Archive for Thursday, November 24, 2005

Commentary: Young must come up big

Texas QB needs stellar game to steal Heisman

November 24, 2005


Your turn, Vince Young.

And, if you want to wrap your hands around the Heisman Trophy a few weeks from now, you better make it good.

Run up the score Friday against Texas A&M.; Keep throwing until the end. Rack up obscene yardage long after the game has been decided.

Forget about the team concept for a day. Become Vince Young, the statistician's best friend.

After Reggie Bush's startling display last Saturday night, it's probably your only chance.

Yes, Heisman ballots aren't due in New York until Dec. 7. And the winner won't get to hold the famous trophy until Dec. 10.

But for the Texas quarterback and his fans, Friday should be the day circled on their Heisman calendar.

The Longhorns play the Aggies on national television, giving Heisman voters a chance to see Young while they munch on turkey sandwiches and leftover stuffing. Texas is a huge favorite in the traditional Thanksgiving Friday contest, a game that should put the Longhorns one win away from a national championship showdown with USC.

For Young, though, the road is tougher. Merely being good against a team that Texas is favored to beat by 26 points won't be enough.

He needs to be nothing short of spectacular to get the 923 people who cast Heisman ballots to quit raving about Bush and the amazing 513 total yards he rolled up against Fresno State.

Texas quarterback Vince Young is tackled by Oklahoma's Nic Harris. The action took place Oct. 8 in Dallas. Young needs a big game Friday against Texas A&M to make his case for the Heisman Trophy.

Texas quarterback Vince Young is tackled by Oklahoma's Nic Harris. The action took place Oct. 8 in Dallas. Young needs a big game Friday against Texas A&M to make his case for the Heisman Trophy.

Young also has to do something that runs against his grain to do - be a little selfish and enjoy being the star.

Even his own coach isn't too sure Young is up to that task.

"He hasn't talked about 'I need to stay in the game and get more stats, I need to throw it more for me,"' Texas coach Mack Brown said. "He hasn't talked about 'I may leave at the end,' which is always exciting to keep fans dangling out there. When they've asked him about the Heisman, to his credit he's said it's a team award."

Up until Saturday night, Young didn't need to worry about making a good impression. He was, after all, the quarterback of the No. 2 - some would argue No. 1 - ranked team in the country, an offensive threat with both his arm and his feet.

Young, who has passed for 2,414 yards and run for 774 more, was also the odds-on favorite to win the Heisman. He benefited not only from his stats but the theory that Bush and USC quarterback Matt Leinhart would split some of the other votes.

Then Bush ran wild in the Los Angeles Coliseum, and changed everything. It wasn't just the numbers that Bush put up - though they were astonishing. It was that he did it in a game that meant everything to the Trojans, a game he made sure they ended up winning after trailing in the fourth quarter to the Fresno State Bulldogs.

For the record, Bush rushed 23 times for 294 yards. He caught three balls for 68 yards, had seven kickoff returns for 135 yards and ran back a punt 16 yards for good measure.

The 513 total yards was the second-highest single-game total in NCAA history, as if Heisman voters needed any more convincing.

The performance masked some relatively mediocre games for Bush, whose Heisman chances seemed to be slipping along with his numbers after USC's dramatic win at Notre Dame. The best thing for Bush is it came on a weekend that Texas had off, giving Young no chance to make his own case as college football's best player.

Let's face it. Many Heisman voters follow college football only marginally, rarely watching entire games and relying on media buzz to make their decisions. These are the kind of voters who - unless Young does something spectacular in the next two games - are breaking toward Bush.

People who accept money on these things certainly understand that. At, an online betting site, Bush moved past Young to become an overwhelming 1-5 favorite to win the Heisman. Leinhart was a distant third at 100-1 odds to win his second straight.

None of that seems to interest Young much. He seems to understand what Terrell Owens doesn't - that football is played for the glory of the team, not the individual.


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