just 1:49 eclipsed from the game clock. The series covered 80 yards in six plays.

Following Rice's first possession, Jared Scruggs' 42-yard punt was downed at the Texas half-yard line. That only set up Texas' six-play, TD drive. The big play was Vince Young's 51-yard scamper on 3rd-and-7 from the four. On that one, VY lined up in the 'gun with Charles at the wing. The freshman threw a clearing block as Young rolled out and then cut back against the grain. From that point, it was vintage Vince as the Horns set up shop at the Owls 46. Charles netted 20 yards on three carries just before he took it in for his second 25-yard TD run in as many Longhorn possessions.

Anyone who took a passing glance at the Ohio State game last week knew the Owls weren't going to punch it in even when the Horns turned the ball over on their own 21 with 1:35 remaining in the first quarter. It'll go down as a LCB Ja'Corey Shepherd interception of a Young pass (The freshman actually wrestled the ball out of SE Limas Sweed's mitts following what would have been a nine-yard completion). On 2nd-and-8 from the 19, SS Michael Huff blew up a reverse, lassoing WR Jarett Dillard for a 7-yard loss. The drive ended when Chase Clement's 4th-and-22 pass attempt fell incomplete.

Charles was just getting warm. Taking over on the Rice 32, the freshman followed his 26-yard burst up the middle with a 20-yard run over right guard. He capped the six-play, 68-yard drive with his 3-yard TD run.

The Longhorn defense posted enough points to win this one.

On Rice's second series of the second quarter, SS Michael Huff scooped up A-back Quinton Smith's fumble and returned it 21 yards for the score. That upped the Longhorn lead, 28-0, with 10:07 remaining until the break.

'"I read the keys inside and out," Huff said. "Tarell Brown hit the running back and made him fumble. It just fell right in my hands. I have fun every game running around and making plays and celebrating with my teammates."

Two possessions later, MLB Aaron Harris threw QB Chase Clement for a five-yard loss, forcing a goal line fumble that NT Frank Okam recovered in the end zone for another Texas TD to stake a 35-0 margin.

Breathing fire, the D forced a three-and-out as the Texas offense mounted one last drive from its own 30 with 3:01 remaining until the break. Going with a no-huddle offense, Young found TE David Thomas in the left flat for 15 before hooking up with SE Limas Sweed for 21 yards to the Rice 34. Two Charles' carries netted 22 yards before Young's 11-yard crossing pattern to Thomas set up first-and-goal from the one. This season, that will mean one thing: Henry Melton Time. This week, the freshman kept his feet on the ground, lowered his helmet and rammed it in as the Horns took a 42-0 lead into the locker room following the seven-play, 70-yard drive.

Rice got on the scoreboard with 5:49 remaining in the third quarter, courtesy of Greg Johnson's personal foul (on his second KO of the second half) plus a pair of penalties against RCB Cedric Griffin (pass interference, holding). The Owls settled for a 37-yard FG after Robison threw QB Joel Armstrong for a 12-yard loss.

VY took a seat with 5:44 remaining in the third as backup QB Matt Nordgren, on his second series, led the Horns on a four-play, 33-yard drive. WR/RB Ramonce Taylor capped the drive with a 10-yard TD run. Pino's kick was wide left as the score remained, 51-3.

Rice finally got into end zone with 7:28 remaining against a collection of second- and third-team defenders on a two-yard Clement run. That capped the scoring on a night that will be remembered primarily for Charles' record-breaking debut.

"We think the sky's limit for him," Davis said.

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