Nov. 5, 2005
Horns Send Bears Into Hibernation
By Bill Frisbie
WACO -- Sophomore Ramonce Taylor posted a career high for both rushing attempts (15) and yards (102) in his first collegiate start at RB, but the most significant part of Texas 62-0 thrashing of Baylor Saturday is that there was just enough evidence that RB Jamaal Charles is back to his old, explosive self.
Make no mistake: coaches have yet to fully tap into the fuel-injected potential of RT, whose four touchdowns (three rushing, one receiving) and 18 touches also represented personal bests. It's just that if there is a national championship run in these 2005 Longhorns, Charles needs to be running north-and-south rather than limping toward the sideline as he has done the past four ballgames. Of course, the program is in good hands as long as ol' No. 10 is riding shotgun. But Charles has established himself as a go-the-distance threat, as well as a reliable receiver, who can take considerable pressure off of Vince Young.
Charles ran for 72 yards on 13 carries, including a pair of TDs. His eighth rushing TD of the season puts him up there with Ricky Williams and tied for the third on Texas' freshman rushing TD list. Yet, you could feel the collective breath depart the partisan Longhorn crowd at Floyd Casey Stadium when Charles gingerly stepped toward the sideline early in the fourth quarter. Not to worry.
"(RB coach) Ken (Rucker) told me that Jamaal tweaked his ankle but it probably wasn't bad," Offensive Coordinator Greg Davis said. "He was just at the bottom of a pile. I thought he looked like he was really close to being 100 percent."
The Longhorns, as a whole, looked close to being 100 percent against an improved Baylor club that was looking for a program-establishing shocker over a storied program. It was the closest Texas has come to playing a complete game this season, head coach Mack Brown said.
"We've played some really good halves," Brown said, "but today we dominated a game for three quarters and then our other guys took over in the fourth and continued to play. This is, by far, the best team Baylor has had since we've been at Texas."
UT was a team that wanted to send a statement that it was also college football's best team this side of Southern California.
"The message is that we are one of the top two teams in the country," Brown added. "That's not been in question. When there were some question marks last week on the road (at Oklahoma State), we won by 19. Today, we won by 62 and that's without running it up."
The afternoon represented Charles' most extensive action since twisting an ankle during the third quarter against Oklahoma. He listed himself as "about 90 percent" recovered and said he laid off the soft drinks that resulted in cramps last weekend in Stillwater.
"This is the best I've felt since I turned my ankle," he said.
Most of the pre-game publicity centered on RT and FL Quan Cosby, a couple of former Waco-area prep stars, assuming prominent roles back in their old stomping grounds following injuries to Longhorn starters. RB Selvin Young (ankle) clearly hasn't been well all season while starting FL Brian Carter was sidelined by a knee injury suffered at OSU. Taylor's only other collegiate start was at WR against Ohio State when Texas opened in a four-wide set.
"Selvin did not practice early in the week with his sprained ankle and we weren't sure if he was going to be 100 percent," Brown said. "With Jamaal's cramps and his inability to play during the past four or five weeks, we thought it was Ramonce's turn. And we didn't think it hurt that he did it in front of a home crowd."
Taylor, of course, was the starting RB throughout spring drills but has become Texas' fourth RB this season. Saturday's game marked the first time that Taylor had both a rushing TD and a receiving TD in the same game.
"It doesn't matter who gets the ball because everybody on this team is good," Charles said. "When I go in, I just try to carry the load."
Texas rolled to 645 yards, the fifth largest offense explosive in program history, and it came against a Baylor team that had been presenting its run defense as its calling card. The combined 347 yards rushing and 298 passing is the most Texas has posted since, well, last week (606) at OSU. The O-line gave Vince Young ample time to pick apart a Baylor defense that got increasingly frustrated (LE Montez Murphey was ejected in the fourth quarter after a late hit on VY and then for whispering sweet nothings into an official's ear). Young finished with 16-of-27 passing, including two TDs and no INT, and was never sacked. The Heisman candidate has thrown for 200+ yards in seven games this season and is 26-2 as a starter (No. 8 on the NCAA all-time win list).
Billy Pittman led all receivers with 60 yards on three grabs. Cosby finished with a career high 79 yards on two grabs.
The defense posted its first shutout of the season and its third over Baylor in four years. One week after its most suspect outing of 2005, Texas held Baylor to 112 yards rushing (30 attempts) and 201 yards through the air. QB Terrance Parks notched his first starting assignment of the season, and second of his career, finishing 10-of-23 passing for 201 yards and two INTs. The Horns held Baylor to just 2-of-13 on third down conversions.
"We know we're good enough to get shutouts," Co-Defensive Coordinator Gene Chizik said. "It was just good to see them respond after last week with a shutout. I thought the timing of it was really key."
RS-freshman Brian Orakpo started in place of injured Brian Robison at power end and was credited with three tackles, including a seven-yard sack of Parks late in the second quarter. MLB Aaron Harris was Texas' leading tackler with seven stops, including one TFL for nine yards. Texas P Richmond McGee was the loneliest guys in Waco as the senior was not called on to punt all afternoon.
"Texas is pretty good, there's no question about that," BU coach Guy Morriss said. "We lost our composure but that's what good football teams do to you. We knew they were good, but I didn't think we would get dominated that bad on both sides of the ball."
"I wouldn't be surprised if (Texas) ended up in the national championship game," RE Marcus Foreman concluded.
Baylor Turning Point
By Dusty Mangum
On Saturday, the Longhorns again showed why they belong at the top of the polls. They overwhelmed the improved Bears (a team that took both A&M and Oklahoma to overtime) to stay on track for a repeat trip to Pasadena.
Because of the enormity of the blowout, there wasn't really a traditional turning point per se, but the Horns' ability to run the ball almost at will with rotating tailbacks Ramonce Taylor and Jamaal Charles gave Baylor no hope. And it started early.
On its opening possession, Texas went to the air five times and rushed the ball just three times on a drive that stalled out just past midfield. From that point on, some of the biggest plays of the day came through the air, but the bread and butter came via the running game, which completely wore down and demoralized a decent Bear D. And the rout was on.
The Longhorns racked up 347 rushing yards. In his first tailback start, Taylor totaled 102 rushing yards and four TDs (three on the ground), with Charles (72 yards and two TDs), Henry Melton (62 yards and one TD) and Vince Young (53 yards) not far behind.
But the ground game was not the only place that Texas excelled. The rushing success opened up the passing attack. With a miraculous catch from Limas Sweed (a one-handed 46-yarder that set up the Horns for their first TD) and several other pin point accurate passes from Vince Young (the bullet to Quan Cosby down the right sideline for a TD was a thing of beauty), the Longhorns not only stampeded their way through the Bears, but passed over and around them as well. Vince Young finished the day 16 of 27 for 298 yards with two TDs and no INTs. (Yes, this is the same Vince Young that so many pundits and opposing fans think "can't pass.")
The defense was back to its usual form, containing the Baylor offense after last week's first half struggles versus the Cowboys. Gene gang fought hard the entire game trying to protect the goose egg for Baylor. They did in a Texas-like fashion, holding the Bears to only 201 total yards while Michael Huff and Michael Griffin teamed up for two interceptions on the day.
And Texas special teams were once again special as Baylor could not amass any type of effort to fight back the Longhorns. The punt return team looked on cue allowing Aaron Ross to gain 67 yards on four returns (improving his average to 15.1 yards per return for the season). Greg Johnson led the kickoff team again to a nice showing hitting three touchbacks.
All in all, the Longhorns are on track, and for Orangebloods, things are getting more exciting every day. The next test will be against the Jayhawks from Kansas. We all know what happened last year, but I believe the only 4th and 18 plays will be with their offense on the field, not ours. Hook Em and till next week, the Eyes of Texas Are Upon You .
Culpepper's Commentary: Baylor
By Pat Culpepper
The luckiest athletes at Baylor are junior defensive tackle M.T. Robinson, who sat out the entire Texas thrashing, and junior defensive tackle Michael Gary, who was suspended for the first half. Coach Guy Morriss took disciplinary action on both of them for violating team rules. Whatever they did, there were probably at least 22 others in Baylor green wishing they had taken part in those activities.
This was an old-fashioned, come-to-Jesus, back-behind-the-woodshed, butt-stomping if I have ever witnessed one.
Of the 44,783 fans that showed up at Floyd Casey, at least 24,783 were dressed in some form of Burnt Orange.
To think this Baylor team was within an extra point of beating Oklahoma in Norman Quarterback Shawn Bell engineered that effort vs. the Sooners but he never got on the field until this game was history vs. the Horns.
I don't sit in on the always politically correct news conferences of coach Mack Brown during the week or read the Austin newspapers, I just sit in the stands and "feel" the game, and for this one, I had a spectacular view. Sitting 26 rows up in the South end zone, I found a new appreciation for this Texas team.
I have never seen such raw team speed as Texas demonstrated Saturday. Now, it's one thing to have it, but another thing to use it. Texas stretches the football field like no football team in America save one that is still undefeated and is in the PAC-10.
I was excited several weeks ago when Ramonce Taylor emerged at wide receiver and could get downfield and be a threat besides on gimmick plays. But that was before running back injuries. And we all now know why the Texas staff kept him at running back all spring.
What's better than having a healthy Jamaal Charles at running back? Having Jamaal Charles and Ramonce Taylor alternating at running back. Now Texas has two Reggie Bush-types in the backfield. Thus, the pressure was on the Baylor defense every snap because of the twin burners at tailback. Each of them use nothing but premium fuel.
Poor Bill Bradley, former Longhorn great and Baylor's current defensive coordinator, for having to try to defend this new twin terror from the Longhorn offensive formations. Whichever one is in the game, they can outrun blocked or partially blocked defenders up front and become dangerous pass receivers in the flats or upfield.
It didn't help Super Bill's defense that Baylor couldn't generate anything resembling an offense for the second week in a row.
Here is something to help you enjoy watching the Longhorns. When Vince Young sets up in the shotgun, as soon as he gets the football, begin to count "one-and, two-and..." I did this four times in the second half and made it to "six-and..." before he released the ball!
Twice, I saw David Thomas block his defender to the ground, which allowed Taylor to sail untouched into the secondary. But I love even more watching downfield blocking from Kasey Studdard and U.S.S. Jonathan Scott. The biggest fear I have is that these two get down in the secondary and, not finding anyone to block, just for the fun of it try to run over each other.
The Texas offensive line is EXCELLENT and in a real sense holds this team together. As a unit, they don't get substituted for like the Texas defensive line. They are the real warriors of the Longhorn football team.
When the 'big uglies' got off the buses outside the Baylor stadium, they already had their jaws set for work. I saw this first-hand.
The game was moving along under a beautiful November Texas sky when Vince Young arched a 46-yard bomb to Limas Sweed, who made a one-armed, over-the-shoulder catch at the Baylor 4-yardline.
It was probably at that point that hundreds of good-hearted Baylor fans at the game and those watching by television said, "Oh ____!"
That is when they realized Baylor wasn't playing the same level of competition they'd been watching in Waco. It was a brave and marvelous effort to make a play by Sweed, who has become more than a potential playmaker; he's a gamebreaker.
You could tell early on that the Longhorn defense was missing Brian Robison. So far, nobody can take his place in effort, strength and toughness. Somebody with a bigger body than Brian Orakpo has to step up should Robison miss the Kansas game and beyond. Chris Brown left the game on a golf cart for x-rays after getting a cheap shot hit at the end of a play which will further deplete Texas at defensive end.
Rashad Bobino played a top game at linebacker and the stumpy hitter is getting better every week adjusting to being a starter at the college level.
In the early 1960's, Johnny Treadwell and I had the likes of Don Talbert and Scott Appleton to hide behind.
I loved David Pino's punt from field goal formation that nailed the Bears on their one-yardline. That's smart coaching and may not be the last time we see that weapon.
Outside of the Oklahoma game in 2004, the Kansas game was the Longhorns lowest point of the season. Everybody in Lawrence was ready for the basketball season, apparently including the Texas football team as far as the effort through 3-3/4 quarters. Then Vince Young pulled off miracle No. 2 (No. 1 was the previous week against Oklahoma State) on fourth-and-18, saving Texas' trip to Pasadena.
I got news for Texas fans, the Jayhawks have a roster full of recruited Texas players which equals a team with speed and toughness. The challenge will be, can the Longhorns stop the Kansas running game which pounded the Nebraska Blackshirts defense and held the ball for 35 minutes of the football game?
That will their strategy: run the ball and run the clock. It broke a 36-game losing streak to the Cornhuskers.
Oh, by the way, two more Cowboys got up from the Cowboy poker table Saturday -- UCLA and Virginia Tech.
With only three undefeated teams left, I think the Longhorns remember their near-death experience last November in Lawrence and win. Texas 55, Kansas 10.