Archive for the ‘2017’ Category

Season on the Brink

The popular current narrative for Texas’ season goes something like this. The team plays hard for 60 minutes no matter what. This team has led two Top-10 teams in the fourth quarter and is just three or four plays away from being 6-1. If not for the rash of injuries on the offensive line, the offense would be much better.

If Texas loses to Baylor (Texas is favored by seven, but I think it’s a pick ‘em), I think the narrative will change to something like, Texas has a culture of losing, the season is over, Tim Beck has to go, and Tom Herman is getting paid $5.5 million for this? And Texas probably will lose if Herman and Beck don’t find some answers on offense and we witness another performance like the one we saw in the second half against Oklahoma State. My man Paul Wadlington at Inside Texas described it this way: “as frustrating an offensive performance as I’ve ever watched and I have the worst of Fred Akers, David McWilliams, Mack Brown OU, and Charlie Strong under my belt.”  What he said.  More personally, as I watched the Oklahoma State performance, I was eerily reminded of the Texas-Houston game in 1976 that featured 24 yards rushing and 121 total yards of offense for the Horns.

In addition to the offensive woes, I worry that with these close, emotion-sapping losses adding up, the Baylor game could be the one when the team loses its resolve to continue playing hard, come what may.

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I had a conversation this week with Willie Earl reader Mark Adams.  He lamented the fact that Texas doesn’t have a fullback on the roster that they can line up in front of Chris Warren III and plow ahead for two or three yards in short-yardage and goal line situations.  This got me to thinking about the Spread offense and Nick Saban.  You remember Nick, the coach that so many Texas fans and boosters wanted Texas to hire in 2014. I think Tom Herman replaced Saban as Texas’ most coveted hire and was seen as the Nick Saban of the future.  Nick Saban doesn’t run a spread offense and he probably has at least three fullbacks on the roster to line up in front of a tailback in goal line and short-yardage situations.  Food for thought for Tom Herman?

I’m worried about this game.

Hook ‘eM.

W.E.

Baylor Over/Under

  • Baylor is allowing 223.6 rushing yards per game in 2017
  • Baylor is averaging 281.4 yards a game passing in 2017
  • Tiebreaker: Pick the winners. Scores not necessary

    Oklahoma State @ West Virginia
  • Penn St. @ Ohio St.
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Oklahoma State Over/Under Results

Oklahoma State Over/Under Results

Mike Frank, D.R. Flower, and John Scott finished regulation in a three-way tie for first with five correct answers in a grueling over/under contest that featured the lowest overall scores on record. The average score was 3.5.  D.R. emerged from the tiebreaker victorious by picking winners Notre Dame and Penn State. John and Mike picked USC and settled for a second place tie.

Helen Frink, Wade Wallace, Andy Garrod, Joe Grubbs, and Wes Peoples tied for fourth place with four correct answers.

In a related note, it seems that one of Texas’ non-conference name brand opponent, USC, is as over rated this year as Texas’ non-conference name brand opponent Notre Dame was in 2016.

My thoughts on Oklahoma State game will be posted this evening along with season-to-date Over/Under standings.

W.E.

 

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Various and Sundry

In my annual tribute to Ben Barnes, I offer various and sundry thoughts and observation on life and the Longhorns on the eve of the Oklahoma State game.

Paper Cowboys

The won-loss record of Oklahoma State’s 2017 opponents is 16-17. If you leave TCU out of the equation—who they lost to 44-31—the record is 10-17.  Oklahoma State has defeated, South Alabama, Tulsa, Pitt, Texas Tech, and Baylor.  I’m not suggesting Oklahoma State is overrated. I’m just saying…

9-3 Anyone?

In Texas’ first six games of the season, they have an inexplicable loss to Maryland and losses to #9 Oklahoma and #11 USC, games that they led in the 4th quarter.  Texas’ remaining six games include #4 TCU, #10 Oklahoma State, and #23 West Virginia.  That’s a tough schedule, but if Texas almost beat USC and Oklahoma, I submit that it’s a reasonable expectation that they could beat Oklahoma State, TCU, and West Virginia, and the rest of their opponents left on the schedule to finish 9-3. As Doyle Lonnegan would say, “You follow?”

“The two things that really drew me to vinyl were the expense and the inconvenience.”

For some reason, my son Bob decided he wanted to own a turntable and begin collecting vinyl albums about a year or so ago.  When he moved backed to Austin in June, I gave him my modest collection of about 75 albums.  If those grooves could talk. But I digress.  Over the last few months, Bob has reported to me the condition of various selections from my old collection. The Rolling Stones’ Hot Rocks and Michael Jackson’s Thriller were noticeably worn compared to others in the collection. Steely Dan’s Can’t Buy a Thrill and Donald Fagen’s The Nightfly were in excellent condition. 

Bob’s most surprising discovery in my collection was, Texas You’re Number One, a recreation of radio broadcasts of the 1969 Texas-Arkansas game and the Texas-Notre Dame 1970 Cotton Bowl game. The record was a birthday gift from my brothers Clayton and David in August 1970.  Frank Glieber, Verne Lundquist, Wes Wise, and Terry Stembridge were the announcers for the recreations. The record included a recording of President Nixon’s presentation of a National Championship plaque to the Longhorns in the locker room after the Arkansas game. I played it a lot.

Texas’ Running Game

Inside Texas is reporting that Redshirt sophomore Kirk Johnson has been practicing with the first team this week and is expected to play against OSU.   He is Johnny Johnson’s son and Collin Johnson’s brother. He looked pretty good in very brief appearances as a freshman in 2015. He was out all of 2016 with a knee injury.  I’m not sure there is a running back in college football who could run behind the Texas line right now. Hope I’m wrong. Inside Texas is also reporting that Connor Williams will be back this season, perhaps as soon as next week. Hope they’re right.

Post Oklahoma Loss Success

Mack Brown’s Texas teams lost five straight to Oklahoma from 2000 to 2005. Brown was able to rally those teams to a 29-4 record after Oklahoma losses.

Still Feelin’ Good

I reported last week that I was feeling good to feel good again about the Longhorns. Honestly, I had a feeling they would beat Oklahoma.  The way Texas ran the ball and defended the pass against Oklahoma, it would rational to be pessimistic about their chances against Oklahoma State and Mason Rudolph.  Call me irrational, but I have the feeling that the Longhorns will beat Oklahoma State on Saturday.

Hook “Em,

W.E.

Baylor Over/Under

  • Baylor is allowing 223.6 rushing yards per game in 2017
  • Baylor is averaging 281.4 yards a game passing in 2017
  • Tiebreaker: Pick the winners. Scores not necessary

    Oklahoma State @ West Virginia
  • Penn St. @ Ohio St.
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This One’s on the Coaches

After seven years of mediocrity there are no moral victories. Not in the world of Longhorn Football. The fact that Texas didn’t fold after falling behind by 20 points is no solace for me.  Sure, I was happy that the Horns made a game of it when it looked like it could be one of those 60 something -14 kind of Texas-OU games but Texas should never be been behind by 20, to anyone.

Texas was outgained 227 to 19 yards in the first quarter. Oklahoma was ready to play, Texas wasn’t. This is on the coaches.

The bare facts of the matter are, there is no excuse for 19 yards on 14 rushing attempts by running backs. I don’t care how many injuries you’ve had on the offensive line, your running backs, at minimum should be able to average more than three yards a carry. I didn’t see a single counter play or inside reverse. This is on the coaches.

Catastrophic breakdowns in the secondary allowed Oklahoma touchdown passes of 54 and 59 yards. Paul Wadlington—my go to writer on UT Xs and Os—explained that the latter, coming just three plays after Texas had taken its only lead of the game, was on Kris Boyd for playing man-to-man when he should have been playing zone coverage.  Boyd has busted the coverages numerous times this year. This is on the coaches.  They’re at least three games late in coming up with coverage schemes that their personnel can understand and execute and it may be time for them to give up on Boyd.  I just heard Tom Herman say that perhaps they need to simplify the coverage schemes. Uh, yeah.

I am as impressed with Sam Ehlinger as anyone, but he did not have a good game in terms of throwing accuracy or reading coverages. My seats were in the very top row of the upper deck on the 45-yard line giving me a press box like view of the game. Ehlinger didn’t see open receivers over the middle all game long which resulted in too many scrambles and throwaways.  He threw 10 yards wide and 10 feet high to a receiver in the corner of the end zone. If that pass hadn’t been ruled uncatchable, Texas would have drawn an interference call which would have put the ball inside the 10-yardline on a drive that resulted in a field goal.  Stating the obvious, Ehlinger is a very, very good runner and his presence and leadership on the field are unmistakable, but if he doesn’t get better at reading defenses, Texas is probably looking at close but no cigar against TCU and Oklahoma State.  This is mostly on the coaches.

It’s time to acknowledge that Texas has personnel that is talented enough and is playing hard enough to win the rest the games on the schedule.  It’s not about pixie dust. It’s about coaching. The time for feel-good moral victories is past.

You May Think You’re an Idiot but with all due respect….

During the OU pep rally in 1975, Darrell Royal said it seems like this game is always on a hot and sunny day and I like it that way. So do I and it was hot and sunny, to say the least, on Saturday.  For me, the sun and the heat wouldn’t have presented a problem had it not been for minor personal setback. As I mentioned, my seats were on the top row of the upper deck.  Sitting at the top of the stadium was such a unique experience for me that shortly after I got to my seat I decided to stand on my seat and look out over the back of the stadium at to see what the view was like. Did I mention that, accompanying the sun and the heat were gusty southwest winds?  Anyway, about two seconds after I got up on my seat to look, a gust of wind blew my Texas visor off my head. I stood there in a state of disbelief and despair as I watched my visor flutter down into the state fair masses below.  I don’t think I’ve ever felt like as big an idiot as I did at that moment. Did I mention that in addition to my seats being on the top row of the upper deck, they were also on the east side of the stadium so I was looking directly into the sun? So there I was, it’s 90 degrees, there’s not a cloud in the sky, looking directly into the sun, with no headgear with a three and a half hour game ahead of me.  Crap.  During one of the first television timeouts I set out looking for a hat vendor. Sure enough, I found one not too terribly far away in the stadium concourse behind the end zone, but all they had were hideously designed black and orange and camo colored visors and hats.  As many of you know, I have very high standards for menswear, especially UT menswear. Also I tend to be a bit on the—shall we say—frugal side.  I’m already paying $5 a beer so I’m not plunking down $20 for a hideous hat.   So as far as I was concerned, I was SOL.  Thanks to my seat mate Mark Stephan, who let me wear his hat for almost half the game, and the two applications of 50 SPF sunscreen I applied before heading to the stadium, I’m happy to report that unlike the Longhorns, I came out of the Cotton Bowl unscathed.

It’s usually hot, and due to the increased seating capacity of the Cotton Bowl (it was around 73k until the early 90s, now it’s 92K) the fair grounds are more congested than ever, parking is a hassle, you have to stand in long lines to get coupons, and then stand in long lines to get food and drink, and you have to risk watching 50,000 OU fans celebrating a victory over the Longhorns, but to this “Naturalized Texan,”  it’s the greatest sporting experience in the history of the world. If the good Lord’s willing and the creek don’t rise, I’ll go to Texas-OU again and again.

Hook ‘Em,

W.E.

Over/Under Results

John Scott—back from an unexplained absence—won this week against the largest field of the year with eight correct answers.  Mark Adams was second with seven. There was seven-way tie for third that included Reed Ramlow, Helen Frink, Andy Garrod, Steve Holstead, Wade Wallace, David Bergstrom, and Mark Stephan.  Add those seven to John and Mark and you have a Bill Frink—This is Your Life.

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Feels so Good Feelin’ Good Again

And I wanted you to see ’em all I wished that you were there
I looked across the room
And saw you standin’ on the stair
And when I caught your eye
I saw you break into a grin
It feels so good feelin’ good again
–Robert Earl Keen

I haven’t felt so good and I haven’t been so excited about a Texas-OU game in a long time.  The feeling started coming over me moments after the entire Texas offense pushed Chris Warren III over the goal line for the game winning touchdown last Saturday night.

I think the reason I’m feelin’s so good is attributable to Tom Herman, Sam Ehlinger, and the Texas defense.

I wish I had time to write an OU Game masterpiece but I’m about to head up I35 for my 38th Texas-OU weekend.  I will post a full report Monday.

It feels so good to be feelin’ good again.

Beat the Hell Otta OU!

Hook ‘Em

W.E.

Oklahoma Over/Under

  • Texas gives up an average of 105 rushing yards per game. Oklahoma averages 203 yards rushing per game
  • Tiebreaker: Pick the winners. Scores not necessary

    TCU at Kansas State
  • Auburn @ LSU

 

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