Archive for the ‘2018’ Category

No Guts, No Glory

Roy Williams and B.J. Johnson didn’t score a touchdown in their careers against Oklahoma. Cedric Benson scored one. Oh, and the three of them never experienced a win over Oklahoma. Their era at UT defined the futility of playing the OU game not to lose.

I mention this unhappy factoid to illustrate that swing passes to running backs five yards behind the line of scrimmage—a staple against Kansas State—won’t cut it this week. Sam Ehlinger will have to challenge Oklahoma’s biggest vulnerability which is its secondary. The idea that Texas can play keep away from the high-scoring Oklahoma offense by grinding it out on the ground is a flawed strategy.  Ehlinger will have to risk interceptions by throwing the ball down field including throws over the middle.  Herman and the Horns can’t back into a win in this game.

I don’t mean to suggest the Ehlinger needs to throw it 50 times Saturday. Another risk—in Tom Herman’s mind—is trusting a freshman to play a major role on offense. Herman must take this risk giving the ball to a freshman, the Horns best running back Keaontay Ingram, at least 20 times.  Incidentally, the aforementioned Cedric Benson barely stepped foot on the field his freshman year in the 2001 OU game and didn’t get a single carry.  Texas lost 14-3. The next week against Oklahoma State, Benson rushed for 136 yards on 31 carries. In the six regular season games after the OU game Benson rushed for 818 yards total on 166 carries.  Give the ball to your talented freshman Tom.

Lincoln Riley and Kyler Murray

Lincoln Riley is among the elite offensive minds college or pro. Tom Herman and Tim Beck not so much. Heck, Texas doesn’t even have a designated play caller, or anybody who’s willing to cop to it.

I think Sam Ehlinger is a pretty good quarterback who seems to be getting better.  Kyler Murray may be an upgrade over Baker Mayfield, the 2017 Heisman Trophy winner who now is an NFL starter. As succinctly as I can put it, Kyler Murray is scary good, at least through his first five games as a starter.

If the Sun Tzu posit, “Every battle is won before it is ever fought” is true for this game, the Longhorns, as Abe Lemons would say, are in a “sticky wicket.”

Reasons for Longhorns optimism

  1. Oklahoma hasn’t played a good team this year. They’ve defeated Florida Atlantic, UCLA, Iowa State, Army, and Baylor. Those teams combined won-loss record is 8-15. Florida Atlantic has the most impressive win of the bunch over 1-3 Air Force.
  2. Oklahoma’s defense is average at best. Their secondary is small and undistinguished. Texas can make hay in the passing game if they’re aggressive.
  3. Todd Orlando is verging on elite status as a defensive coordinator and he has enough good players to slow Oklahoma down at least a little bit. Orlando needs to be on his toes and adjust quickly to Lincoln Riley’s adjustments.

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Other than overarching fact that Oklahoma appears to be a legitimate top 10 team with an elite offensive coordinator, quarterback, and elite receivers, the biggest thing for Longhorn fans to be worried about is special teams. Texas punter Ryan Bujcevski is slow in getting kicks away and Oklahoma blocked a punt against Florida Atlantic. They’re sure to try block another this week. Oklahoma’s returner Tre Brown returned a kickoff 86 yards for a touchdown against UCLA.

Final Thoughts

When today’s American-Statesman went to print, Oklahoma was favored in this game by seven points. The line opened at nine. I’m an amateur assessor of sports betting. That being said, nine seems about right to me.

At the OU pep rally in Gregory Gym in 1975, Darrell Royal having lost four straight to the Sooners, said it was time get back on the winning side. Oklahoma was #2, Texas was #5.  Marty Akins, Earl Campbell, and an elite Texas defense fought hard in one of the most exciting and memorable Texas-OU games I’ve attended.  In the end it wasn’t enough. OU prevailed 24-17.

Texas has lost six of eight to OU since 2010. It’s time to get back on the winning side. I’m afraid I don’t see it happening, but I’ll be there in section 126, row 26, seat 32 rooting for the Longhorns and hoping for the best. It will the 38th Texas-OU game I’ve attended.

 

HooK ‘Em,

W.E.

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Willie Earl’s Double Life

I have a confession.  The reason I haven’t posted a column and Over/Under Results for the Kansas State game is because I was in Boston attending the Patriots-Dolphins with my son Bob over the weekend and didn’t get back to Austin until Monday night. Bob and I have been Patriots fans since 2004. Go ahead, get it out of the way, call us front-runners, call the Patriots cheaters but as Jim Stafford sang in “My Girl Bill”, who we love and why we love it’s hard to understand . . . . Bob and I—for various reasons—bonded over the Patriots when he was a senior in high school. And, Bill Belichick is my alter ego. 

Good Ugly Win

The Longhorns took a nap after taking a 19-0 lead in the first half against Kansas State. The offense woke up in time to run out the clock with a clutch drive at the end.  It’s a little late for me to be breaking down this game, but I will say, that it was the second half offensive game plan that caused this one to get worrisome.  Herman and company have to do better in Dallas this weekend.

That being said, All’s well that ends well.  On to Dallas.

Over/Under Results

Mitch Lewis won the Kansas State Over/Under with eight correct answers. If memory serves, Mitch’s win came on only his third or fourth Over/Under entry in about five years.  Natural talent goes a long way.

Clayton Frink finished second with seven correct answers. Mark Adams, D.R. Flower, Art Zeitz, and David Frink tied for third with six correct.

There was a big field with 18 contestants. The average score was 5.2.

 

HooK ‘Em,

W.E.

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Body on Body

Jim Bertelsen runs through “Body on Body” vs Arkansas in 1970

Before number one ranked Texas played number four ranked Arkansas in 1970, Darrell Royal said, “It’s time to get body on body.”  For those of you who need me to translate Royal’s remark, he meant it’s time to run the ball down Arkansas’s throat—hard.

https://www.si.com/vault/1970/12/14/637867/body-language-1970

In the five straight losses to Kansas State in Manhattan starting in 2006, Texas rushed for an average of 119 yards per game at 3.7 yards per rush.  If you take out the 2010 game when more than half Texas’ rushing yards came in the fourth quarter when they were behind 39-0, the rushing averages in Manhattan are 113 yards per game at 3.2 yards per rush.  This won’t cut it.

Plain and simple, for Texas to win in Manhattan Saturday the Horns have to run the ball effectively.  In fact, the most effective strategy for winning anywhere on the road is to run the ball effectively.

It’s time to get body on body.

Speaking of 1970

Texas had a 30 game win streak from 1968 to 1970. Without Googling, who was the last team they lost to before the streak started?  Who did Texas beat to start the streak? Who beat Texas to end the streak?

You’re on the honor system.

Clayton and David, you’re out of the contest.

Incidentally

Not counting the Oklahoma game, Tom Herman is 3-4 in road games at Texas. In three years at Texas Charlie Strong went 5-9 on the road. In Strong’s last two years he was 2-8.

Through four games, Breckyn Hager has four total tackles and no sacks. Cut your hair Hager.

Kansas State is averaging a paltry 347 total yards per game which is 9th in the conference.

Kansas State is allowing 409 total yards per game which is 9th . . . in . . . the . . .conference.

This just in, Kansas State sucks. Texas better beat them.

This also just in,  Texas Offensive Coordinator Tim Beck is hospitalized with an infection and will not make the trip to Kansas State.

More grist for the mill next week.

 

HooK ‘Em,

W.E.

 

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Hats Off to Herman

Before the season started, if the football gods or devil (take your pick) had offered you wins over USC and TCU in exchange for a loss to Maryland, would you have taken it?  A loss to Maryland would have been—was—a tough pill to swallow but in the afterglow of 3-1, with back-to-back wins over ranked opponents, do we all agree it would have been—is—worth it?

After the loss to Maryland, it took major-league chutzpah for Tom Herman to say he saw improvement in his team, and when asked how big a setback the loss to Maryland was to answer, “Not very.”  Maybe he really deserves that Mensa membership.  If I was a member, I’d nominate him myself. For the first time in nearly a decade, Herman has developed the Longhorns into a football team that its fans can be excited about.  I for one felt that small catch in my throat and a brief shortness of breath after Sam Ehlinger ran up, then stepped back in the pocket and delivered the clinching touchdown strike to Lil Jordan Humphrey.  Hook ‘Em by god Horns!

TCU Takeaways, there’s a lot to like

In addition to his fabulous 31-yard touchdown catch, and 124 yards receiving, what I was most impressed by was Collin Johnson’s tackle-breaking, balancing, and stretching seven-yard run and catch for a drive-extending first down in the fourth quarter. It was an absolutely crucial and clutch play which led to the game-clinching touchdown. Johnson has a chance to become the Longhorns first truly dominating offensive threat in a long time.

Once again Caden Sterns is setting the standard for how a five-star recruit should perform.  His play has been scintillating.

Sam Ehlinger had his second straight game without a turnover and third straight without an interception. His touchdown pass to Collin Johnson was a really good throw.  His touchdown pass to Humphrey was great improvisation. His running for the second week in a row was crucial if not prolific in terms of yards.  Tom Herman’s decision to start Ehlinger over Buechele is looking pretty good right now.

I loved Todd Orlando’s decision to rush four or five and not to go into a “Prevent” defense on TCU’s last two possessions of the game.

Now the Horns have to do it on the road.

HooK ‘Em,

W.E.

Over/Under Results

Reed Ramlow got on the board for the first time in 2018 winning this week’s contest with seven correct answers.  Steve Holstead, Greg Swan, Mike Frank, and Clayton Frink tied for second with six correct.

The new game day experience at DKR is raising many boats as there were several first time Over/Under contestants this week. Very exciting.

The average score was 4.9.

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The Rain, The Park, and Other Things

Listening to The Cowsills, The Monkees, and Gary Puckett & The Union Gap while wondering whatever happened to the 1910 Fruitgum Company.

Streaks

Texas has lost four straight to TCU by an average score of 38-8. Texas didn’t score more than 10 points in any of those games. What could make this year any different?

  1. TCU has the smallest starting defensive line in the Big 12. This is a good match up for the Texas offensive line if Texas runs north and south between the tackles. TCU may have a small defensive line but the overall speed of their defense will make it difficult to run wide. Also it would be nice if Herman and Beck would leave the wide receiver screen out of this week’s playbook.
  2. Sam Ehlinger is a good running quarterback. If ever there was a game to make his running a big part of the game plan, this is it. Again though, his running needs to be north and south, he’s not going to get around the corner on TCU.

The Horns futility against TCU continues if their defense doesn’t contain TCU’s quarterback Shawn Robinson.  Robinson is big and mobile and has a strong arm. He’s averaging 6.6 yards per carry. Against Ohio State last week, he threw for 308 yards and a touchdown. He did throw two interceptions. Texas’ biggest fear is that Robinson will convert crucial third downs with his running ability.

Speaking of Streaks

What are your fondest memories of Texas Football from 1984-1994 when the Horn’s dropped 10 of 11 to Texas A&M?

Mack Brown’s Texas lost five in a row to Oklahoma from 2000 to 2004 while posting a 52-6 record against all other opponents. What was up with that?

Texas’ longest current winning streak against a Big 12 opponent is three versus Baylor.  Hmmn.

But we have won recruiting every year!

You know what I’ve noticed?

Iowa State, Kansas, and Texas Tech look new and improved. Iowa State is 0-2 but they looked pretty respectable against Oklahoma last week. Kansas beat Rutgers last week 55-14. Is it possible that they won’t be an easy out in the Big 12 this year?  We’ll find out more this week when they play Baylor in Waco. Tech beat an SEC opponent (Mississippi) in the first week and scored 63 on the Major Applewhite’s last week winning 63-49. Texas plays KU and Tech on the road this year.

Belief

Player for player Texas and TCU are about even but I’m skeptical that Tom Herman and his staff can match wits with Gary Patterson and his. That’s what this game comes down to.

HooK “Em,

W.E.

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