Brown: O-line Played 'Best Game' Since UNC

In the <B>Mack Brown</b>/<B>Greg Davis</b> era of record-setting offenses at Texas, 386 yards of total O would typically be considered just an OK day. After consecutive weeks of barely surpassing the 200-yard mark, though, Saturday's near-400-yard total vs. Iowa State should be considered an offensive explosion.

And after four weeks of rushing ineptitude, that 245 of those 386 yards vs. the 'Clones came on the ground should be considered downright delightful.

The Texas head coach's delight came in seeing both the offensive line and Cedric Benson turn in their best performances since early September.

"The offensive line played their best game since North Carolina," Brown said Sunday. "They opened holes and Ced was more patient and confident after a good week of practice and he made great cuts on the safeties."

Benson rushed 30 times for 199 yards (6.6 per carry), including a lead-changing 59-yard third quarter TD sprint, while the Texas running back trio of Benson, Selvin Young (9-34) and Brett Robin (6-26) combined for 259 yards on 45 carries, an average of 5.8 yards per rush.

"I thought the offensive staff did a great job looking at things, setting up Chris Simms for some key checks," Brown said. "And a good play action package kept Iowa State off balance. When you run the ball well, play action helps you convert third downs."

The Horns converted eight-of-17 third down opportunities and two-of-three fourth down tries. Both successful fourth down conversions came on Simms sneaks while ISU stuffed a Robin run late in the game.

Despite a mostly solid effort all day, the OL's surge both on the fourth-and-inches play during the Horns' 19 play, nine-minute-plus drive that spanned the end of the third and half of the fourth quarter and on Robin's fourth-and-one attempt with just under three minutes to play that would have allowed Texas to run out the clock left a bit to be desired.

Before the successful sneak on the long drive, Benson looked to have picked up the first on the third down play, but a less than generous spot set up Simms' sneak on fourth (which received a more than generous spot after the ISU defense drove through the Texas OL and stood up the Texas QB seemingly short of the first), extending what turned out to be the clinching drive.

The line also surrendered four sacks, but its much-improved run blocking allowed the Horns to dominate time of possession in the second half (Texas held the ball for over 20 minutes of the 30 minutes of game time after the break), which Brown called key.

The head coach also said a look at the film changed his initial impression of his team's first half play.

"I was a little disappointed during the second quarter yesterday," Brown said. "I didn't think we were playing with a lot of spark, but after looking at the film, I thought we played hard. We didn't play well at times, but we played hard."

"I'm pleased with the way the coaches responded at halftime," he added.

That includes Carl Reese and crew, who "changed up" the second half defense, particularly in coverages to confuse the ISU offense and by slowing down the rush so as not to overrun the slippery Seneca Wallace. The changes worked to the tune of a 68-yard, scoreless Cyclone second half.

"The best thing defensively was, on the 18-play drive we didn't let 'em score," Brown said, before adding that the offensive's second half ball control played a big part in the D's success.


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