Texas D Talks UH Offense

While veteran Houston RB <B>Joffrey Reynolds </B>gets much of his team&#146;s media attention, Texas defensive players had Cougar QB <B>Barrick Nealy </B>on their minds Wednesday.

To be sure, Longhorn players and coaches are equally as aware of Reynolds, college football’s No. 15 rusher averaging 137.3 yards-per-game for the 2-1 Cougars.

But Houston’s redshirt freshman signal-caller, whom offensive coordinator Greg Davis simply said was "big and fast" (Nealy is 6-5, 210), may be the primary reason why Houston is 2-1 coming into Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium and considerably improved from last year’s 0-11 embarrassment.

His size and speed led SLB Lee Jackson to compare Nealy to Longhorn true freshman QB Vince Young, considered the jewel of Texas’ top ranked 2002 recruiting class. At the very least, Nealy is a taller version of North Carolina QB Darian Durant, Jackson added.

"From what I’ve seen, he is good," Jackson said. "I think whatever you give him, he’s going to take."

Nealy is responsible for 237 of Houston’s 414.4 yards-per-game (57 percent). In three games, he has passed for 524 yards and rushed for 187.

However, the school that perfected the run-and-shoot in the late 1980s is shooting itself in the foot with turnovers. The visitors have fumbled nine times, and Nealy has throw three interceptions, in just three games.

Still, turnovers are not predestined. Cut back on those and Houston can be an explosive team, Jackson said.

"If the team doesn’t have turnovers, being as good (offensively) as they are, they’re going to be a good team," Jackson said. "The (turnovers) I’ve seen was them not holding on to the ball right. I don’t think it was because of the defense. I think it was just them. We can’t overlook anybody."

Although defensive coordinator Carl Reese said Texas would play more zone this season, the alignment has rarely materialized, CB Rod Babers said, mentioning that Reese’s intent was to get D-backs facing the ball more than when they are playing man-to-man.

"I think we played zone against North Carolina maybe five times," Babers said.

With the defensive line thinned by DT Marcus Tubbs’ injury (Tubbs is being evaluated daily and his status will be determined at game time, Texas trainers say) expect more of the nickel package this Saturday as a way to get more talent and speed on the field.

"We’ve got five DBs (Babers, Cedric Griffin, Michael Huff, Nathan Vasher, Dakarai Pearson), and all those guys can make plays," Babers said. "We’ve got to put those guys out there."

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