Charles The Starter At RB? Not So Fast, My Friend

Texas coach Mack Brown is hesitant to discount junior RB Selvin Young by naming freshman Jamaal Charles his starter when the Longhorns open Big 12 Conference play at Missouri on October 1.

An off week allows Young to rest his injured ankle that forced him out of the Rice game and the second half of both the UL-Lafayette and Ohio State contests.

"We'll probably let Young continue to work some this week, but not have a physical week of practice," said Brown. "Hopefully he can return to full speed because we need him back."

Brown acknowledged Monday that he hears the murmurs regarding Charles becoming the Horns' featured back, but (so far) has refused to put the freshman in the top spot on the depth chart.

"There has been a lot of talk about whether Jamaal would start," said Brown, "but that's one of the things we like about this team. We don't have to discuss starters because we are trying to be two deep at every position."

Charles extended his early season success Saturday vs. Rice, rushing for 189 yards and three scores on 16 totes vs. the Owls. He broke Adrian Walker's UT starting freshman debut mark for yards in a game (151, set against Rice in 1989). All but two of Charles' carries came in the first half. Brown began to substitute liberally mid-way through the third quarter.

"Usually if we are way ahead at halftime and the game is under control, we will try to get our starters to go out to at least get another score or get down the field," Brown said. "We would like our defensive starters to work mostly through the third quarter because you also have to concern yourself with the conditioning of your squad. If your first team, and parts of your second team, don't get to play enough, it can hurt your conditioning. We did feel like we got done what we needed to."

Charles set a personal goal of rushing for 200+ yards during his first start but was pulled just short of that mark with Texas holding on to a 42-0 lead.

"I've probably leaned on the side of pulling guys out too soon because I do feel for the kids on the other team," Brown said. "I have great respect for (Rice coach) Ken Hatfield, and it doesn't do us any good to get a huge score on somebody. What we need to do is make sure our players get to play like they need to. Where I haven't been fair is to (backup QB) Matt Nordgren. If we are way up, he doesn't get the chance to throw the ball down field. You also don't want to give the message to your team that we are pulling back so much that they shouldn't compete. When you get up by so much, you just try to run the ball up the middle to run the clock out."

Added Brown: "There is also that line where you are beating someone so bad that there is no way they can ever come back. Oklahoma State was beating us 35-7, and then all of a sudden when it starts turning, it is very difficult to stop it. One thing you want to make sure is that the game is over before you stop."

Although much of the media and fan interest has been directed towards Texas' running game, Brown's main area of concern this week is scheming to stop dual-threat Missouri QB Brad Smith.

"Brad is one of the great quarterbacks to play college football since I have been coaching," said Brown. "Brad is a guy that no one ever stops, you just keep him from beating you."

Smith finished last season with numbers below what many expected from him, but this season, Brown considers Smith just as big a threat as early in his career in Columbia.

"Everybody talks about his ability to make plays with his feet, but he can beat you either way," said Brown. "We're seeing in college football, that guys that can beat you running or throwing, its just like another running back in the backfield, it's just so difficult to stop."

The Horns will practice through Thursday before Brown gives players the weekend off during the bye week.

Horns Digest Top Stories