Arkansas Pre Game

The Grinch Who Stole the Texas Bowl

 

Unless Tyrone Swoopes, for Christmas, was imbued with talent and intestinal fortitude, I’m afraid it’s going to be a disappointing if not downright ugly ending to the 2014 season for our Longhorns. Swoopes has not played decently against good defenses this year and Arkansas, ranked 16th in scoring defense and 22nd nationally in total defense, will arguably be the best defense Texas has faced all year. In short, Arkansas is a bad match-up for Texas.

My expectation is that the Longhorns will play woefully on offense but the defense will keep them in the game until the third quarter when the game will get away from them. Remember, Texas hasn’t scored a touchdown in the third quarter since September 6th. They’ve been shut out in the third quarter in 7 of 12 games this season. This is quite an indictment of offensive coordinator Shawn Watson and, of course, Charlie Strong.

While I’m on the subject of indicting Texas coaches, I’ll throw special teams coordinator Chris Vaughn into the discussion. Texas special teams, across the board, have stunk it up all year. I don’t understand how Charlie Strong, who is all about accountability, hard work, and commitment, can oversee a team with bad special teams. One of the things I’ve learned about football, from analysts I respect and people I know who have played on the college level, is that good special teams play doesn’t require four and five star athletes. What it requires are coaches who find players that have a will and a commitment to being excellent on special teams and coaching the hell out of them. If I was Charlie Strong, I would be embarrassed about the performance of my special teams. Strong needs to find the best special teams coach in the country who’s available, and throw coordinator money at him to replace Chris Vaughn in 2015.

Opinion

Call me an instant gratification guy, but I think Charlie Strong made a big mistake in not playing Jerrod Heard this season. He had the perfect opportunity during the off week between the UCLA and Kansas games to make a game plan for getting Heard meaningful playing time from that point forward. The story that Heard didn’t give Texas as much chance to win games as Swoopes is implausible based on Swoopes cumulative performance this year. (If that story is true then the Longhorns and Strong are in big, big trouble.) I think the decision not to play Heard showed Shawn Watson and Strong to be rigid in their thinking and planning. If Watson couldn’t come up with a plan to utilize Heard’s skills to try and help the team win, shame on him. I think the reason Heard didn’t play was simply because Strong and Watson decided before the season to redshirt him and nothing that happened during the season was going to alter their plan. Now Texas goes into 2015 with only one quarterback who has played in a college football game. Note to Messrs. Strong and Watson: The only way to build depth at any position, including quarterback, is to play more than one player at that position. To those who argue that Heard’s four years of eligibility needed to be preserved beyond this year, let me know if you’re willing to bet serious money that Heard will be on campus and making a meaningful contribution to the team in 2018.

Over Christmas dinner, my brother David suggested that Strong didn’t think his won-loss record this year mattered and that influenced his decision not to play Heard. If Strong did think that way, he miscalculated in my opinion. In the blowout losses to BYU, Baylor, Kansas State, and TCU, Strong’s team too closely resembled those of the old regime. Couple that with his unwillingness to give Jerrod Heard an opportunity to help the team and I believe he’s burned through this year most, if not all, the goodwill he will be granted as the rebuilder of the program. I look at it this way. To prevent his seat from getting awfully warm after what’s shaping up to be a six win season, he’s going to have to win at least nine games in 2015.

Keys to victory for Texas

Assuming Tyrone Swoopes hasn’t reinvented himself as Colt McCoy over the past month here is what Texas needs to do to beat Arkansas:
1. Swoopes and the offense need to commit no more than one turnover.
2. The defense needs to force at least two turnovers by Arkansas.
3. The offense needs to have at least 30 minutes of ball possession.
4. Swoopes needs to be allowed to keep the ball at least five times on the zone read.
5. The punt and kickoff coverage needs to prevent Arkansas from gaining field position advantages.
6. Texas needs to do something other than running off tackle when Arkansas puts eight or more defenders in the box.
7. The defense or special teams need to score or at least set up some easy scoring opportunities.
8. Charlie Strong has to manage the clock and his time outs effectively.
9. Get the ball in into the hands of Armanti Foreman and Daje Johnson at least 10 times.
10. Score at least 25 points.
If Texas checks off seven of these ten items they’ll win.

HooK ‘eM,
W.E.

Over/Under Leaderboard

David Frink and Reed Ramlow are the leaders heading into the Texas Bowl with two wins each. Reed is slightly ahead of David because he had a strong second place finish in the UCLA game losing in the tiebreaker to Wade Wallace.

Going into the bowl  these players remain in contention for the 2014 championship with one win and at least one second place finish:
Zach Frank
Greg Swan
Steve Holstead
D.R. Flower

Of course a victory in a bowl game the magnitude of the Advocare Texas Bowl will stand on its own as a magnificent accomplishment.

Over/Under Contest

4 Comments to “Arkansas Pre Game”

  1. Hey Willie, I guess you could not bring yourself to do a post-game analysis after the 6-6 Bowl debacle, and I do not blame you. More depressingly, the Horns basketball team is now slumping in spite of having Myles Turner. Hoping for better times for Longhorn sports.

  2. Soooooeeee….PIG!……SOUIE!!!!

  3. Picking texas 15-14. It worked once it can work again

  4. W.E., I had no idea I was a contender for the O/U championship belt, or do you still have those vintage Whip ‘In (and Whip It Good) T-shirts available? In any event, I am motivated, though your bro’ David represents fierce competition. After we get this game done, maybe we should focus on a little basketball, though I didn’t like that home court loss to those Pac-12 Cardinals. I don’t why the west coast typically spooks Texas, apart from the VY era. Must be the women, wine, and water, or something, or maybe we should just get our kicks from the Route 6-6 Bowl, and hope it’s not a rout. Make sure you eat some bacon or ham before the game to show the Pigs who’s boss.

What Say You?