Friday, November 11, 2005

The threat of Vince Young

KU knows -- QB burned Jayhawks last season


Kansas University linebacker Nick Reid has a myth to debunk: Texas quarterback Vince Young talked no trash to Reid after beating him for a 22-yard run on fourth down during last year's KU-UT football game.

"He didn't say anything," Reid said. "I know there's a lot of stuff in the media that said he did, but he really didn't."

Reid paused for a minute before realizing something.

"After that play, he was so far downfield, he really couldn't say anything to me."

There you have it.

They weren't within a country mile of each other after that game-changing play, but Reid and Young did jaw at one another for most of last season's showdown, won, 27-23, by Texas on a late touchdown.

Since then, Reid's been looking for revenge against Young, and the Big 12's best quarterback against the Big 12's top linebacker has been an intriguing subplot to a game featuring a 5-4 squad against a 9-0 one.


Sue Ogrocki/AP Photo

Truth be told, Reid and the rest of the KU defense have a big task ahead. As KU coach Mark Mangino repeatedly has said, the Jayhawks are going up against what might be college football's most extraordinary talent at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.

"There's no question he's the best football player in America," Mangino said. "I don't have a vote for the Heisman, but if I did, he'd get it. Nobody does for their team what Vince Young does for his."

Young is 6-foot-5 and 233 pounds, but he runs like a 5-11 tailback. In addition, his arm accuracy has improved, and his touchdown-to-interception ratio, at 1:1 in his first two seasons, is better than 2:1 this year.

The arm, though, doesn't make defenses uneasy as much as Young's legs. Dual-threat quarterbacks are all over the Big 12 Conference -- Brad Smith, Reggie McNeal and Rhett Bomar, for example -- but none has Young's combination of size and explosion.

"I think he's a little bit better athlete, more complete as a player overall," Reid said of Young compared to Smith. "He can definitely hurt you running and passing the ball."

Vince Young

Head Texas coach Mack Brown before the season said, "This is Vince Young's team." It's a huge responsibility for a 22-year old in football-crazy Texas, but the pressure hasn't rattled him one bit. Young's calm demeanor when the heat is on - and in college football, there's never a week off - is one reason he's so good. If he messes up, it isn't because he's unstable upstairs. Arm This was Young's weakness in the past, but he has shown remarkable improvement. After passing for 18 touchdowns and 18 interceptions in his first two seasons, Young has 19 touchdowns and only eight interceptions this season. Still not his strength. Build He has been called a running back trapped in a quarterback's body, and that seems accurate. His 6-foot-5, 235-pound frame is five inches taller than most running backs, but Young does run like a tailback. His size makes it harder for defenders to bring him down, and his rushing yardage is evidence. Legs For a quarterback, Young runs like the wind blows. If the front seven can't wrap him up, Young often has the wheels to blow right by the secondary and into the end zone for six points. Once he gets moving, he's hard to slow down. Eyes Young has good field vision, which he uses both throwing and running - last year's fourth-and-18 play against KU was proof. Seeing maximum coverage downfield, Young decided to sprint almost 20 yards for the first down. He got 22 yards and said afterward there wasn't any doubt in his mind he'd make it. Mouth Young isn't afraid to open it on the field - KU linebacker Nick Reid said he and Young got into a trash-talking battle during last year's game. Such cockiness isn't a bad thing for a great football player. Confidence goes a long way in this sport.


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