"He's a special player," Texas head coach Mack Brown said. "He'll be fun for all of us to watch."
From a purely objective point of view (and if you are purely objective, why would you subscribe to Inside Texas?), this is one helluva "fun" matchup not only between Wallace and Texas' superlative pass defense (120.0 yards-per-game, NCAA No. 2) but also between Wallace and UT's defensive ends whose primary job Saturday is to keep the 'Clones dangerous QB inside the hash marks as much as humanly possibly.
The good news is LDE Cory Redding is coming off the best game of his career and shows no sign of letting up, while revitalized RDE Kalen Thornton should return to the starting lineup Saturday just in time to try to contain the slippery signal-caller. Last year, Wallace was Big 12 Offensive Newcomer of the Year on the strength of 2,619 yards of total offense and a school record completion percentage of .621.
One of 14 quarterbacks named to the watch list for the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm award given annually to the nation's top senior quarterback, Wallace contributes 246 yards of offense per game.
Part of what makes Wallace so "fun" is his ability to bring a team back from a big deficit (last week's 49-3 loss to OU, notwithstanding). After trailing 24-7 at halftime, he rallied his team to a 36-31 triumph over in-state rival No. 13 Iowa. However, he is best remembered for nearly orchestrating the greatest comeback in Cyclone history before he was tackled inside the Florida State 1-yard line as time expired, and the No. 11 Seminoles escaped with a 38-31 victory.
Wallace is particularly effective in the area where Texas is the most deficient: converting on third- and fourth-downs, where he has moved the chains on 32-of-65 attempts.
The thing that makes Wallace especially "fun" is his innate ability to ad-lib.
"He makes off-schedule plays in both the running game and in the passing game," Brown said. "The scramble he made against Texas Tech (12-yard run for a touchdown) was the best I had ever seen. He runs all the way to the left, he runs all the way back to the right, he runs all the way back to the left and he walks in untouched."
With apologies to Beau Trahan (the official UT scout team quarterback), no one could better prepare the Longhorn defense for one such as Wallace than his own version of Mini-Me, Kansas State QB Ell Roberson. (You didn't think I was going to say Nate Hybl, did you?)
"He's very much like Ell Roberson," Brown said. "You've got try to contain him and try to cover down field at the same time. A scrambling quarterback making plays with his feet is the toughest thing to defend because you don't know what he's going to do or where he's going to go. You've got to try to keep him inside, and they move him a lot."
If Wallace has an Achilles' Heel, it is his propensity to toss the interception while trying to make something happen. In his second year at ISU, he has thrown for 22 touchdowns and 18 picks.
But Brown expects ISU to respond to their loss against the Sooners in much the same way that Texas did: with it's best game of the year.
"Dan McCarney is a competitor and he's a great coach," Brown said. "He'll have them ready to play. They'll come in here snorting. Some people have thrown (Wallace) out of the Heisman race this year like they did Ricky (Williams) two or three times, but he'll be right back because he's really good."
We have no problem with Wallace being back…starting November 2.
TEST YOUR ‘SENECA' SAVVY
How did "Seneca" get his name?
a) He was named after a chain of gas stations in California
b) He was named for a soap opera character
c) "Seneca" is what his younger brother called him because he could not pronounce his actual name
d) It is a nickname honoring the Native American tribe of Senecas, indigenous to northern Iowa
(The answer will appear at the end of our next ISU preview story.)