Pre-Game UCLA

Are You Gonna Believe Me or Your Lyin’ Eyes?

Groucho

At his weekly press conference on Monday Charlie Strong said something to the effect that, we have everything we need right now to be a good football team. Well that’s a relief. After sitting through every second of the BYU game—in the stadium—I had my doubts about every position group on this team except the defensive line. If Charlie Strong is right, and Texas has everything they need, here are few things I’d like to see against UCLA.

Offense
The offensive coaches have to come up with blocking schemes that the raw, green offensive line can execute to be able to run the ball well enough to keep the defense honest. Joe Wickline needs a plan that deviates from the one he worked on from January through last week. I’m not talking 200 rushing yards but maybe 30 rushes for 130 yards. This is the most important thing Texas has to do against UCLA to have a chance to win and it’s the biggest challenge the coaching staff has to meet. Write this down. If Texas averages 2.3 yards per rushing attempt this week they lose.
Charlie Strong deserves to be harshly criticized if he doesn’t open up the offense this week. He said we have everything we need to be a good football team. If he believes that, the game plan has to include passes over the middle more than eight yards down the field, to receivers who are on the run, and not stationary. A couple of really deep shots wouldn’t hurt either. Freshmen receivers Lorenzo Joe and Armanti Foreman are the only game breakers Texas has right now and one or both of them needs to be on the field at all times when Texas has the ball.

Burn Baby Burn
Jerrod Heard needs to be in the rotation at quarterback. He brings a running dynamic that the offense needs to be competitive, especially given the offensive line’s problems pushing defenders out of the way. Maybe Hurd will unsettle the UCLA defense for a down or a series or two. It couldn’t hurt to try. The idea that Hurd’s redshirt should be preserved is silly speculation about what might happen four years from now. This team, this program, and this fan base need to see this coaching staff making every possible effort to win games now. By the way, Deep Horn agrees with me on this.

Defense
The defense—the third quarter of the BYU game not withstanding—can keep this game close. Lost in the third quarter meltdown were the six sacks of Taysom Hill. Six sacks though, against UCLA, won’t keep Texas in the game if Charlie Strong doesn’t find some defensive backs who can make tackles. Strong needs to empty the bench if necessary if the starters in the secondary won’t keep their heads up and quit missing tackles.
I heard a report this week that outside starting linebacker Peter Jinkens is training at middle linebacker. Good. Steve Edmonds hasn’t been getting it done for two plus years now.

Special Teams
The special teams are my biggest disappointment so far in regards to Charlie Strong. Veterans Marcus Johnson and Quandre Diggs made big mistakes on returns against BYU. Johnson fumbled on one kickoff return and was tackled on the seven yard line another. Diggs, once again, failed to field a punt against BYU that was downed on the one yard line. Time and time again over the last three years Diggs has made this same mistake. In my opinion he should be permanently removed from punt return duties. In coach speak terms, kickoff and punt returns need to be cleaned up.
What can you say about a kicker who can’t make field goals? It hurts. For the time being all we can do is hope that Nick Rose finds his confidence and starts making kicks. Rose is doing an excellent job on getting touchbacks on kickoffs.
William Russ is doing a good job punting. Punt coverage is mediocre at best. I thought this was an area that Charlie Strong would bring instant improvement to.
It’s real simple. Unlike 2004-2009 this team is not good enough to compensate for shoddy special teams play.

Deep Horn
Some of what I heard through back channels from Deep Horn this week I’ve related in the column. That is, the playing of Heard and the freshmen wide receivers and the comments about the defensive secondary.
Deep Horn is very angry at Mack Brown about the overall state of the program and the quarterback situation in particular. It seems that J.T. Barrett from Wichita Falls, the starting quarterback for Ohio State, wanted to come to Texas but Mack Brown wasn’t interested.
Deep Horn also reported that Brown played golf last season on Fridays with a couple of bigwig donors. Now that’s phoning it in.
This is the last time I’m going to write anything about Mack Brown in regards to this year’s team. Brown lost his job. It’s over. Let’s get on down the road.

Let’s Get Cray Cray
Texas players didn’t read Charlie Strong’s mind that he wanted someone to rip down and burn the posters with last year’s statistics from the BYU game. When I heard Strong telling this story at the press conference I was thinking, I wouldn’t have been able to read his mind correctly either. But if we’re going to play mind games, I’m in. Here are my suggestions for this week.
Suit up David Ash and the suspended players and run them through warm ups. That would give UCLA something to think about.
If Strong wants players to rip down and burn posters, maybe he would respond to Texas players if they demanded that Daje Johnson, Kennedy Estelle, and Desmond Harrison be allowed to play. Maybe team leaders Diggs, Jordan Hicks, and Jonathan Gray could offer up the team to take on all kinds of extra disciplinary measures like early morning wind sprints etc. in support of the suspended players so Strong would let them play.

At this point a victory over UCLA would be a huge achievement for Charlie Strong and the program. I’m doubtful but hopeful.

HooK ‘eM

W.E.

 

5 Comments to “Pre-Game UCLA”

  1. W.E., good choice of visuals with Groucho Marx, because we have reached a time where he need him, strutting the sidelines in that bent-over duck walk, fondling his cigar, and saying to no one in particular (well, maybe Coach Strong), “I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening. But this isn’t it.” You could be Harpo and honk your horn gleefully in agreement. We can always hope the UCLA cheerleaders bring their A game for a distraction. Maybe the Horns will distract us with some decent football, but I recommend you double up on the booze at the tailgate, to be on the safe side, like evidently your brother David will do in Section 444.

    I’ll soon be on the banks of the Dead Sea, where nothing lives, which is why they call it Dead. I hope the same does not apply to our beloved football program. On the other hand, you are unsinkable in the Dead Sea, so I will leave it on a high note that so too are Longhorn Football and its ever-patient fans. Pass the bourbon, please.

  2. Missing the game from the banks of the Alba river in Florence, Italy. They don’t follow the Longhorns here at all….imagine that. Maybe I;ll move here….

  3. Interesting to see Willie Earl recant on his statement (made Sunday May 25, 2014 over dinner at his Salon) that J. Heard should maintain red shirt status.

    I will be watching the game from a bar in Brentwood. Should be a good time.

    Hook’em

    • Hmmn…Can’t say that I remember saying that but I’m not denying it but as Ralph Waldo Emerson stated,”A Foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of feeble minds.”

  4. Agree — Must play Armanti Foreman and Lorenzo Joe. D’onta Foreman looked pretty quick on that run against North Texas until he ran out of bounds. I’d get him in this game as well. Offensive line blocking or not, I have concluded (sadly) that Malcolm Brown and J. Gray are nothing more than serviceable. They are NOT special, no matter what hype they’ve received. Great backs at least occasionally make something happen on their own.

    Agree that Diggs should never again be on punt return team, but with Shipley possibly out, I fear Diggss will be back there. Net-net, this is a winnable game. But, my brain says, UCLA 23 — Texas 13. Either way, Mrs. Frink and I will be in Section 444 on the 40 yard line, drinks in hand.

What Say You?