Archive for the ‘2019’ Category

TCU Thoughts, Facts and Figures

Here are some thoughts that have popped into my head this week and my very own analytical analysis and prediction for the TCU game.

1. We know the Texas defense is bad. It’s 119th out of 130 teams in Division 1 and 126th against the pass.  But did you know that Texas ranks 130th (DFL) in punt returns averaging -0.63 per return?  The good news is Texas’ punt return defense is good giving up an average of 3.63 yards per return which ranks 22nd. The bad news is Texas is 65th in net punting at 38.37 yards per punt.  This isn’t helpful to the Horns porous defense.

2.  I’ve been a sports fan all my life but it’s only been the last three or four years that I heard the concept that a head coach’s job is to coach the assistant coaches.  It seems fair to observe that Tom Herman is not doing a great job coaching Todd Orlando and the defensive position coaches.  How can you have a coaching staff at this level, at this stage of the season that needs to conduct remedial tackling instruction? It should boggle your mind.

3. For about oh … the tenth year in a row we’re hearing that Texas’ defensive schemes and game plans need to be simplified to allow the defenders natural ability and instincts kick in. 

Tackle eligible pass plays aside, the offensive scheme and game plans have already been simplified. Texas runs few if any counter plays in the running game and it’s very predictable before the play by formation when a running play is coming. The swing passes to running backs behind the line of scrimmage are telegraphed from 100 miles away.  This lack of sophistication seemed to have made offensive adjustments impossible against Oklahoma and resulted in 310 yards of total offense, 170.9 yards below their season average. 

Giving credit where credit is due Texas is 9th in the country in scoring averaging 40.9 yards per game and is 16th in total offense at 480.9 yards a game.  It’s going to be interesting to see how Ehlinger and the Horns fare against TCU. Their defense is 11th in total defense allowing 281 yards a game. Interestingly, TCU is a pedestrian 53rd in scoring defense giving up 24.7 points per game. On paper, this should be a good game.

The Big 12 Race

If Texas wins out they will play in the Big 12 Championship period. They could lose a second conference game and still qualify for the Championship game. However, if that lose comes to Baylor—in all probability—they won’t make it because Baylor is currently undefeated and it’s extremely unlikely that they will lose more than two conference games down the stretch.  If Texas and Baylor finished in tie for second with two losses, Baylor—with a win over Texas goes to the championship game. 

Any questions?

Willie Earl’s Statistical Breakdown and prediction for the TCU game

Below see Willie Earl’s chart of statistics breaking down the Texas-TCU game with Willie Earl’s soon to be patented weighted adjustments.  The formulas I devised for the adjustments are very complex (I took and passed Algebra ll/Trigonometry and I learned how to manually keep score in bowling at age 8). 

Willie Earl’s chart predicts a less than one point victory for TCU rounded up to a full point 36-35. I’m sorry, the chart is the chart.

I will email separately readers who request an explanation of my formula.

TCU Over/Under

  • Tiebreaker: required

    Pick the winners against the line

    Auburn + 10 1/2 @ LSU
  • Wisconsin +13 1/2 @ Ohio State
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Kansas Over/Under Results

It was bloodbath out there Saturday night for the Over/Under players with an average score of 3.1. That’s the lowest average since Willie Earl began keeping track.

Tom Yoxall, David Bergstrom and David Frink tied for first with five correct answers. Quite well done considering how the game went and the overall scoring average.  They all went 1-1 in with their picks against the line.  On the final tiebreaker Bergstrom and Yoxall both predicted Dallas would beat Philadelphia. Bergstrom gets the win beating out Yoxall on margin of victory with his 27-13 to Yoxall’s 30-23. David Frink had Philly winning 31-24.

Dan Adams, Clayton Frink, and Kelly Malek tied for fourth with four correct answers.

“Winning is Hard”

When you were in school there was probably a test you knew you weren’t prepared for and in your professional life maybe it was a presentation you knew that you weren’t going to nail.  Over the last couple of years, there have been golf tournaments and matches when I knew before I teed it up, because of the way I’d been practicing, that it probably wasn’t going to be my day.

I’m wondering if Tom Herman, Todd Orlando, and the Texas defensive players knew they weren’t prepared to perform well against Kansas.

Oh well, a win is a win is a win … right? 

To paraphrase Bill Belichick, “On to Fort Worth.”

More coming Friday on Kansas and TCU.

Hook “Em,

W.E.

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The Post Oklahoma Deflation Blues

For Longhorn fans, losses to Oklahoma are almost always disappointing and sometimes heartbreaking. This year’s loss was disappointing but it wasn’t heartbreaking. It was something worse than heartbreaking.  It was deflating.

How deflating? Let me count the ways.

1. With one loss before the Oklahoma, game the odds of Texas making the College Football Playoff were long but there was a chance. Of the 20 teams that have qualified since the four-team playoff format began in 2015—according to my quick research—11 of them were one-loss teams.  No two-loss teams have qualified since the four team format began. Even if Texas wins the rest of their games including the Big 12 Championship game, with two losses—for all intents and purposes—they’re out.

2. After their performance in the Oklahoma game, in my opinion, there is no realistic chance that Texas will qualify for the Big 12 Championship game and win it by beating Oklahoma. Given what I saw in Dallas last Saturday, I have grave doubts about Texas even qualifying for the Big 12 Championship game.

3. Dovetailing with #2, after the Oklahoma game, I’m anticipating that Texas will lose at least one more game in the regular season.  Road games versus TCU, Iowa State, and Baylor look particularly challenging. Texas Tech at home the day after Thanksgiving will be no walk in the park either.

4. The most deflating aspect of the Oklahoma loss is the loss of confidence in Tom Herman that I suspect is widespread among the Longhorn fan base.  Against the Longhorns biggest rival with much more than just bragging rights at stake, Herman rolls out a flat football team with an incredibly timid offensive game plan (more on that in a minute). No realistic observer expected the Texas defense to shut down Oklahoma but the wide open running lanes for Jalen Hurts and the wide open receivers were embarrassments. After year-and-a-half of futility against Spread offenses Herman’s defensive coordinator seems as lost and as over his head as ever. There just doesn’t seem to be light at the end of the tunnel for the defense’s deficiencies.

The hiring of Greg Davis is a sick joke on Texas fans and the offensive game plan against Oklahoma was vintage Greg Davis.  Why is Tom Herman getting paid $5.4 million a year and Tim Beck getting more than a million a year if they have to hire outside offensive consultants let alone Greg Davis?

Tom Herman was much sought after and hired because he was theoretically the antithesis of Greg Davis. Did Chris Del Conte approve this?  How tone deaf can these guys be?

My blood pressure went up 40% writing the last few sentences.

Kansas

Playing Kansas this week is good news, bad news. The good news is Texas will probably win. The bad news is Texas fans will fine little solace in beating Kansas.

********

I was thinking about this column while walking my dog this morning and the 1965 Texas-Rice game darted through my mind. In 1965 my older brother Clayton was a freshman at UT and it was the first year that I closely followed Texas football.

From 1961 through 1964, Texas was 40-3-1 winning the National Championship in 1963 and the Southwest Conference in 1961, ’62 and ’63. From 1961 through ’64 Texas’ final rankings were #3, #4, #1 and #5 respectively.  They had a good run.

In 1965 Texas won their first four games and was ranked #1 when they suffered a heartbreaking loss to #3 Arkansas. Texas’ ranking fell to #5 after the loss and their next game was against Rice in Austin. Shockingly, Texas lost 20-17 and lost the week after that to SMU. Texas also lost to TCU that year and finished the season 6-4.

After the Arkansas game Texas just seemed deflated.

On that happy note . . .

Hook ‘Em,

W.E.

Kansas Over/Under

  • Tiebreaker: required

    Pick the winners against the line

    Kansas +21 1/2 @ Texas
  • Iowa St. -7 1/2 @ Texas Tech
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Outcoached and Outplayed

What a disappointing performance by the Longhorns in every phase of the game.  Texas was averaging 483 yards and 42 points per game and came away with 310 yards and 27 points against Oklahoma.  Texas scored only three points in the first half. 

The Texas defense gave up 511 yards including 276 yards on the ground at 7.3 yards per rush. To their credit they forced two Oklahoma turnovers in the red zone that kept the game from getting out of hand early though at no time did I really think Texas might win.

Here are issues that were glaring.

1. Sam Ehlinger was sacked nine times.  That’s outrageous. Three or four of those sacks were Ehlinger’s fault for holding the ball too long which leads to the question of why weren’t Longhorn receivers getting open.

2. From my vantage point in the upper deck of the Cotton Bowl, there were at least five or six times you could see that Texas was beat on the play before the ball was snapped just by looking at the formation. Texas simply didn’t have enough players on one side of the formation or the other and Oklahoma ran to that side for big gains.  I don’t know, maybe Todd Orlando needs to be in the press box. Nothing else seems to be working.  This Texas defense is on pace to be the worst in history.

3. The moment seemed to be too big for some of the Texas players. There were dropped passes on what could have been big plays.  Devin Duvernay muffed a fair catch on a kickoff resulting in Texas starting on the three yard line. On three other kickoffs he made poor decisions to run the ball out of the end zone resulting in Texas starting drives on the 13, 5, and 16 yard line.  For some reason, D’Shawn Jamison was trotted out to receive a punt for the first time this year and let it hit the ground on easy chance to field it resulting in Texas starting a drive on the seven yard line.

4. Tackling. No need to go into it, you saw it.

I just watched Tom Herman’s weekly Monday press conference and he talked about issues—including some of what I’ve just listed—that could be fixed. One of the issues Herman talked about fixing was tackling. Why do you have to fix tackling issues on this level, six games into a season with players who are mostly four star recruits?  Since the last few years of Mack Brown’s tenure I don’t remember any issues coaches have said could be fixed that ever got fixed. What’s definitely not fixable is the goal to reach the College Football Playoff this year

I think the harsh reality of this game is that Lincoln Riley and his coaches are markedly better than Tom Herman and his coaches.  Oklahoma’s players may be better than Texas’ but I wonder if Bum Phillip’s observation about Bear Bryant applies to the current Texas Oklahoma matchup? “He can take his’n and beat your’n, and then he can turn around and take your’n and beat his’n.

A sobering thought for Longhorn Fans.


Hook ‘Em,

W.E.

Oklahoma Over/Under Results

There were 25 entries this week which breaks the record of 24 entries that was set in the 2008 Oklahoma game. This is very exciting for the staff at Willie Earl.

Eric Vogl earns the honor for a victory in the largest Over/Under field ever with seven correct answers.

David Frink, D.R. Flower, Jeff Otto, and David Bergstrom tied for second with six correct answers.

Mitch Lewis, Wade Wallace, Dan Adams, and Al Locascio tied for sixth with five correct.

Overall it was a tough day for the contestants with an average of 4.5 correct answers. Only four contestants were correct on the time of possession for Texas question and only eight were correct on the OU average yards per rush question.

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OU Week State of Mind This is Big Friday

I gotta get back to Dallas
And tie up a few loose ends

–Toy Caldwell, Marshall Tucker Band

This is a big game, bigger than Dallas. To paraphrase Ben Bradlee in All the President’s Men, “Nothing’s riding on this except it’s the biggest game in 10 years for Texas, the biggest game of Tom Herman’s coaching career and the chance to become a serious contender for the College Football Playoff for the first time. Not that any of that matters.”

I can’t prove it in writing, but it seems to me that the outcome of most high-stake games like this one comes down to turnovers.  Excuse me if that is a “Captain Obvious” statement. I’m just saying.  Other than turnovers here are my “Bud Wilkinson” keys to victory for the Longhorns.

1. Hold Oklahoma’s offense to scores on less than 50% of their possessions.  As revealed yesterday in this column, the average number of possessions in a college football game is 13. Would it be too much to ask the Texas defense to hold Oklahoma to 6 scores?  Say four touchdowns and two field goals or field goal attempts, 31 -34 points total?  If Texas does that I believe they’ll win.

2. Excuse me for stating the obvious again but Sam Ehlinger needs to play a really good game.  He has broken his habit of trying to play “Hero Ball” over the past year-and-a-half. He can’t have a relapse under the pressure of the biggest game of his life.

3. Collin Johnson is supposed to play after missing three games with a hamstring injury. He caught eight passes for 177 yards against Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship Game last year. He also drew two or three interference penalties and there were two or three more that the officials couldn’t bring themselves to call. 

It will be a huge boost to the offense if he can get some separation and have another big game against Oklahoma.

4. Ryan Bujcevski needs to have a competent game punting. He’s averaging a pedestrian 40.5 yards per punt. Even if he only punts three times, one shanked 22 yarder that gives Oklahoma a short field could be decisive.  The forecast is for northeast winds at six mph so the wind won’t be much of a factor.

5. This is related to #1. The Texas defense has yet to figure out how to effectively pressure the passer. Defensive linemen Malcolm Roach, Ta’Quon Graham, and Keondre Coburn have one sack combined for the year. 

The last report that I saw says Oklahoma’s two starting offensive tackles will not play due to injuries.  Todd Orlando has to find a way to take advantage of that and come up with a better plan than he’s had so far to get to the passer.

6. Related to #1 and #5, Texas defenders have to take good angles to get to Oklahoma ball carriers.  They have to understand when to concede five yards to prevent a 30, 40, or 50 yard run.

7. Turning over the ball on downs—especially in the red-zone—is a turnover. Get it? Turning it over on downs is a turnover. Take the points.

I could on but I’m starting to feel a little didactic.

OU MAKES SMALL PARTIAL VACUUMS WITH THEIR MOUTHS!

Cheers, it’s OU Weekend!

Hook ‘Em,

W.E.

Oklahoma Over/Under

  • Tiebreaker: required

    Pick the winners against the line

    Alabama - 16 1/2 @ Texas A&M
  • Florida + 13 1/2 @ LSU
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