Texas' freshman QB Vince Young was the man of the hour helping lead the Horns to a late fourth quarter touchdown. Texas had to come from behind against a tough Kansas St. team to earn their first Big 12 hame of the year 24-20 at Darrell K. Royal Memorial Stadium Saturday afternoon Oct. 4, 2003.

Kirk Bohls

American-Statesman Staff

Column

FROM THE ARCHIVES (Oct. 5, 2003): BOHLS: Young’s quick feet might be best for the long run

Posted October 5th, 2003

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Mack Brown’s right. This two-quarterback system does work.

Chance Mock should play some.

Vince Young clearly demonstrated he has the magical feet, the sandlot poise and the All-America-caliber talent to be a starting quarterback.

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Probably as soon as next Saturday’s game against Oklahoma.

A right ankle injury that initially looked to be serious and that had him hobbling without a shoe after the game could alter those plans. Young even thought he had broken the ankle before he limped off late in the third quarter.

But the redshirt freshman had it taped up and returned to rally 13th-ranked Texas past 16th-rated Kansas State 24-20 Saturday in one of the grittiest performances by a Brown-coached team.

Mock may start, by default, against the top-ranked Sooners in Dallas. The coaching staff, as is its custom, didn’t meet the subject as head-on as Longhorn linebacker Derrick Johnson and his teammates did the Wildcats’ dynamic offense.

“He grew up as the game went on, but we’ll do like we do every week, ” Texas offensive coordinator Greg Davis said. “Mack and I will sit down (today) and Monday to see what gives us the best opportunity to win.”

Clearly, a healthy Young would do that. And that should not be construed as a knock on Mock, who played gamely with little pass protection and threw an on-target, 51-yard touchdown strike to Sloan Thomas for a 17-3 halftime lead. Texas fans, known for their patience, will be happy to wait another 20 or so seconds before Brown names a starter.

It’s just that Mock doesn’t have Young‘s escapability or — as Davis likes to put it — his ability to make plays off schedule. That’s coachese for the way Young scrambled and ran draws for 80 yards and a touchdown, and connected with Roy Williams on a key, 12-yard pass after two third-quarter possessions behind Mock netted one first down and 4 yards of offense. “We were stagnant offensively, till that play, ” Brown said.

Young‘s quickly grasping the offense, too, reciting plays in his head during the week “like a spelling test.”

Mock’s the perfect caretaker quarterback with a dominating offensive line and a solid ground game. Texas owns neither, given Kansas State’s six sacks and Cedric Benson’s 54 yards rushing and 3.2 average per carry.

Texas (4-1) loses this game without Young. With him, it prolonged its dream for a national title shot and a Big 12 championship and offered tangible evidence that the Longhorns can win a game that had all the subtleties of a head-on collision for all 134 plays.

Take a bow, Texas.

The coaching staff coached big. The blue-ribbon defense deserved medals for containing Ell Roberson and Darren Sproles — if they were any more combustible, they’d come with a matchbook cover — and it discovered another big-time hitter in linebacker Aaron Harris to go with one of the game’s best in Johnson.

And even though Benson had the ball pried from his fingers, he ran hard to set up the winning score. And even though Nathan Vasher fumbled away a punt, he had a momentum-preserving interception in the end zone. And even though Roy Williams looked human on his drop, Sloan Thomas and Tony Jeffery came up with clutch receptions.

“I don’t think this team realizes how good it is, ” Benson said. “I think we’re one of the top three teams in the nation. This should bring back some of the swagger and get rid of that ‘soft’ talk.”

There was nothing soft about the hits D.J. and crew stuck on Roberson and Sproles. Marshall didn’t beat this Kansas State team. And this Texas team could have beaten Arkansas.

“This win got Arkansas back for us, ” Williams said. “We’ve just got to keep dodging bullets.”

Vince the dodger might give Texas the best chance. Check out his numbers. Mock was in the game for 33 plays and produced 63 yards and seven points. Young accounted for 201 yards and 10 points on his 41 snaps.

On the season, Young could hardly be more efficient. In his 16 series, Texas has scored 10 touchdowns and one field goal.

On three other possessions, Benson fumbled at the K-State 15, Williams dropped a pass that could have put the Horns in the red zone and Texas was playing kill-the-clock. Totaled, Young could have put up points on 13 of 16 series.

If that ain’t empirical evidence, Michael Dell doesn’t own a laptop.

But using both quarterbacks still makes sense. Mock, a heady, skilled quarterback and the consummate team player, was the first to bear-hug Young after his clinching score.

“Today you saw the perfect example why the two-quarterback system works, ” Mock said, adding he wouldn’t be shocked if Young starts next week. “Nothing surprises me at the University of Texas.”

Young, however, is full of surprises for opposing defenses. Although he said the ankle felt terrible an hour after the game, he’s emboldened enough to know he’s not going to miss OU. Could he sit out?

“I doubt it, ” he said. “I’m going to play.”

kbohls@statesman.com

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