Sept. 17, 2005
Charles States His Case
By Bill Frisbie
AUSTIN -- The outcome of Texas' game against Rice Saturday was never in question. But is there any question that Jamaal Charles should be the Longhorns' starting RB following the Horns 51-10 dismantling of Rice?
The first Texas freshman to start a game this season, Charles darted for 189 yards and three TDs on just 16 carries. He shattered Adrian Walker's UT starting freshman debut mark for yards in a game (151, set against Rice in 1989) before halftime. Subbing in place of the injured Selvin Young (left ankle), Charles reported that he was unaware of his starting status until just before kickoff.
"I just want to be a big-time player for this team," he said. "I just want to step up every game and go out there and play every game like I did today."
If he does, you'll be smelling Roses by mid-November. Charles set a goal of rushing for 200-plus yards against Rice and would have had that had UT coaches not limited him to but two second half carries.
He arrived on campus assuming he would be redshirted.
"I didn't know it was going to be like this," he said. "It's a blessing to me. I thank God for this."
The Hallelujah Chorus you hear is from Horn fans everywhere who have to wonder if Selvin Young will ever be healthy, or if Charles might not have nailed down a starting role for the remainder of the season.
"We've just got to get Selvin well," OC Greg Davis said. "With the open date coming up, we wanted to do the smart thing and not play him tonight. Each week we'll evaluate Selvin and evaluate everything else before we make any decisions."
It's no decision, as far as I'm concerned. And that's based primarily upon Charles' clutch performance at Ohio State. ("He stepped in and played against Ohio State like he was older," Brown said Saturday.) You could see his 11.8 ypc against Rice coming from a mile away. Charles is simply one of the most complete running backs -- he can catch, he can block, he can pick up blitzes -- that you'll ever see for this stage in his career. One other thing that's critical: he doesn't take direct hits. He has terrific vision and can mange to squeeze his 6-1, 195-pound frame through a hole at the blink of an eye. He can only get better. Here's hoping he'll get two starts under his belt by the time Texas plays OU.
Henry Melton added 75 yards rushing, including one TD, on 14 carries. QB Vince Young contributed 77 yards on the ground, including a game-high 51-yarder as part of Texas 99.5 yard drive in the first quarter. All told, the offense rolled to 361 yards rushing (on 47 attempts).
Most of Charles' damage was done in the first half. He eclipsed the century mark with his 26-yard run on his first carry of the second quarter and posted 171 yards on 14 totes by halftime. His last carry came just five minutes into the third quarter.
We still haven't seen what UT coaches want to do with speed demon WR/RB Ramonce Taylor. The sophomore carried twice for 14 yards Saturday.
"In different ball games we'll feature different things to get him the ball," Davis said. "We wanted to get him some work late in the game at tailback because it's an easier spot to give him the ball. We had other things set for him that we just didn't get to."
The stingy Longhorn defense scored enough points on their own to win this game, tallying two second quarter Rice turnovers into TDs. The unit held Rice to 110 rushing yards on 46 attempts and the Owls did not complete their first pass (after six previous attempts) until late in the third quarter.
The one negative in this lopsided affair was that Texas was guilty of 10 penalties totaling 87 yards.
"That's entirely too many," Brown said. "That's something we've not had in our first two games. In a game that was closer, that would have got us killed tonight."
But Charles put this one away early, scoring on consecutive 25-yard runs to launch the runaway.
The Longhorn defense posted enough points to win this one.
On Rice's second series of the second quarter, SS Michael Huff scooped up A-back Quinton Smith's fumble and returned it 21 yards for the score. That upped the Longhorn lead, 28-0, with 10:07 remaining until the break.
Two possessions later, MLB Aaron Harris threw QB Chase Clement for a five-yard loss, forcing a goal line fumble that NT Frank Okam recovered in the end zone for another Texas TD to stake a 35-0 margin.
Breathing fire, the D forced a three-and-out as the Texas offense mounted one last drive from its own 30 with 3:01 remaining until the break. Going with a no-huddle offense, Young found TE David Thomas in the left flat for 15 before hooking up with SE Limas Sweed for 21 yards to the Rice 34. Two Charles' carries netted 22 yards before Young's 11-yard crossing pattern to Thomas set up first-and-goal from the one. This season, that will mean one thing: Henry Melton Time. This week, the freshman kept his feet on the ground, lowered his helmet and rammed it in as the Horns took a 42-0 lead into the locker room following the seven-play, 70-yard drive.
Rice got on the scoreboard with 5:49 remaining in the third quarter, courtesy of Greg Johnson's personal foul (on his second KO of the second half) plus a pair of penalties against RCB Cedric Griffin (pass interference, holding). The Owls settled for a 37-yard FG after Robison threw QB Joel Armstrong for a 12-yard loss.
VY took a seat with 5:44 remaining in the third as backup QB Matt Nordgren, on his second series, led the Horns on a four-play, 33-yard drive. WR/RB Ramonce Taylor capped the drive with a 10-yard TD run. Pino's kick was wide left as the score remained, 51-3.
Rice finally got into end zone with 7:28 remaining against a collection of second- and third-team defenders on a two-yard Clement run. That capped the scoring on a night that will be remembered primarily for Charles' record-breaking debut.
"We think the sky's limit for him," Davis said.
Rice Turning Point
By Dusty Mangum
The Owl band was in full wacky form on Saturday night. They brought to DKR their nano Bertha, an undersized version of UT's own Big Bertha. The M.O.B. proceeded with a little advertisement for the Swedish Drum Enlargement Pump, which should be a hot seller. Often imitated, never duplicated, We Are Texas...
... And Texas picked up against Rice where it left off against Ohio State. True freshman running back Jamaal Charles led the Longhorn offensive attack with 189 yards rushing and 3 touchdowns on 16 carries. Vince Young stayed on track in his Heisman quest by going 8 of 14 for 101 and adding 77 yards with his legs. Charles and Young accounted for all 189 yards -- Charles 92 yards rushing, Young 62 yards rushing and 25 yards passing -- as the Horns took their first two possessions the distance for a 14-zip lead.
But then came a three-and-out series followed on the next Texas offensive possession by a Vince Young INT, setting up Rice at the Longhorn 20 heading into the second quarter. If the Owls were going to make any noise, it would be now.
Not on Gene Chizik's defense.
The Texas D forced a one-yard rush, a loss of seven and, after a Rice penalty, an incomplete pass. When the Owls' fourth-and-21 attempt failed, the Horns had rebuffed Rice's only realistic opportunity to keep the game from becoming the blowout that it indeed became. In a game that was UT's all the way, that's as close as it gets to a Turning Point.
But there are a few other things worth noting, among them:
*The new Instant Replay rule has done wonders for officials getting the calls right. On Saturday night, it overturned a possible interception by Vince Young, which would have damaged his Heisman numbers.
*With Selvin Young out with a sprained ankle, true freshman Jamaal Charles got the starting nod vs. the Owls. Since arriving in Austin in early August, the youngster has walked the walk and lived up to the recruiting hype. He has shown flashes of brilliance, and given Longhorn fans just a taste of what is to come over the next four years. It is hard to believe that he was playing high school football one short year ago. He darted and dashed his way through the Owl defense as he did in previous games against Louisiana-Lafayette and Ohio State.
* Richmond McGee had been kicking off, but the senior is nursing an ailing back, so Greg Johnson took over the kickoff duties for the week. Kickoff coverage showed new light as the Owls were controlled on UT's nine kickoffs. Johnson's kickoffs went like this: to the nine (into the wind), to the four (into the wind), to the three (with the wind), touchback (kicked from the 50, with the wind, after a Rice penalty), to the goalline (with the wind), touchback (with the wind), to the seven (with the wind), to the one (with the wind), and touchback (with the wind). The Owls' best starting field position after a kickoff? The Rice 42, and that was courtesy of Greg Johnson, who delivered a punishing blow that resulted in a personal foul. That penalty, and the unit's overall success (the Owls' starting field position after kickoffs was the 20), showed that this is a new type of kickoff coverage, one with intensity and passion for getting the job done.
With the success at tailback, the passion on kickoff returns and all the other positives apparent for the No. 2 ranked team in the country, things are looking up for the Longhorns heading into their bye weekend. This weekend will give the players a chance to relax and watch some games without the pressure of their own. Pressure... that is funny if you think about it. Everyone says there is pressure to win the big one. From my experience, the only pressure that there is is the pressure you put on yourself. This team has displayed that and has handled itself appropriately. Through three games, the Horns are acting and playing like champions, like Texas Longhorns. We should all be so excited for the future, but proud of the present. These players have represented our University and state with class and integrity. Until October 1st in Missouri, the Eyes of Texas are upon you...
Culpepper's Commentary: Rice
By Pat Culpepper
One thing about problems is that everyone pays attention to them after repeated failures. So that meant every time the Longhorns lined up to kickoff Saturday night vs. Rice -- which was 8 times -- there were at least 5,000 pair of binoculars checking the numbers of the players assigned to coverage duty.
Names like Aaron Harris, Rashad Bobino, Michael Huff, Drew Kelson and a few other starters showed everyone how serious this problem has become. To put it bluntly, Mack Brown was damn tired of seeing his Longhorn defense setting up around midfield after horrible kickoff coverage in pressure ball games.
Coach Brown stripped Oscar Giles of the responsibility of coaching the kickoff coverage team and assigned every member of his defensive staff parts of the training of the unit. It was more than a finger in a dike deal, it was a "this B.S. has got to stop" ultimatum!
One obvious change was at kicker, and Greg Johnson (in place of Richmond McGee) sailed three kickoffs to touchback land. Another less obvious change was players breaking down in coverage and trying to make tackles instead of flying past the ball carrier.
Selvin Young did not suited up for the contest and so his "substitute" put on quite an impressive performance. Now those of you that believed the news release from Austin last week that intimated Young would be the starting running back when he recovered from his injury need to understand this had to be on of those "I-think-we-need-to-date-other-people" announcements. Jamaal Charles won the starting job under the pressure of the Ohio State Buckeye defense by running hard, blocking hard, making tough catches and turning them into first downs.
If I were Selvin Young I would go to Coach Brown and tell him, "Put me on the kickoff coverage team, I want to kill somebody." With fumbles and nagging injuries, the youngster looks to have let slip away a wonderful opportunity to start behind one of the two best offensive lines in college football. Of course, if Youngs attitude is good and his heart is strong perhaps sometime, somewhere he will make a positive contribution in the remaining games on the schedule.
Linebackers Harris and Bobino used their speed to come around the blocks and shut down the slot bone offense of Rice. There were times early when safeties Michael Huff and Michael Griffin were late on the pitch and Rice got the alley but that was corrected with a passion as the game progressed.
As always against the fullback ride option attack (going all the way back to defending Darrell Royals wishbone), the defensive tackles who knock back the offensive guards are the key to stopping the fullback part of the offense. UCLA gave up over 100 yards to Rices fullbacks but the Bruins dont have Frank Okam, Rod Wright, Larry Dibbles or Derek Lokey. The Longhorn front slammed into Owl blockers and stuffed them in their tracks. Defensive ends Brian Robison and Tim Crowder took care of the quarterback and Rice was out of options.
I hope you saw what I saw: even in the 95 degree heat the Longhorn offensive line had an outstanding charge on the line of scrimmage and there were big bodies downfield like USS Jonathan Scott and Kasey Studdard knocking Owls off their perches in the secondary.
It was healthy for Vince Young to find David Thomas open again (after a one-catch performance in Columbus). The senior tight end from Wolfforth, Texas is the best at his position of anyone I have seen on television this season and thats lots of games since Labor Day. He is smart, aggressive and a winner in the clutch.
For the last two weeks, the Texas secondary has come to the front as far as delivering big hits. Cedric Griffin and Aaron Ross bring it at corner and Huff and Michael Griffin are collision specialists. This is good stuff. Tarell Brown got beat at corner early in the game on a corner route but the way Coach Chizik sets up his defense that will occasionally happen. If you are going to blitz safeties, the Longhorn corners have to man up at times and that causes them to have to be acrobats versus deep routes. They will improve in the open week but dont you like the pressure on the quarterbacks?
In the next two football games, harassment of Brad Smith of Missouri and South Grand Prairies finest, Rhett Bomar, is one of the keys to victory for the Texas defense.
Missouri at Columbia will be a challenge but I think the Longhorns will wear the Tigers down in the second half. Texas 35, Missouri 10.