Archive for the ‘2017’ Category

Forward Progress

After the game, in celebration of a solid conference road win (yes, I said “solid”), I fixed myself a short scotch on the rocks and sat down to scroll through the Barking Carnival live game thread. I usually review the thread to see how the younger- than-me Longhorn Football nerds were reacting to the game as it was happening.   I was in celebration mode, so, I was a little surprised at the ferocity of the complaints and criticism directed at the Texas offense during the second half.  The prevailing theme was that offensive coordinator Tim Beck is an idiot and Sam Ehlinger should replace Shane Buechele.

My observations and thoughts during the second half can be boiled down to concern that Texas might lose this game,  as they have lost so many games like it in the past three years.  Yes, the offense’s inability to move the ball out of their end of the field and thus surrendering field position to Iowa State in the third quarter was frustrating.  But I understood the offense’s struggles in the context of an offensive line that has been decimated by injury, forcing Derek Kerstetter—a true freshman—into the starting lineup at right tackle. Kerstetter had not played a down of college football before the Iowa State game. Tristan Nickelson—until a few weeks ago a backup right tackle—was  making his first start at left tackle, replacing the injured Connor Williams. Further, Shane Buechele was returning from a three- week absence due to a shoulder injury.  So I wasn’t thinking that Beck and Buechele were at fault; I was thinking Texas was in a tough spot on the road, and I was just hoping the Horns could catch a break or that Collin Johnson or some other receiver could make a play to get Texas out of the shadow of their own goal line.

Finally, after a 17-yard punt by Michael Dickson, Iowa State got the ball on the Texas 28 and scored a touchdown four plays later. That was their only score of the game, and Texas still led 14-7. Texas did get a break when a replay review showed that Armanti Foreman’s knee was down before he fumbled the ensuing kickoff.  After a 54-yard punt by Dickson and an interception by Deshon Elliott—in  what seemed like a miracle—Josh Rowland made a 49-yard field goal to give Texas some breathing room at the beginning of the fourth quarter.

I was very pleased that the offense was able to kill the last 7:35 seconds of the game with a 13-play 40 yard drive. Three yards and a cloud of shredded tire tread anyone?  That game-sealing drive put me in a celebratory mood.  I wasn’t cursing Tim Beck or Shane Buechele.  I was happy to be drinking a scotch and enjoying a Texas victory in a game that, over the past few years, would have been another bitter defeat.

Onward and upward!

Game Notes

Texas kicker Josh Rowland turned my head and should have turned yours with a clutch 49-yard field goal and four touchbacks.  Things could be looking up in the kicking game.

Not so much in the return game. Armanti Foreman was swarmed by Iowa State defenders just outside the 10 yard line. On kickoff returns,  it’s almost as if Texas blocks no one at all, zilch, zero, nada. Thank god for replay, which showed Foreman’s knee went down a fraction of a second before he coughed up the football.

Oh yeah, the defense turned in its third straight outstanding performance.  It seemed as though Iowa State quarterback Jacob Park was under attack on every pass attempt.  Don’t want to spit in the well, but Texas’ tackling has been the best it’s been in a decade.

Chris Warren III whiffed while trying to block an Iowa State defensive back on a flanker screen pass. If Warren makes the block, Texas has a big play. As it was, Texas lost a yard.  That play offers a clue as to why Warren is not the starter.  From my vantage point, Warren is not an instinctive runner. He often does not see where the hole is.  I’m guessing that coaches start Kyle Porter because he’s a good blocker. I don’t see any other reason he should be playing. Bring on Toeneil Carter.

 

Hook “Em,

W.E.

Over/Under Results

At the risk of being accused of nepotism, I’m obligated to report that Clayton Frink won the Iowa State Over/Under with 9 correct answers. Wes Peoples and Greg Swan tied for second with 8 correct.  It was interesting to me that more than 50% of the contestants picked Ehlinger over Buechele for more total yards.

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Thanks go out to the Willie Earl patrons who share the enlightening content we churn out each week which has resulted in several new readers subscribing this year.  We’d like to take this occasion to encourage more sharing.

BF

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Second Tier

There’s a story that has Abraham Lincoln quoting a man who had been being ridden out of town on a rail as having said, “If it weren’t for the honor of the thing, I’d just as soon it happened to someone else.”  That’s about how I feel about Texas playing on a Thursday night. Playing on Thursday night has second tier program written all over it.  So does losing to Iowa State.

I don’t have any idea how good or bad Texas is right now but I’ll take a shot at a prediction.

Texas 31
Iowa State 28

Hook ‘eM,

W.E.

Iowa State Over/Under

  • Iowa State has allowed 107 rushing yards per game in 2017
  • Iowa State has allowed 295 yards per game passing in 2017
  • Iowa State has averaged 311 yards per game passing in 2017
  • In college football sacks count as negative rushing yards.
  • Tiebreaker: Predict Winners. Scores aren't required



    USC at Washington St.
  • Michigan St @ Iowa
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Oozing Optimism Redux

Remember the excitement and optimism surrounding the Longhorns after their season-opening victory over Notre Dame last year? That optimism was reinforced by the national polls that elevated the Longhorns to # 11 after that game. How’d all that work out? Texas’ almost victory over USC Saturday night seems to be inspiring in UT fans the same kind of optimism as the Notre Dame win last year.

The all-out effort in the USC game was something we haven’t seen out of Texas since the OU game in 2015. For me the effort didn’t inspire optimism it inspired, “About f’ing time!” It’s not a given that we will see this kind of effort for the remainder of the season. If we do—with remaining games against top 10 teams Oklahoma and Oklahoma St., #16 TCU, West Virginia in Morgantown, and Longhorn nemesis Kansas St.—Texas still might be lucky to get six wins on the season for a number of reasons.

1. Texas is offensively challenged. They didn’t score an offensive touchdown in the first half against Maryland or USC. In the USC game, the Texas offense scored only 17 points in four quarters and two overtimes. Tom Herman tried to explain away why Chris Warren III had only four carries against USC, but his explanation was disingenuous and doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. And, I might add, his explanation was delivered in a prickly and condescending manner in his Monday press conference, indicating to me that he knows he has a problem with the play calling. He better get it fixed if he wants to beat anyone beyond Kansas and Baylor.

2. The injury to left tackle Connor Williams adds to the woes of an underperforming offensive line. I can’t emphasize the magnitude of this problem enough.

3. To my deep disappointment, Herman hasn’t improved Texas’ terrible special teams. After Reggie Hemphill-Mapps stupidly fielded a punt on the 3 yard line, he went ahead and caught another one on the goal line just a few minutes later. Texas was lucky to avoid disasters both times. After Texas took the lead with 45 seconds remaining in regulation, Josh Rowland failed to get the kickoff into the end zone and the coverage team allowed USC to return it to the 35. If Rowland could have forced a touchback or if the coverage team could have held USC inside the 30, Texas probably wins the game in regulation.

4. As well as the defense played, breakdowns in the secondary at the end of the first half and at the end of regulation essentially cost Texas the game. Baker Mayfield and Mason Rudolph must be salivating.

5. In my opinion, Herman’s in-game decision making has been suspect. Against USC, on Texas’ first possession of the game, with fourth and two from the USC 17, if Herman opts for a field goal attempt instead of going for the first down, Texas probably wins. Granted, Josh Rowland converting a 34-yard field goal attempt was not a sure thing, but he did make a 37-yarder in the third quarter. Herman made the same type of decision on UT’s opening drive of the second half against Maryland. By opting to try to convert a fourth and goal from the 5-yard line, he eschewed what would have been a 22-yard field goal. A field goal there would have changed the complexion of that game greatly.

We’ve already discussed the abandonment of running back carries against USC, which also goes in the Herman in-game decision making column. Herman-Beck did the same thing in the Maryland game.
All that being said, Texas looked like a different team against USC from the one we saw in 2016 and in the Maryland game. The defensive front seven is the strength of the team, and if they keep playing like they did in the USC game, Texas will have a chance to win most, if not all of their remaining games. A healthy Shane Buechele and or a more-experienced Sam Ehlinger down the line should give the offense a reasonable chance to improve.

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Asked whether he thought Texas’ off-week was coming at a good time, Herman answered that it was. He said that counting the five weeks of preseason workouts and three games, his team was half-way through the season. Eight weeks down, nine weeks to go. In the spirit of having the first half of the season behind us, I decided to review our readers’ answers to a couple of the queries on the preseason questionnaire I posted before the Maryland game.

1. Predict Texas’ final regular season record.
More than half of the contestants predicted Texas would go 9-3 or better. I’ll bet none of them contemplated a loss to Maryland. I’d take 8-4 today and run like a bandit. One contestant who shall remain nameless (Mark Adams) had Texas going 12-0.

2. Name the starting quarterback for the OU game.
Every contestant picked Shane Buechele. In formulating that question, I was pretty sure—one way or another—the quarterback situation would get interesting by then. Would any of the contestants like another shot at the question?
Below, I’m giving readers another opportunity to answer these two questions.

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Kurt Vonnegut

On a totally random note, I read an interesting tidbit about Kurt Vonnegut in Dan Jenkins memoir,” His Ownself.” In the mid-fifties Vonnegut worked at Sports Illustrated for one week. Jenkins met Vonnegut at a party and asked him if the story he had heard about the ending of Vonnegut’s brief tenure at SI was true. Vonnegut confirmed the following. For his first assignment at SI he was given a set of photos of an equestrian event and told to write a 100-word test block to go with the photos. Unable to think of 100 words. Vonnegut submitted the following piece. “The horses jumped over the fucking fence. I quit.”

And so on.

Hook ‘eM,

W.E.

2017 Season Predictions Redux

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Over/Under Results

Our apologies for not posting the results for the San Jose St. game last week. Here they are.

1.Clayton Frink, Mark Adams, David Frink, Greg Swan ties for first eight correct. Clayton Frink won in the tiebreaker.

Steve Holstead finished 4th.

The average score was 5.9.

USC Results

  1. Mike Frank’s first participation of the year results in a win. Mike posted 9 correct answers
  2. Helen Frink, Homer Mark, and Art Zeitz tied for second with 8 correct.

The average score was 6.1

A record breaking 19 players entered last week. Very cool.

The off week gives me a chance to post Over/Under standings for the season to date based on the total number of correct answers. Hopefully this will add a little more interest to the Over/Under Contest.

Texas’ all-out effort on Saturday night was the program’s best since the 2015 OU game.  My USC column will be posted by this Wednesday or Thursday.

W.E.

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Does Anybody Choke or Throw Up?

When my daughter Molly was about six, our family watched Mrs. Doubtfire on our home VCR.  Those of you who enjoyed the movie as much as we did probably remember the restaurant scene where Mrs. Doubtfire performs the Heimlich maneuver successfully on Stu.  Molly was quite disturbed by this scene and for the next year or two she would ask before the family sat down to watch a movie, “Does anybody choke or throw up in this movie?” That pretty much ruled out us watching The Exorcist.  Anyway, Molly’s question became and remains a stock phrase in the Frink household.

As I prepare to watch the USC game Saturday night, based on what I’ve seen of Texas so far this season    it seems wise to ask, “Do the Longhorns choke or throw up in this football game?”

Orange blows out White

In the annual early September Orange and White game played in DKR Memorial Stadium last weekend, The Orange team methodically dismantled The White team 56-0.

Two weeks of Tom Herman

A friend confided to me the other day that he was already tired of hearing Tom Herman talk. I can’t go that far but I’ve noticed that his preseason oozing of confidence and competence has turned into oozing too hard to sound smart and in control.  In simpler terms, in media appearances Herman has taken on an unpleasant edge. While I can’t say that I’m already tired of hearing Herman talk, I am hearing him more and enjoying him less.

What do I think?

Before big Texas games, I’m often asked the simple question, what do I think?  Sometimes it seems like a straightforward question and sometimes it seems like a plea for reassurance that everything will be all right for the Longhorns.  Putting in perspective what I’ve seen of the Longhorns and USC over the past two weeks, if I’m asked today, “What do I think?”, my gut tells me the Longhorns are going to choke and throw up Saturday night in the coliseum.

Hook ‘eM,

W.E.

USC Over/Under

  • THE DAILY DOUBLE
  • In college football sacks count as negative rushing yards.
  • Tiebreaker: Predict Winners. Scores aren't required



    Clemson at Louisville
  • Harvard @ Rhode Island
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