CHIP BROWN :Mack to team: Be careful out there

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    Mack to team: Be careful out there

    07:33 PM CST on Thursday, November 17, 2005

    By CHIP BROWN / The Dallas Morning News

    Mack Brown sent his players home for a three-day weekend Thursday with strict instructions before returning Sunday night to continue preparations for Texas A&M next Friday.

    Brown said his team has come too far this season to make any avoidable mistakes during a bye week.

    SportsDay Speak: Chip Brown on the Longhorns
    He doesn’t want players eating too much fried or greasy food.

    No booze. No caffeine.

    He wants the guys to get off their feet because “at this point in the season, everyone’s banged up and exhausted.”

    He doesn’t want his players hanging around childhood friends with bad habits that could get them into trouble.

    Finally, he said he wants his players to be careful driving, so they don’t fall asleep at the wheel.

    Texas, of course, endured a tragic accident in February 2001, when defensive end Cole Pittman died in a one-car accident while returning to Austin from his family’s home in Shreveport, La.

    Pittman’s truck went off the road about 7:45 a.m., went down a creek embankment and went airborne before it landed on the other side and flipped, according to authorities.

    Q: Texas was accused by a couple of regulars on ESPN’s Sports Reporters of running up the score by going for a field goal at the end of the first half against Kansas to go up 52-0. What are your thoughts?

    Tim Teller, Miami

    BROWN: It would have been a touchdown if a shotgun snap hadn’t gone through the hands of Vince Young for a 12-yard loss. So those guys on ESPN should look at the bright side. A field goal is less than a TD. As Texas right tackle Justin Blalock said, “It’s not our job to stop our offense.”

    • • •

    Q: Vince Young didn’t have a very good rushing performance against Kansas. Was that his worst as a college player?

    Mark Canton, Dallas

    BROWN: Yes. Young ran six times for minus-4 yards. Young’s previous low rushing total was 49 yards against North Texas his redshirt freshman season. Young was done in by two negative plays (one a botched snap for a 12-yard loss, the other a 2-yard loss on a run). Texas also was intent on passing early against Kansas’ No. 1-ranked rushing defense. UT ended up with 336 rushing yards, led by Ramonce Taylor’s 14 carries for 96 yards (6.9 yards per carry).

    • • •

    Q: Ramonce Taylor got his second straight start at tailback. Should we draw any significance from that?

    Todd Drew, Fort Worth

    BROWN: Mack Brown says Taylor and Jamaal Charles will continue to get the bulk of the carries in the running game. Brown also announced after the Kansas game that Selvin Young has become the team’s third-down back because Young “is the best blocker and route runner out of the backfield.” Henry Melton remains the team’s short-yardage and goal-line back.

    • • •

    Q: Do you think with the past hospitality problems Texas had in College Station, Mack will bring his own cooks? Or at least send an advance team to review the hotel?

    David Elrod, Little Rock, Ark.

    BROWN: In 1999, Texas stayed at the Ramada Inn in College Station and, according to Mack Brown, had prank phone calls ringing coaches’ and players’ rooms even after the team asked for all calls to be blocked. Brown also said the team’s pre-game breakfast wasn’t prepared, forcing the players to have to fend for themselves at places like Jack ‘N The Box. UT will stay in Conroe, then bus to College Station, about an hour's drive away, on game day.

    • • •

    Q: On more than one occasion against Kansas, Vince Young was back to pass and it appeared that no one was open, so he tucked the ball and started to run. The KU players broke off their rush to pursue. But rather than go downfield, Vince took only a few steps, circled back and a new pocket formed around him, giving him another 3-5 seconds to find a receiver. Is that a designed play or is that simply the result of having an incredible quarterback and offensive line?

    Jim Whitton, Fort Worth

    BROWN: That is Vince Young’s maturity and an offensive line that knows never to stop blocking until they see the back of Young’s jersey bolting down the field. Michigan coach Lloyd Carr said after the Rose Bowl that when Young drops back to pass, then acts like he’s going to run, only to fire off a pass, it’s almost indefensible. That’s because defenders cover the pass, then leave their coverage to defend against Young running. Young now knows how to buy time in the pocket, how to suck defenders toward him, only to free up a receiver. It’s all made possible by his ability to keep his eyes downfield. He’s looking for a receiver, even as he’s thinking of running. That’s a sign of his maturity. A lot of mobile quarterbacks – once they decide to run – that’s it, they don’t keep looking downfield to throw it.

    • • •

    Q: Now that Stephenville quarterback Jevan Snead has switched his commitment from Florida to Texas, do you think the coaches had Snead rated higher than Matt Stafford of Highland Park, who has pledged to play at Georgia?

    Jeff Weaver, Wylie, Texas

    BROWN: I think the UT coaches believed Stafford may have been the best pure dropback passer in the state and that Snead is the best dual-threat QB in the state. Considering the success Texas has had with the Gun-n-Run offense, I think the Texas coaches are perfectly happy to have Snead as opposed to Stafford. UT also has an oral commitment from Arlington Bowie QB Sherrod Harris, who is also mobile. With assurances from Vince Young to the coaching staff that he’ll be back next season, things are looking a lot better for the future at quarterback.

    • • •

    Q: You might want to mention to your Texas readers that USC has played six teams with offenses ranked in the top 25 nationally, and Texas has only played two. In addition, California (29th) and Fresno St.(35th) are highly ranked, while four of Texas’ opponents are ranked 90th or worse. That goes a long way in explaining the Longhorns “highly” ranked defense versus the Trojans “average” defense. We’re looking forward to the Rose Bowl.

    Robert Cuellar, Derby, Kan.

    BROWN: At some point, you have to judge these teams with your own eyes. Right now, I think Texas’ offense is as complete as the Trojans’ offense simply because Vince Young forces a defense to be off-balance with his threat to run. And I think the Texas defense is better equipped to defend the USC offense than the USC defense is equipped to handle the UT offense. Of course, with games left for both of these teams, we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

    • • •

    Q: You need to give Chris Simms some credit for his performance in leading Tampa Bay to a victory over Washington last weekend.

    Jim Basham, Plano, Texas

    BROWN: You’re right, Jim. The former UT quarterback appeared to have a breakthrough game against Washington, completing 15 of 29 passes for 279 yards with three touchdowns and, most importantly, zero interceptions, zero fumbles and zero sacks. If Simms can string a couple more games like that together, he’ll be in the NFL, either as a starter or backup, for the next 10 years. (Remember former Cowboy Jason Garrett parlaying his 1994 Thanksgiving Day victory over the Packers into a 12-year career?) Simms deserves a ton of credit for delivering the goods against a top NFL defense.

    • • •

    Q: Do you get the feeling offensive tackle Justin Blalock, the only other junior who appears to be thinking of jumping to the NFL other than Vince Young, will stay or go?

    Thomas Franklin, Georgetown, Texas

    BROWN: With Vince Young telling the coaching staff he’ll be back, I think Blalock will also be back. Blalock told me this week he’s even willing to move to guard next year to replace Will Allen, allowing Adam Ulatoski to replace Blalock at right tackle. A lot of NFL scouts have Blalock projected as a guard in the NFL.

    • • •

    Q: What do you think of Bill Snyder’s decision to retire at Kansas State? Did that surprise you?

    Linda Phillips, Dallas

    BROWN: What Bill Snyder did at Kansas State is nothing short of a miracle. Manhattan, Kan., is two hours from the nearest commercial airport and never had any football tradition before Snyder got there. I think Kansas State has always been a hard place to recruit to and may have become an even harder job because of the new NCAA academic progress requirements. You now have to have 40 percent of your degree completed after your second year. That almost eliminates the ability to recruit junior college players, who have been a staple of Snyder’s program. Without those resources to fall back on, I’m not sure how successful Snyder – or any coach who replaces him – could be at K-State.

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