Run, Stop the Run

Inside Texas' Mike Blackwell gives his thoughts on the Longhorns going old school and getting back to the two most basic principles in football: running and stopping the run.

Vince Lombardi said a lot of things during his coaching career. He said if you block and tackle better than the other team that you'd win. He said if you're a running back, you need to simply run to daylight. He said that games are won on the line of scrimmage – win there and you win the game, said Saint Vince.

And most importantly, he said that two things are imperative for good football teams: they must run the ball, and they must stop the other team from running the ball.

Had Vince seen Saturday's 52-7 Texas win over Rice, he would've been a happy old coach. The Longhorns ran . . . and ran and ran and ran. And they stonewalled the Owls' anemic rushing offense.

Not coincidentally, the Longhorns dominated Rice, a fact that would've surprised old Vince not in the least.

Mack Brown's desire to run the football was evident from Texas' opening drive, which began on the Longhorns' own 35 yard-line. Texas promptly ran the ball six times, the sixth of which a four-yard touchdown run by Selvin Young, who carried three times for 36 yards on the drive. His running mate, Jamaal Charles, ran twice for 21 yards.

Even quarterback Colt McCoy got into the act, with a seven-yard carry on the first play of the game.

"We felt like with their defensive scheme, we could go with two tight ends and pretty much put a hat on everybody," said Texas offensive coordinator Greg Davis. "And we challenged our offensive line and backs. We told them they ought to take over this game early, and they certainly did that."

The numbers were stunning: Young carried 15 times for 101 yards and one touchdown. Charles (sudden thought: has there ever been a better second team running back?) – ran like the pre-ankle injury Charles of last season, gaining 109 yards on just eight carries and a touchdown. Backup quarterback Jevan Snead gouged the Owls as well with 61 yards on 6 carries.

Heck, even receiver Jordan Shipley added to the gaudy rushing totals, picking up 40 yards on a reverse in the first quarter.

You think old Vince would've enjoyed running that Green Bay power sweep with these guys? Most certainly, especially if Rice was the opponent. And especially with this Texas offensive line, a seasoned unit with national championship rings on their fingers and chips on their shoulders after losing last week at home to Ohio State.

Davis said he expected to have success running the football against the Owls, but did not expect to dominate the game in such an emphatic manner.

"I thought we would've thrown the ball more than 10 times," Davis said. "But the line was really coming off the ball so well, and we were so ahead of the chains that we didn't take as many shots down the field as we had prepared to do."

Defensively, the Longhorns swarmed the Owls, who could manage just 168 total yards. Rice finished with -12 yards rushing on 17 carries.

The Texas defense even scored in the game, thanks to a double-team by tackle Frank Okam and end Tim Crowder. Okam wrapped up Joel Armstrong and Crowder simply yanked the ball from the quarterback's hands, a graphic and fitting example of the Longhorns' dominance on this night.

The Owls spoiled the Longhorns' shutout try with a seven-play, 78-yard drive late in the fourth quarter that ended with Armstrong hitting Jarett Dillard on a six-yard touchdown pass with 3:15 left in the game.

Brown stated the obvious after the game.

"Our guys had a bad taste in their mouths all week," Brown said. "We came out and dominated both lines of scrimmage."

That was evident from the very beginning until the very end. The Longhorns piled up a whopping 493 yards of total offense – 330 rushing, 163 passing. And again, if you missed this stat earlier – the Owls were swarmed for a total of -12 yards rushing.

Minus twelve.

Twelve yards less that zero.

Abraham Lincoln had more yards rushing than Rice on Saturday.

"We challenged the kids all week to be physical," said Texas defensive coordinator Gene Chizik. "And that starts up front with the defensive line. We were able to get a lot of vertical push on the defensive line."

Vince would heartily, and happily, agree.

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