Archive for the ‘2012’ Category

Post-Game Texas Tech

High Plains Redemption

It would be cliché to report that our lives have been changed by the digital age and the instant access to information and ability to be “connected.” In addition to all the pluses and minuses of this instant access and connectivity it also, in my opinion, has caused the desire of many of us to, want, make and accept instant declarations, pronouncements and predictions about the future. Some recent dandies: Robert Griffin is the best player in the NFL, Penn State will be lucky to win more than two games in 2012; Tiger Woods will never win another major. One of my favorites closer to home from a few years back was the wide spread judgment, a few games into his freshman season, that Colt McCoy was not the “guy” to lead Texas back to the upper echelon. If social scientists conducted a study comparing the accuracy of predictions about the future in the recent digital age versus the pre-digital age—whenever exactly that was—I predict their findings would show no higher degree of accuracy in the digital versus the non-digital age. Also they probably would find that the prediction business has proliferated on a per capita basis during the digital age.

As for our Longhorns, the consensus of pronouncements about their 2012 future prior to the Texas Tech game were premature, at least by one week. You don’t need to read this to know how superbly David Ash, Mike Davis, Jonathan Gray and Carrington Byndom played. Or how, finally, the offensive and defensive lines performed up to expectations. For the first time this season Texas was fun to watch. What happened?

The over whelming observation I take away from this game is that for the first time in a long time Mack Brown and his staff out coached their counter parts on the opposing sideline. Texas’ game plan put the aforementioned players in position to play up to their potential. Texas throwing passes, long ones at that, on first down out of running formations. Who would have ever expected that?  Obviously not the Texas Tech coaches or players.  I’m not an expert but Brown and Diaz seemed to have simplified the defense.

Texas did a lot less shifting around and play to play substituting than in previous games. This seemed to have given the defense a better sense of mission and confidence than in previous games. It appeared to me for the first time this year that Texas went after the win rather than just expecting one, or in the case of the Oklahoma game, hoping for one.

I will not make any predictions or pronouncements about the rest of Texas’ season based on their performance against Texas Tech.  My hunch, though, is that if the coaches and players plan and prepare for the remaining games like they did for the Tech game they will have a high degree of success. If they get back to Austin and lapse into their old habits, their future may fall back into line with the pre-Texas Tech game consensus.

**********

Have you ever seen Mack Brown so gleeful after a game?  I was very pleased that Brown didn’t gloat or call out his critics after the game. I think it’s a good sign.

**********

It will be hard for me to root against Alabama after seeing A.J. McCarron’s emotional reaction to their dramatic win over LSU.  In the words of Tom T. Hall, I love winners when they cry.  It was very humanizing for Alabama.

Over/Under Results

It was another week of tough going in the Texas Tech Over/Under with an average of 5.2 correct answers from a total of 14 players. It was made tougher by the flawed question written by moi, which team would have more turnovers. That easily could have been trouble if both teams had the same number. Interestingly it was flawed because neither team had a single turnover. You don’t see that very often.

Anyway, there was a four way tie for second place with Mark Adams, Tom Yoxall, David Frink and Mark Stephan scoring six correct answers.  At the end of regulation Art Zeitz and Helen Frink were tied for the win with seven correct answers. Both Art and Helen picked Oregon over USC, but Helen correctly picked Alabama over LSU to beat out Art who picked LSU. It was Helen’s second career  victory in Over/Under both coming down to the tie breaker.  I must note that Helen resisted the urge of picking LSU just for the sake of picking against Alabama whom she dislikes very much.

HooK eM,

W.E.

Read more

Pre-Game Texas Tech

Are Reports of the Longhorns’ Demise Greatly Exaggerated?

 

If you knew before the season started that the Longhorns would be 6-2 going into the Texas Tech game I’m thinking you would have been mildly disappointed but not—to use a Mack Brown favorite—negative about the team.  That 6-2 includes the four game stretch we were talking about in pre-season of Oklahoma State on the road, West Virginia at home, Oklahoma and Baylor at home. We expected all of those games to be very competitive including the Baylor game.  I think we would have been very satisfied with a 3-1 record during that stretch. Texas, at 6-2, is only one game behind a pace that we would have been very happy with.

So why is the difference between 7-1 and 6-2 so stark in the eyes of most Longhorn fans, bloggers and commentators?  It’s because the last 3 games: the Oklahoma blow out, the yielding of 50 points even in a win against Baylor and the close call against Kansas seems more like a three game losing streak that two wins and a loss.  It appears that Mack Brown may have lost control of the quality of his team’s performance on game day.  The consensus of what I’ve heard and read this week from all quarters is that Texas will finish the season 8-4 at best but more likely 7-5.

I’m thinking 9-3 with an outside chance that Texas runs the table and ends up 10-2. My thinking is that the Kansas game brought Mack Brown and Harsin face to face with the reality of what kind of offense they need to run if they hope to salvage the season. If I’m right that means Texas will score somewhere in the 40s against Tech, Iowa St. and TCU. That should be enough to beat Iowa St. and TCU.  Texas Tech doesn’t run the ball very well. It’s possible, just possible that we’ve seen the worst of Texas’ run defense. So if they force Tech to throw lots of short passes resulting in time consuming drives they won’t have enough time to score 40 points themselves.  So now I’ve got Texas to 9 wins.

The conventional wisdom is that Texas doesn’t have a chance to beat Kansas St. on December 1, in Manhattan, Kansas.  I’m not a big fan of conventional wisdom.  Where did conventional wisdom ever get anyone?  What if Collin Klein gets injured and is out for the Texas game?  What if Kansas St. turns it over five times?  What if the Texas offense is hitting on all cylinders and scores in the 40s? What if the Texas players decide it’s time to win one for Mack and play the game of their lives?  I could go on but all the possible scenarios that lead to a Texas victory aren’t as important to me as my lack of belief that Kansa St. will finish the season undefeated.  There’s something out of phase for me in the idea that Kansas St. is Alabama 2.0.  Of course there is a first time for everything.

Okay so there you have it. Texas will go at least of 9-3 with a puncher’s chance of achieving 10-2.  You won’t hear or read this anywhere else but I think it’s worth bringing up the possibility.

Going out on a limb again

I had so much fun in being right about Notre Dame beating Oklahoma I thought I’d try it again this week. Texas Tech will choke on their big opportunity to beat Texas for the first time in 4 years. Texas 45, Tech 27.

HooK eM,

W.E.

Over/Under

[contact-form 2 “Over Under Contest”]

Read more

Post Game Kansas

My Homework Assignment

Dear Mr. Dodds,

It was a pleasure meeting with you on Wednesday regarding the newly created position of Associate Athletic Director for Positive Spin. Below please find the writing sample you requested as part of my application for the position.

As Johnny Mercer wrote and Tony Bennett sang so well, the falling leaves drift by my window….and soon I’ll hear old winter’s song, and when that happens wins on the road in the Big 12 are as a precious and hard to come as a vacant porta-potty at a Rolling Stones concert in Central Park.  Well the Longhorns came away with one of those precious victories yesterday in Lawrence, Kansas on the strength of a stingy defense and pluck of back up quarterback Case McCoy. Oh sure, you can talk about Kansas’ 1-6 record and how they had lost 16 straight Big 12 games coming in but the records go out the window this time of year in conference rivalries such as Texas-Kansas.

This was a huge win for Mack Brown’s Longhorns and one they can build on coming down the stretch especially knowing that they now have two experienced and clutch performers at quarterback they can count on.  In addition, freshman running back Jonathan Grey had his most prolific day as a Longhorn with 106 yards on 18 carries. On the defensive side of the ball, Texas had its best showing in conference play limiting Kansas to 273 total yards and 3 points in the second half.

At 6-2 on the season the Longhorns are in good company with the likes of Texas A&M, Texas Tech, USC, Stanford and Nebraska who are also 6-2. And don’t look now but previously vanquished foes Oklahoma State and Ole Miss are a collective 6-2 since they fell to the Horns.

Next up for the Longhorns is another road test against Texas Tech. Victories are tough to come by in Lubbock as the 2008 Longhorns and Blake Gideon can attest. But if the Longhorns bring their usual road warrior intensity and resolve to the Hub City we’ll be in for a great game.  And again as Tony Bennett sang, I love things that are great!

But Seriously Folks

After the last two and a half seasons with all the broken vows to fix this and to fix that how can you trust Mack Brown and his staff to have this team ready to play on any given Saturday?  Unless this season turns out much differently than most of us expect it to, it’s going to be hard to stay excited about Texas Football without some serious changes in the off-season.  I don’t know what those changes should be. Right now it’s hard to imagine Texas Football without Mack Brown.  It’s equally as hard to imagine Texas Football going on much longer the way it’s going now.

Over/Under Results

It was a grueling over/under contest this week and at the finish blood and body parts were strewn all over the field as the average number of correct answers was 3.66.  Homer Mark and a contestant known only as Paul tied in regulation scoring high above the average with 6 correct answers. Homer Mark survived the tiebreaker as Paul picked Texas Tech and Oklahoma as winners. Homer correctly predicted that Kansas State would beat the Red Raiders and wins for the first time in two seasons.

HooK eM,

W.E.

P.S. Not one to blow my own horn, spike the football and dance I reserved bragging about my Notre Dame pick for this rare post script.  I told you Notre Dame would win.

Read more

Pre-Game Kansas

What’s a Petard?

My son Robert, aka Bod Frank, was a very verbose little boy. When he was two, before he had a large vocabulary and a whole lot of opinions, often he would just suddenly blurt out advertising and branding messages such as, “TA Tires!” or “Your news on the hour and half hour from KLBJ-AM.” When he got to be five or six years old, he had a large vocabulary and lots of opinions for a kid that age.  He talked a lot. So much that Helen nicknamed him “The Pontiff.”  A neighbor drew a comparison to Cliff Clavin.

Anyway, one weekend when Bob was seven or eight we were in Dallas visiting Helen’s parents Midge and Pat.  One of their best friends, a guy named Bill Kay, is what you would call a “hail fellow well met.”  He’s a nice guy who loves to talk to say the least.  Bill stopped by Midge and Pat’s for cocktail hour that Saturday and he asked young Bobby how he was doing.  Big mistake.  Bobby cornered Bill for a long conversation about who knows what. It might have been the Space Shuttle one of Bobby’s areas of expertise.  I glanced at my father in-law Pat who was obviously as amused as I was at the irony of Bill being cornered in conversation by Bobby.  Then Pat said something that I’d never heard before.  Referring to Bill Kay he said, “He’s being hoisted with his own petard.”  I love the expression which is from Shakespeare’s Hamlet and basically it means to be blown up with your own bomb. As my father told me, “everything is from Shakespeare or the bible.”

Why am I telling you all this?  Because when I heard that Mack Brown had complained about the time commitment required for his three shows a week on the Longhorn Network and that LHN was aiding opposing coaches’ preparation for games with Texas: I thought, He’s being hoisted with his own petard. After all, every time over the past 10 years or so anytime anyone has criticized Mack Brown, his biggest fans were sure to talk about all the money Brown had made for Texas and how great he has been for the brand. So isn’t the Longhorn Network Brown’s $300 million Pièce de résistance? Funny too how LHN didn’t become a problem until Texas lost two games in a row.  Honestly I thought the idea of the Longhorn Network was stupid from the get go. Who wants to watch football players lifting weights and sitting around in baby pools filled with ice water let alone 20 hours a week of women’s soccer?  Is there any wonder it’s been so hard to get deals with cable operators to carry it? I suppose if Texas loses a couple of more games this year LHN could gain the appeal of reality television or that of a Maury or Jerry Springer.  We’ve also heard that Mack  instructed trainers to tape both ankles of injured players so the opposing coaches watching LHN wouldn’t know which ankle was hurt. Isn’t that like Jimmy Carter controlling the reservations for the White House tennis courts?  Is it me or is Mack losing his marbles? Oh well, I guess it takes one to know one and I’m pretty sure that I’m losing mine.

Three Season Slump

Following a National Championship in 1963 and a 10-1 record with victory over #1 Alabama in the Orange Bowl in the 1964 season Darrell Royal’s Longhorns went 6-4 in ’65, 7-4 in ’66 and 6-4 in ’67. In 1968 Texas began the season with a tie and a loss before starting a 30 game winning streak stretching over the next three seasons that brought them two National Championships.  The 1968 season also was the first of six straight Southwest Conference Championships for Texas.

If 2012 turns out to be the third year of a slump we can be comforted by the precedent of Darrell Royal’s three season slump in 1965-67. Maybe, but I’ll point out at least one big difference. In 1968 Darrell Royal was 44. In 2013 Mack Brown will be 62.  I better be careful drawing that comparison. I could be hoisting myself on my own petard.

 Going Out On a Limb

Oklahoma is favored by 10 points at home over Notre Dame on Saturday night. I think Notre Dame will win outright.  This is based solely on my intuition about this game and my belief that Notre Dame is luckier than average. Also I think Oklahoma is good but not great and if they’re not playing Texas they seem to be losing all their big games the last few years.  Let me reiterate that I’m a career loser in betting on football and I retired from  betting in 1980 when I lost $100 because the kicker for the New York Giants missed an extra point at the end of a game.  That gave me one of those rare moments of clarity.

HooK eM,

W.E.

Over/Under

[contact-form 2 “Over Under Contest”]

 

Read more

Post-Game Baylor

Potpourri

Thin Skin

Driving home from the game late last night Helen and I caught Mack Brown’s post-game press conference on the radio.  It was vintage Mack.  He couldn’t resist talking about the negativity heard from some quarters after last week’s Oklahoma debacle. Of course in his mind he was accentuating the positive by pointing out that judging by the large and supportive crowd he didn’t think any of the “negative people” were at the game.  In my opinion when things have gotten bumpy for Brown in the past he expended way too much energy whining about criticism. In 2010, after the Nebraska game which was a nice win on the road, a win that looked like it would turn the season around, Brown’s very first public comments came when he was interviewed briefly by the sideline reporter immediately after the game.  The very first sentence out of his mouth was to talk about all the criticism his team had been receiving after two straight losses. To me it  seemed petty and not the first thing that should be on the head coach’s mind. There has been much talked about and written over the past week about the type of program Brown runs in terms of physical and mental toughness and accountability.  I read into Brown’s post-game comments last night and in 2010 that he doesn’t like the concept of accountability and maybe that has filtered down through his entire team and coaching staff.  After the win against Nebraska in 2010 Texas lost four straight and five of their last six games, the lone victory coming at home against Florida Atlantic.  I may be stretching to try and tie Brown’s 2010 Nebraska’s post-game mind set to the disaster the season turned into but I’m not sure that I am.  Maybe Brown should spend more time critiquing his players and less time critiquing fans, the press and the bloggers.

Just Play

Do you think the Oklahoma game might have gone any differently if Texas’ first play from scrimmage had been the Daje Johnson sweep they ran on the first play against Baylor instead of a Joe Bergeron line plunge?  If Texas had run the sweep or something else a little more aggressive on the opening drive against Oklahoma what’s the worst thing that could have happened?  That they might have failed against OU in a big way?  Maybe Mack Brown’s Horns aren’t ready for Al Davis’ “just win baby,” but how about “just play baby?”  Play like you think you can win not like you hope you can win.

Wally Pipp

Malcolm Brown is in danger of becoming Texas’ version of Wally Pipp the N.Y. Yankees first baseman who was replaced by Lou Gehrig in the starting line up on June 2, 1925. Gehrig went on to play in 2,130 straight games for the Yankees at first base. Pipp was traded at the end of the season. Brown is a very good player but Daje Johnson or Jonathan Gray are game breakers and from now on should be getting a lion’s share of the carries. What about Joe Bergeron?  Can you say Cody Johnson?

Spinning the Defense

If my life depended on putting a good spin on the performance of the defense against Baylor here’s what I’d say.  Baylor  had to go only eight yards to score their first touchdown after the snap sailed over Alex King’s head on Texas’ first punt attempt. Baylor’s last touchdown came against a prevent Texas defense that forced a long time consuming drive at the end of the game when they needed two touchdowns to win.  So you see, to be fair, the D only gave up 36 points which these days in the Big 12 is very respectable. Not only that, Texas gave up 13 fewer points this week than last so they are improving. Muy bueno?

Wrap Up

Unless Kansas turns into Appalachian State Texas will be 6-2 at this time next week with visions of being involved in a four way tie for the conference championship come December 2. To achieve that all they have to do is beat Texas Tech and Kansas St. on the road, beat Iowa St. and TCU at home and hope that Oklahoma stumbles once and Kansas St. loses one before they meet on December 1…..It could happen and if it does imagine all the snide comments Mack Brown could make  about the “negative people.”

HooK eM,

W.E.

Over/Under Results

This is getting ridiculous.  This was the third time Mark Adams has played Over/Under.  He won his first time and finished tied for first the second time losing the tie-breaker to Jerry Smith.  Mark won again this week besting Al LoCascio in the tie-breaker.  Mark and Al scored 8 correct answers but Mark picked both winners in the tie-breaker while Al stumbled by picking West Virginia over Kansas State.  Shades of Soccer-Set Back 1964-65 on Wycliffe Drive eh Mark?

Read more
Page 3 of 7«12345»...Last »