Archive for the ‘2014’ Category

Pre Game Iowa State

Lowering the Bar

 

Last Saturday afternoon and evening, the Longhorn fans I was around were pleased with the team’s performance against Oklahoma and were generally optimistic about the rest of the season. Although it was pleasant to be around positive people, I was struck by the irony of the contrast between the attitude and mood of the fans after this loss compared to all the other losses to Oklahoma over the years.
I viewed the loss as another opportunity squandered by Charlie Strong and his coaching staff. The continued breakdowns in special teams play and the Keystone Cops clock management routine are becoming, well, all too routine. I’m told by one of Willie Earl’s knowledgeable readers that Charlie Strong’s Louisville teams had good special teams play. Maybe Strong isn’t ready for prime time. Maybe the big stage in Austin adds a complication that is taking the edge off his job performance. For me, it’s a real and a troubling thought.
I’m not yet optimistic about the rest of the season because if Strong and his staff don’t get the special teams fixed and if they don’t improve their game management Texas could lose to Iowa State and anybody else left on the schedule.
Walking it Back
I saw the same things in the Oklahoma game that so many of the Texas fans were excited about. Tyrone Swoopes played a very good game. Even with the pick six, he played more than well enough for Texas to win. Again, Charlie Strong squandered a wonderful effort by Swoopes and an evidently great coach-up by Sean Watson in not getting the W against Oklahoma. So as they say in politics, I’m walking back the harsh statements I made about Swoopes last week.
In all my years of watching football, I can’t remember another assistant coach who has done as good a job as Joe Wickline has done with the offensive line. Wickline’s performance is “as advertised.” Maybe Strong should put him in charge of fixing special teams. Give your biggest challenges to your best people, right? Oh well, maybe it’s not a good idea to distract Wickline from his offensive line coaching, but a big change in the approach to special teams is needed.
Charlie Strong’s specialty is defense and the strength of his first Texas team is definitely defense. The unit has played very well in in every game except the third quarter of the BYU game and that can be partly blamed on the offense’s ineffectual play. We haven’t had to talk about tackling yet this year which is refreshing after the last four years of futility in that area. And I’m orange-blooded enough to take extra satisfaction in that Vance Bedford is the defensive coordinator. If you haven’t heard Mr. Bedford talk defense and football yet you might get a kick out of his commentary if you can find it on YouTube or where ever.

Know it All Fan Ideas
1. While Strong and his staff are re-doubling their efforts to fix the special teams, why not just go ahead and turn a weakness into a strength? Is there must be some weakness in Iowa State’s special teams that they can game-plan to exploit. Maybe the Iowa State punter is slow, and Texas could block a kick. Perhaps the punt and kick-off coverage teams don’t stay at home, and the Horns could fake a punt or recover an onside kick. Instead of approaching the special teams from a defensive crouch, Texas should get aggressive.
2. Where are Texas’ hot shot freshmen running backs, Donald Catalon and D’Onta Foreman? Foreman was last seen fielding a kick off that was about to roll out of bounds on the five yard line. Before that, in his one of his two carries against North Texas, he burst off the right side for 34 yards and looked faster than Jonathan Gray. He can’t’ be redshirted, so let’s get him some work in the last six games.
I’ve read on a couple of the blogs that Donald Catalon is the best running back on the team but the coaches want to redshirt him. Don’t get me started.

Mid-Season Prognosis
This team is a more talented than a most observers thought after the first two games of the season. With better coaching Texas could be 4-2 not 2-4, in my opinion. Texas will win the remaining games on the schedule in which they play a clean game on special teams and Charlie Strong runs a competent sideline operation. They could win all of them or they could lose all of them.

HooK ‘eM,

W.E.

Note from Willie Earl
To enhance the pleasure of playing Over/Under, starting this week, we will report the results no later than Sunday night. Play well.

OU Over/Under Results

There was a three-way tie at the top in another exciting OU Over/Under Contest (see what I did there?) with Helen Frink, Steve Holstead and Helen Art Zeitz answering eight questions correctly.  The guys, both proud Westchester Wildcats, picked the winners, Alabama and Oregon in the tiebreaker. In the closest finish that the staff here can recall, Steve edged Art by coming within 3 total points of predicting the actual points spreads for both games.

Clayton Frink, Zach Frank, Mark Adams, Wade Wallace, Dan Yoxall, Greg Swan, and David Frink tied for fourth with seven correct. Yes Mrs Bertoni, this contest was too easy.

Iowa State Over/Under Contest

 

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Primal Fears

Primal Fears

As if we needed any more reasons to lose confidence in Tyrone Swoopes, this week, reflecting on his play in the Baylor game, said, “I had gotten hit a couple times. That kind of made me a little bit nervous”. Somebody on the Texas sideline better have some handy wipes and an extra pair of football pants handy Saturday at the Cotton Bowl.
And then he said this: “Sometimes, defenses will give me the same looks over and over again, and I don’t decipher it like I’m supposed to, and I do the wrong things. Simple things like that. Nothing major.”

I’m glad it’s nothing major.

Even with these comments by Swoopes, I know many if not most Texas fans would disagree with what I wrote on Monday, that his two fumbles on the goal line and his terrible numbers should cost him the starting quarterback role. I’m certain that Charlie Strong disagrees, and I believe I know why he does. It’s fear. My observations over 50-plus years of watching football have convinced me that one of most important guiding principles for a vast majority of football coaches is fear. Fear of innovation and breaking with the past. They don’t seem to fear getting fired for not innovating.

I know what the stated reasons are for not playing Jerrod Heard, at least in a relief role: the need to preserve his redshirt, and he’s not ready. As I have written before, speculating on what may happen four years from now in football is akin to speculating in 2012 who the Republican nominee for President would be in 2016. It’s purely academic if not folly. It’s more likely that Heard would transfer, flunk out, suffer a career-ending injury, or get beat out by another quarterback than it is that he will still be playing for Texas in 2018. As far as Heard not being ready, ready compared to whom, Swoopes? At this point, that’s not a credible argument, in my opinion.

Strong should consider how much goodwill he’s burning through with the team, with the fan base, and with his employers for not pulling out all the stops to win football games this season. If Texas scores less than 20 points or so against Oklahoma and gets blown out on Saturday, look for a crowd of about 50,000 in Austin next week for the Iowa State game. That’s something Charlie Strong should fear.

**********
Perhaps lost in the demoralizing loss to Baylor were some solid performances by the Texas defense and offensive line. The defense limited Baylor to 21 points and Bryce Petty to only 7 pass completions for 111 yards. Petty said after the game that his head was still spinning from all the coverages Texas threw at him. Hats off to Defensive Coordinator (former Longhorn All Southwest Conference defensive back) Vance Bedford and his Texas defense. And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Steve Edmond played a whale of a game. The offensive line, reconfigured with the insertion of Darius James as the starting right tackle and the move of Kent Perkins to starting right guard, played pretty darned well as Texas gained 190 rushing yards and gave Tyrone Swoopes time to throw down field. It would be nice if the next time the offensive line plays well, Texas could score more than seven points.

My Fears
My father and I had many interesting conversations. Some were pretty light like the time he told me about the pleasures of trying new things, such as when he switched from an olive to a lemon twist in his martinis. He was quite pleased with the lemon twist. Driving to the beach in the summer of 1968—just my father, mother and I—he compared and contrasted the running styles of Red Grange and Gayle Sayers. That really engaged my 12 year old sports obsessed mind. Also during that trip he told me that Babe Ruth was not a “high-type” guy and didn’t wear underwear.

Other conversations were more serious. When my brother David was, ahem, struggling academically during his sophomore year at UT, my father read me the riot act about how I was going to conduct my studies in college starting with the first semester of my freshman year! At the time, I was in ninth grade and my grades were pretty good for crissakes.

The most memorable and perhaps the most valuable conversations I had with my father were intimate ones. When David and I were devastated by the assassination of Robert Kennedy, my father told us that we had to pick up where RFK left off by always doing our best in school, in work, and as citizens.

When I was in high school and my father and I were with a realtor looking at a house in Reston, Virginia my father wanted to buy, he started crying when he told me how much my mother deserved to have this house.

Though one of the biggest disappointments of my youth was getting cut from the junior varsity basketball team and never playing beyond my freshman year, my father knew I was secure enough that he could tell me about how proud he was of David. David was his letterman. When I was in my early-30s with a career and lofty ambitions of my own, my father let on to me that my brother Clayton was the highest achiever of anybody ever named Frink.

When my parents were in their mid-80s, during one of the last times they had dinner at my house with Helen and me, my father told us a remarkable story about when he met the Army lieutenant who accompanied his brother’s body home after World War II at the train station in Norwich, New York, and took him out for a drink. It wasn’t remarkable because anything particularly interesting or unusual happened when he met the lieutenant. It was remarkable in the casual way my father told us the story, the fact that I had never heard the story before, and for me the literally jaw-dropping contrast it drew between his life and experiences and mine.

There is a conversation with my father that I didn’t have that I wished I had. I’ve been to 37 Texas-OU games. Since the first one I went to in 1974, until as recently as 2012, I couldn’t imagine not being excited about going every year for the rest of my life. Suddenly last year, as OU Weekend approached, I felt ambivalent about going. On Monday of this week I had the same feelings. I fear that it’s not just the Longhorns downturn since 2010 that’s causing my ambivalence. I’m afraid it’s because I’m getting old.

My father never talked to me about getting old. Oh, he made self-deprecating remarks about being old when he was in his 80s. But I’m talking about the aging I’m going through now. Though I’m quite fit—if I do say so myself—for a 59-year-old and I’m pretty sure I’ll be around for at least another 20 years plus but die before I run out of money, I have fears about being old. I fear that I’m seen as old by my clients and business associates. I fear that late in the fourth quarter of my career, my ambitions outstrip the time and focus I have to fulfill them. And I’m a little sad that my running career is over, and because of a nagging hip condition, I’m afraid I won’t ever be able to play golf as well as I did from 2000-2009. When my father was 59, I was 22, so of course it never crossed my mind at the time that he might be experiencing primal fears about aging. Over the past few years I’ve been wondering what my father would say to me if I could tell him about these fears. I bet it would be interesting. I bet it would be insightful and yet witty and there’s a chance it could be jaw-dropping.

Though I can’t have that conversation with my father, I’m often heartened when listening to a certain song on my iPod while I’m working out. If there was a theme song about my father’s attitude about life and the way he lived it, it would be this song.
“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.

You can go to extremes with impossible schemes.
You can laugh when your dreams fall apart at the seams.
And life gets more exciting with each passing day.
And love is either in your heart, or on it’s way.

Don’t you know that it’s worth every treasure on earth
To be young at heart.
For as rich as you are, it’s much better by far
To be young at heart.

And if you should survive to 105,
Look at all you’ll derive out of being alive!
And here is the best part, you have a head start
If you are among the very young at heart.

And if you should survive to 105,
Look at all you’ll derive out of being alive!
And here is the best part, you have a head start
If you are among the very young at heart.

–Johnny Richards, Carolyn Leigh

Hub Frink, 57, Helen Frink, my date and me at the Sigma Phi Epsilon Red Garter Party in November 1975

Hub Frink, age 57, Helen Frink, my date and me at the Sigma Phi Epsilon Red Garter Party in November 1975

I’m going to the OU game, leaving early, staying late.

Beat the Hell Outta OU!

HooK ‘eM,

W.E.

OU Over/Under

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Baylor Post-Game

Core Values and Cardinal Sins

Charlie Strong’s core values have garnered him plenty of attention, kudos, and widespread support from the Texas fan base. Strong needs to add special team fundamental execution and competence to his coaching core values. Strong’s special teams have committed cardinal sins in the last three games possibly costing Texas wins against UCLA and Baylor.
Special teams gave up a back breaking punt return given up to UCLA, had field goal attempts blocked against Kansas and Baylor, and they allowed the Baylor punter to run untouched for 19 yards on a fourth and five which lead to Baylor’s second touchdown on Saturday. It’s not unreasonable to speculate that Texas could be 4-1 if Strong’s special teams had performed to just an average level of competency.  Charlie Strong

Quarterback
If I was in charge, the starting quarterback who has the second to the lowest quarterback rating in the Big 12, whose team is 104th in passing offense in the country, and who fumbled snaps on the goal line two weeks in a row, loses his job. Period. It’s that arbitrary in my opinion.

Strong has two big messes he needs to clean up. It’s not that complicated.

We’ll talk more on Friday.

Beat OU

HooK ‘eM,

W.E.

The Baylor Over/Under drew the largest field of entrants of the year so far and it was an exciting contest with a three way tie for first. Newcomer Zach Frank, Steve Holstead, and Mike Archuleta answered eight questions correctly. In the tiebreaker Zach and Steve both picked Baylor and Michigan State to win but Zach’s predictions on the final scores were a tad closer to the actuals so Zach Frank, in his very first start, wins the Baylor Over/Under. Congratulations young fella.

Helen Frink and Clayton Frink tied for fourth with seven correct answers.

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Baylor Pre-Game

Never is Heard an Encouraging Word

 

Over the past 20 years I’ve gone through several phases of daily media consumption. Starting in the early ‘90s though about 2006 I was a daily consumer of C-SPAN, Seinfeld and a lot of news/talk radio while I was driving around in Jon Voight’s car. From 2006 to the present, my daily staples include PTI on ESPN with Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon (Helen and I watch a recorded version around 7:30 pm), Colin Cowherd’s daily sports talk show on ESPN radio, The Office, and Law & Order (the original) of which Helen and I have seen every episode from 1990 to its conclusion in 2010; I have seen every episode at least twice.
Starting last fall I added Longhorn Football blogs to my daily consumption. Some of the ones I read are: Barking Carnival almost every day, Orangebloods about once a week, and – occasionally — Horns Digest and an email-forwarded copy of Inside Texas.

Among all those publications, I have not read a single article or posted comment that said Texas has any chance at all to beat Baylor tomorrow. Right off the top of my head I can’t think of a single post or comment that has predicted that the game will be competitive.

After my pre-season prediction that Texas would go 11-1 in the regular season, who am I to counter any of this abject pessimism? The last time I can remember Texas being a 16-point — or whatever the current line is – underdog was the 1996 Big 12 Championship game versus Nebraska. Could Texas pull off another shocking upset on Saturday? Tyrone Swoopes is no James Brown and Jonathan Gray is no Priest Holmes, so I don’t see a Texas win in the cards. But I predict the game will be surprisingly competitive; perhaps competitive enough to get our hearts beating a little faster during the fourth quarter.

Panning for Hope
Here are some odds and ends if you want to find any reason to be hopeful.

1. In Baylor’s last two games against highly ranked teams, they lost to Oklahoma State 49-17 and Central Florida 52-42. Okay, so the Horns aren’t a highly ranked team . . . I’m just sayin’.
2. Although there’s no absolute confirmation, it looks though Daje Johnson will play in his first game of 2014. Maybe he’ll be more assignment-responsible and a little faster without THC coursing through his veins.
3. If there’s a faster Longhorn than Daje it’s Amanti Foreman, who flashed that speed on a reverse against Kansas that went for 29 yards. Texas offensive coordinator Sean Watson praised Foreman’s practice performance and progress over the past few weeks. Perhaps Foreman, along with Daje, will transform Texas’ offense into an explosive scoring machine.
4. It’s not unreasonable to believe that Tyrone Swoopes, in his fourth game as a starter, will play his best game as a Longhorn.

Texas Football Brands
In addition to generally dismal expectations for the next two games, I’m also hearing a lot of angst from Texas fans about how Texas Football has been surpassed by in-state rivals Texas A&M and Baylor. Certainly the Aggies and Baylor have had better seasons the last three years or so, but so far as Texas being eclipsed by those programs, I don’t see it that way. When the Longhorns are really good, they win Rose Bowls and win or appear in National Championship games.
Let’s check out the bowl records of A&M and Baylor since 2010.
Baylor
2010, Texas Bowl L
2011, Alamo W
2012, Holiday W
2013, Fiesta L
Texas A&M
2010, Cotton L
2011, Meineke W
2012, Cotton, W
2013, Chick-fil-A W
Between the two of them there has been one BCS bowl appearance. Baylor lost to freaking Central Florida in last year’s Fiesta Bowl.
Sure, I’m not happy with the Longhorns’ seasons the last four years and this year may not end up all that pretty. But I’m not worried about keeping up with A&M and Baylor’s trips to the Cotton and Alamo Bowls. Complain to me at the end of 2015 when Baylor wins a second conference championship and A&M wins their first conference championship and goes to a major bowl for the first time since 1998.

Deep Horn

Deep Horn is deeply depressed and disturbed about the current state of the Longhorns. However, he believes Charlie Strong is doing what needs to be done to rebuild the program.

Deep Thought of the Day

Perhaps the most cited long lyric of the past 50 years is  Paul McCartney’s the love you take is equal to the love you make.  That’s too obvious. My favorite McCartney lyric is, For well you know that it’s a fool who plays it cool By making his world a little colder paul-mccartney-20070616-270745
Nah nah nah nah nah nah nah nah nah

Be warm and by all means,

HooK ‘eM,

W.E.

Over/Under Contest

 

 

 

 

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Kansas Post Game

The List

The last refuge of a columnist who can’t string together a coherent thought.

1. The offense’s performance against Kansas took me back to 1976.
2. At least we’re undefeated in conference.
3. Could be worse. We could be Michigan.
4. Kansas didn’t have a big punt or kickoff return against us and we had one nice punt return by Shipley. But Rose missed a friggin’ extra point and we had a field goal attempt blocked. The special teams aren’t very special.
5. Tyrone Swoopes self-flushes from the pocket. He needs to stand in there and keep his eyes down field.
6. Opposing defenses aren’t going to respect Swoopes as a run option in the zone read.
7. If Strong and company want to include the zone read, I’ve Heard they have a quarterback that might be effective running it. See what I did there?
8. After three and a half years Steve Edmond still isn’t getting it done. Does this fit the classic definition of insanity?
9. Even Tom Brady looks bad playing with a bad offensive line.
10. Where have you gone, Jerry Sisemore, our nation turns its lonely eyes to you, woo woo woo.
11. I watched the Kansas game in a sports bar near the UCLA campus. From my perch I could watch, Texas A&M-Arkansas and Florida State-North Carolina State, but I focused my attention on the Longhorns. That’s love…or something.
12. I believe it was Charlie Strong who first said that the Longhorns weren’t going to win a championship this year.
13. I hope the Texas coaches are taking a long hard look at the Baylor-Central Florida film from last year’s Fiesta Bowl.
Over/Under and out.

HooK ‘eM,
W.E.

Over/Under Results

One of my fond memories from high school was when my French II teacher, Mrs. Bertoni, was calling students up to her desk to hand back their final exams. When she called me up and looked at my final she said loudly enough for the entire class to hear, “Monsieur Frink, 90. This final was too easy.”
This week the average score for the Kansas Over/Under was 7.8. This contest was too easy. Still, that doesn’t take away from David Frink’s grade, a perfect 10. David, you’ve always been a 10 in my book.
Mark Adams, Art Zeitz, and Wade Wallace tied for second with nines.

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