Archive for the ‘2012’ Category

Pre-Game New Mexico

Scatter Shot

Stealing a page from Blackie Sherrod I’m scattering shooting while wondering what ever happened to Jitter Fields.

Excuse me if I don’t think this whole game manager thing will work out very well against West Virginia, Oklahoma St., Oklahoma, Kansas St. or Baylor. Speaking of our game manager I wonder if Mack Brown and Brian Harsin will continue to baby David Ash against New Mexico.  If he can’t run big boy plays against the Lobos who can he run them against? And speaking of New Mexico can the Horns really score enough points to cover the 38 point spread?

While I’m on a rant here lets move on to my most over-hyped category.

  1. The Texas defense. I don’t care about their #2 ranking in total defense in 2011. I saw the Oklahoma, Oklahoma St. and Baylor games last year and I saw the defense give up 276 passing yards to Wyoming last week.  I’ll start believing if they can make  key stops against Oklahoma St. and West Virginia. Or… to coin when one of my favorite sports quotes that I’m not sure who said originally but my best guess is Dan Jenkins, “tell your statistics to shut up.”
  2. Quandre Diggs. AKA the little engine that could often looked befuddled—as did the rest of the Texas Secondary—against Wyoming last week.  He also was inept on his one kick off return and couldn’t escape a one on one tackle in the open field on a punt return.

Before I go on let me remind readers that the category is over-hyped not—not any good.

  1. Alex Okafor. He’s a solid starting defensive end. He had zero sacks against pass happy Wyoming.  Until he shows more he’s simply a solid starter and maybe an honorable mention All Big 12.
  2. Last and not least or maybe least depending upon how you look at it.  The offensive line.  As 95% of the American male population and all sports talk radio show hosts can’t say enough, “really?” This is the unit that’s going to remind us of the Alabama Offensive line of the last three years?  “Really?”

Before Homer Mark strokes out let me move on to the Texas players who impressed me in week one.

  1. Malcolm Brown. I guess it’s pretty obvious but he is quite good. The thing is, unless he rolls up huge numbers, he’ll always be under-rated because he makes 7-20 yard runs look so ho hum and he may never beat out Joe Bergeron as the fan favorite. Also keep in mind that he’s running behind an average at best (see #4 of over-hyped) offensive line.  He’s possesses running back instincts that are as good as they get. I would say they’re rare but Cedric Benson was here not that long ago and he had them too but he was a power runner as Brown is more of a finesse guy.
  2. D.J. Monroe. He’s been in the dog house since his DWI a couple of years ago. Lets hope they let him out because for god-sakes he has a career 7.1 yard per rushing average. And  he’s not just a sprinter he’s a real running back who knows how and when to cut it up field.  He showed desire and toughness on his touch-down run last week when he lowered his shoulder and bounced off a tackler near the goal line. Just one more thing. Don’t forget that he returned a kick-off for a touchdown a couple of years ago. Or was it two?

One more thing before you go.  I’ve decided to replace Mike Leech with Texas State on the Watch list (soon to be updated) after the Bobcats spanked Houston last week in the greatest upset in history measured by Las Vegas points spreads.  They host Texas Tech Saturday night in what has to be the most anticipated night in San Marcos since I dated a Southwest Texas St. Co-Ed, courtesy of Andy Garrod and his girlfriend Megan, for about a week and a half in 1975.

 

HooK eM,

W.E.

 

Over Under Contest

[contact-form 3 “Pre Game New Mexico”]

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Post-Game Wyoming

First Games as Harbingers

First Games as Harbingers

From where I was sitting Texas’ over whelming advantage in depth versus Wyoming was the only thing separating the Longhorns from a 31-24 nail biter and an embarrassment of a home opener. If the Longhorns had lived up to the pre-season hype emanating  from the practice bubble on I-35 and the bloggers we would have seen a trio of running backs running through gaping holes from the get go. We would have seen a smothering defense led by a dominating front line and a take no prisoners secondary.  What we saw was three and out by Texas on its first possession and a 10 play 56 yard drive culminating in a field goal for Wyoming on their first possession.  Wyoming’s second possession ended with an 82 yard touchdown on a pass where two Texas defensive backs knocked each other out of the play.  Bring on West Virginia!

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Peter Gardere

Okay. The final numbers look good for Texas especially the 280 yards rushing with a six yard per carry average. Joe Bergeron, Malcolm Brown and D.J. Monroe were terrific. Keep in mind though that Wyoming was 115th in the country defending the rush in 2011.  Texas’ defense held Wyoming to 345 yards which would be impressive against any Big 12 rival but is just so so against an opponent who had only the ball for 24:48. Most disturbing to me was Wyoming’s 276 yards passing and Texas’ defense didn’t get a three and out until the 4thquarter.  Texas fans should also be worried by Mike Davis’ drops and the failure of  Texas receivers to get open. When Jordan Shipley did get wide, wide open on a post pattern Ash was still holding the ball and when he finally threw it he threw it short and to a well-covered Davis. Sorry folks but in my opinion David Ash is not the answer we’re hoping for. When Texas faces Big 12 opponents they’ll need more than a game manager. They’ll need a quarterback who can make plays and Ash hasn’t shown that he can.  Shouldn’t we have had at least three or four “wow moments” from Ash by now?  I can’t even remember one.  Anybody remember Peter Gardere?  He certainly won’t be mentioned when talking about great  Texas quarterbacks but even he had many“wow” moments  running and passing during his freshman year. In his sophomore year Gardere was a very good “game manager” and led Texas to a conference championship and a 10-2 record.  “Mr. Ash, I watched Peter Gardere , Peter Gardere was a friend of mine, Mr. Ash, you’re no Peter Gardere.”  So I lied, I’ve never even met Peter Gardere but you get the point.

So I guess you can call me a glass half empty guy but I’ve been closely following one football team from seasons start to finish for about 39 years and every great year they’ve had started off with an exciting blow out win with many “wow” moments.  Afterwards the coaches may have said we want to improve in this area or that. They weren’t saying we need to fix this and we need to fix that.  Texas versus Wyoming looked like the 14th game of the 2011 season.  At this point I’m calling 2012 8-4.

 

HooK eM,

W.E.

 

Over/Under Results

The ever popular growing by leaps and bounds Willie Earl’s Longhorn Blog fielded a near record 13 entries for the season opener with several regulars on the sideline.  Jerry Smith the all time leading money winner starts of the season with yet another win with 8 correct picks.  A rookie known only as “Keegan” takes second with 7 correct.  There was a six way logjam at third place highlighted by Willie Earl’s nod to diversity player Helen Frink. Keep up the good work Helen.  If you expect to win the 2012 championship you’ll need to play as many games as possible.  A minimum of four games must be played to earn a letter.

Points are awarded thusly:

First place – 10 points.

Second place – 6 points

Third place – 3 points.

W.E.

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Reed Ramlow

Willie Earl, the Grateful Dead did have it right, it has been a long strange trip, through the years. In 1970, we were repatriating to the USA from Clark Air Base in the Philippines, right after the Cambodia invasion that my air force dad helped to support, landing first in San Francisco to see the lunatic fringe at work and then on to the backwater of Jacksonville, Arkansas, our next posting. It was a stunning turn of events after an overseas adventure and there was no greater reverse culture shock than being caught in the maelstrom of Razorback football fan hysteria, “woooo…pig soooie!” A year after the vaunted ’69 shootout, there was great anticipation of another dogfight, but the Texas wishbone and Woo Woo Wooster slaughtered the pigs, 42-7. (They went squealing to the SEC a couple decades later, followed recently by our longtime friends in College Station.) Fast forward to 1974-75, it was college decision time in my senior year in high school in San Antonio, and I could still not bring myself to liking the idea of Texas and the Horns after the trauma in Arkansas. Nonetheless, I made the pilgrimage to Austin, saw the UT tower, the communications school, the stadium…it was all large and I was impressed, but what made the biggest impression was the Drag. Mid-1970′s, Austin was in its truly weird heyday. There were hippies all over the place, selling bongs, beads, pipes and trinkets in random makeshift stalls all up and down Guadalupe Ave. The whole street reeked of incense, covering the tracks of a drag that was up in smoke. Commies controlled the city council; the “heads” ruled the day. Post-60′s, the radicals had won, but as Hunter Thompson wrote, they had reached the high water point — the wave finally broke and rolled back. Five years later we marched into the Reagan era. In any event, I was hooked on Austin, and hooked on the Horns. The strange trip continues. Austin needs to stay weird and Texas football needs to get back on track. Woo Woo to our backfield trio that’s trying to take us back to the rampaging running game, and we’re counting on ‘em to lay a whuppin’ on those visiting Cowboys from the northern sagebrush. RIP Pigpen and Jerry G.

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Pre – Game Wyoming

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October 1970

One evening early in September, 1970, I was in our den watching television with my father when he announced that we were going on a trip in October to visit my recently married, older brother, Clayton in Austin. The amazingly cool thing about this was that we were going to incorporate into the visit an excursion to Houston to attend the Texas – Rice game. Not only that. While we were in Austin I was going to stay with my other brother David, a sophomore at U.T., in his west campus apartment.  The announcement was an incredible surprise to me. A family trip during the school year was way out of normal operating procedure for our family and indeed for just about any regular middle class American family in 1970.  The stated practical reason for the trip was for my father and Clayton to swap cars.  A few months earlier my father had given Clayton a new 1970 Pontiac Firebird as combination graduation present and wedding gift.  My father had partially facilitated the gift by trading in his Pontiac Lemans when be purchased the Firebird.  He ended up with Clayton’s Corvair Monza.  My father was a helluva guy and they were swapping cars not because he had decided he didn’t like the deal anymore but because the Firebird didn’t have air-conditioning—go figure—which wasn’t so great if you lived in Austin.  The way my father told me we were taking the trip let on to me that there was more to this trip than the car swap.  He said, “We’re going to go see your brother Clayton next month.”  Then he started crying and added, “I’ve screwed up his life so.”  I knew this was not quite accurate but it was the beginning of my understanding that being a parent was not as easy as it looked.

When my mother, father and I set out early on a Wednesday morning, in the Corvair Monza, on the 1,800 mile drive from Vestal to Austin, the Longhorns were the defending National champions riding a 24 game win streak and ranked # 2.  I was to miss six days of school but my parents considered the trip to Texas to visit my older brothers and attend the Texas-Rice game in Houston worthy of my lengthy absence from school on educational and cultural grounds. They really did. As Chris Farley would say, “That was awesome.”

We arrived in Austin about noon on Friday. My parents dropped me off outside Memorial Stadium, where I was meeting David.  We were meeting there to watch the freshmen game between Rice and Texas. Those were the days when freshman weren’t eligible for varsity competition.  At age 15, being dropped off alone on a huge college campus, 1,800 miles from home, and walking into a big-time college football stadium, I realized how extremely cool my parents were.  There couldn’t have been more than 200 spectators but walking into the stadium that Friday afternoon was just as exhilarating for me as walking into the Cotton Bowl would be four years later for my first Texas-OU game. This was the home of the defending National Champions, where James Street had performed and where Steve Wooster, Cotton Speyer, and Jim Bertlesen still did. Just a few weeks earlier, in this stadium, Speyer had caught a 50-yard touchdown pass with 19 seconds left in the game to beat U.C.L. A.  The game hadn’t been televised in Vestal but I had seen the play on a Sunday college football highlight show. As I sat in the stadium I tried to determine in which end-zone Speyer had scored.  That Friday afternoon in October, 1970, watching the Shorthorns warming up, I was anxious to see David but I was content to be there alone and independent for a little while. I remember I was wearing jeans, an orange UT t-shirt and low cut black Chuck Taylor Converse All Stars. It was the first time that I smelled that distinctive odor under the stadium that I later learned was bat dung. I took seat on the 50 yard line about 20 rows up on the west side. There was bright sunshine and it was about 80 degrees. And the most unforgettable moment that afternoon was when I spotted David about 100 feet away striding purposely towards me with the biggest grin on his face I’d ever seen.  We watched the first half and we were especially interested in seeing our old friend and neighbor Dan Adams, from our Wycliffe Drive days in Houston, playing linebacker for the Shorthorns.

We then left the stadium and walked to David’s English class in Parlin. Coming and going I saw “The Tower” up close for the first time. I spotted the flagpole and its concrete base barely large enough for that college girl to crouch behind in hiding from Whitman’s gunfire. I was captivated

I spent Friday night with the college boys, David and his roommates. Lots of laughing, belching, farting and college guy repartee. In other words, I was in heaven. A belated thanks to my bother Clayton, who entertained my parents that night.

Saturday morning David and I got in his 67 Mustang and headed to Houston for the game. The drive from South First St. and Riverside to the Memorial drive area in Houston took about an hour and 45 minutes. I’ll let you do the math. Our first stop in Houston was the Adam’s house on Wycliffe where we visited with Dan Adams Sr. and where I got a wistful look at our old house across the street.

At about 6 o’clock we picked up David’s date and headed to Rice Stadium. Traffic was heavy. This was the first time I witnessed the uniquely Texas tradition of impatient drivers cutting across the grassy areas between the freeway and the service roads creating their own exits.  It was a bit shocking to me. We were a little late for the game and we heard a large roar from the crowd inside the stadium as we hurried in from the parking lot. Rice had returned the opening kick-off for a touchdown. We hurried through the turnstiles and up the ramp to the top of end zone section in Rice Stadium.

I had to have been the most ardent Longhorn fan residing outside the state of Texas. I had been to just one Texas game prior to that night, in 1965 when the Horns were down and before I much cared. I was able to see Texas play on television maybe 3 times a year. There were no Longhorn highlights shown on television in Vestal, and no ESPN.  So on that spectacular October Texas evening in a sold out Rice stadium when I first laid my eyes on the field and the game in progress and saw Texas in their gleaming white uniforms my senses were over whelmed. I had to blink away tears because I didn’t want David and his date to notice. The offense was on the field and at the line of scrimmage. There was the wishbone with Wooster, Bertlesen and Terry Collins lined up behind the quarterback Eddie Phillips. From the end zone and behind the action it looked like the straight t-formation my little league team the Rummel Creek Raiders had used.

We watched the first half from our end zone seats. At half time we rendezvoused with my parents who were sitting on the 50 yard line about 40 rows up. David had scored these choice seats from Mike Janda a reserve split end for the Longhorns whom he knew through his girlfriend Annette. My mother and I swapped seats and I sat down on the 50 with my father. He was in high spirits and had bonded with man next to him whose son was on the team. When Wooster carried the ball my father’s new friend didn’t shout but implored in a classic Texas drawl, “go big Woo.” It was delightful.

About midway through the third quarter there was a buzz in the  crowd behind us. Lyndon Johnson, twenty-one months out of office, had arrived and was now sitting about ten rows behind us. I don’t think he had had a haircut since he left office and his hair fell and curled up over his collar. My father bounded up the steps and got in a short line to greet the president. I had followed my father and though I was too shy to shake the president’s hand I heard my father speak to Johnson as he shook his hand.  “I still believe in you.”

“Thank you,” replied the president.

Texas over came the early 7-0 deficit to win 42-14.

 

On Sunday back in Austin my brother Clayton took me to Memorial Stadium to throw the football. It was my first time on Astroturf.  Pretty special.

Tuesday morning my father picked up a newspaper in the lobby of the Holiday Day in Nashville on our way back to Vestal. According to the UPI and AP College football polls Texas was #1 again.

 

Mission accomplished.

 

Thanks David. Thanks Clayton.

 

Especially thanks Mom and Dad wherever you are.

 

Beat those “Pesky Owls”

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