Selvin And Jamaal: How Well Now?

For Selvin Young, it's simply a case of mind over matter. For Jamaal Charles, it's simply a matter of time.

Both are still on the mend from ankle injuries, but healing is taking a different form for the RBs who'll continue their backfield rotation as Texas concludes the 2005 regular season with three games out of four on the road. Young will get the starting nod again this week at Oklahoma State, said head coach Mack Brown, who believes the junior is nearly 100 percent except for that critical terrain between the ears.

"The last part of rehabilitation is the mental part," Brown said. "I thought there were some good plays that he made against Colorado, but he still didn't have great confidence. On Saturday (against Texas Tech), he played with great confidence. That's why we started him. Jamaal is just a freshman and you never know when that ankle is going to be tweaked again. Watching Jamaal in practice, he seems to be fine. We feel like if he continues to progress through practice, he'll be in good shape."

Overall, the Horns are in great shape with their league-leading 256.1 rushing ypg (NCAA No. 5) that translates into college football's No. 4 scoring machine (46.6 ppg). Texas should continue to acquire real estate during the three-week stretch preceding the open date against teams with an combined 10-11 record (Oklahoma State, Baylor, Kansas). In other words, it's not a time to be foolish with Young and Charles, who look to be full-throttle for Texas' closing trifecta against Texas A&M, the Big 12 title game (presumably) and the BCS National Championship game (hopefully).

"The last two weeks were critical for Selvin because he needs to get his mind well," Brown said. "We do think his body is well, but he's had a lot of tough luck. Vince (Young) has talked to him about it, and we've talked to him about just turning it loose and letting it go. Sometimes you can make too many moves when you're trying to get well."

Coaches now concede that Young was overweight when he entered August camp. He was listed at 225 pounds nearly three months ago but now tips the scale at about 217. The only thing that's left to drop is the mental baggage, the result of a 2004 season-ending broken ankle injury suffered at Arkansas, an ankle sprain incurred against UL-Lafayette and then aggravated a week later at Ohio State.

"When you come off an injury there's just a block there," Offensive Coordinator Greg Davis told Inside Texas. "Until you get hit, or until you get put into a bad situation, you can't say, 'Oh, okay. It did hold up.' Personally, I think that's the reason he didn't carry the ball as well during the early part of the season. He wasn't trusting everything so he was tentative because he had not been a guy who had put the ball on the ground prior to that."

When Young turned the ball over in the first quarter against Oklahoma, he was averaging one fumble for every nine carries.

"When he came out of the Oklahoma game after the fumble," Brown said, "he went back in, played well, scored and didn't fumble. It really helped his confidence that we didn't jerk him and leave him on the sideline. I don't think he's 100 percent in his mind. I thought he made tremendous progress out there on Saturday, but I think there's still another Selvin out there that we haven't seen."

Young hasn't turned the ball over since OU.

"He's very, very hard on himself," Brown said. "One of the things you have trouble with when you are fumbling is jumping a guy about fumbling, and then he gets more paranoid and he fumbles more. We have not done that with Selvin. At all. We just told him to protect the ball better and he understands that. He's mature enough that he understands he can't drop the ball and be in the game."

But the injury also affected his running style, and consistently regaining that form is next on Young's agenda.

"He hasn't been secure enough to plant off either ankle at times and burst north-and-south," Brown said. "That's why he's gotten those little bitty steps. On Saturday, he planted better."

"I thought last week was the first week in practice that I've seen him turn it loose and be full speed again," Brown added. "You could tell he was turning it loose and running it to the end zone every time he touched the ball."

As important to Davis as the 77 yards and two TDs on 16 carries against Texas Tech were signs that the "old Selvin" has begun to emerge. An example was an eight-yard run Young made on a counter play.

"He came right out of the cut and a guy took a shot at him," Davis said. "He stepped over him. He made an eight-yard run, and we probably blocked for three. He had great power. His style probably has changed but I think it's working back to what his natural style had been. The old Selvin was a whole lot like Jamaal Charles in his style of running. He was a slasher, jump-sideways guy. He was not a Hodges Mitchell (in that) he still had some stroke when he put his pads down, but that was more how he was when he first got here."

Specifically, that would be the Selvin Young who averaged five ypc (661 yards on 132 totes) during his first two seasons in Austin. RB coach Ken Rucker has compiled footage of Young's game day highlights prior to his season-ending injury at Arkansas on September 11, 2004. The message was simple: here's what you're capable of. Let's get you back to that.

Texas kicks off at Oklahoma State, 6 p.m., Saturday, on a TBS national broadcast.

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