Oct. 22, 2005
Texas Tech 17
By Bill Frisbie
AUSTIN -- Borrowing a page from the point-a-minute Texas Tech offense, Texas scored on six straight possessions -- including four drives of fewer than four plays -- to blow past the visiting Red Raiders 52-17 in the first conference showdown between Top 10 teams at Memorial Stadium in 25 years. Now, the No. 2 Longhorns can smell the roses from Austin!
All Co-Defensive Coach Gene Chizik wanted from his offensive counterparts was a sequence of 16-play, clock-devouring scoring drives patterned after the opening series against Colorado last Saturday. Chizik's revolving-door defense may have had their tongues wagging after a fast and furious contest that saw Tech run 93 plays and put 64 balls into the air. But Chizik's crew breathed easier after Texas torched Tech with drives of two, three, four and three plays to open up a 28-point lead with just 1:18 eclipsed from the third quarter. The Horns now have 15 scoring drives of four plays or fewer (14 TDs, 1 FG) for the season.
Just call him Big-Play Billy. Billy Pittman led all receivers with a career-best 138-yards on three grabs including a 75-yard TD toss from Vince Young on Texas' opening drive of the second half. (Young struck a Heisman pose, briefly, following his career-best scoring strike.) Pittman called the play. Sort of. During the first half, Pittman noticed that Tech safeties were spinning down and jumping on intermediate routes.
"I told Vince to give me a seam route, and he did." Pittman said. "Well, he gave it to me earlier but he didn't throw because Ramonce (Taylor) was open (on Texas' first possession of the second quarter). Then, in the second half, he gave me another seam route, the same seam route that was open."
The third (Sub B) wideout in the Longhorn offense, Pittman has logged a 63-yard reception at Ohio State, a 41-yarder at Missouri, that glorious 64-yard TD reception just before the half against Oklahoma and the 62-yarder against Colorado last week. And along with his wide-open 75-yard TD strike was his highlight reel, one-handed grab for 58 yards to the Tech 30 on the deep drag route across the middle on Texas' final possession of the first half. It set up RB Selvin Young's seven-yard TD run that capped an 88-yard drive to make it a 31-10 game with 1:57 remaining until the break.
The Horns had all the points they would need before half time, as the Texas defense held a Tech offense that was averaging 53.7 ppg to just one extended TD drive.
"They came in averaging 54 points and held them to 17," Chizik said. "We're not perfect and we've still got a lot of work to do. But, at the end of the day, I'll take that (score) every time."
Chizik got a sustained pass rush from his front four, playing (by his estimates) up to 10 down linemen. He came with cornerback blitzes, safety blitzes, linebacker blitzes and zone blitzes as the Horns notched six sacks for 51 yards. Cody Hodges is the most mobile QB Tech his fielded during coach Mike Leach's five-year tenure, and managed to elude the grasp of rampaging defenders at the last nano-second to complete 42-of-64 passes for 369 yards, including two TD and one INT. Yet, Hodges was battered like a birthday piñata throughout the contest and was walking with a noticeable limp by the time this one reached the final frame. The secondary threw a mix-and-match of man and zone defense, while the one wrinkle that the secondary polished this week was disguising its man coverage -- and Texas played a lot of man against the high-flying Red Raiders, who entered the game as the top passing team in Division-I (472.3 ypg).
SS Michael Huff and RCB Cedric Griffin played every snap. SLB Robert Killebrew, who logged his first start of the season at Missouri earlier this month, had the game of his young career by leading all tacklers with 13 stops.
PK Greg Johnson enjoyed his best game as a Longhorn as seven-of-nine Tech possessions began no further than their own 20 following a Longhorn kickoff. His day included four touchbacks as he averaged nearly 63 yards per KO.
Coach Mack Brown said a week ago that return specialist Quan Cosby was primed for a breakout game after being slowed by a September 17 shoulder injury against Rice. The 22-year old freshman returned two punts for 68 yards and a KO for 30 yards. Ramonce Taylor added a 37-yard KO return in the second quarter.
RB Jamaal Charles saw limited action with his heavily bandaged left ankle, running for 39 yards on seven carries. Young finished with a bruising 77 yards on 16 totes.
A sign hoisted in front of ESPN College GameDay cameras stated 'Vince Doesn't Need a Push' (a clear reference to the assist USC's Matt Leinart got from Reggie Bush in the last-second win at Notre Dame last week). Vince may not need a push, but he needed to get those obligatory INTs out of the way early. The Heisman candidate shook off two first-quarter picks to finish 12-of-22 passing for 239 yards, including two passing TDs and one 11-yard TD. It was a modest outing, by Young's lofty standards, who said he graded out at a C+.
"I was getting frustrated," admitted Young, whose book stood at 2-of-6 passing for 15 yards and two INT after 15 minutes of play. "But I went off to the side, I put myself in a corner and just talked to myself to get ready for the next series."
Okay, so there is one question that could be asked of the 7-0 Longhorns: when will this team bring its A-game? Again, Brown credited his team for playing hard and winning big but is still looking for 60 minutes of football from his national title contenders.
"We're still a work in progress," he said. "I didn't think this was near our best game. We've played halves that we thought were really good. I didn't think we played a great half today. The offense didn't play as well until the fourth quarter but the defense played great. The defense didn't play so well in the second quarter but the offense played great. To not have your best game and still score 52 points just says you have a chance to be really special."
Texas Tech Turning Point
By Dusty Mangum
The Texas Tech Red Raiders strolled in to Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium with the No. 1 offense in the nation and a No. 7 BCS ranking, only to leave in a daze, wondering what happened to their rankings and their undefeated season. I do not know what is more demoralizing for a team, getting 52 points put on you or getting hit by flying tortillas from the Texas Student section. I do know that week after week, the Longhorns continue to rise to the occasion and prove that they are a national championship caliber team. Saturday was no different.
But it was a rocky start for Vince Young and the Longhorn offense. It took a couple of drives (and a couple of interceptions) before the offense got into its rhythm on its way to racking up 444 yards of total O. The rushing attack was outstanding once again, with Selvin Young, Vince Young and Jamaal Charles leading the stampede.
The turning point in this one, though, came just before the half, courtesy of defense and then the passing game. After the Horns took a still-too-close-for-comfort 24-10 lead on a Young-to-Billy Pittman TD toss with a little over six-and-a-half minutes to go till the half, Tech responded with a length-of-the-field drive that set up the Raiders with a first-and-goal at the Texas four. But on first down, the Longhorn defense swarmed, herding Tech RB Taurean Henderson out of bounds after a three-yard loss. Forced to go back to the air on second-and-goal from the seven, Tech QB Cody Hodges dropped back to pass, letting it fly over the middle, only to have it tipped at the line by Aaron Harris, allowing an alert Tim Crowder to snagged the ball out of the air for the critical change of possession. Crowder's pick gave the Horns the ball back with just under three minutes till the half and 88 yards of real estate to cover for another, near-clinching TD. Jamaal Charles chunked off 18 yards on second-and-10, which was followed by another huge play in the passing game. Pittman ran a slant pattern, and VY delivered a pass that was slightly ahead of the receiver. The sophomore wideout, in full stride, stuck out a hand, tipped the ball into the air to himself for a circus catch and then eluded multiple defenders before getting tackled deep in Texas Tech territory after a 48-yard gain (his only catch that did not go for points). One play later, a 15-yard Red Raider penalty set the Horns up at the seven, where Selvin Young took the hand off, found his hole, cut left, hurdled a defender and jogged into the end-zone. After the David Pino PAT, the Longhorns enjoyed a 21-point lead.
With the turnover and then the quick-strike drive for a TD for a 14-point swing, the Horns deflated the Red Raiders just before the half. And UT had another advantage, knowing they were going to start off the second half by getting the ball on offense first. On that first drive after the break, VY fired another pass to Billy Pittman on a blown coverage by the Texas Tech safety, and it was off to the races. He took it 75 yards to the hizzy. Pittman, who totaled 138 yards on just three catches, two of which went for touchdowns, continues to step up game after game.
The defense was also relentless, holding Texas Tech to only 17 points on the day. The scoreboard should have read 59 for the Horns after a missed call by the Seven Blind Mice, ruling Cody Hodges down after what was a blatantly obvious fumble. Tim Crowder picked up the loose ball, ripped out by Brian Robison, and rumbled into the end zone for what everyone thought was a touchdown, only to have the player ruled down. But the Texas defenders would not let the officials get them down as they allowed no points over the final 23 minutes of play.
Texas heads to Stillwater this week to face the Cowboys. Hopefully the boys stay focused and continue to dominate all facets of the game. Texas received a pleasant surprise Monday afternoon when the newest BCS rankings came out. The computer polls favored the Horns, placing them No. 1 in 5 of the 6, which was enough to overtake USC as the No. 1 BCS team. Congratulations gentlemen. Keep up the good work.
Culpepper's Commentary: Texas Tech
By Pat Culpepper
I know many of you that click on my column are real football fans, so let me give you the lowdown on the Longhorn defense versus Texas Tech as I saw it from my seat four rows behind the Red Raider bench.
At the start of the game, Texas lined up with four down linemen and three linebackers and four defensive backs. They used the two safeties deep and cornerbacks either backing out or squatting their coverage at about eight yards.
Now mind you, covering Tech is like trying to stomp on a pile of red ants: they scatter everywhere on the snap of the ball and come back to open areas as well as any group I have seen. Tech is a darn good team, believe me.
The early two-deep Texas zone allowed the Longhorns to shut down any Red Raider run threat but the scheme was inadequate versus the Tech ant pile offense. Too much air and space to cover, and the huge line splits opened up good throwing lanes and are wonderful for the well-schooled and legal holding by the Tech linemen.
You kill ants by sprinkling Amdro granules around the mound. So quicker than you can say 4-1-6, the Longhorns aligned in a defense that had four down linemen, Aaron Harris (who played 89 plays of the Tech offense's 93) as a lone linebacker and six defensive backs, so all of a sudden there are lots of slender and fast Longhorns that can run with any receiver Tech puts on the field.
To bring pressure, Michael Griffin raced up from safety and he and Harris blitzed through the Grand Canyon-looking gaps in the Red Raider scrimmage line. They never got home versus the elusive Hodges, who threw the ball 64 times, was sacked six times and scrambled another six times, but they brought much-needed heat.
As a change-up, the Longhorns used a 3-2-6 alignment at times but the 4-1-6 was most-successful against the Raiders.
Tech's running back Taurean Henderson hurt the Longhorns with the draw and Hodges did run a quarterback draw for a couple of nice gains, but since we are all creatures with pride and stubborn as well, the Red Raiders were bound and determined to beat Texas with the ball in the air.
The defensive coaches tried to keep the front linemen as fresh as possible and Rod Wright, Larry Dibbles, Frank Okam, Tim Crowder and Brian Robison played tag-team with a host of substitutes all afternoon. The push they put on the well-coached Red Raider offensive line was impressive. (Freshman Roy Miller almost got his head taken off by a legal punch from the Tech left guard which was followed by a legal clubbing by the Tech left tackle. Welcome to Big 12 football, Roy.)
But not one time did I see a Longhorn lineman stop and watch; they were grabbing, pushing, fighting to make plays all day.
Robison did just that with three beautiful sacks and his counterpart Tim Crowder got another as well as a deflected interception at the Longhorn seven yardline.
Defensive back Tarell Brown played a superb football game. Hodges threw almost every deep ball to his right and every time Brown had perfect coverage.
Michael Huff had seven unassisted tackles and seems to put together his best games in the big games. He is a great hitter in the Longhorn secondary that at 6-1, 205 is "sudden", to say the least.
I love to watch members of the Texas offensive line walk off the field together after the end of the games. At midfield, the television cameras and reporters have Vince Young surrounded while Lyle Sendlein, Kasey Studdard, Will Allen, Justin Blalock and USS Jonathan Scott walk off slowly, unwrapping their many pads and taping, smiling and tired. They are dirty from sweat but they love the battle. They have changed the atmosphere around Texas Longhorn football. Studdard and buddies take each down as a personal challenge to whip the lineman across from them. They don't always win, but they keep hammering.
Three times the Tech bench got upset because Scott and Studdard were facing the Red Raider sideline and waving their arms. Those Longhorn linemen were letting the 83,000-plus know how much they loved the battle and to get off their collective rear ends and join the fight. It worked!
Tech got the lead in the first quarter when Vince Young was late in throwing a sideline comeback route to Limas Sweed and Tech's Chris Parker raced 37 yards to the Texas 21.
The tall Texas quarterback didn't act like a spoiled child but held his poise until his timing returned. High level bombing duties were performed again by Ramonce Taylor and Billy Pittman, who not only catch the ball but are dangerous runners in the open field.
A miracle has been performed by running back coach Ken Rucker on Selvin Young. Young's 77 yards were through heavy traffic and he chipped in two touchdowns. A week ago, I didn't think Selvin Young was playing like a D-I running back. This week, he did and then some. Rucker recruited two of my Lufkin High School players while he was at Arkansas. This man was a great hire by Coach Brown and it is paying dividends.
Want to bet Jamaal Charles' ankle will heal much quicker since Selvin Young has come to life? Competition is a wonderful thing.
Three big plays changed this game. With the score 17-10, a fumbled punt snap and subsequent punt block by Michael Griffin led to a two-play Texas touchdown. Then, with little time left in the half, Tech was on the UT seven yardline but lost the ball on Crowder's interception. And finally, Vince Young throws a too-tall pass for Billy Pittman but somehow the sophomore wideout brings it in and races to the Tech 22. A seven-yard Selvin Young run makes it Texas 31, Tech 10 just before the half.
Making a statement after halftime, Vince Young connected with Pittman for a 75-yard touchdown pass. Texas 38, Tech 10. Game over.
Oklahoma State has a rookie head coach, Mike Gundy, who is getting his head handed to him. His no huddle offense is going nowhere. Last year's memories are still fresh for Vince Young and crew. I remember Les Miles shaking hands with Texas recruits during a time out when the Cowboys were up by 28 points! They won't be up this Saturday in Stillwater. Texas 55, Oklahoma State 3.