Texas-Mizzou A Showcase For Mobile QBs

Texas opens Big 12 play on the road for the first time this decade when it visits Missouri Saturday. Appropriately, the Show Me State represents a showcase for QBs Vince Young and Brad Smith, whom many view as mirror images of the other.

"We’ll be looking at two of the top quarterbacks in the country this weekend," head coach Mack Brown said Monday. "They’re very similar in that both can beat you with their feet or their arms. They’re really competitive and they’re tough. We hit Brad hard last year and he got back up every time."

Young is averaging 6.7 ypc while Smith has been good for 6.3 yards every time he keeps the ball. Young is completing 65 percent of his passes (39-of-60 for 544 yards) while Smith is connecting on 67.2 percent of his attempts (84-of-125 for 748 yards).

Smith’s three-game average of 362.3 ypg ranks third nationally. His 3,327 career rushing yards is No. 9 on the NCAA all-time list for QBs, and he needs just an average day (113.0 ypg in 2005) against Texas to move past Nebraska’s Eric Crouch for the No. 5 spot. With virtually his entire senior year in front of him, Smith is just the third player in Division-I history to achieve at least 6,000 yards passing and 3,000 yards rushing. In fact, he is the NCAA’s active career leader in total offense with 10,570 yards entering the Texas game.

The bottom line, of course, is Ws.

"The most impressive stat for (Young) is that he’s 20-2 as a starter," Brown said. "The winningest quarterback in school history (percentage-wise) was James Street, who was 20-0. (Young's) two losses were to a Top Five Oklahoma team and to Washington State, but I don’t think we can credit him with that (Holiday Bowl) loss."

Smith and the Tigers, on the other hand, followed an 8-4 2003 campaign by stumbling to a 5-6 mark in 2004. Much of the blame was leveled at MU head coach Gary Pinkel’s ill-fated attempt to turn Smith into a (relatively) immobile pocket passer. Although Smith’s numbers are impressive under Mizzou’s new spread offense (patterned after Urban Meyer’s approach at Florida/Utah), those stats were accumulated against the likes of Arkansas State and Troy, while the up-and-down Tigers managed to lose their home opener to New Mexico (45-35) the same day Texas was making a statement at Ohio State.

Smith and Young are seen, in many circles, as prototypical of the modern day collegiate quarterback. At the very least, the dual threat QB fits the profile of the type of signal caller Brown most wants to recruit.

"What we’re seeing from mobile quarterbacks now is they are able to start running with the ball, and the linebackers and secondary are coming up, and they (QBs) are keeping their eyes downfield and making plays before they cross the line of scrimmage," Brown said. "They’re very, very difficult to defend. The most dangerous thing about guys like Vince and Brad, who can run, is their ability to run forward out of the pocket and draw everybody to them and make the big play down field. That’s the one you can’t stop."

Truth be told, Texas coaches have yet to completely unleash VY this season. Other than carrying the offense on his shoulder pads in the second half against Ohio State, Young has seen action in only one second-half drive against both Rice and UL-Lafayette.

"What people do not see until he takes the field is his competitive spirit," Brown said, "and he’s really, really tough. After the first play at Ohio State where they hit him so hard, they (Buckeye defense) told him, ‘It’s going to be this way all night. And Vince said something like, ‘Hey, baby. Bring it on.’ He just laughed and patted them on the head as he got up. That’s just who he is."

Texas’ sluggish 28-20 win over Mizzou last season represented a low-water mark in Young’s collegiate career, as he completed just 3-of-9 passing and exited the game in the third quarter with a bruised sternum.

"He wasn’t having fun during the first five games of last year," Brown said. "Part of it was his trying to prove something to everybody and now he doesn’t have to prove anything to anybody. I think he put it all on himself and, now, he trusts his teammates."

During the nine games since Texas last faced Missouri, Young has completed 125-of-197 passes (63.5%) for 1,636 yards while adding an additional 950 yards on the ground.

"We didn’t add plays but we were able to allow him to be him more within our system," Brown said. "Everybody wanted him to sprint out every time, and nobody sprints out every time. Every body said that he couldn’t drop back. Well, he can. I think what we did was start running the offense again instead of trying to limit things he was doing to make sure he was successful. But I do think that we were limiting him, at that time, and made him feel like we didn’t trust him."

While his TD/INT ratio continues to be ugly (5 TDs, 4 INT this season), VY has overcome his snafus by leading the Horns on five fourth-quarter comebacks during his career. The list includes the greatest comeback in Texas history, in which No. 6 Texas rallied from a 35-7 deficit against No. 19 Oklahoma State for a 21-point win last November.

When asked to name the most elusive quarterback he has ever faced, senior MLB Aaron Harris (who has seen the likes of Brad Smith, Texas A&M’s Reggie McNeal and Ohio State’s Troy Smith) didn’t have to think twice.

"Vince Young," he said.

Kickoff vs. Missouri is set for 11 a.m. (Central) at Columbia in an ABC telecast.

2005...................VINCE YOUNG....BRAD SMITH

Rushes.....................35..................54

Net Yards rushing......202................339

Yards-per-Carry........6.7.................6.3

Rushing YPG............78.3................113.0

Rushing TDs..............1....................4

Attempts/Completions...60/39 (65.0 percent)....125/84 (67.2 percent)

Passing total............544................748

Passing YPG............181.3..............249.3

TD/INT....................5/4................6/2


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