OU expects to see plenty of Young in Red River shootout

Updated: October 7, 2003, 9:07 PM ET

NORMAN, Okla. -- After hours of film study, Bob Stoops has made up his mind.

The Oklahoma coach has seen enough to know which Texas quarterback could cause the most problems for his top-ranked Sooners: Vince Young.

"I think it's obvious," Stoops said. "His ability to run and create plays on his own, I would say it's pretty obvious to everybody."

It's hard to tell whether Stoops' comments are the truth or gamesmanship in a pregame battle of nerves with Texas coach Mack Brown.

But the 6-foot-5, 225-pound Young presents a unique challenge to the swarming Sooners defense that pocket passer Chris Simms never could.

In three straight losses to the Sooners, Simms threw eight interceptions, was sacked nine times and threw no touchdown passes. The Longhorns hardly ever mounted much of an offensive challenge to Oklahoma with Simms at the helm.

Young, who is second on the depth chart to Chance Mock, could change all of that.

He's got slippery moves and sprinter's speed along with a powerful right arm. Thus far, Young has led Texas to touchdowns on 11 of the 17 drives he's directed and has already set a school record for rushing TDs by a freshman with five.

On the other hand, Mock struggled to get the Longhorns moving in last week's game against Kansas State and is nowhere near the running threat that Young is.

Even Mock admits that his "backup" can change the pace of a game in a way he can't.

"I think last week was the perfect example of why two quarterbacks can work," Mock said. "My dropback style wasn't working too well because of the protection and the blitzes they were bringing, so Vincent came in and did a great job."

The Sooners insist they don't care who takes most of the snaps for Texas on Saturday in the annual Red River shootout.

Still, all the pregame chatter has been about the potential difficulties in defending Young. Mock's name was rarely mentioned.

"I've never seen a quarterback as big as him that can move like he does," All-American linebacker Teddy Lehman said. "He brings a whole new dimension to the game."

It's a dimension that has frustrated Oklahoma in recent years.

Two of the three quarterbacks to pick up a win over the Sooners over the past two seasons were equally adept at the run and the pass: Nebraska's Eric Crouch and Texas A&M's Reggie McNeal.

Mobile talents such as Brad Smith of Missouri and Ell Roberson of Kansas State came close to knocking off Oklahoma during that span, too.

"Everybody has trouble defending mobile QBs," co-defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said. "Obviously, (Young) is a guy we have to account for. It's a different style of Texas than we're used to seeing."

Then again, shifty Seneca Wallace of Iowa State entered last season's game against Oklahoma with Heisman hopes and left battered and bruised in a 49-3 loss.

The Sooners say they're not changing what they do for anyone -- let alone a freshman. Oklahoma ranks No. 2 in the nation in total defense, so the Longhorns will probably have to make some adjustments as well.

Tired of hearing question after question about Young at Tuesday's media luncheon, All-American defensive tackle Tommie Harris rolled his eyes and sighed.

"We're just geared up and ready to play," Harris said. "We'll see on Saturday how good he really is."

He smiled wide and turned away from his agitators, satisfied with his answer.

Young will find out how good the Sooners are, too.< EXTRA POINTS: The Sooners are looking for their fourth straight win over the Longhorns, something that hasn't happened since 1985-88. UT followed that up with four straight victories over OU from 1989-92. ... This will be the 11th time that one of the two teams came into this game with a No. 1 ranking. The top-ranked team is 8-1-1 in this series -- OU is 5-1 when it's been ranked. ... While OU's defense gets plenty of hype, the Sooners offense has been just as good this season. OU has scored at least 50 points in its past three games. That hadn't happened since 1956. ... Tommie Harris, a native of Killeen, Texas, says that he hasn't engaged in much chit-chatter with his burnt-orange friends during the past two games. "They talk a lot of trash," Harris said. "I don't understand it." ... DE Dan Cody on UT QB Vince Young: "I don't know if anyone has really tackled him yet. It looks like he just kinda fell down." ... Bob Stoops doesn't seem all that concerned about how moving the Red River shootout from Dallas could affect the Sooners' recruiting efforts in Texas. "I don't know whether it (has an impact) or not," he said. "It's going to be played somewhere and it's going to be on TV." Then directing his comments at the media, Stoops said, "You telling me you guys won't show up if it's not there?"

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index