Archive for the ‘2017’ Category

Feels so Good Feelin’ Good Again

And I wanted you to see ’em all I wished that you were there
I looked across the room
And saw you standin’ on the stair
And when I caught your eye
I saw you break into a grin
It feels so good feelin’ good again
–Robert Earl Keen

I haven’t felt so good and I haven’t been so excited about a Texas-OU game in a long time.  The feeling started coming over me moments after the entire Texas offense pushed Chris Warren III over the goal line for the game winning touchdown last Saturday night.

I think the reason I’m feelin’s so good is attributable to Tom Herman, Sam Ehlinger, and the Texas defense.

I wish I had time to write an OU Game masterpiece but I’m about to head up I35 for my 38th Texas-OU weekend.  I will post a full report Monday.

It feels so good to be feelin’ good again.

Beat the Hell Otta OU!

Hook ‘Em



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Kansas State Knee-Jerk Reactions

Told you Sam Ehlinger should be the starter.  That’s a joke, son.

Turns out that Kirk Bohls’ play-calling is pretty good.   Collin Johnson caught several passes on curl and slant routs. Wiping a little egg of my face here.

Tom Herman has to learn that kicking field goals is not unmanly. Assuming Josh Rowland makes the 18-yard field goal in the first quarter attempt that Herman passed on, Texas probably wins the game in less dramatic fashion.  As I commented earlier, had Herman elected to kick a short field goal on the Texas’ opening drive of the second half against Maryland, that game could have turned out differently. Correct me if I’m wrong, but Texas is now 0 for 3 for the season on fourth down inside the opponent’s 5-yard line.

Reggie Hemphill-Mapps might be Texas’ best player.

I thought Shane Buechele did a very good job last year under trying conditions and could be a four year starter. Last night against Kansas State, in addition to all the great runs and throws Sam Ehlinger made, he displayed the “It” factor. We haven’t had a quarterback with “It” since Colt McCoy.  I don’t know yet and neither do you if Ehlinger can sustain his Kansas State performance for an entire season or career, but that it’s a possibility gives me visions of sugarplums dancing in my head.

Get healthy, Shane. With Ehlinger’s reckless-abandon running style, we may need you sooner rather than later.

An exhilarating if not exhausting win last night. Now it’s on to Dallas and let’s win there.

Hook ‘eM,


Kansas State Over/Under Results

In only his second game ever, Joe Grubbs won with 8 correct answers. Like the Longhorns, Joe was extended into overtime by Reed Ramlow who also had 8 correct answers. In the tiebreaker, they both whiffed on their picks against the line so it came down to their UT-KSU score prediction. In a photo finish if there ever was one, Joe edged Reed by one point in predicting a Texas four point win to Reed’s three point Texas win prediction.

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Kansas State Pre Game

Offensive Angst

It’s already come to this. Four games into the Tom Herman era, Texas fans and the media—notably Kirk Bohls—are making personnel and play suggestions.  Bohls is calling for quick slants and curls to Collin Johnson.  Bohls should be embarrassed to be making play suggestions in print. That’s like saying Jordan Spieth needs to make more birdies. It reminds me of Richard Nixon calling Washington Redskins coach George Allen with a play suggestion before a playoff game in 1971 against the Francisco 49ers.  Bohls’ colleague Cedric Golden and a chorus of Texas fans are convinced that Sam Ehlinger will be better than Shane Buechele. A featured writer for Barking Carnival watched video and broke down every single Texas running play in the Iowa State game, and he has many suggestions about schemes and formations.  The writer has an advanced technical knowledge of football that I can’t come close to matching, but I will offer a critique of his analysis. You can’t scheme your way out of having an offensive line that is depleted by injury, forcing a backup right tackle to start at left tackle and true freshman to start at right tackle.

I’ll be patient and observe how Herman and his offensive staff deal with the bad hand they’ve been dealt by injuries for at least, oh, one more game before I offer any critique on their performance.   I’ll trust that they have better ideas than the fans, the media, and me.


In his weekly Monday press conference, Herman made one of the most useful comments I’ve heard from a Texas football coach in years when he observed that when a play is blocked for one yard, running backs Warren and Porter are getting one yard, not three or four. When a play is blocked for four yards, they’re getting four yards not seven or eight.  I think that means he thinks Warren and Porter are average. Following up on that point, Herman said Toeneil Carter will see more playing time in the coming weeks. Incidentally, when Herman said Carter had the most “twitch” of the Texas running backs, it was the first time I had heard that expression. Darrell Royal once said one of his running backs had some “spurt.” I’m kind of sentimental about spurt, but I do like twitch.

Maybe Kirk Bohls submitted his play-calling suggestions to his editors before Herman said on Monday that getting the ball to Collin Johnson more often was one of his personal projects this week.

Speaking of technical knowledge of football, the guys at Barking Carnival make many references to “11,” “10,” and “20” personnel packages on offense.  I knew that it didn’t mean a 10 featured only 10 players or a 20 lined up 20 players. I knew it meant something about formation but I didn’t know exactly what, so I asked Willie Earl’s resident technical football knowledge expert, Greg Bowers.  As Greg explained, the first number indicates the number of running backs in the formation. The second number indicates whether there is a tight end. So, a 10 package has one running back and no tight end. An 11 package has one running back and one tight end, a 00 is five wide receivers, and so on.

I’d love to see a 32, which was one of Darrell Royal’s favorites.


Since 2006, Texas is 2-7 against Kansas State.  Saturday will be the beginning of the end of that era.  Texas beats Kansas State 24-16.  Afterwards, Texas fans still complain about the offense.

Hook ‘eM,


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Forward Progress

After the game, in celebration of a solid conference road win (yes, I said “solid”), I fixed myself a short scotch on the rocks and sat down to scroll through the Barking Carnival live game thread. I usually review the thread to see how the younger- than-me Longhorn Football nerds were reacting to the game as it was happening.   I was in celebration mode, so, I was a little surprised at the ferocity of the complaints and criticism directed at the Texas offense during the second half.  The prevailing theme was that offensive coordinator Tim Beck is an idiot and Sam Ehlinger should replace Shane Buechele.

My observations and thoughts during the second half can be boiled down to concern that Texas might lose this game,  as they have lost so many games like it in the past three years.  Yes, the offense’s inability to move the ball out of their end of the field and thus surrendering field position to Iowa State in the third quarter was frustrating.  But I understood the offense’s struggles in the context of an offensive line that has been decimated by injury, forcing Derek Kerstetter—a true freshman—into the starting lineup at right tackle. Kerstetter had not played a down of college football before the Iowa State game. Tristan Nickelson—until a few weeks ago a backup right tackle—was  making his first start at left tackle, replacing the injured Connor Williams. Further, Shane Buechele was returning from a three- week absence due to a shoulder injury.  So I wasn’t thinking that Beck and Buechele were at fault; I was thinking Texas was in a tough spot on the road, and I was just hoping the Horns could catch a break or that Collin Johnson or some other receiver could make a play to get Texas out of the shadow of their own goal line.

Finally, after a 17-yard punt by Michael Dickson, Iowa State got the ball on the Texas 28 and scored a touchdown four plays later. That was their only score of the game, and Texas still led 14-7. Texas did get a break when a replay review showed that Armanti Foreman’s knee was down before he fumbled the ensuing kickoff.  After a 54-yard punt by Dickson and an interception by Deshon Elliott—in  what seemed like a miracle—Josh Rowland made a 49-yard field goal to give Texas some breathing room at the beginning of the fourth quarter.

I was very pleased that the offense was able to kill the last 7:35 seconds of the game with a 13-play 40 yard drive. Three yards and a cloud of shredded tire tread anyone?  That game-sealing drive put me in a celebratory mood.  I wasn’t cursing Tim Beck or Shane Buechele.  I was happy to be drinking a scotch and enjoying a Texas victory in a game that, over the past few years, would have been another bitter defeat.

Onward and upward!

Game Notes

Texas kicker Josh Rowland turned my head and should have turned yours with a clutch 49-yard field goal and four touchbacks.  Things could be looking up in the kicking game.

Not so much in the return game. Armanti Foreman was swarmed by Iowa State defenders just outside the 10 yard line. On kickoff returns,  it’s almost as if Texas blocks no one at all, zilch, zero, nada. Thank god for replay, which showed Foreman’s knee went down a fraction of a second before he coughed up the football.

Oh yeah, the defense turned in its third straight outstanding performance.  It seemed as though Iowa State quarterback Jacob Park was under attack on every pass attempt.  Don’t want to spit in the well, but Texas’ tackling has been the best it’s been in a decade.

Chris Warren III whiffed while trying to block an Iowa State defensive back on a flanker screen pass. If Warren makes the block, Texas has a big play. As it was, Texas lost a yard.  That play offers a clue as to why Warren is not the starter.  From my vantage point, Warren is not an instinctive runner. He often does not see where the hole is.  I’m guessing that coaches start Kyle Porter because he’s a good blocker. I don’t see any other reason he should be playing. Bring on Toeneil Carter.


Hook “Em,


Over/Under Results

At the risk of being accused of nepotism, I’m obligated to report that Clayton Frink won the Iowa State Over/Under with 9 correct answers. Wes Peoples and Greg Swan tied for second with 8 correct.  It was interesting to me that more than 50% of the contestants picked Ehlinger over Buechele for more total yards.


Thanks go out to the Willie Earl patrons who share the enlightening content we churn out each week which has resulted in several new readers subscribing this year.  We’d like to take this occasion to encourage more sharing.


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Second Tier

There’s a story that has Abraham Lincoln quoting a man who had been being ridden out of town on a rail as having said, “If it weren’t for the honor of the thing, I’d just as soon it happened to someone else.”  That’s about how I feel about Texas playing on a Thursday night. Playing on Thursday night has second tier program written all over it.  So does losing to Iowa State.

I don’t have any idea how good or bad Texas is right now but I’ll take a shot at a prediction.

Texas 31
Iowa State 28

Hook ‘eM,


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