UT center Lyle Sendlein (62) celebrates. (Brian K Diggs/American-Statesman)

Football

Golden: In 2005, Texas’ big uglies were a thing of beauty

Posted August 28th, 2015

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Texas was a wrecking machine in 2005.

By the time the Big 12 opener at Missouri rolled around, the Horns were ranked No. 2 in the country and No. 1 in trash talking.

Vince Young was the best quarterback in the country that season, but wasn’t even in the top two when it came to the art of the smack. That honor went to Longhorns guard Kasey Studdard and center Lyle Sendlein, two mainstays on one of the greatest offensive lines in Texas history.

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The dirty duo — and they prided themselves on doing the dirty work — were at their best during that 51-20 win in Columbia. With Texas comfortably ahead and on the goal line in the fourth quarter, a Missouri defensive back walked over to Sendlein and Studdard and dared the Horns to run the ball to his side of the field.

“We’ll meet you in the hole,” Sendlein told him.

On the next play, a giggling Young handed the ball to running back Henry Melton, who easily scored.

“Anyone who studied our offense knew that we only ran two plays on the goal line,” Studdard said. “Jonathan Scott and I were always backside and the play would go behind Justin (Blalock) and Will’s (Allen) side. Everyone knew it was coming and still couldn’t stop it.”

No one could stop that Texas offense, it seemed. The Longhorns were nearly unstoppable during that massive 24-1 run from 2004 to 2005, especially in Texas’ national championship season which yielded nine games of at least 45 points and four of 60 or more.

Young, who was the best running quarterback in the nation, also was among the cleanest thanks to his big uglies. He was sacked only 11 times all season, an average of once per 29 attempts. Not bad, considering he attempted only 25 passes per game that year.

Texas Longhorns Will Allen (72),  Justin Blalock (62) and Rodrique Wright (90) in 2003. (Sung Park/American-Statesman)
Texas Longhorns Will Allen (72), Justin Blalock (62) and Rodrique Wright (90) in 2003. (Sung Park/American-Statesman)

Such was life for the Longhorns 10 years ago — Young, the pied piper, leading Texas up and down the field in blowout fashion most weeks behind an experienced line that bludgeoned opponents into submission in the manner of Longhorn forefathers Jerry Sisemore and Bud McFadin.

Young understandably got most of the headlines. He was Texas’ golden boy and college football’s most dangerous weapon this side of Reggie Bush. Still, even with a superstar in their midst, Texas was awash in star power. Vince was just at the top of the football food chain.

Thirty-two Longhorns from Texas’ 2005 squad went on to play in the NFL, and of those 32, two of the greatest in school history — quarterback Colt McCoy and wide receiver Jordan Shipley — didn’t even play a down, as they redshirted.

As the wins piled up for Texas, the guys at the bottom of the biggest piles — Sendlein, Studdard, Blalock, Allen and Scott — provided the perfect physical component to the backfield of big-play sprinters that included Young, Selvin Young and electric freshman Jamaal Charles.

“We certainly had a very big complement of talent up front (from 2004 to 2006), but it’s not like we were making Cedric Benson, Jamaal Charles and Selvin Young great players,” Blalock said. “And with Vince, you could have put him behind a middle school line and he would have still gotten it done.”

The starters weren’t alone. Backups like Mike Garcia, William Winston, Brett Valdez, Dallas Griffin and Tony Hills allowed offensive line coach Mac McWhorter great flexibility in substitutions. The avalanche of beatdowns allowed those younger players valuable experience late in games.

That line’s chemistry was undeniable, even if the linemen’s personalities varied across the front:

Studdard and Sendlein were Texas’ nasty boys who liked a good scrap as much as they enjoyed an all-you-can-eat buffet spread.

Allen wasn’t quiet, but was in comparison to Studdard and Sendlein. He was one of three All-Americans up front, joining Blalock and Scott.

Scott protected Young’s blind side and, almost as important, was the DJ responsible for the music during Texas’ legendary flow sessions in the locker room and on the team bus.

Blalock was the most versatile lineman, able to play every position up front. The 6-4., 329-pound standout was known as the Dancing Bear, a title once held by former lineman Leonard Davis. Blalock was the team’s unofficial renaissance man because of his interest in artistic pursuits that didn’t involve pancake blocks.

That season, Young told me that he kept his big boys happy by taking them out for grub during the week.

Yep, they would eat and he would run.

And Texas won big.

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