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October 24, 2005

Young shows flashes of old self, returns to form

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AUSTIN, Texas - Vince Young showed flashes of his old self, the shaky passer whose arm could get Texas in trouble.

He threw two interceptions in three passes, one of which set up a touchdown for Texas Tech and helped put the Longhorns in an early hole during a game that would doom their national title hopes if they lost.

There were games in Young's past when those mistakes would rattle his confidence and plant a seed of doubt in his teammates. But those days are long, long gone.

Young is now the confident quarterback leading the No. 2 Longhorns (7-0, 4-0 Big 12) in their quest for a Big 12 title and a national championship. Young shook off the early interceptions and threw for 239 yards and two touchdowns in Texas' 52-17 win Saturday.

He also ran for a score and television cameras caught him flashing what appeared to be a halfhearted Heisman Trophy pose - it wasn't a full-blown, in-your-face gesture for the crowd or the cameras. He later said he was just playing with his teammates.

"I was getting frustrated," Young said of the interceptions. "But I went off to the side, put myself in a corner and just talked to myself and tried to get ready for the next series."

Already acknowledged as the most dangerous running quarterback in the country, Young has silenced the critics who said he couldn't throw with 14 touchdown passes this season.

On Saturday, he missed a few open receivers early and had the two turnovers. But Young has developed a knack for forgetting about the bad plays and coming back with big ones.

The first interception led to a 7-3 Tech lead in the first quarter, the first time Texas has trailed at home this season. On the next drive, Young missed tight end David Thomas, then had another ball intercepted in the end zone.

"They're a Top 10 team. They made plays," Young said. "It was important for me to show poise and be ready to make plays when we got the ball back."

Young returned to his Heisman contender form in the second quarter when the game was tied at 10. Starting at the Texas 20, Young ran for 16 yards and hit two passes for 34 more in a drive that resulted in Selvin Young's 7-yard touchdown run.

After Texas blocked a punt, the quarterback rolled to his left and floated a perfect touch pass 15 yards to Billy Pittman in the corner of the end zone for a 24-10 lead

Young and Pittman then combined twice more to finish off the Red Raiders. In the Longhorns' final drive of the first half, Pittman snared a 48-yard pass that set up another TD. On the first drive of the third quarter, Pittman was left wide open down the middle of the field and Young hit him in stride for a 75-yard TD that made it 38-10.

Young used his legs in the fourth quarter, weaving through tacklers on 3rd-and-goal from the 10 for his sixth rushing TD of the season.

For his effort, Young graded himself a "C-plus" for the day - could have been better, could have been worse.

Coach Mack Brown said that was a bit harsh. But he also noted that his team didn't play as well as it could have, despite the lopsided score.

Texas players and their fans are starting to expect perfection from a team and quarterback who have made it look easy for most of the season.

"If you cannot have your best game and still score 52 points, it just shows you have a chance to be really special," Brown said. "That just shows you the standard this team is trying to play to."

For more coverage of the Texas Longhorns, check out Orangebloods.com.

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