Archive for the ‘2017’ Category

Reaching for Optimism

I heard an Austin Sports talk host say this week that it’s hard to keep talking about this football team (the team being the Longhorns). Ditto that, but I’ll give it the old Tom Herman playing hard for 60 minute a try here. Well maybe 40 minutes if you include the Over/Under questions.

It’s a reach, but here are some reasons to be optimistic that Texas can get its biggest win of the season against West Virginia.

  1. The return of Connor Williams should improve the running game and give Buechele and or Ehlinger more time to throw.
  2. Sam Ehlinger, Toneil Carter, and Zach Shackelford returned from concussion protocol on a limited basis for the Kansas game. All three should be fully ready to go for West Virginia.
  3. I expect Ehlinger to start. If he does, perhaps he can give the running game a much needed shot in the arm.
  4. The West Virginia defense is porous. It ranks # 102 in total defense allowing 436.4 yards per game and # 81 in scoring defense allowing 29.2 points per game.
  5. It’s the eleventh game of the season. Maybe the eleventh time’s the charm for Tim Beck and the Texas offense.
  6. The last time the Longhorns played on November 18th was in 1995 and they beat TCU 27-19.
  7. Will Grier has thrown 12 interceptions this year. Texas has intercepted 13 passes this year. You follow?
  8. We’re Texas. Okay strike that.

Another kind of reach

If Texas doesn’t beat West Virginia and Texas Tech to finish 7-5 for the regular season, it will be a reach to call Tom Herman’s first season at Texas anything better than disappointing.

Hook ‘Em,



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Kansas Over/Under Results

Greg Swan posted his second win of the season with eight correct answers.  He is now in striking distance of season leader Clayton Frink.

Joe Grubbs, John Scott, Mike Frank, Reed Ramlow, and Helen Frink tied for second with seven correct answers.

The average score was 6.1. Given that every player answered two questions correctly, would Kansas ever lead in the game and would Texas lead by more than 13.5 points at halftime, the average seems a little low.

On the press bet Greg is the early leader but a host of players are firmly in contention.


I’m less sanguine about Texas’ chances to get the six wins necessary to qualify for a bowl game than I have been all season. I will post a column Friday with my post game thoughts on the Kansas game and pre game thoughts on the West Virginia game.

Hook ‘eM,


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That Time of Year

Saturday, Helen and I will go to the Kansas game. We’ll leave our house at about three o’clock for the 5:07pm kickoff. Before the kickoff, we’ll have a pop at the so-called Champions Club at the UT Performing Arts center across the street from the stadium.  We plan on leaving the game at halftime to go out to dinner at the restaurant we’ll choose purely by whim.  It’ll be a nice Saturday afternoon and evening. The weather may even call for me to breakout my burnt orange sweater. I’m looking forward to it.

Yet, we’ve reached that time of year that has become a little too familiar to Texas fans.  It’s that time of year when Texas is struggling just to become bowl eligible making the games of contending teams more interesting to Texas fans than the Texas game. (I don’t think I’m speaking only for myself.) So, while I’m looking forward to our Saturday afternoon and evening, I’ll have at least a slight inclination to stay home to monitor Georgia-Auburn at 2:30pm, Alabama-Mississippi St. at 6pm, and Notre Dame-Miami, and TCU-Oklahoma at 7pm. As my father once famously said, “I can remember when things were different.” And, as my mother often said, “C’est la vie.”

For the record, I like Georgia, Notre Dame, and TCU to win outright and Mississippi St. to cover the 14 ½ spread.

Oh yeah, Texas-Kansas. I find the betting line on this one interesting. Texas is favored by 34. Can Texas score 34 points? On anybody?  I know, I know, Kansas is allowing 42 points per game but I’m still asking the question.

What I’ve discovered over about 47 years of paying attention to betting lines is, that when I see a line that looks wrong, nine out of ten times it’s right. Now, if I could figure the one in ten times that it’s wrong  . . .


I saw an interesting recruiting chart on “Inside Texas” this week. It showed that Texas’ recruiting class has ranked first or second in the Big 12 every year since 2010 and has ranked no lower than 17th in that same time period.  Have I told you lately why I’m not very interested in recruiting news?

In case you haven’t heard

Sam Ehlinger and Toenail Carter are expected to be available to play Saturday.

Tom Herman has hinted at the possibility that Mitchell Becker will replace Josh Rowland for field goal attempts against Kansas.

The Over/Under Press

There’s a quaint little tradition in golf betting called the “press.”  A “press” usually occurs in the middle of a match when a player is decisively losing. For example, after 15 holes of an 18-hole match, player A is losing to player B, 9 holes to 6 holes. The best outcome player A can achieve at this point is a 9 hole to 9 hole tie. However, if player A challenges player B after the 15th hole to a “press” and player B accepts the “press,” a new bet is born based only on the outcome of the last three holes. So now there are two bets in play, the 18-hole bet and the 3-hole bet.  This gives player A the opportunity to salvage a win by winning the three hole match.

Introducing the Over/Under Press

Starting with the Kansas game, all players participating are automatically entered into a “press.” For players who have only an outside chance of winning the season-long competition, this is an opportunity to win the “press,” which is based only on the last three regular season games.  For players who are in contention for the season-long competition, this is an opportunity to win twice.

This is exciting isn’t it?

Hook ‘Em,


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After the TCU game, it’s clear that Texas—with an injury depleted offensive line—isn’t good enough to beat Top 20 teams.  Early in the third quarter, I knew there was no chance Texas would win. The good news is there aren’t any more Top 20 teams (West Virginia is #23) left on the 2017 schedule.

For perspective, let’s review the injuries and transfers that have depleted the offensive line.  Elijah Rodriguez, the projected starting right tackle at the start of August training camp, injured his ankle and had season-ending surgery on August 10.  Starting tight end Andrew Beck, a key blocker, broke his ankle August 14 and is out for the season. Tackle Jean DeLance announced that he was transferring on August 15. A 2016 four-star recruit, DeLance had earned praise from offensive line coach Derek Warehime during the first days of August training camp.  Patrick Hudson, who was competing for playing time at right tackle, suffered a season-ending knee injury in the San Jose State game. All-American left tackle Connor Williams has been out with a knee injury since the USC game. Starting center Zach Shackelford has missed three games, and starting guard Jake McMillon has missed two games with injuries. Patrick Vahe is the only offensive lineman who has started every game this season.

Obviously, this rash of injuries and the transfer of a key backup has presented a huge challenge for Tom Herman, offensive line coach Derek Warehime, and offensive coordinator Tim Beck.  After the TCU game, Texas is #98 nationally in rushing, averaging 137.8 yards per game. In sacks allowed, they rank #114. Given the offensive line situation, I honestly can’t judge whether Herman, Warehime, and Beck should be getting more production out of the offense. I do know that Beck—or whoever is calling plays—has a maddening tendency to not repeat plays that are successful.  I know that when you put Jerrod Heard in at quarterback and the first play is a quarterback sweep, that play is doomed to fail.  When I see what the Oklahoma and Oklahoma State offenses did to each other’s defenses, I lean slightly in the direction that, despite the injuries, the offense should be better than it is.

If you believe that Beck and Warehime should be let go because of the offensive woes, don’t hold your breath. Herman is a strong believer that staff continuity is critical for the success of a program.

Herman desperately needs to get this team into a bowl game for the extra practice time. It’s essentially like having two spring trainings.

Bring on the Jayhawks.

Hook ‘EM,


TCU Over/Under Results

Reed Ramlow emerged from the largest field of contestants in 2017 with his first win of the season by posting eight correct answers. D.R. Flower and Joe Grubbs tied for second with seven correct.  The average was 4.9 correct.

For now, Clayton Frink, with his two wins, is comfortably out in front with 69 points.  Nine players are tightly packed behind Clayton with 41 to 48 points. There are 17 players with at least 30 points and at least and outside chance to win the championship.

This is exciting isn’t it?

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Buechele Should be the Starter

I wrote on this here website after the Kansas State game that Sam Ehlinger had “It.” First of all, if I’d known that every other blogger, talking head, and newspaper columnist who does commentary on Texas football was going use the exact same adjective, I would have tried to be more original. Second of all, I still think he has “It” but for the rest of this year I think Shane Buechele gives Texas the best chance of winning.

Here’s why. Ehlinger’s default mode is running. I like a quarterback who can run as much as anyone. But in the Oklahoma and Oklahoma State games, Ehlinger was running on several plays instead of throwing to open receivers. I don’t know if it was because he didn’t see them—sometimes it appeared that he was looking right at them—or because he’s more comfortable making plays running rather than passing.  As good a runner as he is, Reggie Hemphill-Mapps, L’il Jordan Humphrey, Jerod Heard and John Burt are better.  The offense is more explosive when those guys are running with the ball after a catch instead of Ehlinger.

Buechele is a better passer than Ehlinger. He’s more accurate and he can read coverages better than Ehlinger. He’s completing 72% to Ehlinger’s 56%. Buechele’s passer rating is higher no matter which rating system you prefer. Bottom line, Buechele is better at getting the ball into the hands of the aforementioned playmakers.

Some Texas fans may want to forget that it was Ehlinger’s fumble in overtime against USC and his interception in overtime against Kansas State that killed Texas’ chance to win those games.  All quarterbacks make mistakes and turn the ball over, but right now Buechele takes better care of the ball than Ehlinger does.

At this point in Ehlinger’s career and the 2017 season he would be better as the relief, change-of-pace quarterback than the starter. I have a hunch Tom Herman and Tim Beck have reached the same conclusions on their quarterbacks as I have.

Gary Patterson

Since TCU joined the Big 12 in 2012, they are 4-1 against Texas including wins the last three years by scores of, 31-9, 50-7, 48-10. In Charlie Strong vernacular, this is all about coaching. Gary Patterson coached the pants off Strong with two and three star recruits versus Strong’s three, four, and five star recruits. This year’s match up presents Tom Herman with a golden opportunity to show Texas fans that he’s worthy of the hype of expectations that accompanied his hire and his hefty salary.

Special Teams, Texas-TCU

In a game with two good defenses, it could be decided by special teams play. TCU Special Teams are ranked #1 in the country by Football Outsiders advanced metrics. Texas—Michael Dickson aside—not so much. TCU’s kicker is seven for seven on the season. Josh Rowland is seven for thirteen and he has had two blocked.  I like Texas’ chances in this game. If they lose I’m won’t be surprised if the difference was special teams play.

It’s past time for Texas to get over the hump against a highly ranked opponent. How ‘bout Texas over TCU 20-17?  If only wishing could make it come true.

Now you’re chunking in there Astros! 





Hook ‘em,


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