Can Chiles Come Out and Play?

QB Colt McCoy is coming off a 333-yard outing against Rice -- just 13 yards shy of his career-best -- and there's no question that he is the undisputed leader of the Longhorn offense. But what are the odds that dynamic backup John Chiles will factor more into the offense as, potentially, a change of pace?

John Chiles' collegiate debut came late in the second quarter Saturday when he lined up in the shotgun and with McCoy in the slot. Chiles carried for no gain but then ran for 72 yards on his next eight carries.

"We have a package where we use the two of them," offensive coordinator Greg Davis said Monday. "Rice happened to blitz it. We have four or five plays designed out of that group of people. Once you get a foundation, you can expand it."

Presumably, it means an expanded role for Chiles. The only question is whether coaches will dial Chiles' number against a higher caliber of opponent when the game is still on the line,

"We want to keep doing some things that will involve John and Colt at the same time," Davis said, "because John can do a lot of different things."

Chiles is one of nine true freshmen who have played this season at Texas. Brown has now played 84 of a possible 236 true freshmen (35.6 percent) during his nearly 10 seasons in Austin. But, as a general rule, Texas coaches prefer to insert younger players only when there is a reasonable chance they will be successful (i.e., when the outcome is no longer in doubt). Chiles did not run a full series Saturday until after Texas had built a 48-7 lead. The result was an eight-play, 80-yard scoring march by a Longhorn offense consisting entirely of true freshmen and RS-freshmen.

"In a perfect world," Davis said, "you like for younger players to go in and do exactly what happened the other night. Especially with quarterbacks, you'd like to pick-and-choose when you play them."

It's just that securing quality snaps for backup QBs has vexed Longhorn coaches for the past 10 years. Head coach Mack Brown has generally lamented the fact that backup QBs (Jevan Snead in 2006, Chris Simms in 1999) did not have more game-day experience when starters were sidelined. Ideally, a backup's insertion into the fray would be more intentional than consequential. But Chiles brings more to the table than an insurance for an injured starter. He is a go-the-distance threat who just might spark a rushing offense that has struggled inside the Red Zone.

"It was great to get John in the game," Brown said. "It's what we wanted to do in the first three. We're happy that we didn't just have him with a package with Colt. We were able to let him take it, go with it and run it. We didn't want him to throw it more than twice because we didn't want the score to get into the 60s."

Two pass attempts resulted in incompletions, but his first toss hit true freshman WR Brandon Collins in the hands. The second bounced at the feet of walk-on Coy Aune.

Can Chiles polish his passing game enough to keep defenses honest? Since he arrived early on campus last January, the buzz surrounding Chiles was that he could run the Zone Read like a Mini-Me version of You-Know-Who. While comparisons to Vince Young are premature, Chiles makes no secret that he not only patterns his game after his legendary predecessor but that VY's prominence was a significant factor in his choice of schools. Chiles' sprint-out passing attack is more developed than his drop-back game, insiders say, but that's to be expected, according to his offensive coach.

"All young quarterbacks throw better on the run because you cut the field in half for them," Davis said. "One of the biggest things that happens to a young quarterback when he gets to college is the number of (pass) protections that he has to deal with. When you sprint-out, you make that a much easier part of it. But John does throw better on the run."

So, will Chiles get much of a chance to put defenses on the run, now that Big 12 Conference play begins? If Chiles merely holds the clipboard against Kansas State, then it's a harbinger of things to come against Oklahoma the following Saturday. For now, "I thought we needed to get done what we needed to get done for John and for our team," Brown concluded.

Kick-off for both the K-State and OU games are slated for 2:30 p.m. (CDT) and will be televised by ABC-Sports.

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