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Young & impressive The Titans have put together a nice second half while quarterback Vince Young learns on the job

Vince Young figuratively turned college football on its head during his remarkable career at the University of Texas.

Now he's doing the same to conventional wisdom in the NFL.

Many experts said before April's NFL Draft that Young would have to serve a long apprenticeship before finding success in the NFL.

Nobody expected the definition of "long" might be two games.

Young lost his first two starts as quarterback of the Tennessee Titans, but he has won seven of nine since, including five straight. He is one of the stories of the year in the NFL entering Sunday's meeting with the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

"Some of the so-called experts tried to say look at his release or look at the Wonderlic Test," Bills linebacker Takeo Spikes said of predraft questions surrounding Young. "The guy's a baller, man; point-blank, period. He makes plays. He's a winner."

The 6-foot-5, 230-pound Young is not putting up huge numbers through the air. He's averaging 150 passing yards a game. His 51.8 percent completion percentage is second-worst in the league among starting quarterbacks. His passer rating of 65.9 is third-worst.

But he is producing some thrilling results.

Before last week's 24-17 victory over Jacksonville, Young won three straight games with fourth-quarter comebacks -- over the New York Giants, Indianapolis and Houston. Against the Giants he threw for two TDs and ran for another in the final 9:35 for the biggest fourth-quarter comeback in Titans history. Against the Colts, he ran for first downs six times to keep drives alive in a 20-17 win. The Houston win came via a breathtaking, 39-yard touchdown run on a third-and-14 play in overtime.

That play conjured up memories of last year's Rose Bowl, one of the greatest games in college football history. Young passed for 267 yards, ran for 200 and scored three touchdowns in Texas' 41-38 come-from-behind win over Southern California.

Titans coach Jeff Fisher said Wednesday that Young's ability to produce in the clutch was one of the many reasons Tennessee drafted him third overall in April.

"There is something special there," Fisher said. "He's instinctive. He's very competitive. He has a number of ingredients and he doesn't have more of one than the other. If you're too competitive, you can have faults. If you're too instinctive, sometimes you out-think yourself.

"He's got poise in the pocket, the ability to see the field. He's very comfortable. I think most importantly is he has fun. He has fun in the game."

Before the draft, however, there were plenty of questions about Young's readiness for the pro game.

There were concerns about his funky throwing motion, which is a three-quarter, sidearm delivery. There were concerns about his intelligence, due to reports he scored poorly on the 50-question Wonderlic Test administered to draft prospects. There were concerns that he only ran the shotgun at Texas and would have trouble adapting to varied pro formations.

Fisher said Young's height and stature -- he stands very tall in the pocket -- so far have negated throwing motion concerns.

"I don't think I have to go to a second hand to count the number of balls he's had batted down this year," Fisher said. "It doesn't happen. The footwork is the most important thing at the position."

Fisher acknowledged that a sidearm release is an issue in evaluating a quarterback.

"But when you're 6-5 and you have a low release it's OK," he said. "The key for Vince is he's so quick. When he makes a decision, the ball is gone very quickly."

Fisher said the Titans have not had to oversimplify their game plans for Young.

"I'm not surprised at all how he's played," Fisher said. "We felt like at some point we could turn it over to him early in the season. I think he really clarified things for us in the fourth quarter of the Chargers game Week Two. We were out of it. We did not play well. I gave him the fourth quarter. We went to the call sheet and he did some things he hadn't even practiced. He understood the concepts. . . . The funny thing about Vince right now is on Wednesday we don't sit there and hand him the same game plan week after week. We're able to adjust it, modify it and introduce new concepts."

Obviously, the Titans aren't anywhere near the Peyton Manning/Tom Brady stage of complex scheming by the quarterback. Young threw for 85 yards in the win over the Jaguars last week. He had 101 in a rout of Philadelphia five weeks ago.

Young's great mobility -- he's averaging 40 rushing yards a game and has five rushing touchdowns -- prompts the obvious comparisons with Atlanta's Michael Vick. Vick came out of college as a runner first and a passer second. It was the other way around for Young.

"People want to make him out to be Michael Vick," Titans General Manager Floyd Reese said after the draft. "He's not that. He is different. This guy led the nation in college as a junior for passing efficiency, this guy is special."

Bills safety Donte Whitner lost to Young last year while at Ohio State and knows the Bills face a big challenge.

"We put a spy on him pretty much all game last year -- and I think we did it a little too much," Whitner said. "We focused on what he can do with his legs and he hit us with some passes. You do have to put some of that spy in there, but you can't focus on that the majority of the game because he will hurt you with his arm."

"I feel like I just keep defenses on the edge of their seats," Young said a couple weeks ago. "They don't know if I'm going to run or pass. I've got to continue with that and continue working, keep getting better and working that arm, continuing my skills."

e-mail: mgaughan@buffnews.com

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7 Wins since taking over as starter in Week 4.

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15 Combined touchdowns: passing and rushing.

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