Archive for the ‘2018’ Category

One—Hopefully Not Brief—Shining Moment

One of the first thoughts that came to my mind late in the fourth quarter of the USC game was a quote from “The Sportswriter” by Richard Ford, If there’s another thing that sports writing teaches you, it is there are no transcendent themes in life. In all cases things are here and they’re over, and that has to be enough.”

For Texas, players, coaches, and fans alike, with TCU—a far better team than USC—next, if you look at the absolutely electric moment that was the victory over USC in Royal-Memorial Stadium Saturday night in any other way than just a singular event you’re likely to be disappointed.

That being said here’s some really good stuff from Saturday night.

Four and Five Stars Shine

It may be a simplistic analysis but when Caden Sterns blocked that field goal, I thought, by god that’s a five star recruit!

Four Star recruits Brandon Jones and Collin Johnson came up big in the moment, Jones with a touchdown saving tackle at the goal line and Johnson with six catches for 79 yards.

Four Star recruit Joshua Moore made a fine 27-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter.

Five star recruits BJ Foster and Jeffery McCulloch made solid contributions on defense.

Sam Ehlinger, a four star recruit, played his best game as a Longhorn. His running ability is why he’s the starter and he made several key runs including his 4-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.  More importantly, he didn’t turn the ball over.

Coaching

I could actually detect an offensive game plan with the play callers—whoever they were—sticking with the running game even when the Horns were down 14-3 and coming up with a passing attach designed to make the reads simple for Ehlinger that targeted the Horns big receivers, Collin Johnson and Lil Jordan Humphrey.  Speaking of the running game, my offensive line again played solidly.

Todd Orlando and his defensive staff did a good job of making adjustments after USC took that 14-3 lead in the first quarter.

Now, rinse and repeat.

HooK ‘Em,

Willie Earl

Over/Under Results

Mark Adams was part of the five-way tie for first last week and he followed up that performance with  an outright win this week with eight correct answers plus a bonus point for a correct answer on the daily double for a total score of nine.

John Scott, Tom Yoxall, and Mike Frank tied for second with seven correct plus the daily double. Mike Frank was the only contestant prescient enough to predict Texas and USC would score the same number of points in the fourth quarter.

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Open Game Thread USC

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The Way We Were

Memories light the corners of my mind

      Misty water-colored memories of the way we were                     

 Scattered pictures of the smiles we left behind                                                

     Smiles we gave to one another for the way we were                                   

   Can it be that it was all so simple then
    Or has time rewritten every line                  

                            If we had the chance to do it all again
                            Tell me, would we?

HELL YES!

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Ten Tulsa Takeaways

 

  1. Spinning Charlie Strong’s, “The cake is baked”, the Longhorns are half-baked.
  2. For a defense that surrendered 34 to Maryland and was spotty against lowly Tulsa the Texas defense sure celebrates a lot.
  3. Keaontay Ingram looks to me like Texas’ most talented running back since Jamaal Charles. If his knee injury isn’t serious, for God sakes give him the ball 25 times a game.
  4. Tulsa blocked a punt and Texas punter Ryan Bujcevski looks unreliable so far. Special teams maybe a problem.
  5. Speaking of special teams, through two games, Texas kicker Cameron Dicker hasn’t attempted a field goal.
  6. Herman said after the game that, “Winning is really hard, really, really hard.” For his team apparently it is.
  7. Midway through the second quarter, Texas had a second and goal at the Tulsa 1-yard line but failed to score. The replay showed that Trey Watson scored on the second and one play. Stupidly, the Texas coaches didn’t protest the call. On third down, Ehlinger ran wide and lost two yards, a really dumb call with the ball inside the one. Texas failed to score on fourth down on a pass attempt by Ehlinger rolling to his left, an equally dumb play call. This was a really bad series for the coaching staff leaving you to wonder if goal-line offense is going to be a problem for Texas again this year.
  8. After beating lowly Tulsa in a game that was in doubt until late in the fourth quarter, Herman said he was proud of his team. Contrast that to Jimbo Fischer’s anger at his team losing by two points to second ranked Clemson.
  9. The timing of the Chris Del Conte interview, during the fourth quarter of the game broadcast on the Longhorn Network while Tulsa was scoring a touchdown to pull within seven, was comical, absolutely comical.
  10. After two games, the Longhorns have the look of a six-win regular season team.

Editor’s Note

Glad to see the readers’ engagement after the game on the Tulsa Pre-Game Post.  Readers, let me know if you’re interested in the opportunity to post on a “Willie Earl Live Game Thread.”

 

Over/Under Results

There was an unprecedented five-way tie for first place in the 130th edition of the Willie Earl Longhorn Blog Over/Under Contest with Joe Grubbs, Mark Adams, Greg Swan, David Frink, and Clayton Frink posting seven correct answers.

After going to the tiebreaker, amazingly, David Frink and Greg Swan, were still dead-tied having accurately picking winners Houston and South Florida, and predicting the exact same 38-20 score for the A&M-Clemson game. Joe Grubbs also accurately picked South Florida and Houston but his score prediction of 35-13 for the A&M-Clemson game was slightly less accurate than Greg and David’s. This one goes down in the books as a tie.

Congratulations to Greg and David.

Mike Frank was alone in 6th place with six correct answers.

HooK ‘Em,

Willie Earl

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Kidding Aside

Remember the drama, angst, and intrigue surrounding the firing of Charlie Strong and the hiring of Tom Herman?  If UT didn’t move quickly, LSU would hire Herman depriving Texas Football of the coach who would return it to national prominence for years if not a generation?

So isn’t ironic—if not downright farcical—that 14 games into Tom Herman’s tenure, to the naked eye, his team bares a remarkable resemblance to Charlie Strong’s teams at Texas.  That is, unprepared and flat on too many occasions.  In Herman’s 14 games at Texas, there have been four, Maryland last year and this year, and Texas Tech and TCU last year in which the Longhorns were clearly unprepared and uninspired.  By my count, that’s at least three too many. There just aren’t that many games to prepare for. Obviously, the season is not doomed because of the loss to Maryland, but it’s hard not think that there is something seriously wrong with the way Herman is running his program.

Questions for Herman and the coaching staff

Why was Todd Orlando’s defense burned numerous times by the same play, the jet sweep?  Defend that play effectively after the first couple of times Maryland ran it and Texas wins the game.

Herman’s stated goal for the offense all offseason was to be a down-hill running team, so why were five of the first six plays of the season four passes and a reverse?

I thought the biggest reason that Sam Ehlinger won the job over Shane Buechele was his running ability. Why didn’t you call Ehlinger’s number more often?

Keaontay Ingram averaged 6.2 yards per carry. Why didn’t he get any carries in the second half?

Coach Herman, when you were asked how big a setback the loss to Maryland was, you said not very.

Can you explain that to the large number of the Longhorn faithful who think it was a huge setback?

*******

Herman’s nonsensical reference to, Of Mice and Men, in his Monday press conference reminded me of the dreams I had before I figured out the right dosage for my nightly melatonin.

Speaking of dosages, my wife asked me last week if I was still taking my meds. Is that bad?

How did my offensive line do?

Pretty well.  Here’s what Paul Wadlington—AKA—Scipio Tex—the smartest analyst/writer who follows the Longhorns wrote about the offensive line’s performance versus Maryland.

Clearly improved. Impossible not to see it. More cohesive, fewer busts, consistent, better effort, better technique. Pad level is still not ideal, but much improved. Calvin Anderson was extremely steady at LT, Cosmi played strong at RT replacing Kerstetter (Derek was having trouble with Cowart and Aniebonam’s power at DE) and the interior was competent, though they lack pop. They don’t get great push, but these guys are playing hard and getting after it. Shack’s holding call was totally bogus.

Herb Hand appears to have done a fine job in the offseason. USC looms as a real test. Maryland’s front was just OK, so let’s not go crazy, but if you can’t see improvement here, you’re not looking. I also thought their conditioning was good.

As with our QBs, RBs, WRs, our OL is better at certain things. We should be doing those things. 

A Brief History of Longhorn teams that started 0-1 since 1973

2017

I’m sure you remember. Texas finished 7-6.

2015

Lost to Notre Dame 38-3. Finished 5-7.

1999

In the first game of Mack Brown’s second season at Texas, they lost to North Carolina St. 23-20. If memory serves, Texas had three punts blocked. The Horns went on to win 9 of their next 10, winning the Big 12 South Division before losing their last three finishing 9-5.

1991-1993

Texas lost their first game three years in a row to, Mississippi St. in 1991 under David McWilliams, and again in 1992 under John Mackovic. They lost to Colorado in 1993.

Texas finished 5-6, 6-5, and 5-5-1

1986-1989

Texas lost their season opener four years in a row to, Stanford under Fred Akers, and to Auburn, BYU, and Colorado under David McWilliams.

Texas finished 5-6, 7-5, 4-7, and 5-6

1976

Under Darrell Royal, Texas lost their opener to Boston College 14-13.

Texas finished 5-5-1. Royal retired at the end of the season.

1973

Coming off a 10-1 season including a 17-13 victory over #4 Alabama in the Cotton Bowl, Texas ranked #3, lost to Miami 20-15. The Horns went on to win 8 of their next 9, winning the Southwest Conference for the sixth straight years before falling to Nebraska in the Cotton Bow.

Texas finished 8-3.

Over the 45 seasons between 1973 and 2017, Texas lost their opener 13 times.  Of the 13 seasons Texas lost the opener, they finished with a losing record nine times.  The four winning season records were 8-3, 6-5, 9-5, and 7-6.

Past performance is no guarantee of future results. That being said, I see a trend here.

Injury update

Zach Shackelford is out for the Tulsa game with a foot injury. Backup guard Patrick Hudson was taken to the hospital with a heat related illness during Wednesday’s practice. He is also out for Tulsa.  Starting safety Brandon Jones is out for the Tulsa game with an ankle injury.

The offensive line was decimated by injuries for the 2017 season so the injuries to Shackelford and Hudson have a, “not again” feel to them.

Looking Past Tulsa

The Longhorns can’t look past Tulsa but I can.

Texas has not won more than two games in a row since their six-game winning streak in 2013. Following Tulsa, the next four opponents are, USC, TCU, Kansas State, and Oklahoma.  Given this coaching staff’s inability to prepare for each and every game on the schedule, don’t expect them to string three wins together before late October at the earliest.  I do expect the Longhorns to beat USC.

Tulsa Predictions

Sam Ehlinger throws two touchdown passes and two interceptions. Three Texas quarterbacks get playing time.

Herman and his offensive staff grudgingly increase Keaontay Ingram’s carries from six to eleven. Trey Watson gets 12 carries. Texas rushes for 179 yards averaging 5.2 yards per rush.

The Texas defense gives up more than 400 yards of total offense including at least one jet sweep that gains 15 + yards, but gets three turnovers and holds Tulsa to 16 points.  The defense also commits two personal fouls.

Texas wins 41-16.

In his post-game press conference Tom Herman says, “I told you we were good.”

 

HooK ‘Em,

Willie Earl

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