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FOOTBALL | NATIONAL OVERVIEW

Texas New Step

The Longhorns will pursue another national title without Vince Young

September 01, 2006|Chris Dufresne | Times Staff Writer

There is a reason few teams repeat as champions in college football: It's really hard.

So can Austin do the Texas Two-Peat?

Here are four things Texas has to do:

1Find a replacement for quarterback Vince Young without causing an insurrection.

Young's NFL exodus left Coach Mack Brown with flashbacks of Chris Simms vs. Major Applewhite.

Had Young returned for his senior year, Texas would have been the overwhelming favorite to repeat.

"Had Vince come back, people would have been talking about us differently," Brown said. "He didn't."

Brown had planned to red-shirt true freshman Jevan Snead this season and use redshirt freshman Colt McCoy as Young's backup.

"Change of plans," Brown said.

McCoy this week won the starting job for Saturday's opener against North Texas, but Brown said both would play.

"They're the same guy," Brown said. "Both are 6-3, both lost only two games in high school. Both from West Texas, both 4.0 students, both run about 4.7, both have pretty good arms."

Uh-oh.

Brown's toughest moments as Texas coach came when he couldn't settle between Simms or Applewhite -- which may have cost the Longhorns the national title in 2001.

"It wasn't even playing the two quarterbacks as much as how the public response was," Brown said. " ... We were taken aback that people chose sides."

Brown's title gives him more capital to deal with the politics now, but patience isn't a word they throw around much in Austin.

Texas will also have to win differently.

"We have to find explosive plays in places other than Vince's legs," Brown said.

2 Beat No. 1 Ohio State in Austin on Sept. 9.

A win probably vaults Texas back to No. 1 and sets the Longhorns up for another title run. Last year, Texas defeated Ohio State in Columbus as the Buckeyes were sorting out their quarterback issues, starting Justin Zwick before subbing in Troy Smith, who emerged as a star in the mold of Young. This year it's role reversal.

3 Beat Oklahoma on Oct. 7 in the Cotton Bowl.

Was last year's 45-12 victory over the Sooners an aberration or a trend after previously losing five straight in the series?

Last year, Texas took advantage of an Oklahoma team weakened by Adrian Peterson's ankle injury and Rhett Bomar's inexperience at quarterback. Peterson returns this year, but Bomar has been kicked off the team. Advantage: Texas.

4Forget about the glory of last season.

Texas has 16 returning starters and enough talent to win again, but the mistake is thinking last season has anything to do with this season.

"This bunch hasn't done anything yet," Brown said. "Let's understand that. Let's get off that little pedestal and come back. Understand that the crystal's in the trophy case. We need to go back to work."

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