Texas quarterback duo excels for No. 13 Longhorns
AUSTIN, Texas -- Combination. Rotation. Collaboration.
At a school where having two good quarterbacks was as much a curse as a blessing in recent years, Mock and Young have run the Longhorns' offense to near perfection in recent weeks. The new two-player tandem is keeping everyone happy so far.
"We like the 1-2 punch they give us," said coach MackBrown, who plans to use both players Saturday against No. 16 Kansas State (4-1) in the Big 12 opener for both teams.
Mock is the starter. He's the experienced junior who brings leadership to the huddle with a strong arm and a solid understanding of the passing game.
Young is the electrifying freshman whose speed and long stride built into a 6-foot-5, 220-pound frame allows him to scramble past tacklers and keeps defenses off balance with the threat to run.
"It's a change-up," Mock said. "The coaches have used it very well."
The 13th-ranked Longhorns (3-1) lead the nation in scoring at 51.3 points per game, and have twice topped 60 points.
Given Texas' recent history with Major Applewhite and Chris Simms and the controversy that erupted among fans over those two, there were questions about whether the Mock and Young scenario would blow up in similar fashion.
It's worked so far, largely because the two players are friends. It also helped that Mock played well in Texas' 38-28 loss to Arkansas, although some fans complained that Young didn't take a snap.
After the season-opening win over New Mexico State when Mock was good and Young looked great in mop-up duty, the pair met with reporters together, a show of solidarity to shoot down any hint of controversy.
"As a player, you worry. You're not sure how things are going to work out," Mock said.
"It starts with the family deal," Mock said. "When he's on the field, I'm his best friend. And when I'm on the field, I feel like he's my biggest fan. He's the first guy I see any time I throw a touchdown or come off after a successful drive."
Their teammates also have accepted the rotation.
"When Chance is in there, we have a pretty wide open offense. We can run anything," receiver Roy Williams said. "When Vince comes in we give him the run-pass option. He brings another dimension to our offense. It puts (defenses) in a bad spot."
Mock is the more vocal leader. Young still needs help from older players getting signals from the sidelines and seldom says anything peppier than "Let's go, let's go," in the huddle, Williams said.
"I've got a few games under my belt," Mock said. "It's time to step up and start being more vocal, and making sure the guys on the team know what you expect from them."
At the start of the season many fans considered Mock a placeholder at the position until Young matured. Now he's the second-ranked quarterback in the nation with a 177.0 pass-efficiency rating with 724 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Brown has made wholesale changes when Young plays. In a move akin to Florida State's "Kentucky Derby" offense of the early 1990s,Brown sends the freshman in with the second-team offensive line, giving the Longhorns fresh legs for the drive.
Young's first career completion was a 60-yard bomb but most of his best plays have come on the ground. He's second on the team with 184 yards rushing and four touchdowns, including a team-high 61 yards and two TDs against New Mexico State.
In last week's 63-18 win over Tulane, he faked a handoff and rolled to his right before breaking down the sideline for a 60-yard gain that set up a touchdown.
The Longhorns have scored nine touchdowns on Young's 11 possessions.
"He's not a Michael Vick, but he's athletic like Michael Vick," said Kansas State cornerback Cedrick Williams. "There are a lot of threats he brings into the game."
Wildcats coach Bill Snyder said it would be a mistake to think Mock can only pass and Young can only run.
"If you get lulled to sleep with the idea that they won't let Chance run the ball or handle the option, you could get yourself into some serious trouble," Snyder said.
Last week against Tulane, Mock broke out of what looked like a sure sack to complete a pass that set up a score and later scrambled for 14 yards and a first down.
In blowout wins over Rice and Tulane,Brown opted to rotate Young in about every third series. Unlike the Arkansas game, he said he won't leave Young on the bench against the Wildcats.
It's big leap of faith considering that the loser faces an uphill battle for the Big 12 title.
"I think Vince has earned the right to play,"Brown said.
This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index
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