"For the seniors, this is something we haven't accomplished before," LDT Rod Wright said following his final game at DKR. "A lot of people criticized us for not winning the big game or for not being tough. It's been a long road. Sitting on the tenth game and having 10 wins already and clinching the South feels great."
It is clearly the most dominant Longhorn squad since 1977 when Earl Campbell bludgeoned opponents and the rush defense set the Texas post-War standard (2.13 ypc). The 617 yards of offense Saturday marks the first time in school history that the team has generated 600+ yards three times in one season, and it's come on consecutive weekends. The output ties the 1977 team for No. 9 all-time while the current team has produced five of the program's Top 25 offensive games. The 52 points during the first 30 minutes of play ties a record that dates back to 1974, while the 66 points is the most Texas has scored in a Big 12 Conference game. It was the sixth time this year that Texas scored 50+ points, which leads the nation. And it came against a Kansas team that entered the game boasting the nation's top run defense (64.1 ypg) while limiting foes to 18.2 ppg.
So, should we start referring to OC Greg Davis as the 'Ol Ball Coach or just give Young the Heisman?
You could see this one coming last Monday. That's when VY was still operating on a slow-burn when reminded the day before of the comments Kansas coach Mark Mangino made following Texas' last-second comeback win in Lawrence last season. Mangino's well-documented accusations that game officials gave Texas preferential treatment to preserve its BCS standing were fresh still on Young's mind even after he upped his record to 27-2 as a starter.
"I took it real personally," he said Saturday. "He was talking about our players and our coaches. That's like some talking about your mother."
It was another mother of an outing for Young who did all of his damage in less than three quarters of play. VY was 19-of-27 passing for 281 yards, including a career-best four TDs and no interceptions. He also passed former QB Major Applewhite as Texas' all-time leader in total offense with 8,269 yards.
"It means he's really good," Davis quipped.
Kansas had allowed just two rushing TDs all season; Texas matched that with just 2:47 eclipsed from the second quarter when RB Ramonce Taylor carried it in from eight yards out. The Jayhawks were holding opponents to 24 percent on third-down conversions, but Texas continued its average of moving the chains on half of its attempts with a 7-of-14 showing.
Texas' committee of tailbacks combined for 336 yards as Taylor led all rushers with 96 yards on 14 carries, including two TDs. RT logged his second straight start at RB and said earlier in the week UT coaches noticed a "wrinkle" in KU's top-ranked run defense.
"They were putting too many in the box," he said, "and we felt like if we got to the outside they would start widening and then we could starting running up the middle."
Texas also made a living with play-action pass off the zone read. Senior TE David Thomas led all receivers with 76 yards on four receptions, including a 32-yard TD grab. With his third catch of the game, Thomas moved to the top of Texas' receptions list for a TE with 81.
RB Jamaal Charles ran with authority, displaying for the second consecutive week the corner-turning burst that had been on hold since injuring his ankle against Oklahoma on October 8. The freshman finished with 70 yards on eight carries (8.8 ypc) and scored a TD. The 10-yard scoring run in the first quarter moved him up to No. 3 on the UT freshman TD rushing list, passing Ricky Williams (1995) and Butch Hadnot (1990).
Defensively, Texas forced six straight three-and-outs to start the ball game and limited KU to two third down conversions on 15 attempts. The Jayhawks managed just 126 total yards at the end of three quarters but, by then, the Horns were emptying the bench on both sides of the ball. Kansas finished with 119 rushing yards on 22 attempts while QB Jason Swanson completed 17-of-35 passes for 148 yards, with 104 of those yards coming in the fourth quarter and the outcome long since decided. SLB Robert Killebrew continues to be a man-on-fire, leading his team with six tackles, including a QB sack, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
RCB Cedric Griffin believes the team is peaking at the right time but, defensively, needs to go for the jugular despite commanding leads late in the game.
"We've been playing great so far but we've been letting down in the fourth quarter because we've got teams blown out," he said. "We can't let teams off the hook."
VY came out flinging and did not attempt a hand-off until Texas' third possession.
"We felt like what we would do is start by throwing the ball all over the place and let them understand that we were going to try to win the game and we weren't going to be stubborn," head coach Mack Brown said. "But when they started spreading out, we were able to get our rushing yards."
Taylor collected nine yards on the option toss before scooting for 11 after advancing his own fumble to the Longhorn 45. That set the table for Texas' blink-and-you-miss-it offensive onslaught. It began when Young, with enough time to complete a crossword puzzle, lofted a spiral into the southerly breeze and connected on the post pattern with (6-5) SE Limas Sweed who simply went up top against (5-11) CB Theo Baines for the score.
Killebrew has been a special teams freak-of-nature the past three weeks. This time he forced a Greg Heaggans fumble on the KO return and recovered the loose ball at the KU 10. From there, a spinning, churning Jamaal Charles rushed over right tackle and powered his way to pay dirt. Texas led 14-0 with 7:40 remaining in the opening frame.
Young became Texas' all-time leader in total offense when he completed the left sideline pass to Thomas on 2nd-and-15 from the Horns' own 14. For the second week in a row, emerging star Quan Cosby produced a highlight reel TD grab. The 22-year old freshman FL was flagrantly mugged by FS Rodney Fowler along the right sideline but fought his way into the end zone, capping a three-play, 81-yard drive.
Following KU's fourth straight three-and-out, Kevin Kane was whistled for holding during Aaron Ross' 10-yard return of Kyle Tucker's 56-yard punt. And this is why you make 'em re-kick: On the second punt attempt, Ross took a 55-yard boot 71 yards to the house for the fifth-longest punt return by a Longhorn in school history. Props to Michael Griffin for a clearing block in the middle of the field as Texas jumped to a 28-0 lead. Kansas never kicked to Ross again, angling to the sideline on subsequent punts.
RT and Charles took turns razzle-dazzling the announced crowd of 83,696 on Texas' first possession of the second quarter. RT collected 10 yards on the reverse on 2nd-and-9 from the Texas 27, the first time the play has been called in five outings. After VY scrambled for six, Charles bounded outside right end and quickly stepped off 20 yards. Three plays later, he moved the chains on 3rd-and-four from the KU 31 when he picked up eight on the zone read. A pass interference penalty spotted Texas a 1st-and-goal from the eight, and then it was vintage RT. OC Greg Davis called an isolation play to the short side of the field but, with the running lanes congested, Taylor quickly reversed field, darted right and then drug two would-be tacklers into the end zone. That made it a 35-0 Longhorn lead with just 2:47 eclipsed from the second quarter.
"RT is a phenom in the backfield," Brown said. "He has a chance to go the distance every time he touches the ball."
With the defense yielding no ground, the offense showed no mercy. Young's 29-yard crossing pattern to Thomas capped a three-play, 47-yard scoring drive as the Horns upped their lead to 42.
Kansas collected its initial first down of the mismatch with WR Charles Gordon's 16-yard reception to the Jayhawk 36. But that only made Killebrew mad. 'Kill' sacked QB Jason Swanson for a 9-yard loss. Both teams traded punts but, with Kansas staring at a makeable 3rd-and-2 from its own 28, Ross nearly came up with his second TD of the day when he stepped in front of a Swanson pass and returned it 31 yards to the Jayhawk three.
Texas lined up in its jumbo package but, rather than dialing the number of designated scorer Henry Melton, VY rolled right and connected with TE Peter Ullman in the right corner of the end zone. The freshman's first collegiate catch was also his first collegiate TD as the Horns had delivered a 49-0 statement. The defense forced its eighth three-and-out of the first half as Texas went with a no-huddle offense after taking over on its own 28 with 2:39 remaining. The big play was WR Billy Pittman's 23-yard reception on the post pattern to the KU 13. David Pino connected on a 35-yard FG with 55 seconds as the Horns took a 52-0 lead into the lockerroom.
"Defensively, we've never been any better than we were in the first half," Brown said.
At this point, Texas had rolled to 152 unanswered points dating back to the second quarter of the Oklahoma State game. When RB Jon Cornish rushed over left end for the 59-yard score on KU's second play of the second half, the junior picked up more yards in one tote than the Jayhawks manufactured in the first half (43).
"It always upsets you when they score that quick," said Co-Defensive Coordinator Gene Chizik, a self-avowed perfectionist. "We talked at half-time about trying to play stronger in the second half. We talk all week about how, as the games wear on, we try to become stronger and make it apparent to the other team that you are getting stronger. We had a couple of lapses in the second half and I was disappointed in that."
The Horns answered with their longest scoring drive of the game: a 15-play, 80-yard march culminating with another patented Ramonce Taylor run as the sophomore started left, darted right and ended up in familiar territory in the Jayhawk endzone. The 59-7 margin with 6:41 remaining in the third meant VY was done.
QB Matt Nordgren checked in on Texas' next series as ILB Kevin Kane came away with the tip-drill INT and returned it 18 yards to the Longhorn 28. KU cashed in on a pair of runs, culminating in FB Brandon McAnderson's 15-yard scoring run over right guard.
After that, it was Henry Melton Time, as the freshman finished with 73 yards on seven carries. By then, many who came early, wore orange and were loud had long since departed for home, or in search of more competitive football games. And, this time, Mangino was gracious in defeat.
"I want to tell you what an impressive football team The University of Texas is," he said. "I do not think I have ever been on a field where I have seen so many big, strong, fast and talented kids, from the first team to the rotation guys to the number twos. This is an impressive football team, and I want to tip my hat to Mack Brown for a great game and for the great season they are having."
There were no Texas injuries Saturday, Brown said.
Texas now enters the second bye week of the season before looking to wrap up an undefeated regular season at Texas A&M on Friday, November 25.