Running Wild

From the first play from scrimmage to the end of the game, the Longhorns grinded the ball on the ground, while holding the Owls to –12 yards rushing in a 52-7 victory at Reliant Stadium in Houston.

After a home loss to Ohio State, the Texas Longhorns let their frustration out on an overmatched Rice team. Mack Brown said he was glad his team wasn't flat coming off of last week's game.

"Really happy that the guys bounced back," said the Longhorns head coach. "We dominated both lines of scrimmage and we ran the ball pretty much at will early."

Running back Selvin Young was certainly happy with the way his line dominated the game.

"It was kinda easy for me to pick and choose where I wanted to go," said Young. "Credit to the offensive line. They did a heck of a job."

Young and Jamaal Charles both crossed the century-mark in rushing yards. Charles said it meant a lot to have both backs with triple-digits.

"We wanted to go over 100 yards because we hadn't had a big game yet," said Charles.

By completely controlling the ground game (330 yards to Rice's –12), while showing efficiency through the air (QBs Colt McCoy and Jevan Snead combined to go 10 for 11 passing), Texas controlled essentially every aspect of the game...except penalties.

"I've never seen that many," said Brown after the game.

Nor have Longhorn fans.

Texas was penalized a school record 19 times for 148 yards. The Owls offensive total for the game was only 20 yards more than what they got from Texas penalties.

"Goodness gracious, way too many penalties," said offensive coordinator Greg Davis. "Way too many penalties to our standards."

Most of the penalties came in the form of false starts from the offensive line and tight ends. Davis explained the most likely cause.

"The offensive line said early they (the Rice defense) were calling some cadence and shifts," said Davis. "When you work from the gun, we're on a silent type count...but our people do it all the time, so it's something you've got to adjust to and do better."

Outside of the penalty issues, what stood out most from the contest was the Longhorns' ground game. Texas received the ball to start the game and drove down the field, scoring a TD after seven straight runs.

The first pass for Texas did not come until the start of their second drive, when quarterback Colt McCoy discovered that the tight end is an eligible receiver, hitting Jermichael Finley for a 21-yard gain and the first reception for a Texas tight end this season. McCoy played an almost mistake-free game, completing 7 of 8 for 124 yards and 2 TDs.

"I felt I threw the ball well," said McCoy. "I threw the ball right on target all night long."

Finley finished with two catches for 39 yards. Another player with high preseason expectations who enjoyed a breakout performance was wide receiver Jordan Shipley.

Late in the first quarter the Longhorns took over on their own 40-yard line. Young took a hand-off, then flipped the ball to Shipley coming around on a reverse. The speedster in his third year at Texas and his first on the pitch shot down the field for a 40-yard run to the Rice 20. A reverse to Shipley is something that Longhorn fans had seen previewed in the spring game, but Davis says the call wasn't made based on who was in the game.

"Sometimes it's luck of the draw," said Davis. "We called a reverse and I didn't even know Jordan was in there. We set up for that kind of situation and he was in the rotation."

Shipley also caught a 38-yard touchdown strike from McCoy off a play-action fake later in the game. The Texas wideout had to go to the ground on the run to get the ball, but said he knew he could make the play.

"I knew right when he (McCoy) threw the ball I had a chance to get it," said Shipley. "I broke on it and he put it in a good place."

Something the Texas offense wanted to accomplish in the game was getting meaningful snaps for Snead. On the first offensive drive of the second quarter, Texas put the back-up quarterback in.

"We were glad we got Jevan in there, wished we could have gotten him some more throws, but we're glad we got him in there," said Brown.

Along with the penalties, the Texas offense had one major mistake on the game. With first and goal from the 1-yard-line, Young tried to dive over the pile, but had the ball knocked out while he was in mid-air by Rice defensive back Ja'Corey Shepherd. It was the second fumble at the goal line in as many weeks for the Horns. After the game, Young acknowledged his mistake.

"I have to be more cautious of not turning the ball over," said Young.

This week's fumble proved significantly less costly as the defense took it as an opportunity to get a touchdown of their own. Backed up to their own endzone, Rice QB Joel Armstrong was wrapped up by DT Frank Okam, but before Okam could bring Armstrong down for a safety, DE Tim Crowder yanked the ball from the Owl quarterback's hands for the touchdown.

"We work on the strip drill in practice all the time," said Crowder, "and I basically played the drill and the ball came out."

Crowder finished with 6 tackles, 5 of them for a loss, a sack, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and a touchdown. Defensive coordinator Gene Chizik was happy with the way Crowder and the rest of the defense played on Saturday.

"Our first goal was to stop the run and with a running quarterback that's your first thing," said Chizik, "and we got that done."

40,069 fans, most of them wearing burnt orange, watched Texas pummel Rice at Reliant. The Longhorns return home to take on the Iowa State Cyclones on Sept. 23rd at 2:30 p.m.


Horns Digest Top Stories