October 23, 2008

Ogbonnaya keeps rolling, other backs coming on

A key part of the Texas youth movement also surfaced at running back against Missouri last Saturday.

Chris Ogbonnaya was his usual self - playing the role of the Philadelphia Eagles' Brian Westbrook for the Longhorns - rushing 13 times for 65 yards (5.0 ypc) and two touchdowns and catching six passes for 68 yards.

But Texas also got strong performances from Vondrell McGee (six carries for 58 yards, 9.7 ypc) and Foswhitt Whittaker (who had a 20-yard run), John Chiles (who had a 22-yard run and a 2-yard carry for a fourth-down conversion) and Cody Johnson, who continues to do good work in short-yardage and goal-line situations. Johnson has six touchdowns the last three games and a score in every game this season.

Colt McCoy said words can't describe the impact Ogbonnaya is having on the offense.

"Chris is unbelievable," McCoy said. "Chris is playing at such a high level. When he's playing like that, our offense has a chance to be good.

"He's making yards every time he touches the ball and he's also a pass threat. When he's on the field, we're doing really good."

Greg Davis said he was encouraged by the confidence with which McGee and Whittaker ran the ball against Missouri even in garbage time.

"I thought Vondrell, I don't know if this is the right term, but I thought he ran relaxed," Davis said. "Maybe not being the guy and coming off as the sixth man, so to speak, he ran like I thought he would run.

"His first carry was extremely well blocked. But he made a heck of a run down our boundary late in the fourth quarter. So I thought he ran relaxed, ran with vision. I don't think he ran so robotic."

Davis said running backs coach Major Applewhite pushed for Whittaker to get into the Missouri game.

"Major hollered up at me somewhere in the fourth quarter, and said, 'What do you think (about Fozzy)?'" Davis said. "We thought Fozzy was available for Oklahoma, but he had not taken a hit since the Tuesday after UTEP.

"So Major said he'd like for Fozzy to go in and take some licks, so he has the confidence. He made two really nice runs and was no worse for wear the next day.

"I think that's a good situation because he has great vision and a great, first step."

Whittaker continues to win the respect of teammates. Defensive tackle Roy Miller said he was in awe this week watching Whittaker, who is listed at 5-10, 190 pounds, incline bench 280 pounds.

Receiver Jordan Shipley, who missed his first two seasons at Texas with knee injuries, has been a sounding board for Whittaker, who has had nagging knee injuries sideline him in all but two games this season.

"Fozzy has been one of the most impressive guys to me to come through here," Shipley said. "I've been through it. So I know what it's like. But he always has a smile on his face. Never feels sorry for himself. He's always happy and has a great attitude. That's the kind of guy we want to play with and be a part of this team.

"You can either let injuries beat you down or make you stronger, and Fozzy is a positive guy who will be a great player here because of that. Fozzy is pound-for-pound one of the stronger guys on the team. He's really fast. He's strong on all the leg lifts, too."

Mack Brown said he was happy to see Chiles play with confidence.

"We wanted John to get a drive and score. We wanted him to throw it," Brown said of Chiles, whose only completion was a 51-yard TD strike to Dan Buckner. "We thought he looked like John from last year with his confidence and running."

When asked why it took Chiles so long to look comfortable, Brown said, "We probably did so much with the Q Package, we probably overloaded him. It had to be us."

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