Horns Go Up Top to Bury Rice

Texas QB Colt McCoy's four scoring tosses set a new school record for career touchdown passes (62) in leading Texas past Rice, 52-10, in Austin. But can Texas win critical conference games during its bloody October stretch with McCoy as its leading rusher?

Texas won a championship with a QB as its leading rusher, coach Mack Brown mentioned after his Horns upped their mark to 3-0. No one will mistake Colt McCoy for Vince Young, but the junior's 412 yards of total offense Saturday ranks fourth on Texas' single-game list. He passed for 329 yards on a coolly efficient 19-of-23 evening with no interceptions. For the second time in three contests, McCoy was the game's leading rusher with 83 yards on eight carries. He broke Major Applewhite's career TD mark when he hooked-up with Quan Cosby on a five-yard TD toss early in the third quarter.

"I didn't think about it (record) at all," McCoy said. "I thank God for giving me the ability and the opportunity. We've got a long season ahead of us and, hopefully, we'll throw a lot more."

And, hopefully, run it a lot more consistently as well. The Horns finished with a solid 259 yards rushing against, well, a very bad defense that kept Texas' running game in check until the third quarter.

"I was not pleased with the way we ran the ball in the first half," Brown said, after his team netted just 82 yards on 15 carries at intermission.

Right now, McCoy is the Longhorn running game. Period. Unless RB Fozzy Whittaker proves durable -- he missed Saturday's game with a knee injury -- and unless Texas' pass defense improves in a hurry, Oklahoma can name the score in three weeks. And keep the Maalox handy against Missouri and Texas Tech. (Those two shootouts are shaping up as track meets even if Texas doesn't have a track star in its backfield.)

Backup QB John Chiles is an obvious running threat (with emphasis on 'obvious'), but he'll remain a one-trick pony until he makes defenses respect his arm. Chiles checked-in during the opening series of the second half and had a hand in Texas' first drive that featured the run (nine rushes in 13 plays) The exclamation point to the 79-yard march was McCoy's five-yard TD strike to Cosby, establishing the new school record for career TD passes.

The series was marred, however, by TE Blaine Irby's injury to his right knee. The sophomore was carted off the field with 9:33 remaining in the third after SLB Terrance Garmon's helmet collided with his knee. Brown had not conferred with trainers prior to his post-game press conference, but said, "The only thing I can say is we love Blaine, he's a great player and we hate to see him go out."

Next play, Chiles took the direct snap (in the Q package with McCoy on the field) and collected nine yards on a single-wing sweep around right end, converting a 4th-and-2 at the Rice 30. But this series may have signaled the arrival of FB Cody Johnson. The RS-freshman is a load; he knows how to head north and stated his case for more PT with 67 tough yards on 15 totes. On this drive, Johnson rushed over right end for 16 yards to set up 1st-and-goal from the five.

"Cody has been practicing really well," offensive coordinator Greg Davis said. "I felt like there were a few more seams in our running game. We wanted to give him a shot and he did a good job. He has great vision and brought a spark to the running game."

Chiles netted 72 yards on 10 carries; he completed his only pass attempt of the night for 12 yards. But if Johnson stated his case, FL Jordan Shipley served notice that he can be the vertical threat missing from the offense since SE Limas Sweed ended his collegiate career last October. Shipley notched his first career 100-yard game with 155 yards on five grabs, including two TDs. His 60-yard TD reception (off a flea-flicker) tied a career best.

Texas rolled to 600 yards of total offense, marking the ninth time in Brown's tenure that his Horns eclipsed that 600-yard plateau. Texas never punted. The Horns will need that kind of firepower to compensate for a pass defense that is still enduring growing pains. Texas had surrendered an average 276.5 passing ypg during its first two ball games; it yielded 301 yards through the air Saturday. Granted, the Chase Clement-Jarett Dillard combination is one of college football's most productive one-two punches. And the Owls were playing pass-and-catch after playing catch-up most of the night.

Defensive coordinator Will Muschamp's insists that the bottom line is points.

"One stat matters and that's winning games," Muschamp said. "The number two stat is 'scoring defense' and keeping teams out of end zone. We pressed quite a bit tonight, setting up with four man rush with a different rush pattern we set up at halftime."

Basically, Muschamp unleashed his down linemen. For two quarters, Texas' D-linemen were instructed to engage blockers until Muschamp allowed them to blow through gaps and pressure the QB. The Horns had two sacks coming into Saturday's game; they posted seven against Rice. Texas held Rice to 17 yards rushing on 24 attempts. The Owls' only TD drive covered all of 28 yards following a Chiles' fumble and Texas leading 31-3. And you may not see this unit produce a more tenacious goal line stand than the one it turned in near the end of the second quarter. Rice took 11 snaps (nine official plays) including nine inside the five, and came away with nothing.

"I've never seen something like that before," DE Brian Orakpo said. "That was unbelievable. The guys were just fighting. We kept fighting and our guys were playing with great passion."

It all started when Jarett Dillard's 48-yard catch-and-run against Deon Beasley carried all the way to the Texas two. Safety Earl Thomas was whistled for pass interference on 4th-and-four; Beasley was flagged for the same infraction two plays later. One thing was certain: it's been years since Rice has had the muscle to push Texas, and they weren't going to push their way into the end zone on this series (especially given Muschamp's emphasis the past two weeks on not allowing an opponent to score on its final possession of the first half). It helped that Clement misfired to an open TE James Casey; a false start penalty pushed the ball back to the Texas six. SLB Sergio Kindle stopped an inside screen three yards shy of the end zone while DE Lamarr Houston was credited with a third-down PBU. The series ended when Orakpo pressured Clement into an incompletion.

"In 33 years of coaching," Brown said, "that was a first."

The Owls reached the Texas 29 on their opening series, facing a 3rd-and-2. The Horns took over on downs after Orakpo and Kindle notched consecutive PBUs. Vondrell McGee opened at RB and stepped-off nine yards before McCoy scrambled for 24. But Cosby's fumble at the end of a 35-yard reception -- the ball hit the left pylon of the south end zone -- resulted in a touchback. It was Texas' first fumble of the season; Rice exchanged the gift for a 31-yard FG following an eight-play, 67-yard drive.

It took Texas just three plays to answer. Cosby's 30-yard KO return set up shop at the Texas 40. He would add 14 on a reception down the right sideline. The big play was McCoy's naked bootleg 30-yard toss to FL Jordan Shipley, including a face mask penalty. If you want evidence of what a beefed-up McCoy can do this year that he could not have accomplished as a RS-freshman, look no further than his eight-yard TD run. Weaving through traffic, McCoy met two Owl defenders head-on just inside the two-yard line. McCoy won. The impact knocked the would-be defenders back into the end zone as McCoy split the difference and hit pay dirt. It was a 7-3 ballgame at the end of the opening frame.

QB Chase Clement pooch-punted 45 yards to the Texas one at the end of the Owl's next series. There were three key third-down conversions on this 99-yard march; the first was a 10-yard completion to FL James Kirkendoll on 3rd-and-seven as the O-line fended off blitzing Rice linebackers. Then, Texas needed six on third down at its 18; Cosby gave the Horns eight. McCoy found Irby in the right flat for seven yards The Horns tacked-on seven more when Shipley blew past CB Chad Douglas on a seam route down the middle. McCoy hit his roommate right in the numbers as Texas extended its lead, 14-3.

Did you get a good look at McCoy's one-play, 60-yard TD to a wiiiiiide-open Shipley? It was a flea-flicker where RB Chris Ogbonnaya pitched back to McCoy, and it is precisely the type of trick play that Texas typically reserves for the Rices of the college football world rather than the Oklahomas.

Following Texas' goal line stand, Shipley's 30-yard reception set up Hunter Lawrence's 40-yard FG as the Horns took a 24-3 lead into the locker room. Texas opened the second half with a 13-play, 79-yard drive to take a four-TD lead. Now, the defense was pinning back its ears, recording two sacks (DE Aaron Lewis, Kindle) on Rice's next possession.

"We knew we had to get to the quarterback in the second half," Kindle said. "We knew we had to get to the quarterback. He was completing passes."

Chiles fumbled at the end of a sack at the Texas 28; it led to Rice's only TD of the game. The 15-yard pass from Clement to Dillard made it a 31-10 ballgame. Texas answered with 47-yard wheel route to RB Chris Ogbonnaya, capping a four-play drive with three seconds remaining in the quarter.

An errant shotgun snap resulted in a 22-yard loss for the Owls; Texas' second-team took the field in prime real estate just inside the Rice 30. Chiles' 25-yard run on the option-keeper made it a 45-10 runaway with 11:07 remaining. Cody Johnson capped the scoring with a one-yard plunge with 3:59 remaining.

Texas returns to action 2:30 p.m. (CDT) Saturday against Arkansas in an ABC-Sports regional broadcast.

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