Tigers forced to abandon running game

Sunday, October 17, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 2:42 p.m. CDT, Saturday, July 5, 2008

AUSTIN, Texas—A 28-yard completion by Missouri on the opening play Saturday caught Texas by surprise, but was not an indication of what would fuel a Tigers comeback late in the first half.

After beginning with an emphasis on passing, attempting 12 passes and rushing nine times in the first quarter, the Tigers went to their running game and finished the first half with 139 rushing yards on 24 tries.

“I think it was a good strategy,” tailback Marcus Woods said. “We needed to open up the passing game and it worked pretty well.”

Three Tigers had more than 30 yards rushing at the end of the first half. Damien Nash led with 55 yards and quarterback Brad Smith (52 yards) and Woods (32 yards) had the rest of the rushing yards before halftime.

Initially, the shift to the running game was successful, with the Tigers scoring on two consecutive drives.

Texas led 14-0 and was threatening to run away with the game midway through the second quarter, but Missouri made big plays on both sides of the ball to even the score in a 1 minute, 29 second span.

“I think we have a team of fighters,” Smith said. “A lot of credit to the defense and what they were able to do and get us the ball. The offense, there was a couple drives that we went down and scored on 14, 15-play drives.”

Missouri’s second drive of the second quarter saw the Tigers amass 43 yards rushing, including 28 from Smith. After an interception by Tiger cornerback Shirdonya Mitchell on the ensuing Texas possession, Damien Nash ran the ball in from 33 yards out to even the score at 14 with 5:26 left in the half.

Nash ran the ball toward the left side of the offensive line and sprinted through a gaping hole the line created, running into the end zone untouched.

“(The offensive line) opened up a lot of holes, we just have to hit them harder next time,” Woods said.

The Tigers were unable to continue to pound away with the run in the second half because they were trailing and needed quick scores late in the game.

Missouri added only 34 yards to its rushing total in the second half and ran just 13 times.

Texas also adjusted to the run in the second half, pressuring Smith more and sacking him twice. The sacks hurt Smith’s rushing total that stayed at the 52 yards he had at halftime.

NOT GETTING THE START: Nash, usually Missouri’s starting tailback, did not see any action until the Tigers’ third drive of the game. Marcus Woods replaced Nash in the starting lineup, making his first career start at Missouri.

Coach Gary Pinkel held Nash out of the starting lineup because of concerns about his right knee. Nash has had reoccurring problems with his right knee and said that he aggravated it in the Tigers’ win last week against Baylor.

“I had twisted my knee and I had a lot of swelling in my knee,” he said. “I had just got my knee drained on Thursday and I didn’t practice a lot this week, so (Pinkel) wanted to hold me out in the pregame and I told him my knee felt good, so we went from there.”

Nash came in and led the Tigers in rushing, with 12 runs for 68 yards and a touchdown.

CHANCE’S CHANCE: Texas starting quarterback Vince Young suffered a bruised sternum in the second quarter when he threw an interception to Missouri safety Nino Williams and did not reenter the game.

Senior Chance Mock replaced Young and was 4-for-10 passing for 39 yards and had trouble connecting with his receivers.

Young left the game with 53 rushing yards, making him second all-time on Texas’ quarterback rushing list with 1,329 yards, and was 3-for-9 with an interception passing. He also scored Texas’ second touchdown on a 23-yard run.

Texas struggled to pass the ball effectively the entire game and relied heavily on the efforts of tailback Cedric Benson. The Longhorns attempted 20 passes and compiled 106 yards in the air, while running for 193 yards, including 150 for Benson.

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