Archive for the ‘2018’ Category

Buy or Sell?

The stock market and college football have been volatile lately. During this time of uncertainty, here are a few equities that I’m offering guidance on.

Texas Tech is a contender for the Big 12 Championship

Tech’s quarterback Alan Bowman has over 2,000 yards passing even though he missed the TCU game and most of the West Virginia game with an injury. Where does Texas Tech get all these quarterbacks?  At 3-1 they’re tied with Oklahoma and West Virginia for second place in conference and are 5-2 overall.

They’re second in the Big 12 in scoring offense averaging 43.9 points per game.  They’re sixth in scoring defense and ninth in total defense.

Texas Tech has nice road wins against Oklahoma State and TCU. But a lot of the luster has come off those accomplishments with OSU at 4-3 and TCU at 3-4.

To qualify for the Big 12 Championship game, Tech has to run the table and their remaining schedule is somewhat favorable getting Oklahoma and Texas at home. As usual, Tech’s weakness is defense and I place the over/under on the points OU will score against them at 62 ½.

I always dread the Longhorns’ trip to Lubbock and this year is no different, but that doesn’t make Texas Tech a Big 12 contender.  They’ll lose this weekend to Iowa State in Ames and to Oklahoma the following week.

Willie Earl’s guidance: Sell


Texas is a contender for the College Football Playoff

Election years are often referred to as “Silly Season.”   “Silly Season” also applies to conversations about the Longhorns chances to make the CFP.

Texas would have to win out to have any possible chance of getting in the playoff.  Remember, winning is hard and the Horns winning all their remaining regular season games will be hard enough. Add in, winning a rematch against Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship game and you’re left with an “In your dreams” scenario if you’re a Texas fan.

Willie Earl’s guidance: Sell 


Sam Ehlinger is as good to go as Tom Herman claims for the Oklahoma State game

Tom Herman said yesterday that Ehlinger has been sore at times but practiced all week and will likely start against Oklahoma State.  “He’s thrown the ball great,” Herman commented.

The way Ehlinger was holding his right arm on the sideline during the Baylor game made me think the injury was too serious to recover from in two weeks.  That’s mere speculation on my part and he could have woken up the morning after the Baylor game already feeling 90 percent better.  Who knows?

Here’s a guess. Ehlinger is not quite as healthy as Herman claims and it will show on at least a two or three throws with funny looking releases and inaccurate passes.  Whether Ehlinger’s health has a big effect on the game depends on how well Texas runs the ball and on how bad the Oklahoma State defense is. They rank 113th in passing defense giving up 269 yards passing per game.

Willie Earl’s guidance: Sell


Texas beats Oklahoma State

Texas has lost three in a row and four of the last five to OSU.  Oklahoma State has won 10 games four of the last five years.  Texas has averaged six wins over the past five years.  Maybe OSU has had better players than Texas. I know they’ve had better (I’m a man!) coaching.

I’m not ready to proclaim Tom Herman the equal of  Mike—I’m a man—Gundy, but coming in at 6-1, maybe this is the year that Texas’ decided—on paper—recruiting edge over Oklahoma State shows and Texas overcomes the paddles and tight hostile confines of T. Boone Pickens Stadium to whip up on OSU.

Willie Earl’s guidance: Hold

HooK ‘Em,


Off Week Over/Under Results

Evidently most Over/Under contestants needed the Off Week as much as Sam Ehlinger did as only four participated.

Mike Frank emerged from that small field with the win with eight correct answers. Mark Adams finished second with seven correct.

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Winning is Hard

After a disappointingly narrow win over Tulsa last month Tom Herman said, “Winning is hard. Really, really hard.” Unless you’re Alabama or maybe Clemson, Herman is right. Look around, # 6 West Virginia lost to Iowa State, TCU lost at home to Texas Tech, a few weeks ago Wisconsin lost to BYU at home and I could go on, but you get the point.

So I was surprised when I read a slew of negative comments on Barking Carnival’s Baylor post-game thread.  With a six-game winning streak, a 6-1 record, and a top ten ranking (more on that in a minute) some Texas fans were complaining about a closer than expected win over Baylor win that included a nail-biting finish. Never mind that Texas lost their starting quarterback early in the first quarter.

I’m sure none of the readers of this here blog were complaining after the Baylor game, but here’s a news flash for any Texas fan who thinks winning any of the five remaining regular season games should be easy.  None of them will be.  They’ll all be hard, even the Kansas game.  Texas may finish 11-1 but they’re not a dominating team.

Why All the Remaining Games will be Hard

The offense has had its moments, particularly against Oklahoma and USC.  But in the Kansas State and Baylor games, the offense didn’t score in the second half.  Could it be that Tim Beck and Tom Herman were out-coached at halftime and the second half by the opposing defensive staffs in these games?  Will no-scoring or low-scoring second halves become a trend for Texas in the last five games?

When you add the question of Sam Ehlinger’s health to the offense’s second half inconsistency, you have a fair amount of uncertainty on the offensive side of the ball for the remainder of the season.


The defense is getting some strong individual performances from linebacker Gary Johnson, safety Caden Sterns, safety B.J. Foster, and defensive end Charles Omenihu.  Brandon Jones, Davante Davis, and, yes even Kris Boyd have been pretty solid. But safety P.J. Locke and linebacker Anthony Wheeler are glaring weaknesses on a defense that is statistically average thus far. They rank 38th in the country in scoring defense and 46th in allowing third down conversions.

In the last two games against Oklahoma and Baylor, the defense has had trouble closing the deal. In fact, they blew the deal against Oklahoma but were bailed out by a clutch last-minute drive by Ehlinger and the offense.  They allowed Baylor—without timeouts—to march from its own 3-yard line to the Texas 17 in the last 1:43 of the game giving them three legitimate shots at the end zone before time expired.  In both of these games, receivers were wide open even though Texas dropped eight into pass coverage. What’s up with that, Orlando?

Kicking Woes

Just when you think Cameron Dicker is going to be the next Justin Tucker, he misses a 34-yard field goal that would have made the Baylor game a lot less exciting and he failed to make amends by missing a 51-yard attempt in the fourth quarter.  For the season, he’s a pedestrian 10 of 15. If he doesn’t get more consistent it will probably cost Texas a game down the stretch.

Ryan Bujcevski is averaging 38.6 yards a punt, which stinks. He did have good game against Baylor averaging 47.8 yards per punt with a long of 56 and nice 55-yarder that pinned Baylor on the 3-yard line.  If his performance reverts to the pre-Baylor mean it will be a problem for the Horns.

We’re number seven!

Don’t let me spoil your fun if you’re excited about Texas being ranked number seven, but I’m here to tell you, mid-season rankings verge on the meaningless.  If Texas was playing Georgia next week, who would you bet on? And I have serious doubts that our team is better than Oregon, West Virginia, or—dare I say—Texas A&M?


Highlighting Texas deficiencies shouldn’t be interpreted as pessimism.  I’m on the verge of giddiness with a 6-1 overall record and 4-0 conference record that gives the Horns a leg up on a berth in the Big 12 Championship Game.  I am trying to illustrate why we should be happy with wins any way we can get them and shouldn’t be looking for style point victories down the stretch.

HooK ‘Em,


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Baylor Over/Under Results

In another exciting finish, the Baylor Over/Under went to the tiebreaker where rookie Eric Vogl emerged from a 9-way tie (that’s not a typo) to score his first career victory with 7 correct answers.  Vogl tied with Helen Frink, D.R. Flower, Greg Swan, Mark Adams, Mike Frank, Mitch Lewis, Wes Peoples, and David Bergstrom. Seven of those contestants got at least one of their tiebreaker picks wrong. Vogl nailed the tiebreaker by picking Iowa State and Texas A&M to beat the point spread and had Michigan beating Wisconsin. Helen Frink also picked the Cyclones and the Aggies but faltered with her prediction of a Wisconsin win over Michigan.  Helen takes second place money.

The average score was 6.1.

The 19 contestants this week were the most we’ve had so far for 2018. The all-time record for Over/Under contestants was set in the 2008 Oklahoma game when there were 24 contestants.

It should be noted that the grader awarded a point to all the contestants for question #10, how many golf balls Willie Earl would hit into various hazards over the weekend, regardless of their answer.  However, Willie Earl has made a note of those who answered over.

A Baylor post-game column will be published tomorrow.


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High-Arcing Trajectory

I’ve been having a recurring daydream. In it I’m methodically pulling my golf clubs, one by one, out of my golf bag—which is standing upright—and hurling them by the grip ends, on a high-arcing trajectory into the whooshing oblivion of a black hole from which they’re never to return to poorly strike a golf ball again.

Sometimes it isn’t daydream but occurs during my last waking consciousness of the evening before I drift off into a long, deep, restful sleep.

Texas 51
Baylor 16

HooK ‘Em,


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Told you we would win. But seriously folks, I’ve never been in a stadium and witnessed such a muted response to a field goal to take the lead with seven seconds left from the winning team’s fans.  It seemed that 46,000 or so Texas fans were as scared as I was that Kyler Murray would somehow score again. Before the eight-minute stretch of the fourth quarter when Oklahoma scored three touchdowns, the Texas fans were as loud and raucous a crowd as I’ve been a part of since 1974 when I started attending games on a regular basis—certainly the loudest since the 2008 OU game.

More than just because of the excitement of the moment, from my perspective as a Longhorn Football critic, the Longhorns on Saturday were a team worthy of being excited about, admired, and respected which made my cheering and the afterglow of victory all the more satisfying.  I like this team. I like what Tom Herman is developing.  I don’t think this string of wins is the fool’s gold of the OU win in 2015 or the Notre Dame win in 2016.  That doesn’t mean the Horns won’t skin their knee once or twice before the season is over, but I think it’s safe to have higher expectations for this team than we’ve had for the last several years.

What I liked about Texas on Saturday

  1. Hanging out at the fair after the game Saturday, I heard a Texas fan say game balls go to Lil Jordan Humphrey and Colin Johnson. I agree they were great but if there was only one game ball to give, it goes to Sam Ehlinger. Before the season I was far from sold on Ehlinger. I thought he was a game-losing turnover waiting to happen but now he has four straight games without a turnover and has the longest interception free streak in Longhorn history. He’s become a real pocket passer to go along with his running ability which was monumentally huge on Saturday with three touchdown runs.
  2. I wanted to strangle whoever the Texas offensive linemen were (I didn’t know who they were during the game) flagged for holding three times on two crucial fourth quarter possessions. Overall though, the offensive line played another good game allowing only one sack and creating enough space for Ehlinger, Ingram, and Watson to average 4.7 yards per carry.
  3. Cameron Dicker, wow.
  4. The offensive game plan and play calling were the best I can recall in a long, long time. Several people who watched on television thought they could tell that Herman was calling the plays. Maybe so, but play calling is as much or more about the plays that are included in the game plan going in as the play calls themselves. Hats off to the offensive staff.
  5. As shell-shocked as I was when Oklahoma tied the game with 2:38 left in the fourth quarter, I was reasonably confident that Ehlinger could drive the team down the field for the winning score. Of course I didn’t dare utter that to my seatmates at the time. Maybe this should be #1 instead of #5.

Cause for concern going forward

  1. Todd Orlando, what the hell was the problem with your defense in the fourth quarter? From an Xs and Os standpoint, I have no clue what was going on but it looked like the defense was tired and was choking to death. I didn’t see it from my seat in the upper deck but I read today that P.J. Locke was adjusting his equipment when the ball was snapped on the 77-yard touchdown he gave up during OU’s fourth quarter run. I told my son Bob during the first half I didn’t understand why he plays at all. He misses lots of tackles and assignments. Isn’t it time to see if the next man up can play better?
  2. The punter Ryan Bujcevski isn’t cutting it. Again, isn’t it time to see if the next man up can do better?


Most importantly, on to Baylor.

HooK ‘Em,


OU Over/Under Results

It was another hotly contested Over/Under with a big field befitting of the occasion. Helen Frink and Mark Adams tied for first with nine correct answers. Helen won in the tiebreaker for picking both winners (Wisconsin and Florida) against the line. Mark had Wisconsin but faltered with his pick of LSU.  It turned out not to be a factor but Helen deserves further props for predicting the final score of Texas-OU would 42-38 Texas.

David Bergstrom and David Frink tied for second with seven correct.

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