Archive for the ‘2013’ Category

New Mexico St. Post Game

Unfinished Business

Few golf fans remember that Tom Watson had a reputation early in his career as a choker. He lead the U.S. Open after the third round in 1974 and the second round in 75 before shooting a fourth round 77 in 74 and shooting 78, 79 in the third and fourth rounds in 75. Even though roughly 15,000 biographies have been written about Abraham Lincoln, I’ll bet many of you didn’t know of his abysmal 4-8 record as candidate for elective office.  Similarly if the 2013 Longhorns become a championship team, the first 28 minutes of their otherwise tantalizingly explosive season opener against New Mexico St. will be quickly and completely forgotten.  Perhaps it will be noted during a late season telecast of, say, the West Virginia game should Texas fall behind early and a graphic appears on the screen, First time Texas has trailed since the first quarter of the New Mexico St. Game on August 31. On the other hand, if Texas loses more than a couple of games this year, it may be remembered as the first sign that this team was fatally flawed.

After watching most of the game and reading the analysis of the Longhorn observers whom I respect and count on, I’m leaning a little more towards 10-2 than the 9-3 I predicted just a few days ago.  The offensive line still looks sub-par but I think the play of David Ash and Daje Johnson could compensate for that. Jonathan Gray—after 14 games—is not living up to his all-world billing. If he doesn’t turn it on soon we’re going to have to accept that he’s not as good as we were told he would be. The defense played well enough for us to hold out hope that they could turn it around after last season’s record futility. The defensive lineman Malcolm Brown is going to be a superstar if he wants to be. As of now he’s taking too many plays off.

That’s all I care to write and needs to be written about this game. The upcoming game versus Brigham Young will bear much more interest, commentary and analysis. But while I have your attention I want to talk about something near and dear which I consider to be unfinished business.

Every time that I take my seat in section 30, row 50, seat 31, I take note of something in Memorial Stadium that irks me. The facade between the lower and upper decks at the north end of the stadium is adorned with the names and numbers of Longhorn Football greats whose numbers have been retired. The names and numbers that are there: Earl Campbell #20, Bobby Layne #22, Tommy Nobis #60, Ricky Williams #34, Vince Young #10 and Colt McCoy #12. All Longhorn greats to be sure who deserve to be honored and I think it’s one of the best parts of Memorial Stadium. The objective criterion to be honored in this way is to have won a national player of the year honor among one of the NCAA recognized awards. This criterion has to be amended on behalf the player who deserves to be in this ring of honor as much if not more than the players there now. James Street #16.

James Street, the undefeated starting quarterback with a 20-0 record. Those 20 wins the first two thirds of the Longhorns historic 30 game win streak in 1968-70. James Street, the quarterback of two Southwest Conference Championships, two Cotton Bowl Championships and a National Championship. James Street who almost single handedly saved the Longhorns 1969 National Championship with his heroic fourth quarter performance against Arkansas in Fayetteville leading Texas to 15 points and perhaps their most historic victory 15-14.  James Street, the quarterback who set the standard for all the wishbone quarterbacks to follow.  Darrell Royal would not be the “legendary” Darrell Royal without James Street.  James Street who inspired the future Willie Earl to pen in 1974 the precursor to Willie Earl’s Longhorn Blog, “The Mystique of James Street.” …average as a passer in the fourth quarter against Arkansas in 1969 he passed like Joe Namath; average as a runner he ran like O.J. Simpson. I’m getting misty as I write this.  James Street #16 who stands head to head with Vince Young as one of the two greatest Longhorn quarterbacks of all time. james street

Come on Deloss Dodds, Mack Brown or whoever is in charge of this thing. Retire James Street’s #16 and put it up on that stadium facade where it so justly deserves to be.

HooK eM,

P.S. Stay classy Johnny Football

Over/Under Results

Brother Smith, Brother Swan and son Bob aka Bod tied for first with eight correct answers in the season premier of Willie Earl’s Over/Under Contest. All three correctly picked LSU over TCU in the first tiebreaker. Going to the second tiebreaker Bob Frink’s prescient prediction that Johnny Manziel would account for three TDs versus Rice gives him his very first victory in Over/Under. As I have said many times before, “well done Bob.”


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Lake Wobegon Longhorns

Welcome to Frank Denius Fields in August where all the Longhorn lineman are strong, all the receivers are speedy, all the defensive backs are All Americans and the head coach is always re-energized. Okay my apologies to Garrison Keillor for riffing poorly on “the Lake Wobegon effect” but never, in my memory, has so much praise been heaped on so many that have so far accomplished so little. Case in point, Desmond Harrison is now the Longhorns’ most celebrated offensive lineman since Jerry Sizemore and he has yet to play a down beyond the junior college level. As of this writing he has had three practices in full pads. If you believe most of what has been written and discussed by sports writers, bloggers and the talking heads around Austin the last four weeks you think Texas is destined to win at least 11 if not all 12 of their regular season games in 2013.Garrison Keillor

This consensus of high expectations for Texas’ 2013 season is based on the return of 19 out of 22 starters including all 11 on offense. And this offense will operate a cutting edge, up-tempo attack with an experienced quarterback and a bevy of talented and speedy running backs and receivers that will leave opposing defenses gasping in the Horns’ dust. Never mind that this is a brand new offense for the 11 returning starters with a new offensive coordinator because the new offensive coordinator is “The Major,”  Major Applewhite to those of you less familiar.

If you’re reading irony and skepticism in these words you’re very perceptive.  I have serious doubts about the offensive line no matter how many combined career starts they have.  I didn’t see them open that many holes last year and statistics bear me out. In 2012 Texas ranked sixth in the Big 12 and 53rd nationally in rushing offense.

I like David Ash. I think it’s possible that he will be a very good quarterback but I’m not sure of that. It’s equally as possible that he will be just what he’s been so far. Sometimes very good and sometimes pretty bad.  All in all he’s been no more than average. It doesn’t matter that Mack Brown says he’s farther along in his development than Colt McCoy was going into his junior year. We know what Colt did; for Ash it’s still all potential.

I also like “The Major.” But as an offensive coordinator he’s all potential at this point as well. And my inside sources tell me that they’re not convinced that Mack Brown will let Applewhite run the offense and not continue to meddle. The Alamo Bowl presented a pretty clear picture of the difference between Brown meddling and letting Applewhite run the show. The first half Brown meddled. The second half, in desperation, he let Applewhite have his way with the play calling.

Eight returning starters on defense also bodes well for Texas in 2013 the experts tell us.  Never mind that these experienced players were part of the defense in 2012 that was statistically the worst defense in Longhorn history and that its two best players, Kenny Vaccaro and Alex Okafor now play in the NFL. They tell us to pay attention to all the potential superstars such as Jordan “Auto Focus” Hicks and Jackson Jeffcoat. Hey I like that alliteration there. Let me be the first to suggest that we nickname the 2013 defense “The J&J Bunch.” But seriously why do the pundits predict that 2013 Longhorn defense will be so much better than it was in 2012? I think it’s because they’re conditioned to think that Jeffcoat, Hicks and Quandre Diggs are star performers and that a few others such as Peter Jinkens and Cedric Reed are potential stars. The reality is, so far the defensive whole has been less than the sum of its parts.  However please note that I think Malcolm Brown will be the best defensive lineman Texas has had in quite a few years.


With  the glass is half empty perspective on the table my August forecast for the Longhorns autumn of 2013 is, mostly sunny with intermittent clouds and the possibility of a few showers. Some could be heavy at times.  The Longhorns will finish the regular season 9-3. The three losses come from these six games listed in chronological order: BYU, Ole Miss, Kansas St., Oklahoma, TCU and Oklahoma St.  Not an earth shattering, stop the presses prediction but a 9-3 finish will be disappointing to a large portion of the fan base.  Recently I have had conversations with two Burnt Orange Kool-Aid drinkers who have let themselves be convinced that this year is the year and they’re pretty smart guys. Smarter than me in most cases but I think they’re allowing themselves to over look what I see as reason this team finishes 9-3 and not 12-0 or 11-1. Culture and coaching. So what do you know? I buried the lead.

I’m not breaking new ground by pointing out that the Texas Football has been coming up short the last several years in player development, fundamental blocking and tackling and accountability.  Mack Brown starts 2013 with his third offensive coordinator in four years and he’s hired an old friend, Greg Robinson, to watch over embattled defensive coordinator Manny Diaz. This doesn’t reflect the stability a coaching staff needs to produce a championship.  There is much much more to be written about these subjects and I may choose to do so as the season progresses.  Additionally I may have to vent on the tone deaf U.T. athletic department’s executive suite that measures success in dollars and is willing to gouge and abuse the loyal fan base with a stadium game viewing experience that grows more crude, crass and obnoxious each year.

Okay enough with the Willie Earl’s floating in the Burnt Orange Kool-Aid. Lets get on with the games.


I’m starting a new feature this year that may or may not appear weekly as part of the Over/Under Contest.  It’s the Willie Earl Poll Question


Over/Under New Mexico St.

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




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Shocking News from College Station

Johnny Manziel announced this morning that he would transfer to the University of Texas for the 2013 spring semester.

In the surprising announcement, Manziel said that after winning the Heisman Trophy and leading Texas A&M to only their third 11 win season in history capped off by a record setting Cotton Bowl performance, he had accomplished all he could as a quarterback and now would fulfill his boyhood dream of becoming a Longhorn and playing defensive back for Mack Brown and Duane Akina.

Mack Brown said he was excited to have Manziel who he thought would be a really really good defensive back and this gives us a chance to be really really good in 2014. Brown also said there was the added bonus of being able to train Manziel as the emergency backup quarterback in case of injuries.




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