Taylor May Log More Time At RB

The fact that Texas "starting" RBs Jamaal Charles and Selvin Young, and now back-up Chris Ogbonnaya, are battling injuries gives new meaning to the term empty backfield in the Burnt Orange vernacular. It opens the door for speed demon Ramonce Taylor to shift from SE back to the RB spot he held throughout the spring as No. 2 Texas prepares for improved Baylor Saturday.

"We’ll have to (use Taylor) this week unless we get better reports than the ones that came out of Saturday night," said head coach Mack Brown, who doesn’t expect to hear from trainers until Tuesday.

Young clearly came up limping during Saturday’s latest comeback against Oklahoma State, where he was held to four yards on six carries. The latest setback came the very week that coaches pronounced him all-but-fully recovered from the nagging ankle injury that has slowed him since the home opener.

Charles has burst onto the scene to the tune of 630 yards on 81 carries, second only to Earl Campbell’s school record 654 yards set during his first seven games of 1974. Yet, Charles has been limited to 67 yards on 17 carries since injuring an ankle against Oklahoma on October 8. He had 20 yards on seven totes Saturday against the Cowboys.

"You can’t plan on Jamaal making it through the game right now because he hasn’t played very much," Brown said. "That was obvious Saturday, and you don’t know about Selvin. He’s been banged up some, and Chris Ogbonnaya got banged up with his ankle."

Charles was slowed more by muscle cramps than a sore ankle, Brown said Monday.

"Our doctors say cramps are not as heat-related as people think they are," Brown said. "You can have cramps in 60- to 70-degree weather like you have 90. From Jamaal’s standpoint, it’s probably because he hasn’t practiced as much as a lot of the other kids, and he played a little bit more Saturday night than he had been playing after Selvin tweaked his ankle."

Added Brown: "Jamaal’s ankle was not affected Saturday night. People have asked me about that. It was total cramps. That’s why he kept going back in. We’re hoping this week he’ll be better because he didn’t step back at all."

Charles, Young and Taylor are listed as co-starters on this week’s depth chart.

Taylor picked up the slack with 71 yards rushing on five carries, including two TDs, to help spark the 38-unanswered-point rally as the Horns went on to upend OSU, 47-28, equaling the second-largest comeback in program history. (And, of course, the biggest come-from-behind win since Texas overcame a 28-point deficit against the Cowboys last November.) Prior to Saturday’s game, RT had logged seven carries for 89 yards (12.7 ypc). His14.2 ypc against OSU resulted in Brown suggesting to Offensive Coordinator Greg Davis, "We probably should have handed it to him more."

"He can do everything," Brown said of Taylor. "We’re working him every day (in practice at RB) and have since the season started. With Jamaal playing as well as he did early, it’s changed here a little bit."

Despite the injuries, Texas bludgeoned (arguably) the league’s worst defense this side of College Station with 367 yards rushing en route to the sixth 600+ yards game (606) of the Mack Brown era. And if no one around the Forty Acres is sweating the RB situation, it’s because they have acknowledged all season that the team’s best runner is No. 10.

All QB Vince Young did in leading Texas to its eighth comeback win during his extraordinary tenure was shatter the school record with 506 total yards while accounting for four TDs. His 267 yards rushing was the most-ever by a Longhorn QB and the fifth-best rushing game in program history. Young and Missouri QB Brad Smith are the only players in NCAA history to rush and pass for 230+ yards in the same game. And if we really want to dissect these numbers, VY became the first player in D-I history to rush for 250+ yards and 230+ yards in the same contest.

One wonders if Superman considered dressing up as Vince Young for Halloween.

"There are kids on our defense now who actually stand up and watch him play," Brown said. "It’s the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen in my life. There are things that I’ll see him do and I’ll just say, ‘Wow. What a play.’ Just like that 80-yard run (on Texas’ opening drive of the second half). It just breaks their back."

Brown would not elaborate on the other injuries his team sustained Saturday, citing student privacy statutes, nor would he comment on their availability against Baylor. ("You all know who they are. They’re the ones that left. It’s just a truckload of them.")

The biggest concern is the health of starting DE Brian Robison (calf). The junior is still listed as the starter but Monday’s press conference marked the first time this season that Robison was unavailable for interviews. He watched the second half of the OSU game from the sideline wearing a boot on his right leg. RS-freshman Brian Orakpo subbed for Robison and contributed a personal-best five tackles against OSU.

FL Brian Carter injured a knee Saturday and is now listed as co-starter along with true freshman Quan Cosby and sophomore Nate Jones.

SLB Robert Killebrew, like Charles, suffered from recurrent cramps Saturday. For Killebrew, it was a matter of the over-exertion that results from combining his starting role at SAM with participating on every kicking team.

"I thought we played him too much," Brown said. "He played more than 90 plays against (Texas) Tech. He blocked two punts. (LG) Kasey Studdard was in there trying to knock those guys out so Killebrew could jump over, so it was an effective thing that Duane Akina did last week to effect their punting. But we’ve got to take Robert off of some kicking teams because he’s out there too much. Ninety plays two weeks in a row are too much for him."

Although the injuries are more of the nagging than the season-ending variety, Brown reports that there are currently more injuries on his 2005 Longhorns than at any time during his eight-year tenure. The silver lining is knowing that he has ample weapons to move the ball, and that Baylor and Kansas are next on the schedule.

"We just had the biggest offensive day we’ve had in years," Brown said. "I wish we were well but we’ve got to do whatever they’re going to let us do. We’ve run it so well around here that, if people are smart, they’re going to put 19 on the line of scrimmage and try to do something else to make us beat them. It’s like they don’t count passes any more. I don’t care. We just want to score and win. The receivers are playing better now. I think what defenses have done is they’re sticking with what they did last year."

The Baylor game has been set for an 11:30 a.m. kick on a Fox Sports Net telecast.


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