Culpepper's Commentary: Texas-Kansas

On Friday night at the Hall of Honor social hour, there was an interesting group picture just before the festivities began.

There was 81-year old former Longhorn coach Darrell Royal and 97-year old "Slim" Talbert from Texas City sitting together, and behind them from left to right was Diron Talbert, Don Talbert and Charlie Talbert. Talk about bloodlines!

"He sired a whole nest of rattlesnakes," said a younger Darrell Royal of Mr. Talbert.

It was meant as a compliment because of the spirit and aggressiveness that came from that one household in Texas City. Coach Royal only had to call "Slim" if there were any questions about his disciplinary actions toward his sons. Diron, who was honored Friday as a Hall of Honor selectee, and Don were in a class by themselves when it came to bringing the fight to their opponents.

Since I played with Don in 1960-61, I can remember two great hits that had an effect on football games: one, a block on a linebacker from California that then Cal offensive coordinator Bill Walsh later said was the most brutal but clean block he had ever seen, and, two, a kickoff tackle against Baylor in 1961 when Talbert hit a Baylor returner head on knocking the gold helmet straight up in the air like an ejection seat from a jet.

Diron was almost unblockable in several of his games at Texas and of course was team captain for the Washington Redskins for several years in the NFL.

Charlie seemed to be a bit more under control but was an excellent tight end and defensive end for the Longhorns. He had a large role in the 1963 National Championship Texas team.

"Slim", at age 96, went hunting with his boys and shot two turkeys!

What I am trying to say is how lucky the Longhorns are to have such solid parents that support them through thick and thin. Past and present.

You strike up a conversation with middle linebacker Aaron Harris' father and you understand very quickly that this college football player will have his head on straight.

Just go down the list from Ramonce Taylor to Rod Wright and there are parents not too far away that have a clear picture of right from wrong and have passed that message to their children.

When that group of seniors ran down the ramp at Royal-Memorial Stadium and got their handshake from coach Mack Brown, I'm not sure any football team in America could have faced up to their passion.

Kansas did not get a first down until late in the second quarter and Texas already had a 42-0 lead! The up-front pressure from Wright, Larry Dibbles, Frank Okam, Tim Crowder and Brian Robison was at an incredible level. From the almost ground-level view I have during Longhorn games, the Kansas quarterback would disappear beneath the Texas rush. It is impossible to pass accurately under such conditions. There is no reason to blitz when the front four can sustain such a rush.

Mind you, this was a football team that had played the Longhorns to a standstill last season and had broken a 36-year losing streak against Nebraska just the previous weekend. They weren't chopped liver; they just looked like it versus a great Texas squad.

Credit Aaron Ross for a brilliant 71-yard punt return which goes right beside his 88-yard return against Missouri as kicking game highlights. Ross' return ability could well determine whether this Longhorn football team will have the stuff to win a national championship.

Offensively, Limas Sweed and David Thomas are becoming a "Mr. Outside and Mr. Inside" receiving threat.

Put the binoculars on Vince Young and watch him follow David Thomas, then go to Sweed. Of course, this is all possible because of the protection, but it is exactly what opponents can't see on the exchange game tapes. Vince Young has learned to look off defenders. He knows what's happening in the secondary and where his receivers are going and is making defenses pay a terrible price.

Once again, the combination of Ramonce Taylor and Jamaal Charles at the setback position has added another dangerous twist to the Longhorn attack.

Somewhere in the next three game, Charles or Taylor will catch a pass in the flat and take it downfield for a game-breaker.

For the next week and a half we will be bombarded with Coach Dennis Franchione and his positive slant on the Aggies fighting back from being down 28-7 at Norman this last Saturday to lose "only" 36-30. They should "fight back". How they get ripped by Iowa State 42-14 at home a couple of weeks ago is forgotten in the renewed hope that the Aggies can reinvent their football team and be what everybody thought they should be when Texas comes calling on Nov. 25.

You should remember A&M lost three of its last four games in 2004, culminating with a real whipping from Tennessee in the Cotton Bowl. Many experts thought Franchione, like Bob Stoops (at one time), would have Brown's number by this time.

I have news for all those who believe the 12th man is something special -- Kasey Studdard and his buddies will not pale in the sprit or effort because they go to Kyle Field. Texas 52, A&M 10.

By the way, only two cowboys sit at the cowboy poker table as Alabama checked out last Saturday. Should Texas and USC make it to Pasadena on Jan. 4, it will be the first time in several years we will see the only undefeateds square off and have an undisputed national champion in Division I football.

Pat Culpepper played for The University from 1960-62 and graduated from UT with a B.A. degree with honors in history. He coached college football for 12 years as an assistant at Texas, Colorado, Tulane, Baylor and Memphis State and was head coach at Northern Illinois from 1976-79. He also spent 16 years as a high school coach in Texas at Midland, Lufkin, Galveston Ball, Westfield and his hometown of Cleburne. He was selected to the Longhorn Hall of Honor in 1991. His commentary appears regularly in the Inside Texas magazine and at

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