Archive for the ‘2012’ Category

I’ve Got this One

So we’re feeling as good about the Longhorns as we have since 2009.  David Ash has the second highest quarterback rating in all of college football and now to his credit he has a big game saving performance on the road against a very good opponent.  The Horns have so many weapons on offense that even a Mexican Drug Lord would be scared of them.

Now we’re looking forward to the big game with West Virginia. It will be the biggest home game in several years. It’s a night game and it will have the kind of college football atmosphere that you hope to experience at least once a year if you’re lucky.

But, you say, the defense has been shaky and Geno Smith is the most prolific quarterback in college football on the third highest scoring team in the country. West Virginia just put up 70 on Baylor and we’re worried about how many Ash and company will have to score just to keep up let alone win.  So you wouldn’t say you’re confident about getting a win in this one.  No worries.

Shakespeare wrote, what’s passed is prologue. Yogi Berra said, “It’s déjà vu all over again.” Well I’m getting the feeling that I’ve seen this game before.  Texas hosts a team on a roll with a hyped up star that is supposed to come to Austin and teach the Longhorns a thing or three.  The 1990 game against Houston and David Klingler comes to mind. Texas pushed them around winning 45-24 and the game wasn’t as close the final score indicates.  So I had to reach back a couple of coaches and 22 years ago to come up with that but still the vibes I’ve got about this game are strong.

Smith and West Virginia will get their yards and the fans, one in particular who sits in section 30 comes to mind, will have to endure Texas’ rubber band defensive strategy that gives the West Virginia receivers plenty of cushion between the 20s. When WVU gets to the red zone, which will be often, Texas will stiffen and hold them to field goals and to 30 points or fewer.  David Ash will continue to impress and Jonathan Gray will have his coming out party gaining more than 150 yards with at least one run of more than 40 yards against a terrible WVU defense.  I see Texas winning by a score of something on the order of 45-30.

Willie Earl does not endorse, encourage or promote gambling and can’t be held responsible for any misguided souls that lose money based on his prognostications.

Noise in DKR

There has been lots of laments over the years about the lack of noise at games and big games in particular at DKR Texas Memorial Stadium (from now on in this space referred to as Memorial Stadium).  Let me say a few words about that.

First of all Memorial Stadium is not built for noise. With all the lavish upgrades the stadium is still open at one end and still built on its original bones which are relatively flat, expansive and not conducive to holding in crowd noise.

More importantly Austin isn’t Baton Rouge, Columbus or College Station. Thank God. In Austin we don’t burn couches or poison rival’s Oak trees. U.T. students don’t riot to show solidarity with a criminally negligent school official.  Austin is culture, high tech, music, arts and brainy college students.  Furthermore Texas is stoic, the strong silent type if you prefer.  Texans maybe a proud lot but they don’t make a lot of noise about it.

In this his Naturalized Texan’s opinion you can have the crazed, loud for the sake of being loud, one dimensional fans of the college football hotbeds in the southeast and other locales. I love Texas and Texans just the way it is and they are.

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I heard some where that “Take me Home Country Road” by the late great John Denver is played at West Virginia home games. Well my favorite John Denver song is a different one.  Enjoy

HooK eM,

W.E.

Over/Under Contest

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Coached Up

Speaking of coaching decisions, it turns out that the decision to designate David Ash the starter last year before the Holiday Bowl was a very good one.  I stand chastened for calling Ash The Duke of Blandia a few weeks ago.  Brian Harsin and the Major have done a fantastic job in developing Ash into a confident play making quarterback.  I guess I’m not going out on a limb in saying that David Ash is the reason Texas won in Stillwater.  He still under threw a couple of long passes but I’ll bet he fixes that soon.  Now if Mike Davis would quit dropping touchdown passes we would be in really good shape.

I know this will surprise you but it’s not all bouquets from me to the Texas coaches.  Why in the wide wide world of sports did Texas pooch and squib kick a couple of kick-offs when Nick Rose was putting the ball into the end zone?  Both of those tactics back fired resulting in great field position for OSU.  Secondly why did Texas call time when the Bergeron winning touchdown was being reviewed?  With no time outs left, if the call had been reversed Texas would have had no option but to kick a field goal giving OSU the opportunity to win on a field goal instead of needing a touchdown.

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My sources who actually break down film inform me that Texas missed Brandon Moore and Jordan Hicks big time resulting in the breakdowns on the left side where OSU had the big running plays. Chris Whaley, who replaced Moore, isn’t a run stopper and ideally would be used in pass rush situations only and Dalton Santos who replaced Hicks just didn’t know what he was doing.  I’ll accept this excuse one time only.

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I saw enough from Jonathan Gray Saturday night to convince me that he’s as good as the hype.  I hope from now on he’ll get 15-20 carries a game. I think he was finding his groove and was about to break off a long run on that final drive when he was taken out of the game. I promise you if he gets the 15-20 he’ll be making lots of long runs.   I love  Bergeron and Brown but we’re talking Angelina Jolie compared Jennifer Aniston  and Sandra Bullock here.

How bout that D.J. Monroe?  Still wondering why we don’t get him the ball a few more times per game.  I guess the Horns are blessed with an embarrassment of riches on offense and maybe there aren’t enough footballs to go around. Maybe we should have red-shirted Daje Johnson who also looks dangerous.

I just heard Mona Lisa and Mad Hatters on the satellite.  I remember listening to it in my room on the  eight-track while studying for the New York State Biology Regents examination.   It’s one of the greatest from one of the Greats of my generation. It’s going into my iTunes library tonight.  I made an 86 on the exam.  Righteous score.

HooK eM,

W.E.

Over/Under Results

The older Frink brothers continue on a roll this week with Clayton Frink posting his first victory of the year.  Clayton was ever so close to posting the second perfect 10 score of the year but was tripped up, as all but one contestant were, on the two point conversion question.  Mitchell Frink finished second with eight correct answers.  I assure you that people with last name Frink aren’t the only ones entering the contest.

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Pre-Game Oklahoma St.

The Coaching Match Up

 

On Paper this game looks like it will be evenly matched and high scoring. Defensively maybe Texas has the edge.  Whatever the case most of the pre-game attention has been focused on David Ash, which of the two OSU quarterbacks will start, and the various match-ups such as Texas’s offense line versus OSU’s defense.  If this game turns out to be as close as the Vegas betting line has it, a key match-up that no one is talking about will probably be the most important one. It is the coaching match up.

I hate to bring up a painful subject but when the Horns lost to Texas Tech in 2008, a loss that cost Texas a birth in National Championship game, everyone pointed to Blake Gideon’s dropped interception as the play that cost Texas the game. Texas would have never been in that position if it wasn’t for a huge coaching mistake by Mack Brown and or Greg Davis in the first quarter. Texas was backed up on their two yard line and they lined up on first down in the power I formation with tail back Chris Ogbonnaya five yards deep in the end zone. When I saw that I thought to myself, “surely they aren’t going to hand the ball to Ogbannaya in the end zone. Not with our suspect run blocking.”  That just what Texas did and Ogbannaya was tackled for a safety. He didn’t get within a yard of the goal line.  That play call was a coaching decision, an unforced error and it cost Texas a decisive two points.

If this game is a close one it likely will be won or lost by in-game coaching decisions including halftime adjustments.  Wise clock management at the end of the first half as well as at the end of the game will be critical if it’s a close high scoring game. Clock management decisions at the end of quarters will be important if it’s windy. Do we want to call a time out so we can punt with instead of against the wind and so on?  Speaking of timeouts will Texas have to burn a time out or two because of disorganized substitutions or because the OSU coaches showed them something they weren’t prepared for?  I could go on but I think you get the idea.  Keep your eye on the chess match between the coaching staffs.

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Perhaps the most important in-game coaching decision in the history of Texas Football was made by Darrell Royal in the 1969 game versus Arkansas. AKA The Game of the Century.  For those of you who know the story well bear with me while I set the stage for the rest of our readers.

In 1969 Texas and Arkansas were bitter rivals in the Southwest Conference which was comprised of seven teams from within Texas plus Arkansas. Traditionally as in always, the Texas- Arkansas game was played in the middle of October the week after Texas played Oklahoma.  In the spring of 1969, Roone Arledge, the president of ABC sports, seeing that there was a very good chance the Texas and Arkansas would be highly ranked teams in the coming season, asked the two schools if they would consider moving their game from October to December 6, which would make it the last game  college football season. Arledge figured the game would probably decide the SWC Championship and might  have major implications on a national level thereby making it a dramatic contest that would command a large national audience.  Arledge figured pretty good.

Texas started out the season ranked #2 and steam rolled all opposition averaged 44 points a game prior to the Arkansas game.  Ohio State was the 1968 National Champion and started 1969 ranked #1. Texas’ #2 ranking was a distant #2 as Ohio State was nearly a unanimous #1 among all voters in both the UPI and AP polls.  Nobody but nobody thought Ohio State would finish anything short of  undefeated  and repeat as National Champion. Alas two national championships in a row were not to be for the Buckeyes because on the Saturday before Texas’ Thanksgiving day game with A&M, Ohio State was upset by Michigan in Ann Arbor 24-12 and Texas ascended to #1.  To this day I always root for Michigan when they play Ohio State.   Mean while Arkansas raced through the first nine games of their season undefeated and benefiting from Ohio State’s loss, moved up from the #3 ranking to #2 setting the stage for Texas #1 versus Arkansas #2 on the last day of the regular season.  If that didn’t make it a big enough game, the 37th President of the United States decided it would be fun to attend the game and award a National Championship Plaque to the winner. It bears repeating, Arledge figured pretty good.

Let me cut to the chase and Royal’s decision that resulted the play that runs on the Jumbotron before Texas home games in 2012.  With 4:47 left in the game Texas was not having a very good day. Neither was a 14 year old and his father watching the game on television in Vestal, N.Y.  They had turned the ball over six times and their vaunted Wishbone running attack had produced only eight points well below their 44 point per game average.  Texas had the ball on their 43 yard line and it was 4th down and three and they trailed 14-8. Royal called time out.  What to do?  Frankly things did not look good for Texas. Arkansas had effectively blunted Texas’  Juggernaut Wishbone which had averaged 363 yards per game.  Texas only passed the ball 13 times per game and was completing less that 50% of those throws.  Joe Namath James Street was not.  So naturally Royal called a long pass play(Right 53 Veer Pass) to a tight end who had caught just three passes all season. A play that they had run once before the entire season and it had been incomplete. There is plenty of good lore on Street’s reaction to Royal when he told him what play to run and so on but I won’t gone into that here.

What I think is instructive about Royal’s call was that he had the nerve to take a big risk with everything in the world on the line.  He decided to take that risk because what Texas had been been trying to do offensively the entire game hadn’t worked and he recognized that he had to try something different to get a different result.  In other words he decided not to fit the classic definition of insanity which is to try the same thing over and over again and expect a different result.   The play worked gaining 44 yards and a first down on Arkansas’ 13 yard line. Two plays later Texas scored the wining touchdown and after the game Dick Nixon presented Royal with the plaque.  Deciding to call Right 53 Veer Pass was a risky decision but a sane one.

Enjoy the Youtube clip and notice the girl in the Longhorn Band.

HooK eM,

W.E.

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Post-Game Ole Miss

The Duke and the CPA

From the Duke of Blandia to All-American in one night? We’ll see. I for one am taking it under advisement which is good advice for Longhorn Fans and Longhorn Homer talk show hosts and sports writers who are proclaiming David Ash to be  as good as Colt McCoy. I really did hear an Austin radio guy say that today.  I guess he wants to make sure he has a seat on the David Ash bandwagon.  Ash was named the Davey O’Brien Quarterback of the Week—to  go along with his green participation ribbon—and has, finally, shown that he can play on the major college level, at least against a bottom of the rung SEC team.

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I’m proud that the three Longhorns that I have singled out for praise last week, Malcolm Brown, Marquis Goodwin and D.J. Monroe all played well against Ole Miss. I’ll go to my grave wondering why D.J. Monroe’s number hasn’t been called more often during his career at Texas. He made his one carry against Ole Miss count with another tough, instinctive touchdown run. If you’re a connoisseur of running backs as I am you’ve got to be enjoying Malcolm Brown. If there’s any daylight he finds it.  If there has been one thing we haven’t seen in his performance it’s the long break away touchdown run.  I’m not sure if that’s because he lacks break away speed or if the opportunity hasn’t been there for him yet.  As for Goodwin I can’t recall ever seeing a player with his sprinter’s speed that was such a tough hombre. He’s consistently creamed defenders with his down field blocking the last three years.

Unfortunately, on the flip side, two of the three players that I’ve called out for being over rated, Kenny Vaccaro and Quandre Diggs, continue to be just that. The supposed bad ass Vaccaro continues to miss tackles and Quandre Diggs, though he made an interception continues to consistently be beaten on deep routes. You can bet the upcoming Big 12 opponents will be picking on him.  The third player, Alex Okafor played well with 2 sacks.

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Willie Earl has received reports from Oxford that a fifty something former Sig Ep Song Leader was tailgating hard on Saturday.  After starting the celebration around 9 a. m. the reports have him taking a nap from 3-5pm and upon waking leading Texas and Ole Miss SPE Brothers in raucous renditions of “Lets All Go Down and Piss on the Theta House” and “Drink Beer.”   I wish I had been there.

Over/Under Results

Before I reveal the winner of the Ole Miss Over/Under I have to give the Shout Out of the season up to this point.  A newcomer to Over/Under, Frances Steffensen, in her first attempt, finished alone in second Place this week.  OMG!  Frances, is it your accounting background or did you flip a coin 10 times?  Anyway Frances, congratulations and don’t be a stranger to Over/Under.

That’s not the only big Over/Under news of the week. The previously unheralded David Frink follows up his perfect 10 win last week with his second win in a row this week posting eight correct answers.  No post birdie #%&* for David. He Kind of reminds me of Steve Sticker.

Willie Earl will take the rest of the week off along with the Longhorns. The launch of the blog site and W.E.’s personal appearance schedule that has taken him from San Antonio to Lubbock has been exhausting.

 

HooK Em,

W.E.

 

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Pre-Game Ole Miss

Two Categories

The Ole Miss game will be Texas’ first midterm exam of the season. Though it’s just the third game, I think it will to a large extent determine what kind of season it will be.

During Mack Brown’s tenure at Texas each season eventually falls into one of two broad categories. The first category is characterized by a top 10 ranking and being a favorite to win the Big 12 Championship, potentially becoming a contender for the National Championship and finishing no worse than 11-2 with a BCS Bowl Bid. Recent seasons that fall in this category are 2004, 2005, 2008 and 2009. I’ll call this the “BCS Category.”

The second category is characterized by maintaining a ranking between 15 and 25, being competitive in the Oklahoma game and with a few breaks here and upsets there a chance to at least tie for the Big 12 Championship.  At the very least finish no worse than 8-4 with a bid to the Holiday, Alamo Bowl or maybe the Cotton Bowl. Recent seasons that looked like this were 2006, 2007 and 2011. Let’s call this category “December Bowl.” The 2010 season was an outlier.

A Texas stumble Saturday night in Oxford it will pretty much ordain that the 2012 season will fall into the December Bowl category.  Only with two wins out of the games versus Oklahoma State, West Virginia and Oklahoma plus a must win at Kansas State could Texas redeem itself from a loss this Saturday.  Otherwise we’ll have to be content with a December Bowl and lots more talk about the next great recruiting class.  So from my perspective the Ole-Miss game is a pretty big deal.

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We all know the stories on how Texas recruited RG III as a defensive back and didn’t offer a scholarship to Andrew Luck.  Now we know, courtesy of Will Muschamp, that Texas also recruited A&M’s new quarterback, Johnny Manziel as a defensive back. Manziel has only played one game but he looked a whole lot better against Florida than David Ash or Case McCoy ever have.  Hopefully Texas’ evaluation of Quarterback talent is better now than it’s been during the last six or seven years.

While we’re on the subject an interesting story line will play out Saturday in Oxford as Texas faces Ole-Miss quarterback Beau Wallace.  Wallace was a teammate of Texas defensive tackle Brandon Moore at East Mississippi Community College.  Wallace a Junior College All American led East Mississippi to a national championship in 2011 and put out feelers to U.T. about joining Moore in transferring to Texas. Evidently Texas was satisfied to stand pat with David Ash and Case McCoy and declined to offer Wallace a scholarship.  Wallace set junior college records in 2011 for passing yards, total yards and touchdown passes (53).  In his first two games this year he has 5 touchdown passes with 1 interception.

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The weather has cooled so it seems appropriate that I go to the archives and reprise a short piece from Willie Earl 2011.

September Morn

September Morn- Paul Émile Chabas

There isn’t much in life that I love more than the first cool mornings of the season that we have in Austin every September. Yes it’ll reach 96 sometime this afternoon but that doesn’t take the edge off of the the primal pleasure I’ve experienced each morning this week. As strong a memory trigger for me as the sense of smell, the cool crisp mornings remind me think of my childhood in Vestal. They remind me that it’s football season. But most of all, driving to work mornings this week with the sun roof open, I’m reminded most strongly of when I drove a bran new burnt orange Thunderbird, with the windows open, down Lamar Boulevard past Pease Park and downtown Austin on certain September mornings in 1979.

All was right with the world for me in September of 1979 and it wasn’t because of the burnt orange T-Bird (though that wasn’t too shabby). September of 1979 was when Helen Yoxall became my girlfriend. That would be the current Helen Yoxall Frink. Helen was a senior at U.T. that fall and I was a salesman for MCI with an office at Dobie Mall. Pretty sweet. Helen and I often had breakfast together at Hamburgers by Gourmet on the Drag on those incredible September mornings before one of her classes and for inspiration for me to go call strangers on the telephone and ask them to make long distance phone calls with this new unknown telecommunications company called MCI.

In September of 1979 Helen Yoxall made life a dream come true for me and I’m still living the dream.

September morn
We danced until the night
Became a brand new day
Two lovers playing scenes
From some romantic play
September morning
Still can make me feel that way           
                                                             –Becaud & Diamond


I want to share one more item with you this week


 

HooK eM,

W.E.

 

Over / Under Contest

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