Alabama Pregame


An Austin sports talk host asked listeners to text him the outcome for the Alabama game they hoped for since Texas couldn’t be expected to win. Some listener texted that Texas needed to keep it no worse than a two-score game. Another one just wanted to Texas to beat the line which is currently 21. Joel Klatt on the Colin Cowherd show said beating the line was where the Texas fan base was. A loyal reader of this here blog mused that he was hoping for a monkey pox outbreak that would force a cancellation of the game.

What the bleep happened to the Texas I used to know? Where’s the spirit? Where’s the guts, huh? “Ooh, we’re afraid to go with you, W.E., we might get in trouble.” Well just kiss my ass from now on! Not me! I’m not gonna take this. Saban, he’s a dead man! Young, dead! Anderson

Seriously though, folks, I don’t think Texas can beat Alabama. The offensive line and the quarterback are too inexperienced. I’m setting the over/under on sacks for Alabama at 4.5.  I don’t think the defensive line can stop Alabama from averaging five plus yards per rush. I think Texas’s secondary looked vastly improved against ULM but if Bryce Young has five seconds to find open receivers he’ll put up big numbers against any secondary. And I don’t like the matchup between Nick Saban and Steve Sarkisian.

With that being said,

Willie Earl’s Keys for Texas to Win

1. Start fast: Texas can’t afford three and outs early, especially if Alabama receives the kickoff and scores first. You might say a fast start is always a key to winning but note last week Texas’s first drive ended on a third down Ewers interception. Texas also went three and out on their first drive versus Louisiana last year and still won easily.

A couple of three and outs early by Texas that yield good field position for Alabama and the game will probably get out of reach early. Texas went three and out on three of their first four drives against Arkansas last year and you remember how that turned out.

2. Sarkisian adjustments: Last year I thought Steve Sarkisian failed to adjust his offensive play calling. Even after starting the second half behind 16-0 to Arkansas, he stuck to his script of a Bijan rush on first down followed up by two passes which were usually incomplete or completed for little or no gain.

3. Excellent Special Teams Play: Texas got a touchdown last week off a blocked punt. Alabama had a punt blocked last week versus Utah State. See where I’m going. Texas needs to prevent Alabama from gaining good field position from long punt and kickoff returns. And it would be nice if Bert Auburn made all his field goal attempts including 45 – 50 yarders.

4. Take advantage of easy opportunities: Defensive players must catch the ball if they have an interception opportunity. Texas can’t afford to muff freebees. Oh, and receivers also need to catch the ball.

If the Texas offense is presented with a short field they must score. A touchdown would be preferable. Anytime Texas gets to the redzone they must score. Again, a touchdown is preferred.

5. Don’t Play Scared:

Remember those OU games when Mack Brown and Greg Davis played not to lose?  They played scared. Steve Sarkisian can’t call a game not to lose or to keep the score down. He has to take some chances.

6. Play good situational football:

Speaking of not playing scared, there likely be situations when the right call will be going for it on fourth down.  For example, going for it on fourth and one from Alabama’s 36-yard line instead of trying for a 54-yard field goal.

In the red zone, Quinn Ewers needs to know when to live for another play and not try to squeeze the football into a tight window and risk an interception especially on first and second down.

Good clock management also comes under this heading. This includes being decisive on play calling and substitutions so you don’t waste timeouts or incur delay of game penalties. Mike Frank, feel free to elaborate on this point. I know it’s your favorite subject.

7. Push: My man Rod Babers gave a detailed analysis of Texas’s offensive success rates out of various formations in 2021. It was interesting and informative. He referred to his analysis as Steve Sarkisian’s “Cheat Code” for competing with Alabama. I can’t possibly regurgitate it for you here but that’s not my point.

Also, this morning I read a column on “Inside Texas” by Ian Boyd. It contained headings such as, Create Space for Bijan, Attack the Edges, and Protect Quinn Ewers.

All well and good but I internally chuckle at Boyd’s column and Rod Babers’ analysis. When it comes to breaking down schemes and Xs and Os, I always default back to Jeff Wards’ simple analysis he made years ago as a radio talk show host.  He said there’s no scheming that will help you if you can’t push the other guy around and if the other guy can push you around. Football is a simple as that. Amen. 

I’m pretty sure Alabama will win the push around game versus Texas, and I think that’s all that probably matters, game, set, match. But maybe if Texas can limit the extent they get pushed around on the offensive and defensive lines and play a near perfect game, they may get themselves into a one score game in the fourth quarter. Wouldn’t that be fun?

“Maybe we’ll win by 21” – James Brown 1996 before the Big 12 Championship game against Nebraska.

Hook ‘Em by God,


Willie Earl’s Song of the Week      

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

Songwriters: Carolyn Leigh / Johnny Richards

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