Archive for the ‘2014’ Category

Pre Game Kansas State

Hurry Up No Huddle
aka HUNH

I’m concerned that the fat man at Iowa State has given Kansas State and the rest Texas’ remaining opponents the blueprint for shredding the conference leading Longhorns defense. On a related note, the three man front isn’t working for the Horns. Hey, Vance and Charlie, “can the three-man front.”

At Charlie Strong’s press conference on Monday, he was asked about Tyrone Swoopes’ foot speed relative to his recent success running the ball. Strong smiled and chuckled, and the press chuckled. When the same subject was broached later in the press conference with the affable, mild-mannered Swoopes, he didn’t smile or chuckle. Interesting.

Strong hasn’t suspended or dismissed anyone from the team in six weeks or so. Knock on wood.

I have a question for those of you who have played defense on the high school level or higher. When a quarterback fakes a handoff with his hand that doesn’t have the ball, does that fake anybody out?

I have another question. Did Jackson Browne really want to play a little bit longer?

I like 11 a.m. kick offs for away games. It gives you time to get other stuff done in the late afternoon. I’ve found a late afternoon run after a game particularly satisfying after a win or a loss, obviously for different reasons. Speaking of morning football viewing, I remember during football season in 1983 when Helen and I were newlyweds, how getting up at 10 a.m. Sunday morning to watch the Fred Akers Show was getting up early. 1983 was a good year and a good year for Longhorn Football.

While we’re on the subject, I remember in 1977 during Fred Akers’ first year as the Texas head hoach, how bad he was on his Sunday morning show. When the Horns got to 6-0, 7-0, 8-0…..we kind of forgot about how bad he was on Sunday morning.

The Longhorns sure could use a running back with some speed and explosiveness.

Hey, did you hear about Joe Bergeron being suspended at Texas A&M Commerce for team rules violations? For God’s sake Joe.

Remember when I said I wasn’t worried about the Longhorns being passed up by A&M or Baylor?  How do you like me now?

Back to the defense, the weak link is at linebacker. Aside from Jordan Hicks, who is having a very good season, the linebackers are hesitant and lack football instincts. Steve Edmonds has played well in spurts but still seems indecisive most of the time.  Strong has inserted several freshmen on offense and defense that have been making significant positive contributions. I wish he could find some for the linebacker position.

At the beginning of this week, I was feeling sanguine about the Longhorns prospects for winning the Kansas State game. But as the week has worn on, I can’t get the vision out of my head of Kansas State quarterback Jake Waters having a big day running by taking advantage of the Horns’ defensive ends, who often lose containment, and the aforementioned hesitant and indecisive Longhorn linebackers.

Hopefully I’m wrong, and as the character Red said in the Shawshank Redemption, “Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.”

Iowa State Over/Under Analytics
Over the years I have always looked for questions, while reviewing the results, that most players got right or wrong. Analyzing results this way gives me a barometer of sorts of how my readers perceive the Longhorns week to week.

Last week every single player got right the answer to 49.5 yards for Iowa State’s longest kickoff return. Every Nick Rose kickoff was a touchback hence everybody got it right. I may have to can that question for a couple of years.

Only three of the 15 contestants were right that Texas would fall behind at some point during the game. Too much Burnt Orange Kool-Aid drinking I guess.

HooK ‘eM,

W.E.

Over/Under Contest

 

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Post Game Iowa State

Swoopes!

I think I’m in love. Yes, I think I’m in love but I’m afraid to fall. We haven’t had a quarterback go out and win a game that was hanging in the balance around here since Colt McCoy was covering up a lot of Longhorn faults with his magnificent accuracy. Tyrone Swoopes not only went out and won the game, he won it twice, after more poor clock management by Strong and company, and a stunningly bad performance by the defense, forced him to come in with 22 seconds left and in a—“I guess I have to do everything moment”—threw two perfect passes to set up the game winning field goal. So here I am, swooning over Swoopes but fearing that he could turn back into the scared quarterback we saw a couple weeks ago against Baylor. Oh well, better to have love and lost, than never to have loved at all.

Clock Management
After Texas scored to go ahead 45-38 I got a text from a friend, “Good drive, glad we scored a TD but terrible clock management. This game should be over.” He was right. Let me explain.
With 3:52 left to play in the game, Texas faced a third and two at the 50 yard line. Swoopes completed a nine yard pass giving Texas a first down at the Iowa State 41, with 3:45 left to play. At that point, Strong, Watson, and Wickline have to be thinking beyond just getting the go ahead points, but they weren’t. On the Texas’s next four plays they snapped the ball with 16, 18, 16, and 11 seconds left on the play clock. If Swoopes had waited until two seconds on the play clock before snapping the ball on those four plays, Texas would have burned an additional 53 seconds off the clock, before Iowa State called timeout with Texas facing third and eight at the Iowa State 26 yard line. Iowa State called the timeout with 1:52 left. If Texas had managed the clock more effectively, there would have been less than a minute left at that point. Or, Iowa State would have been forced to use two or all three of their timeouts on the Texas drive. Either way, Iowa State would have been in a much more difficult predicament, behind by seven points, with one or no timeouts left with about a minute left to score the tying touchdown, or with two timeouts and only about :30 left to play. Strong, Watson, and Wickline should never have allowed Iowa State the ball back with 1:22 left and two timeouts. I hope they know that now.

Give Credit
Having criticized Strong and his staff, now I’ll praise them. What they have done with the offensive line and Tyrone Swoopes is first rate player development. That and Charlie Strong’s decision to try and win the game with :22 left in regulation bode well for the future of the program. Although I was hoping the Horns would have a much easier time with Iowa State, my hats off to the coaching staff for getting a win when things weren’t going according to plan.

HooK ‘eM,

W.E.

Over/Under Results
The Westchester Wildcats are on a roll. Mark Adams edged out Greg Swan, Zach Frank, and first time player D.R. Flower in the tiebreaker to take home is first win of the season. They were tied in regulation with eight correct answers. Young Zach’s performance this week comes on the heels of his victory in his rookie outing two weeks ago, and a tie for fourth last week.
Clayton Frink, David Frink, and Reed Ramlow tied for fourth with seven correct.

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Pre Game Iowa State

Lowering the Bar

 

Last Saturday afternoon and evening, the Longhorn fans I was around were pleased with the team’s performance against Oklahoma and were generally optimistic about the rest of the season. Although it was pleasant to be around positive people, I was struck by the irony of the contrast between the attitude and mood of the fans after this loss compared to all the other losses to Oklahoma over the years.
I viewed the loss as another opportunity squandered by Charlie Strong and his coaching staff. The continued breakdowns in special teams play and the Keystone Cops clock management routine are becoming, well, all too routine. I’m told by one of Willie Earl’s knowledgeable readers that Charlie Strong’s Louisville teams had good special teams play. Maybe Strong isn’t ready for prime time. Maybe the big stage in Austin adds a complication that is taking the edge off his job performance. For me, it’s a real and a troubling thought.
I’m not yet optimistic about the rest of the season because if Strong and his staff don’t get the special teams fixed and if they don’t improve their game management Texas could lose to Iowa State and anybody else left on the schedule.
Walking it Back
I saw the same things in the Oklahoma game that so many of the Texas fans were excited about. Tyrone Swoopes played a very good game. Even with the pick six, he played more than well enough for Texas to win. Again, Charlie Strong squandered a wonderful effort by Swoopes and an evidently great coach-up by Sean Watson in not getting the W against Oklahoma. So as they say in politics, I’m walking back the harsh statements I made about Swoopes last week.
In all my years of watching football, I can’t remember another assistant coach who has done as good a job as Joe Wickline has done with the offensive line. Wickline’s performance is “as advertised.” Maybe Strong should put him in charge of fixing special teams. Give your biggest challenges to your best people, right? Oh well, maybe it’s not a good idea to distract Wickline from his offensive line coaching, but a big change in the approach to special teams is needed.
Charlie Strong’s specialty is defense and the strength of his first Texas team is definitely defense. The unit has played very well in in every game except the third quarter of the BYU game and that can be partly blamed on the offense’s ineffectual play. We haven’t had to talk about tackling yet this year which is refreshing after the last four years of futility in that area. And I’m orange-blooded enough to take extra satisfaction in that Vance Bedford is the defensive coordinator. If you haven’t heard Mr. Bedford talk defense and football yet you might get a kick out of his commentary if you can find it on YouTube or where ever.

Know it All Fan Ideas
1. While Strong and his staff are re-doubling their efforts to fix the special teams, why not just go ahead and turn a weakness into a strength? Is there must be some weakness in Iowa State’s special teams that they can game-plan to exploit. Maybe the Iowa State punter is slow, and Texas could block a kick. Perhaps the punt and kick-off coverage teams don’t stay at home, and the Horns could fake a punt or recover an onside kick. Instead of approaching the special teams from a defensive crouch, Texas should get aggressive.
2. Where are Texas’ hot shot freshmen running backs, Donald Catalon and D’Onta Foreman? Foreman was last seen fielding a kick off that was about to roll out of bounds on the five yard line. Before that, in his one of his two carries against North Texas, he burst off the right side for 34 yards and looked faster than Jonathan Gray. He can’t’ be redshirted, so let’s get him some work in the last six games.
I’ve read on a couple of the blogs that Donald Catalon is the best running back on the team but the coaches want to redshirt him. Don’t get me started.

Mid-Season Prognosis
This team is a more talented than a most observers thought after the first two games of the season. With better coaching Texas could be 4-2 not 2-4, in my opinion. Texas will win the remaining games on the schedule in which they play a clean game on special teams and Charlie Strong runs a competent sideline operation. They could win all of them or they could lose all of them.

HooK ‘eM,

W.E.

Note from Willie Earl
To enhance the pleasure of playing Over/Under, starting this week, we will report the results no later than Sunday night. Play well.

OU Over/Under Results

There was a three-way tie at the top in another exciting OU Over/Under Contest (see what I did there?) with Helen Frink, Steve Holstead and Helen Art Zeitz answering eight questions correctly.  The guys, both proud Westchester Wildcats, picked the winners, Alabama and Oregon in the tiebreaker. In the closest finish that the staff here can recall, Steve edged Art by coming within 3 total points of predicting the actual points spreads for both games.

Clayton Frink, Zach Frank, Mark Adams, Wade Wallace, Dan Yoxall, Greg Swan, and David Frink tied for fourth with seven correct. Yes Mrs Bertoni, this contest was too easy.

Iowa State Over/Under Contest

 

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Pre Game OU

Primal Fears

As if we needed any more reasons to lose confidence in Tyrone Swoopes, this week, reflecting on his play in the Baylor game, said, “I had gotten hit a couple times. That kind of made me a little bit nervous”. Somebody on the Texas sideline better have some handy wipes and an extra pair of football pants handy Saturday at the Cotton Bowl.
And then he said this: “Sometimes, defenses will give me the same looks over and over again, and I don’t decipher it like I’m supposed to, and I do the wrong things. Simple things like that. Nothing major.”

I’m glad it’s nothing major.

Even with these comments by Swoopes, I know many if not most Texas fans would disagree with what I wrote on Monday, that his two fumbles on the goal line and his terrible numbers should cost him the starting quarterback role. I’m certain that Charlie Strong disagrees, and I believe I know why he does. It’s fear. My observations over 50-plus years of watching football have convinced me that one of most important guiding principles for a vast majority of football coaches is fear. Fear of innovation and breaking with the past. They don’t seem to fear getting fired for not innovating.

I know what the stated reasons are for not playing Jerrod Heard, at least in a relief role: the need to preserve his redshirt, and he’s not ready. As I have written before, speculating on what may happen four years from now in football is akin to speculating in 2012 who the Republican nominee for President would be in 2016. It’s purely academic if not folly. It’s more likely that Heard would transfer, flunk out, suffer a career-ending injury, or get beat out by another quarterback than it is that he will still be playing for Texas in 2018. As far as Heard not being ready, ready compared to whom, Swoopes? At this point, that’s not a credible argument, in my opinion.

Strong should consider how much goodwill he’s burning through with the team, with the fan base, and with his employers for not pulling out all the stops to win football games this season. If Texas scores less than 20 points or so against Oklahoma and gets blown out on Saturday, look for a crowd of about 50,000 in Austin next week for the Iowa State game. That’s something Charlie Strong should fear.

**********
Perhaps lost in the demoralizing loss to Baylor were some solid performances by the Texas defense and offensive line. The defense limited Baylor to 21 points and Bryce Petty to only 7 pass completions for 111 yards. Petty said after the game that his head was still spinning from all the coverages Texas threw at him. Hats off to Defensive Coordinator (former Longhorn All Southwest Conference defensive back) Vance Bedford and his Texas defense. And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Steve Edmond played a whale of a game. The offensive line, reconfigured with the insertion of Darius James as the starting right tackle and the move of Kent Perkins to starting right guard, played pretty darned well as Texas gained 190 rushing yards and gave Tyrone Swoopes time to throw down field. It would be nice if the next time the offensive line plays well, Texas could score more than seven points.

My Fears
My father and I had many interesting conversations. Some were pretty light like the time he told me about the pleasures of trying new things, such as when he switched from an olive to a lemon twist in his martinis. He was quite pleased with the lemon twist. Driving to the beach in the summer of 1968—just my father, mother and I—he compared and contrasted the running styles of Red Grange and Gayle Sayers. That really engaged my 12 year old sports obsessed mind. Also during that trip he told me that Babe Ruth was not a “high-type” guy and didn’t wear underwear.

Other conversations were more serious. When my brother David was, ahem, struggling academically during his sophomore year at UT, my father read me the riot act about how I was going to conduct my studies in college starting with the first semester of my freshman year! At the time, I was in ninth grade and my grades were pretty good for crissakes.

The most memorable and perhaps the most valuable conversations I had with my father were intimate ones. When David and I were devastated by the assassination of Robert Kennedy, my father told us that we had to pick up where RFK left off by always doing our best in school, in work, and as citizens.

When I was in high school and my father and I were with a realtor looking at a house in Reston, Virginia my father wanted to buy, he started crying when he told me how much my mother deserved to have this house.

Though one of the biggest disappointments of my youth was getting cut from the junior varsity basketball team and never playing beyond my freshman year, my father knew I was secure enough that he could tell me about how proud he was of David. David was his letterman. When I was in my early-30s with a career and lofty ambitions of my own, my father let on to me that my brother Clayton was the highest achiever of anybody ever named Frink.

When my parents were in their mid-80s, during one of the last times they had dinner at my house with Helen and me, my father told us a remarkable story about when he met the Army lieutenant who accompanied his brother’s body home after World War II at the train station in Norwich, New York, and took him out for a drink. It wasn’t remarkable because anything particularly interesting or unusual happened when he met the lieutenant. It was remarkable in the casual way my father told us the story, the fact that I had never heard the story before, and for me the literally jaw-dropping contrast it drew between his life and experiences and mine.

There is a conversation with my father that I didn’t have that I wished I had. I’ve been to 37 Texas-OU games. Since the first one I went to in 1974, until as recently as 2012, I couldn’t imagine not being excited about going every year for the rest of my life. Suddenly last year, as OU Weekend approached, I felt ambivalent about going. On Monday of this week I had the same feelings. I fear that it’s not just the Longhorns downturn since 2010 that’s causing my ambivalence. I’m afraid it’s because I’m getting old.

My father never talked to me about getting old. Oh, he made self-deprecating remarks about being old when he was in his 80s. But I’m talking about the aging I’m going through now. Though I’m quite fit—if I do say so myself—for a 59-year-old and I’m pretty sure I’ll be around for at least another 20 years plus but die before I run out of money, I have fears about being old. I fear that I’m seen as old by my clients and business associates. I fear that late in the fourth quarter of my career, my ambitions outstrip the time and focus I have to fulfill them. And I’m a little sad that my running career is over, and because of a nagging hip condition, I’m afraid I won’t ever be able to play golf as well as I did from 2000-2009. When my father was 59, I was 22, so of course it never crossed my mind at the time that he might be experiencing primal fears about aging. Over the past few years I’ve been wondering what my father would say to me if I could tell him about these fears. I bet it would be interesting. I bet it would be insightful and yet witty and there’s a chance it could be jaw-dropping.

Though I can’t have that conversation with my father, I’m often heartened when listening to a certain song on my iPod while I’m working out. If there was a theme song about my father’s attitude about life and the way he lived it, it would be this song.
“Young At Heart”
Fairy tales can come true, it can happen to you
If you’re young at heart.
For it’s hard, you will find, to be narrow of mind
If you’re young at heart.

You can go to extremes with impossible schemes.
You can laugh when your dreams fall apart at the seams.
And life gets more exciting with each passing day.
And love is either in your heart, or on it’s way.

Don’t you know that it’s worth every treasure on earth
To be young at heart.
For as rich as you are, it’s much better by far
To be young at heart.

And if you should survive to 105,
Look at all you’ll derive out of being alive!
And here is the best part, you have a head start
If you are among the very young at heart.

And if you should survive to 105,
Look at all you’ll derive out of being alive!
And here is the best part, you have a head start
If you are among the very young at heart.

–Johnny Richards, Carolyn Leigh

Hub Frink, 57, Helen Frink, my date and me at the Sigma Phi Epsilon Red Garter Party in November 1975

Hub Frink, age 57, Helen Frink, my date and me at the Sigma Phi Epsilon Red Garter Party in November 1975

I’m going to the OU game, leaving early, staying late.

Beat the Hell Outta OU!

HooK ‘eM,

W.E.

OU Over/Under

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Baylor Post-Game

Core Values and Cardinal Sins

Charlie Strong’s core values have garnered him plenty of attention, kudos, and widespread support from the Texas fan base. Strong needs to add special team fundamental execution and competence to his coaching core values. Strong’s special teams have committed cardinal sins in the last three games possibly costing Texas wins against UCLA and Baylor.
Special teams gave up a back breaking punt return given up to UCLA, had field goal attempts blocked against Kansas and Baylor, and they allowed the Baylor punter to run untouched for 19 yards on a fourth and five which lead to Baylor’s second touchdown on Saturday. It’s not unreasonable to speculate that Texas could be 4-1 if Strong’s special teams had performed to just an average level of competency.  Charlie Strong

Quarterback
If I was in charge, the starting quarterback who has the second to the lowest quarterback rating in the Big 12, whose team is 104th in passing offense in the country, and who fumbled snaps on the goal line two weeks in a row, loses his job. Period. It’s that arbitrary in my opinion.

Strong has two big messes he needs to clean up. It’s not that complicated.

We’ll talk more on Friday.

Beat OU

HooK ‘eM,

W.E.

The Baylor Over/Under drew the largest field of entrants of the year so far and it was an exciting contest with a three way tie for first. Newcomer Zach Frank, Steve Holstead, and Mike Archuleta answered eight questions correctly. In the tiebreaker Zach and Steve both picked Baylor and Michigan State to win but Zach’s predictions on the final scores were a tad closer to the actuals so Zach Frank, in his very first start, wins the Baylor Over/Under. Congratulations young fella.

Helen Frink and Clayton Frink tied for fourth with seven correct answers.

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