Sept. 3, 2005
Texas Runs Roughshod Over UL-Lafayette
By Bill Frisbie
AUSTIN -- Texas didn't show you a darn thing Saturday during its season opening 60-3 thumping of out-manned Louisiana-Lafayette. But that pretty much was by design.
"We did not have to show very much from a scheme point of view," head coach Mack Brown said, "and that's what we wanted."
In other words, Ohio State ain't seen nothin' yet. The defense was base, and QB Vince Young was held more in check by the game plan than he was by the Ragin' Cajun defense. The offense was "real vanilla," according to speed demon Ramonce Taylor who averaged 13 ypc (65 yards on just five totes) while adding 23 yards on two receptions.
"Everything we ran, we executed really well," said RT.
As expected, Texas opened with a three-wide set with Vince Young in the 'gun and Selvin Young at the wing. The Horns then went into the I formation. In other words, it was the same look that we have seen throughout the spring and during our limited exposure at fall camp.
But what we did see Saturday was Texas completely dominating at the LOS on both sides of the ball as well as the coming out party of a couple of true freshmen RBs, Jamaal Charles and Henry Melton. In fact, Charles' 135 yards on 14 attempts (can you live you 9.6 ypc?) broke the freshman rushing debut record (96 yards) that RT set just last season against North Texas. He contributed a game-high 45-yard run and a TD.
"He did tonight what we've see him do in every scrimmage," Brown said. "He picked up the offense really well. We saw in him tonight what we hoped we'd see."
Charles scored his first collegiate TD on a 14-yard run over left end on Texas' third possession of the first quarter.
"I wasn't trying to do too much," Charles said. "I was just trying to hit the holes and show my speed. I appreciate the linemen opening the holes up."
When Brown inserted Melton late in the ballgame, the intent was to run some clock rather than run up the score. The word that coaches use to describe the 6-3, 270-pound Melton is actually "nimble." He is a load, has deceptive speed and looked virtually unstoppable Saturday.
"We wanted the young backs to get pressed and get hit some when they were tired," Brown said.
Not that the Ragin' Cajuns represent a chest-thumping gauge for the remainder of the season. But if Texas is truly the leading candidate to face two-time national champ USC in the BCS title game, it needed to reveal that it was a mature team that could remain focused on an outgunned opponent and then methodically dominate for four quarters.
"I believe the whole team just went out there and took care of business," said VY, who was a poised 13-of-17 passing for 173 yards including three TDs and one INT.
Brown and Davis have gushed all year about how much VY has improved just since the Rose Bowl. There was one play that was particularly indicative of his maturation as a QB. On 3rd-and-5 from the UL-Lafayette 10, Vince dropped back and went through his progressions with the ample amount of time (nearly five seconds) afforded by his offensive line. He found FL Nate Jones, his fourth receiver on that play, for a 10-yard TD. The sophomore's first collegiate score came 78 seconds into the second quarter.
How dominant were the Horns? Consider that...
...Texas did not punt until there was 8:02 remaining in the mismatch.
...Texas scored all the points it would need less than seven minutes into the game when Selvin Young scored the first TD of the season.
...Texas generated 400 yards of total offense by halftime. All told, Texas tallied 591 yards (418 rushing, 173 passing) while the defense held UL-Lafayette to just 72 rushing yards on 34 attempts.
...Texas saw six-of-seven first half possessions end up in the UL-Lafayette end zone. The only drive that didn't reach pay dirt during the first 30 minutes was the opening series in which Selvin Young fumbled at the Ragin' Cajun 9. The junior atoned for the drop on Texas' next possession when he carried it in from the nine off right tackle for the first Longhorn TD of the 2005 campaign.
Hey, as long as the Ohio State game doesn't come down to a PAT, you gotta love Texas' chances in Columbus. McGee missed three of his first four PAT attempts, including a block. Brown attributed the first miss to McGee being a little unsettled in his first collegiate PAT attempt. The second miss had to do with McGee hitting the ball too low, Brown said. The blocked PAT attempt was the result of a botched blocking assignment on the wing. Backup David Pino appeared more at ease when he was inserted after Texas' third possession of the third quarter but Brown said there would not be any changes in kicking game personnel.
Brown said all last month that we would see a more explosive Aaron Ross at punt return now that the junior has overcome a hamstring injury that nagged him last season. Ross notched 106 yards on five returns, including a game-best 52-yarder. That led to VY's only rushing TD of the night, a QB option play on 4th-and-goal from the two. When VY picked himself up reallll slowww with a 43-point lead, you knew he was done for the night.
Sure enough, backup QB Matt Nordgren checked in with 6:06 remaining in the third. The fifth-year senior engineered a six-play, 34-yard TD drive capped by Melton's 14-yard scoring run up the middle.
"I'm not sure what kind of message this sends (to Ohio State)," MLB Aaron Harris said of the 60-3 shellacking. "We just wanted to put on film that we're aggressive and that we're a good defense."
The defense forced 10 punts and held the visitors to 238 yards on 67 plays. Most of UL-Lafayette's numbers came against backups-to-backups, as the Ragin' Cajuns managed just 17 rushing yards on 17 carries at the break.
"What we're really pleased with is that they played hard," Co-Defensive coordinator Gene Chizik said. "We tried to execute our defense, but we played a lot of base defense. Obviously, we have a lot of work to do on some things. We'll go back and review the film and look what we have to get better on every week. Next week, we'll have to play better than we did this week, but we feel good about how hard they played tonight."
As the Horns made their way into the dressing room, the remnant of the announced crowd of 82,519 chanted, "Beat Ohio State!"
Louisiana-Lafayette Turning Point
By Dusty Mangum/Clendon Ross
Since Jan. 1 in Pasadena, anticipation gripped the Longhorn nation waiting for the kickoff of the 2005 college football season. On September 3, 2005, that anticipation turned into excitement. It was here. A new beginning (but with a lot of old faces) and what Orangebloods hope will be a season for the ages.
The Horns stampeded into Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, and promptly stampeded the visitors from Louisiana. (An aside: Before the opening kickoff, Coach Mack Brown appeared on the DKR jumbotron to remind fans of the devastation left by Hurricane Katrina in the states of Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. The majority of the players for Louisiana-Lafayette come from the areas hit by Hurricane Katrina. Please remember to keep their families and friends in your thoughts and prayers.) In a game like this one, the turning point actually came when the Texas players didn't get stuck in the lockerroom. But the extent of the rout was determined shortly thereafter, also at the south end of the stadium.
The Longhorn offense took the opening drive of the game and methodically covered 56 yards in six plays, moving in sight of the Ragin' Cajun goalline. But a Selvin Young fumble at the end of a nine-yard gain gave ULaLa its one, and probably only, chance to wrest momentum from the No. 2 team in the country.
Gene Chizik's defense had other ideas. On the Cajuns' first offensive play from scrimmage at the Texas 12, DE Brian Robison brought down RB Chester Johnson for a loss of one. Rod Wright did the honor on second down, sacking QB Jerry Babb eight yards deep (and just three steps from a safety) to put the visitors in a big hole. And when Johnson's third-down run over right guard gained just two yards -- 17 short of a first down -- forcing the visitor's to punt, the blowout was virtually inevitable, despite a still scoreless game.
The offense, led by Vince Young, overwhelmed the Ragin Cajuns from that point forward. Despite a limited gameplan, Young showed that he can be a true dual threat by completing 13 of 17 passes for 173 yards and 3 touchdowns and running for 49 yards and a touchdown on just seven carries. Young connected to seven different receivers and hit David Thomas for two TDs. The question mark of the night was the running game, but Selvin Young and Ramonce Taylor plus true freshmen Jamaal Charles and Henry Melton looked solid as the team racked up 418 total rushing yards. Charles turned in a freshman debut record with 135 yards and a touchdown, but the "BIG" surprise of the night was the 6-3, 270-pound Melton, who barreled through the Ragin' Cajun defense for two touchdowns. He finished the night with 6 carries for 65 yards, but the numbers don't do justice to the damage he inflicted on those runs. On his two touchdowns, the Grapevine product broke 11 tackles! He was unstoppable and reminiscent of the hard nose running of UT great and Heisman winner Earl Campbell.
But it was Chizik's exciting, hard-hitting defense -- anchored by DTs Rod Wright and Frank Okam, by Aaron Harris at linebacker, and by a secondary that gave up just 166 yards receiving -- that provided the turning point with its early defensive dominance.
Culpepper's Commentary: Louisiana-Lafayette
By Pat Culpepper
Texas vs. Louisiana-Lafayette was no test for the 2005 Longhorn football team. Until Saturday night in Columbus, Ohio the Texas squad is still a work in progress.
Yes, the veteran offensive line created holes vs. the Ragin Cajuns for running backs Selvin Young and Jamaal Charles. But those holes will turn into tiny cracks this weekend in Columbus and everyone from coast to coast will find out which one of these ball carriers can take a hit and come back for more.
Young had a careless fumble early vs. ULaLa but displayed improved toughness overall and Charles showed lots of acceleration but has yet to experience a big-time hit in college football. He will be initiated Saturday at the Shoe.
Vince Young is in total command on the field. Several times before the snap, when the Longhorns were in the shotgun formation, Young "explained" assignments to true freshman Charles. Young's passing was accurate and when he chose to run he left defenders scattered in pursuit.
Offensive coordinator Greg Davis got Ramonce Taylor involved early with a nice reverse and served notice that Taylor will be a constant threat for future defensive coordinators' plans.
David Thomas might be the best tight end in college football. He is a blue-collar blocker and always knows where the first down marker is on his pass routes. Without exception, he has the best hands on the team and he is the target when the Longhorns are in trouble.
Believe me, the Longhorns need the power running of freshman Henry Melton. The Texas attack is full of bells and whistles but Saturday at Ohio State Melton will be called on to hammer for short yardage and running the clock. His eyes will be wide when he sees 100,000-plus in Buckeye red but he will grow up fast and leave his share of bruises.
From four rows just behind the opponent's bench where I sit for the Longhorn home games, I was impressed with the Texas defensive front. Tim Crowder, Frank Okam, Rod Wright and Brian Robison never stopped bringing the pressure. Larry Dibbles will have a difficult time winning back his starting position, but what an option off the bench, and freshman Roy Miller is a solid addition to the rotation. At defensive end, Chris Brown is an athlete like Crowder and will make big plays as he matures.
Orangebloods already know what middle linebacker Aaron Harris can do, but they'll have to wait a week to find out if Drew Kelson, Eric Hall or Rashad Bobino will take on a big-time running game. With those outstanding linemen working so hard up front, the Texas linebackers must fill holes and make tackles. We'll see what they're capable of under the lights in Ohio.
Defensive coordinator Gene Chizik proved he won't hesitate to play man-to-man in the secondary. This will help near the goalline but will be tested in the field by Ohio State's excellent receivers.
As far as the two blocks and cold miss by extra point kicker Richmond McGee and his teammates, I suspect coach Mack Brown -- with great Buckeye special teams on tap -- will bring his full attention to those problems. The threat of capital punishment might be too severe but it might be mentioned!
I look forward to going to Columbus, Ohio. OSU middle linebacker Anthony Schlegel's father coached for me at Lufkin High School in 1984-85. I know how Anthony was raised and, when he squares off with a Longhorn, you can bet it will be good against good.
For many reasons -- the Texas offensive and defensive lines, Vince Young, David Thomas and Longhorn speed -- I think it will be Texas 35, Ohio State 31.