Associated Press AUSTIN (AP) _ Texas' freshman quarterback ran to his right, speeding past defenders on his way to a big gain in his first game.
John Chiles made it look so easy that he kind of looked like _ dare we say it _ Vince Young.
Whoa! Let's not go there just yet. But getting Chiles on the field puts an exciting new wrinkle in the No. 7 Longhorns' Big 12 opener Saturday against Kansas State (3-1).
Getting his first snaps in Texas' 58-14 win over Rice, Chiles ran for 72 yards on eight carries in the second half. His only two passes were incomplete.
“It was pretty exciting. I got a chance to go out there and show a little bit of what I can do, Chiles said. “I couldn't breathe the first couple of plays, but after that, I got settled in and did a little bit better.
Texas (4-0) is desperately thin at quarterback behind Colt McCoy. Chiles and redshirt freshman Sherrod Harris are the only other scholarship QBs. Chiles, expected to redshirt this season, was thrust into the backup role when Harris got hurt in training camp.
Getting him experience is critical. When McCoy got hurt against Kansas State last season, Jevan Snead played admirably but couldn't deliver a win over the Wildcats.
And when it looked like McCoy might miss the bowl game (he didn't), Texas was nearly in a panic because Snead had already decided to transfer.
Getting Chiles on the field also forces defenses to deal with the change of pace his legs can produce. McCoy is a pure passer, and Chiles' athleticism and speed make him a better option for the zone-read offense that Young killed opponents with two years ago.
We told him to go out there and do what he does best and you saw it, receiver Quan Cosby said. He's a great athlete and a great quarterback.
Chiles thought he'd have more time to learn the offense. He enrolled in school in January to participate in spring drills and looked good, running for a 30-yard touchdown in the final scrimmage.
Texas wanted to get Chiles playing time much earlier after he was forced into the No. 2 job, but surprisingly close games against Arkansas State and Central Florida kept him on the bench.
“What you didn't want to do is put him in at the end of game when it was on the line with a tremendous amount of pressure and him maybe to not have a great experience the first time he walked out there, coach Mack Brown said. That is what we were trying to do, find the right setting for him.
Rice was perfect for that. The Owls were overmatched and by the time Chiles was on the field, he could run circles around an exhausted defense.
Offensive coordinator Greg Davis said he's designed several plays with McCoy and Chiles both on the field. He tried one against Rice, but it was snuffed for no gain when the Owls blitzed.
On his first drive in the third quarter, Chiles rushed for 49 yards on a Texas touchdown drive. By then, just about all the starters were on the bench.
“We all were nervous, but I tried to encourage the guys, Chiles said. I talked to them in the huddle and told them even though we're young, we can do this.