Archive for the ‘2013’ Category

Kansas St. Post-Game

Is the Glass Half Full or Half Empty?

There are two distinct perspectives from which to view the Longhorns victory over Kansas State Saturday night. The first is, the victory breaks a five-game losing streak to Kansas State, a two-game losing streak this season and UT is now 1-0 in conference play. The second is, based on pre-season expectations the victory was much too difficult at home over a bad team. For simplicity I’ll call these two perspectives the “Glass is Half Full” and the “Glass is Half Empty.”

Ten observations from the Glass is Half Full perspective.

1. Breaks the Kansas St. hex

2. Tied for first in the Big 12

3. Defense held KSU to 115 yards rushing and under 400 total yards

4. Solid performances on defense from: Jackson Jeffcoat, Peter Jinkens, Malcolm Brown, Cedric Reed and Hassan Ridgeway.

5. The offensive line played their best game of the season. Kennedy Estelle replaced the injured Josh Cochran at right tackle and played very well. He should be the starter now.

6. Jonathan Gray had 141 yards on 28 carries.  He’s starting to show the talent we’ve been hearing about for the past 2 years.

7. Kendall Sanders caught a 73 yard touchdown pass. He has star potential

8. Marcus Johnson had 5 receptions for 70 yards with a very nice catch on a 21 yard out pattern. He adds talented depth to the receiver corps.

9. Case McCoy did a good job of playing within himself making no big mistakes. As Harry Callahan said, “a man’s got to know his limitations.”

10. Makes Mack Brown’s job more secure.

Ten Observations from the Glass is Half Empty perspective.

1. Kansas State is lousy. They lost to North Dakota State at home. They stink!

2. The aforementioned stinky team gave UT a game right up until the end.

3. Jordan Hicks ruptured his Achilles tendon and is out for the season.

4. David Ash may have suffered another concussion and could be out for a long time.

5. If Ash is out UT has only one quarterback that has played in a game.

6. Anthony Fera averaged 42 yards a punt but that’s deceiving because he got lucky bounces. His punting was actually pretty poor.

7. The run defense was good but the secondary was burned several times giving up 237 yards receiving to Tyler Lockett. KSU averaged 14.5 yards per reception. Scary stats going into pass happy Big 12 play. File this away for later reference.

8. The offense was ineffectual late in the fourth quarter with two consecutive 3 and outs while defending a 10 point lead.  Did I mention KSU stinks?

9. UT was lucky to recover two unforced KSU  fumbles including one on the UT three yard line.

10. Mack Brown’s job is more secure.

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Now we all get a much needed break from the early season drama of Texas Football and we can get back to the important things in life such as, family, community, and career. Those things are more important than Texas football. Right?

Shuffle

Highlights from one of the greatest random shuffles of all time that played on my iPod during my run last evening.

“God Only Knows”  The Beach Boys
“Galveston” Glenn Campbell. Written by Jimmy Webb
“Daydream Believer” The Monkees  #1 on the pop charts for four weeks in December, 1967.  September, 1967 through June, 1968, my favorite year.
“For the Benefit of Mr. Kite” The Beatles
“Can’t Take My Eyes off You” Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons.  Reminds me of a scene from “The Deer Hunter.”
” H Gang” Donald Fagen
“Send in the Clowns” Frank Sinatra. Written by Stephen Sondheim. Always reminds me of a conversation I had with my father.
“Easy” Commodores
“Don’t Let Me be Lonely Tonight”  James Taylor. Always reminds me of moving in 1973 from Vestal N.Y. to Fairfax Va. and my friend Ed Welch.
“I Got a Name” Jim Croce. My high school graduation class song.
“Spill the Wine” War.

HooK eM,
W.E

Over/Under Results

I’m happy to report that we had a record number of entries this week attesting to the ever growing, ever popular WillieEarl.com. Now without further ado, the results. Mark Adams, David Frink, and Helen Frink tied for first place this week with seven correct answers. Helen beat out the dudes by correctly picking the winner of both tie breakers. I taught Helen everything she knows about football.  I’m sure she would agree.

 

 

 

 

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Pre-Game Kansas State

Breaking Bad

Breaking Bad, one of the great all time television shows, is coming to a climactic perhaps apocalyptic conclusion with only two episodes remaining.  Coincidentally, Saturday night, Mack Brown and his Texas Longhorns may be closing in on the conclusion to their own Breaking Bad saga which started three years ago.

For those of you who have not been watching Breaking Bad the television show. First of all, “what’s wrong with you?” Anyway, here’s the premise of the show. Walter White is a high school chemistry teacher living in Albuquerque with his wife and 16-year-old son who has cerebral palsy. In the first episode, Walter is diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. Walter is living on the edge financially. Knowing that he has cancer forces him to worry about not being able to provide for his family after he’s gone.

Walter White

Walter White

Shortly after his diagnosis, Walter goes on a “ride along” with his DEA brother-in-law, who is busting a small-time methamphetamine operation housed in a suburban home. During the bust, Walter sees one of his former students, Jesse Pinkman, eluding the DEA by escaping through an upstairs window. Seeing that Jesse is involved in the meth business, Walt has an inspiration that he could use his expertise in chemistry to go into the meth business in partnership with Jesse. Walt then could use the proceeds of his drug business to finance his cancer treatments and provide for his family.  

Walter White, the law-abiding high school teacher and family man, breaks the “average Joe” course of his life by becoming a drug dealer. Walter is breaking bad.

Mack Brown and UT football broke bad in September 2010 after being diagnosed with a bad football team. Like Walt’s cancer, bad football had been growing undiagnosed inside the Texas program for at least a year before the symptoms (losing) appeared.

Walter White and Jesse Pinkman encounter all kinds of pitfalls and perils in the drug business, providing plenty of well-drawn drama and often some very dark humor for the television audience.

Mack Brown has encountered his own perils and pitfalls trying to “fix” his broken football team. First, he fired his bestest buddy and offensive coordinator, Greg Davis, after the 2010 season. Then, his defensive coordinator and Texas’ designated “coach in waiting” Will Muschamp, left to become the Florida head coach. Brown hired Bryan Harsin to replace Davis, and then Harsin left after only two seasons. Brown hired Manny Diaz to replace Muschamp. In the midst of all these staff changes Mack Brown’s Longhorns continued performing poorly, going 8-5 in 2011 and 9-4 in 2012.

One of the most epic episodes of Mack’s breaking bad aired on October 13, 2012, when Texas lost to its most important rival, Oklahoma, 63-21. This blowout loss was the breaking point for a great many of Brown’s most loyal fans and supporters. After the loss, Brown publicly claimed responsibility, yada, yada, yada, and promised to “fix” the team. The episode ended with a defiant Mack Brown, in the press conference after Texas had defeated Baylor the week after the Oklahoma game, claiming he still had the support of the big money donors, and calling out the critical Texas fans calling as negative people and the kind of people that you don’t want around in your family or your business. The audience was left wondering whether Brown realized he had just called out about 75 percent of the Texas fan base.

Embattled Mack Brown

Embattled Mack Brown

In the most recent episode of Mack’s breaking bad, Mack fired Texas’ defensive coordinator Diaz after Texas’ second game of the season against BYU.  This was a very dramatic episode, because coaching staff terminations in mid-season are very rare.

This week’s episode will pick up after Texas’ loss to Ole Miss. The defense, under new defensive coordinator Greg Robinson, a character re-appearing after a long hiatus from the show, performed almost as badly as they had against BYU.  As if a train wreck of a Texas defense and a two-game losing streak weren’t enough to keep fans glued to their televisions, another layer of drama has been added to the show. Yesterday, the Associated Press published a story about a UT regent and a former regent Tom Hicks having a telephone conversation with Nick Saban’s agent in January of this year about Saban replacing Mack Brown. The story also reported that a couple of days after the conversation Hicks told Mack Brown over lunch about the conversation. Brown was furious and went running to Deloss Dodds and his high-powered lawyer and UT benefactor, Joe Jamail. When contacted by the AP, Jamail threatened to sue anyone outside UT who pressured Brown to resign. Phew! I don’t know about you, but I know what I will be doing Saturday and Sunday night.

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Kansas State is not a good football team. I think Texas will win this game and the Iowa State game to start Big 12 Conference play 2-0.  This will be the remission before the death knell.

Over/Under Contest

[contact-form-7 id=”296″ title=”Over Under Contest”]

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Post-Game Ole Miss

Various and Sundry

According to all the somewhat reliable reporters and bloggers who cover Texas Football, the issue has been decided. Mack Brown will resign at the end of this season. But this season is still young so here are various and sundry observations on the season to date and the remaining 9 regular season games.

1. Before the season started, a 1-1 record versus BYU and Ole Miss shouldn’t have been considered a disaster. But 0-2, losing by an average of 20 points per game is.

2. Texas’ next two opponents: Kansas St. and Iowa St. are bad. Texas should and probably will start the Big 12 part of their season 2-0. Texas is favored by 6 over Kansas St. If I bet on sports, I’d take Texas.

3. Texas’ problem isn’t their offensive and defensive schemes. Their problem is that they’re getting shoved around both on offense and on defense.

4. There is no excuse for Mack Brown not to have a more capable #2 quarterback than Case McCoy.

5. David Ash is a solid major college second team quarterback.

6. Holy Jim Boeke. Texas first and goal from the one and they commit two straight false start penalties.

7. Ole Miss didn’t know how weak Case McCoy’s arm is. If they had, the score would have been something like 51-16.

8. I wonder what Mack Brown does Sunday-Friday. Especially over the last two weeks.

9. I wonder what the actual attendance will be for the Kansas St. game.

10. Mack Brown said Texas would be part of the national conversation this year. They are that.

11. It seems weird to me that, on the advice of doctors, David Ash wasn’t on the sideline Saturday night. 

12. Texas fans booing Mack Brown Saturday night reminded me of Philadelphia Eagles fans booing Santa Claus.

13. I wonder if Mike Davis regrets his decision to come back for his senior year.

14. I would hate Nick Saban as the choice to be the next coach, and I don’t think he would be a good fit.

15. The people who defend Mack Brown by talking about all that he has done for UT make is sound as though he does it on a volunteer basis.

16. Bob Stoopes has rebuilt more in 3 games than Mack Brown has rebuilt in 27.

17. I hope all of you who intended to sell your OU tickets have already sold them.

18. I’m shocked, shocked that college football players are getting paid.

19. Wouldn’t Mack Brown be a good fit as the coach of the Dallas Cowboys?  Their fans seem to have a bottomless well of patience.

HooK eM,

W.E.

Over/Under Results

From a grader’s perspective it was weird week for over/under. Out of 17 contestants: eight contestants scored 6 correct answers and six answered scored 7. Pledge brother Swan whose been coming on strong as of late notched his first win of the season with 9 correct answers. Keep those entries coming. We gotta have something to play for. Oops, I forgot that all our pre-season goals are still in front of us.

 

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Post-Game BYU

From Lake Wobegon to Realville

I’m no good at being noble, but it doesn’t take
much to see that the problems of three little people
don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. –Rick Blaine

Before I get into this I wanted to make sure you understand that just because I author a blog doesn’t mean that I take myself or Longhorn Football very seriously.
*****************
My first thought on the BYU game is, why is almost everybody so surprised about the loss and the magnitude of the loss? The Longhorn performance we witnessed Saturday night was nothing we haven’t seen before from these same players and coaches in 2010, 2011 and 2012.  As I wrote before the New Mexico St. game, never, in my memory, has so much praise been heaped on so many that have so far accomplished so little.  The most important thought I have about this game is how could Mack Brown be so wrong about how good his team was?   In case you missed it Mack spent most of the late spring and early summer telling anyone who was listening, and I’m paraphrasing, we’re ready to be back in the BCS and national championship conversation.  Heck, before the 2012 season he said we’re good enough to win all our games.

So now, two games in, the 2013 season reclamation project (fixing) is officially under way. I want to know how many more coordinators and coaches will need to be fired as the season goes on?  In case you didn’t notice it Major called an absolutely terrible game against BYU.  If the offense only scores 21 points in a loss to Ole Miss or Kansas St. will Major Applewhite be fired? 

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As of today it is the policy of Willie Earl’s Longhorn Blog to direct all criticism regarding all aspects of coaching at Mack Brown. There will be no calling out of coordinators, line coaches, strength coaches, trainers or anyone else. Readers feel free to continue to criticize any or all of the above but Willie Earl will direct all non-player criticism at Mack Brown and Mack Brown only. To quote Mack Brown directly, “…and that’s fair.”

I think Texas fans are facing an existential question. I never anticipated typing existential in a Willie Earl column. Anyway here’s the question. Are you rooting for Texas to lose enough games this year to assure that it will be Mack Brown’s last as the head coach?  Let’s face it; if Texas wins a minimum of eight regular season games Mack Brown will be back in 2014 unless he resigns voluntarily. In my opinion Texas will not win more than nine regular season games again with Mack Brown as the head coach.  If you like Mack Brown and are satisfied with nine wins as the ceiling then the answer to the question is easy.

See you again Friday near the end of what should be a very interesting week.

HooK eM,

W.E.

Over/Under Results

Brothers Smith and Scott tied for first place this week with eight correct answers. And I don’t say brothers colloquially. Correct me if I’m wrong but I believe that is John Scott’s best showing all time. Congratulations to John. He has been steadfast and relentless in the Willie Earl arena. Jerry Smith wins this week on the tiebreaker. Jerry has the hot hand so far this season as he tied for first last week before losing out in the tiebreaker.  Frances Steffensen, brother David Frink and son Robert Frink tied for third with seven correct.

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BYU Pre-Game

The Right Stuff

You know I’ve been a devoted Longhorn Football fan for a long, long time. But before I had even heard of the Longhorns I was a devoted fan of the American space program. Just as I remember details of Longhorn games from as far back as the 60s, I remember details of Mercury, Gemini and Apollo missions from the 60s and early 70s. Our family lived in Kensington, Maryland in 1962 and I was lucky enough to be at home sick the day John Glenn orbited the earth so I watched the mission with my mother from start to finish on live television. For the next four or five years I spent a fair amount of time lying on my back with my legs propped up at a 90 degree angle on a living room chair pretending to be a Mercury astronaut on the launch pad.

My father worked for IBM and he was transferred to Houston in January of 1963 as part of the team that would be working with NASA on the Gemini program. My mother, in an effort buck me up when I was scared about my first day at Rummel Creek Elementary School, explained to me that the Astronauts and their families were going through this with us as they had also just moved to Houston. During the last Mercury flight in May of 63, I remember my 15 year old brother Clayton’s concern about the fate of astronaut Gordon Cooper because the on-board computer that guides the capsule through re-entry had failed. My father reassured our family that Cooper we be fine because he could perform the calculations that the computer was supposed to do and pilot the capsule home on his own.  My father was right. In fact Cooper engineered the most precise re-entry and splash-down of all the Mercury flights.  You see, my father knew that Cooper had the “right stuff.”

My parents Hub and Helen in our Kensington home in 1962

My parents Hub and Helen in our Kensington home in 1962

In the very early days of the space program when those menacing Russkies had Sputnik orbiting the earth, our rockets always seemed to blow up. Since 2010 while Oklahoma and previously second tier Kansas St. and Oklahoma St. were winning Big 12 Championships, the Longhorns’ seasons always seemed to blow up.

Just as NASA and the astronauts encountered uncertainties and needed the “right stuff’ in pioneering space exploration, the Longhorns will encounter uncertainties and need to have the “right stuff” this Saturday as they face their first real test of 2013. Okay that’s a tortured transition I know but remember I’m not getting paid for this. Now I’ll go on with the story.

For the Longhorns to prevent an early blow up of their 2013 season they need the defensive line to hold just as the astronauts needed their capsule’s heat shield to hold.  David Ash, like Gordon Cooper needs to show the “right stuff” and not shrink in stature as he did last year versus OU, Kansas and TCU. Two interceptions were inconsequential against New Mexico St. On Saturday two interceptions could be big trouble for the Longhorns in Provo.

Mike Davis fumbles and dropped passes could be just as disastrous for the Horns on Saturday as a faulty oxygen tank was for Apollo 13. Okay fumbles and dropped passes don’t create life and death situations like oxygen tank explosions do but they won’t be helpful if the Horns commit them against BYU.

Another area of concern is Texas’ offensive line. The coaching staff wasn’t satisfied with the first unit’s performance against over-matched New Mexico St. It will be interesting to see if the coaches will have the intestinal fortitude to go with the younger second unit early in the season on the road if the going gets tough.

My last item on the pre-launch check list is the special teams’ play.  Anthony Fera’s 68 yard punt last weekend was a thing of beauty but his other two punts were clunkers.  The Horns need consistency from Fera this year because it’s doubtful the offense is going to score 56 points every week. I’ve never liked Mack Brown’s tendency to have one kicker handling placements and punting. Justin Tucker, currently starring for the Baltimore Ravens, was one of Texas greatest all time field goal kickers but he was a lousy punter. Kick-off coverage has been problematic for Texas for years. A detail that I haven’t noticed anyone mention is the 35 yard kick-off return Texas allowed New Mexico St. Keep your eye on this Saturday night.

In November 1969 the historically cautious mission control team decided to go ahead with the launch of Apollo 12 (with Longhorn Alum Alan Bean on board) during a thunder storm. Lightning struck the Saturn V rocket 36 seconds into the mission and again at 52 seconds in. The strikes caused temporary problems with instrumentation and fuel cells but the Saturn V continued to fly correctly. The astronauts and the “steely eyed missile men” in mission control quickly worked through the problems caused by the lightning strikes and there was no permanent damage to the spacecraft. Apollo 12 proceeded on its flight to the moon.  That afternoon, home from school, I answered the phone. It was my father calling from his office at IBM. Before I handed the phone to my mother I plaintively asked him why NASA had gone through with the launch in a thunder storm. His answer was succinct and to the point, “because they got balls.”

Hub Frink far left at IBM circa 1968. Check out the dude with the pipe

Hub Frink, far left, at IBM circa 1968. Check out the dude with the pipe.

On paper BYU doesn’t look like a big problem for Texas Saturday night. If, for Texas, some systems do fail, if they encounter a storm in Provo, Mack Brown, David Ash and company will need to have….let’s just say, “the right stuff.”

HooK eM,

W.E.

Over/Under Contest

[contact-form-7 id=”296″ title=”Over Under Contest”]

 

 

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