Dusty Mangum's Rice Game Turning Point

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

The Owl band was in full wacky form on Saturday night. They brought to DKR their nano Bertha, an undersized version of UT's own Big Bertha. The M.O.B. proceeded with a little advertisement for the Swedish Drum Enlargement Pump, which should be a hot seller. Often imitated, never duplicated, We Are Texas...

... And Texas picked up against Rice where it left off against Ohio State. True freshman running back Jamaal Charles led the Longhorn offensive attack with 189 yards rushing and 3 touchdowns on 16 carries. Vince Young stayed on track in his Heisman quest by going 8 of 14 for 101 and adding 77 yards with his legs. Charles and Young accounted for all 189 yards -- Charles 92 yards rushing, Young 62 yards rushing and 25 yards passing -- as the Horns took their first two possessions the distance for a 14-zip lead.

But then came a three-and-out series followed on the next Texas offensive possession by a Vince Young INT, setting up Rice at the Longhorn 20 heading into the second quarter. If the Owls were going to make any noise, it would be now.

Not on Gene Chizik's defense.

The Texas D forced a one-yard rush, a loss of seven and, after a Rice penalty, an incomplete pass. When the Owls' fourth-and-21 attempt failed, the Horns had rebuffed Rice's only realistic opportunity to keep the game from becoming the blowout that it indeed became. In a game that was UT's all the way, that's as close as it gets to a Turning Point.

But there are a few other things worth noting, among them:

*The new Instant Replay rule has done wonders for officials getting the calls right. On Saturday night, it overturned a possible interception by Vince Young, which would have damaged his Heisman numbers.

*With Selvin Young out with a sprained ankle, true freshman Jamaal Charles got the starting nod vs. the Owls. Since arriving in Austin in early August, the youngster has walked the walk and lived up to the recruiting hype. He has shown flashes of brilliance, and given Longhorn fans just a taste of what is to come over the next four years. It is hard to believe that he was playing high school football one short year ago. He darted and dashed his way through the Owl defense as he did in previous games against Louisiana-Lafayette and Ohio State.

* Richmond McGee had been kicking off, but the senior is nursing an ailing back, so Greg Johnson took over the kickoff duties for the week. Kickoff coverage showed new light as the Owls were controlled on UT's nine kickoffs. Johnson's kickoffs went like this: to the nine (into the wind), to the four (into the wind), to the three (with the wind), touchback (kicked from the 50, with the wind, after a Rice penalty), to the goalline (with the wind), touchback (with the wind), to the seven (with the wind), to the one (with the wind), and touchback (with the wind). The Owls' best starting field position after a kickoff? The Rice 42, and that was courtesy of Greg Johnson, who delivered a punishing blow that resulted in a personal foul. That penalty, and the unit's overall success (the Owls' starting field position after kickoffs was the 20), showed that this is a new type of kickoff coverage, one with intensity and passion for getting the job done.

With the success at tailback, the passion on kickoff returns and all the other positives apparent for the No. 2 ranked team in the country, things are looking up for the Longhorns heading into their bye weekend. This weekend will give the players a chance to relax and watch some games without the pressure of their own. Pressure... that is funny if you think about it. Everyone says there is pressure to win the big one. From my experience, the only pressure that there is is the pressure you put on yourself. This team has displayed that and has handled itself appropriately. Through three games, the Horns are acting and playing like champions, like Texas Longhorns. We should all be so excited for the future, but proud of the present. These players have represented our University and state with class and integrity. Until October 1st in Missouri, the Eyes of Texas are upon you...

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. His Turning Point column appears on Sunday after each game during football season here on InsideTexas.com.

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