Vince Young actually made his case for this year's Heisman Award last season in his MVP Rose Bowl performance. In a game later named as one of the best bowl games ever, Young single-handedly carried the Longhorns to a 38-37 victory, rushing for four touchdowns and throwing another.
Since that game Young has continued to carry the Longhorns, delivering staggering numbers in every category. His quarterback rating stands highest in the country at 168.56, including a ridiculous 224.19 in Boulder against CU. He's thrown for 2,769 yards this year and 26 touchdowns. Even better, however, is his Vickesque ability to scramble. He's added 872 yards and nine touchdowns on the ground this year, including a 267-yard game at Oklahoma State.
All of that doesn't matter though. Usually I say winning shouldn't be considered when deciding on individual awards. In this case it's impossible to ignore. This kid is a winner.
In the biggest game of the Longhorn's season, an early Sept. 10 match-up against powerhouse Ohio State, Young silenced any critic claiming he could run but couldn't throw. Young completed pass after pass in the clutch, including a 24-yard touchdown pass winning the game with 2:37 left in the fourth. His 60-yard touchdown run in the Rose Bowl last season, recovering from a 31-14 deficit against Michigan was one of the most amazing things I've seen in football – ever.
Reggie Bush is incredible; he'll undoubtedly be the first pick in this year's NFL draft. He is not, however, the player Vince Young is.
Bush has an incredible advantage over Young every time he goes on the field – Matt Leinart. When teams prepare for USC they have two things in mind. When Leinart hands off to Bush, defenses hesitate half-a-second longer because they have to respect the deep threat Matt Leinart poses. When teams prepare for Texas who do you think they have in mind?
Young doesn't have another all-star to rely on like Bush does (actually all-stars considering the emergence of Bush's backmate LenDale White). He has to perform every single game. Young doesn't have the luxury of an off game like Bush had against Hawaii and Washington, gaining 86 and 51 yards in those games, respectively.
The really staggering thing is that Young hasn't even been pushed to his limit this year. Thanks to an easy schedule, something Young shouldn't be faulted for, his playing time and passing attempts were low. In a game against CU where he probably could have thrown for 400 yards and ran for 200 more, his touches were limited as the Longhorns ran down the clock with rush plays and benched him in the fourth. We all saw how Young responds to pressure in the Rose Bowl, what if he was subjected to that all year?
In the end, one Longhorn probably won't be enough to beat 100 Trojans Jan. 4 in California. But he should be able to beat one Saturday in New York.
Brett Okamoto is the Collegian's sports editor.