Dusty Mangum's Kansas Game Turning Point

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

Kansas head coach Mark Mangino was in disbelief as the Horns ran and passed all over his Kansas team. BCS Conspiracy? If so, it was a conspiracy to stock the Texas Longhorns with an amazing array of talent that the Jayhawks simply could not stop.

Coming in, the KU defense owned the stingiest rush defense in D-I, surrendering just under 70 yards per game. So Texas aimed to soften that defense up on its first two drives by establishing the pass. But three incompletions, a short completion, and two one-yard rushes by Vince Young leading to two quick three-and-outs later, the Horns set up at their own 35 still locked in a zero-zero struggle. That lasted, oh, less than a minute.

Texas looked to its effective backfield runners to launch a scoring onslaught on the out-matched visitors. Ramonce Taylor took an option pitch left for nine yards. Taylor followed that up with an 11-yard gain. When Limas Sweed went vertical and hauled in a 45-yard TD pass from Vince Young on the next play, the romp was on.

Credit the Horns effectiveness in the run game for VY's efficiency with the pass. And vice versa. That's what makes this Texas team so darn hard to defend. It can beat you in so many ways. Saturday, the Longhorns racked up 336 yards on the ground. Check out these numbers: Ramonce Taylor, 14 rushes for 96 yards (6.9 per carry) and two TDs; Henry Melton, seven rushes for 73 yards (10.4 ypc); Jamaal Charles, eight rushes for 70 yards (8.8 ypc) and a TD; Selvin Young, seven rushes for 57 yards (8.1 ypc) and a TD. About the only member of the Texas backfield not to torch the Jayhawk run D was Vince Young, who had six official rushes for minus-four yards. For Kansas, there was but one little problem with that stat: the UT QB more than made up for it by completing 19 of 27 pass attempts for 281 yards with four touchdowns tosses. Not a bad day's work for the Heisman front-runner (who supposedly can't pass).

The Texas defense allowed Kansas only 267 total yards and just 119 yards on the ground. Senior QB Jason Swanson had a long day, with his receivers covered and Longhorn defenders in his face every play. That's Texas-like defense! And give credit to Texas’ special teams. Aaron Ross was spectacular with a 71-yard touchdown burst on a punt return to push the Longhorn lead to 28-zip before the end of the first quarter.

But the Longhorns stayed on the track largely due to a rushing attack that is deep, diverse, and, for the first time all season, healthy. There was no conspiracy on Saturday or dollars influencing anything. It was just another can opened up against the Jayhawks by the -- and this should be a scary thought to the Ags and the Big 12's North champ -- improving Longhorns.

Texas now has a week to rest and get ready for the Aggies. All I have to say is poor Aggies. Texas will clear the final roadblock before the Big 12 Championship Game and claim what is rightfully theirs. A league title, and on the way to more. Hook 'Em and till next time, the Eyes of Texas Are Upon You….

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 Monday after each game during football season here on InsideTexas.com.


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