"He's tough as nails," Mack Brown said, adding that Benson is far more versatile (and consequentially dangerous to opponents) than during his breakout freshman campaign. "He's toughened up in his blocking. We actually leave him in now in our four- and five-wide sets because he has excellent hands."
Part of the sophomore's trademark while at Midland Lee High was that he toted the rock early and often and then owned the fourth quarter.
"He does play better at the end of the game than he does at the beginning, like most good running backs, but we need to give him more breaks and trust some of those other guys," Brown said. "We put two of them in (Ivan Williams, Selvin Young) and they both fumble. That's what we told them. They need to help us."
The fumbles took what would have been a "40- or 50-point win" and turned it into a "30-point win," Brown added.
"That shows you the detriment of turnovers," the head coach said.
Benson has made no secret of modeling his game after RB Ricky Williams, and he resembles the 1998 Heisman Trophy in more ways than one.
"Like Ricky, he gets up from every play like he's dead," Brown said. "He gets up so slow that I used to look at everyone on the sideline and ask, ‘Is he going to get up?' I'm not worried about him any more."
Nope, just the opposing defenses should be worried.
HORNS MAKING MARK IN NATIONAL, LEAGUE STATS
In addition to Benson, other Longhorns are leaving their hoof prints all over NCAA team and individual rankings. Chris Simms is third in the conference and No. 16 nationally in pass efficiency rating (152.2) and No. 2 in the Big 12 (13th nationally for his 16.0 points-per-game average). Sophomore K Dusty Magnum leads the league (No. 17 NCAA) for his 1.7 field goals per game.
Defensively, coordinator Carl Reese's unit is taking up this year where last year's top rated squad left off.
Texas leads the nation in total defense, surrendering just 213.3 ypg, is No. 2 nationally (first in Big 12) by allowing just 115.3 yards through the air, and is fourth in the country (No. 2 in Big 12) in pass efficiency defense (75.5). Texas' scoring defense (10.7 ppg) is good for fifth nationally, No. 2 among league teams.
TEAM MVP'S NAMED
For the second time this season, Simms was named the Darrell K. Royal Offensive Player of the Week for his performance (20-of-30 for 233 yards, two touchdowns) in Texas' 41-11 win over Houston. But the play for which Brown lauded the senior signal-caller was when Simms chased down Houston FS Victor Malone after he grabbed a tipped pass before sprinting 57 yards down the sideline. Simms tackled him before he could reach the south end zone.
"He saved the touchdown, and it lead to three points instead of seven," Brown said. "His scrambling and diving for a first down when we were third-and-short was a key play. He's making some really good throws. Even the interception wasn't a bad throw."
Juniors MLB Reed Boyd and FS Dakarai Pearson shared the Mike Campbell Defensive Player of the Week award. Almost the forgotten man among Longhorn linebackers, Boyd led the defense with 12 tackles and three quarterback pressures. Pearson, returning punts for injured CB Nathan Vasher, snagged his third interception in three games returning it 27 yards for the score, and added three tackles.
Redshirt freshman Rufus Harris and senior Beau Trahan shared the Frank Denius Special Teams Players of the Week, an area that Brown said the team won in all phases. Harris led the kicking teams with three solo tackles, while Trahan registered his third career touchdown when he scored on a first quarter fake field goal.
"Beau Trahan wants more touches," Brown said. "He said, ‘I've scored every time I've touched it'.
But should Texas have pulled the trick play out of the magician's hat against Houston or saved it for the Evil Empire on Oct. 12?
"Our philosophy has always been you'd like to fake the field goal or the punt in the first three or four ballgames of the year," Brown said, a decision that is also predicated by the defensive alignment.
Harris (six) and Trahan (five) lead the ‘Horns in special team tackles this season.
Meanwhile, UT special teams held Houston to a 14.6-yard average on its five kickoff returns and a 6.6 average on three punt returns.