Young Guns Step Up

Aside from Texas' balanced offensive attack that controlled the clock for nearly 40 minutes and vast improvements in tackling (just two missed tackles Saturday night compared to 15 against North Carolina), Longhorn head coach <B>Mack Brown</b> said the most pleasing part of his team's 41-11 win over Houston was the play of younger guys who filled in for key players.

SE Sloan Thomas drew Brown's praise for his career best 87 yards on six catches after Roy Williams went down in the first quarter with a strained hamstring. (See Hot News for an updated injury report)

"Nobody on the team questioned that when Roy went out that Sloan would step up," Brown said. "(FL) B.J. Johnson and Sloan are guys that have been around a long time," Brown said. "B.J. will have to continue to come on and Tony Jeffery is the same way. Our tight ends will need to continue to improve. Taking (TE) Bo Scaife and Roy Williams out of our offense is tough. We'll just have to keep doing it at receiver, because we can't control injuries."

Texas started four freshmen on defense (DT Rodrique Wright, DE Bryan Pickryl, CB Michael Huff and SS Cedric Griffin) to compensate for Nathan Vasher (sprained ankle) and Marcus Tubbs (concussion) sitting this one out. But the defense end spot was thinned even further following Pickryl's first half shoulder injury. The freshman subbed for DE Kalen Thornton, who continues to work his way back into increased playing time following off-season knee surgery.

"It's been a year where every time we look up someone's coming out," Brown said.

Depending on Pickryl's status, either Thornton or Kaelen Jakes would get the starting nod against Tulane Saturday. Coaches would also consider moving Eric Hall from middle linebacker back to defensive end.

"The young (defensive) front did okay, but we need some improvement in that area," Brown said. "We need Marcus back, but all the young guys played good. They didn't play great but they played good."

Brown also lauded true freshman Edorian McCullough for his work at cornerback, including tipping the ball that led to Dakarai Pearson's third pick of the year.

"Edorian looked like an older guy out there," Brown said.

For all the guarded praise heaped on his younger athletes, Brown also extolled QB Chris Simms for his 22-of-33 passing performance for 233 yards. Brown especially liked the way the senior scrambled on a number of occasions and ran down Houston DB Victor Malone after intercepting a Simms' pass that hit Jeffery in the shoulder pads.

"His interception wasn't his fault," Brown said. "From our standpoint, he hasn't thrown a bad ball all year."

As far as Johnson's record streak of catches in 27 games coming to an end: "B.J. is not an issue for us," Brown said. "As long as we're scoring 40 points, we're not concerned with who's catching the ball. There's always going to be someone on our team that y'all (media) will say we're not getting to enough. Last week it was Sloan and y'all never mentioned it."


The early season results indicate that Texas offensive enthusiasts can spend a little longer at the concession stand at halftime. For the second consecutive home game, neither UT nor its opponent scored in the third quarter. On the season, the Horns have generated all of one field goal in the second half at home and the defense is outscoring the offense (7-3) in Austin following intermission.

Unlike previous seasons (where it took Texas a while to get untracked), this is a quick-start, quick-strike offense that appears to lose interest after jumping all over teams during the first 30 minutes. On the season, Texas has totaled seven points in the third quarter while scoring 38 in the first and 44 in the second.

But things aren't always as they appear, Brown said. The third quarter Saturday was not like the ones you saw against North Texas and North Carolina, the head coach said.

"Unlike our game against North Texas, I thought our guys played really hard in the third quarter," Brown said. "I was disappointed in the couple of (third quarter) turnovers, or we'd score. We moved the ball the entire quarter. We just turned it over."

Texas picked up six first downs in the third (so did Houston), and tallied 64 yards on the ground and 55 through the air. But RBs Cedric Benson, Selvin Young and Ivan Williams each fumbled in the third, with Houston recovering two of the drops.

"Offensively, we're playing like we want to play but we'll have to eliminate the turnovers," Brown said. "It's something we've been doing, but we'll have to emphasize it again next week. Ivan got his (fumble) back. With Selvin, it looked like he was about to score but he never got a hold of the ball."

With its first TOs of the season Saturday, Texas was the last NCAA Division I school to scratch the turnover column in '02.

By the end of the third, though, Texas held a 403-126 advantage in total yardage.

The Horns managed all of two yards against North Texas in the third quarter and had possession of the ball for just eight third-quarter snaps at North Carolina (Texas, of course, scored quickly in the third at Chapel Hill on a two-play drive).

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