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BY NOW COLLEGE FOOTBALL FANS ARE FAMILIAR with Texas quarterback Vince Young. Well, it's time they get to know some of the other men of burnt orange--so say hello to Billy Pittman, Michael Huff, Aaron Harris, Selvin Young, Michael Griffin, Ramonce Taylor. In the wake of the second-ranked Longhorns' 52-17 win over previously unbeaten Texas Tech in Austin on Oct. 22, it's becoming increasingly clear that you'll see Texas in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 4, and these players will have as much to do with UT's national-title appearance as their more celebrated teammate.
"Vince is not on defense," said Griffin, the safety who blocked a punt, forced and recovered a fumble and was part of a defense that held Texas Tech 37 points less than its season average. "I would think people would see we held Tech to 17 points and say, 'Hey, they must have a defense.'"
That, and a whole lot more to their offense than just a quarterback. Young would not have Texas on course for its most successful season in 36 years without a stout supporting cast. Midway through the second quarter at Royal-Memorial Stadium the outcome was still very much in doubt, with Texas up 17-10. But by the 13:42 mark of the third quarter--only nine offensive plays later--the Longhorns had scored three touchdowns to pull away 38-10.
"At any given point we can break off 75 yards," said Taylor, a running back turned wideout who caught five passes for 66 yards, "so you just have to watch out."
No one exemplifies the Longhorns' big-play capability better than Taylor's close friend and fellow receiver Pittman. A year ago the then-redshirt freshman was ready to quit football after a shoulder injury and a bout with Bell's palsy that left half of his face paralyzed. "I quit coming to the games; I quit suiting up. I could barely watch," he said.
Before Texas's Sept. 10 win over Ohio State, the Cameron, Texas, native hadn't caught a collegiate pass; now he's the Longhorns' big-play receiver. Against Tech, Pittman chased down a Young pass in the end zone to put UT up 24-10. Shortly after that, when Young led him too far on a deep ball, Pittman grabbed it with one hand and took off for 48 yards to set up another score. Later he broke free for a 75-yard TD catch that capped Texas's 21-point onslaught.