Dusty Mangum's Missouri Game Turning Point

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

It was a great match-up of mobile quarterbacks, pitting Vince Young of Texas versus Brad Smith of Missouri. Both teams played sloppy early, with both QBs having trouble keeping the handle on the ball. But the turning point in this one came with the ball firmly in Vince's grip. Midway through the second quarter, Texas owned a 21-13 lead but faced a third down and 30 from its own 33 after an illegal block penalty on Ramonce Taylor and then a sack of Young. The Texas signalcaller was having difficulty getting his rhythm. And a failed conversion and then a punt here would put the Tiger offense back in business down by just a TD. But Young turned in a play reminiscent of another great highlight from last year versus Kansas.

Vince took the shotgun snap with tailback Selvin Young just to his left. The Horns' OL stymied Missouri's three-man rush (none of the Tiger rushers got within three or four yards of Young) as Selvin and David Thomas both released joining three Longhorn wideouts in patterns downfield. Young, standing on the right hash at the 24, scanned the field for close to four seconds looking for an open receiver. The Mizzou defenders were determined not to let a ball go over their head. Seeing the tight coverage (the Tigers had eight guys covering five potential Texas targets), Vince tucked the ball and darted diagonally toward the left hash where, at the 40, he cut just in front of a crucial downfield block by Selvin Young, sprinted up the hash past midfield and glided past the chains before Xzavie Jackson and Calvin Washington converged to bring him down at the Missouri 33. He needed 30. He got 34. First down Texas, and from then on, the Longhorns did not look back, completing the drive with David Pino's 26-yard field goal, pushing the Longhorns to an 11-point lead three and a half minutes before half. The offense seemed to have found its rhythm and picked up in the second half where they had left off in the first, scoring 27 unanswered points after the break. The offensive stampede totaled 585 yards on the day and did not finish until the clock read zero and the score showed, "Longhorns 51, Tigers 20."

Jamaal Charles continued his brilliance on the ground by adding 97 yards and an amazing back peddling catch, miraculously keeping his balance before diving into the end zone for his second touchdown of the day. He scored his only rushing touchdown with a 3 yard run, which was set up by an Aaron Harris interception that was returned to the Mizzou three.

The Texas defense rose to the occasion, keeping Brad Smith and the Tiger offense mostly under wraps. The Horns managed to force the solo INT and recover two fumbles. The three turnovers resulted in 21 points for the Longhorns.

Texas’ special teams showed even more improvement with a stampeding kickoff coverage team. With Greg Johnson sending the kicks high and deep, it allowed the Texas defenders plenty of time to get down the field and swarm the return man. (The Horns allowed just 17 yards per return, forcing Mizzou to start six of its drives after kickoffs at or inside the 20.) Erick Jackson was a menace to the Tiger kickoff return team, running down and hitting anything that moved. I think I saw him tackle the peanut guy.

This past weekend was a great opener into Big 12 play and a great step forward to this weekend’s Red River Shootout against Oklahoma. Remember, We Are Texas.

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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