I think most of us remember this game pretty well. In the game that may very well change the way coaches schedule their nonconference season, the Horns went in to Columbus at night and pulled off an unprecedented victory. Our gameday report card is below:
Gameday Report Card
Vince Young completed 18 of 29 passes for 270 yards, with two touchdowns and two interceptions. He completed passes to six different receivers, including two beautiful touchdown strikes, one to Limas Sweed and the other to Billy Pittman. His only mistakes came in the middle portion of the game when he tried to do too much. He'll learn from that and emerges this week better than before. Wow, that's scary.
Between Vince Young (20 rushes, 100 yards), Selvin Young (5 rushes, 11 yards), Jamaal Charles (10 rushes, 37 yards), and Henry Melton (2 rushes, 2 yards), Texas managed 150 rushing yards against the vaunted Ohio State defense. But most of that came very early in the game. After Ohio State packed in the box, the Texas running game was largely contained. Still, the early running success eventually paid off, as Texas was able to pass down the field in the 4th quarter for the winning score. RIP Selvin Young. When he wasn't fumbling, he was running straight into the pile at the line of scrimmage. The coaches said he injured his ankle. I say he's just not very good. Welcome to your new starting role, Jamaal Charles. Charles wasn't enormously effective, but he was a lot better than Selvin, he protected the football, and he impressed me with his toughness, despite being relatively undersized. Charles will make a fine feature back, and a very nice platoon partner with Hank the Tank.
Well, well, well. Texas has a passing game. The questions lingering about who, besides David Thomas, could catch a pass were answered on Saturday as Billy Pittman and Limas Sweed caught Vince Young touchdown passes and helped balance the offense as Ohio State shut down the run. We've been very skeptical/critical of Limas Sweed at ATL, but he earned his keep on Saturday night, hauling one of the biggest catches in Texas football history. Pittman was outstanding, showing good hands and speed and racking up 130 yards in receiving. Equally impressive was Jamaal Charles, who caught 6 passes for 69 yards. David Thomas didn't have his best game, but he'll be fine. A great job by the receivers all around.
Give Vince Young a game ball, for sure. But the true heroes of this one were on the defensive end of the field. Gene Chizik's crew were outstanding, making tough stand after tough stand after the offense went to sleep. Without their heroics, Texas certainly loses the game. Rodrique Wright was a force in the middle, the linebackers were ferocious and disciplined, and the secondary did a great job keeping Ohio State's two big playmakers from breaking open the game. The lone touchdown scored by Ohio State was simply a perfect pass and catch--virtually impossible to defend. You simply can't overstate how good the defense was on Saturday.
An unmitigated disaster, and nearly the difference in the game. Six kickoff returns for 191 yards? The difference in average starting field position was nearly fatal. Again, without the defense's otherworldly performance, this game could have gotten out of hand. The punting game was decent, though not great. Only David Pino saves this crew from getting an F, emerging as a reliable kicker in as pressure-packed a situation as he'll ever face. A tremendous job.
We've covered this pretty exhaustively now. Gene Chizik did a great job. Greg Davis had his spots. Overall, the coaches had a good day, save the special teams coach, who ought to be fired. Mack Brown should get some much deserved credit. He's not a brilliant game day tactician, a la Bob Stoops, but he continues to field nationally elite teams, and he's finally winning some big games. He reminds me of Bobby Bowden, serving as a sort of Godfather of the program. He's very, very good at it, and I'm very, very thankful that he's our coach.
Overall, you can't say enough about this win. Texas wasn't perfect, but that's simply an unrealistic expectation in a game of that magnitude, in that hostile an environment. They weren't perfect, but they were victors. For that, you simply can't give them anything less than an A+
Hopefully you were able to watch the replay of the game on ESPN Classic on Saturday. It was a thrilling game and, along with USC-Notre Dame, one of the two best games of the year. We can only hope the Rose Bowl will be as exciting. And rewarding.