Archive for the ‘2019’ Category

LSU Over/Under Results

In a near record turnout of 21 players, young Hunter Stephan (I knew him when) emerged from the crowd winning the LSU Over/Under with a superlative nine correct answers.  Going forward – when Hunter chooses to shows up – he’s going to be a force in this game.

David Frink and Steve Holstead tied for second with eight correct. Wes Peoples, Tom Yoxall, Colby Malek, Tyler Cotton, and Mitch Lewis tied for third with seven correct.

The average score was six. The staff at Willie Earl consider that a loss for the question formulators. Our goal is an average of less than 5.5.

W.E.

On Another Night

On another night when Keaontay Ingram doesn’t drop that pass, the opposing quarterback doesn’t do his best impression of Joe Montana, and the Longhorn secondary is more seasoned and experienced, the home team wins in front of an adoring crowd.

Still bullish on the Horns here.

More on LSU and Rice coming Friday.

Hook ‘Em,

W.E.

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First Dates and Hopeless Romantics

You look in her eyes; the music begins to play.
Hopeless romantics, here we go again.
                                                                                 
— Don Henley / J.D. Souther / Glenn Frey

I had a lot of first dates in my college years. When I say a lot, I mean way more than other people I knew. I’m guessing in those four years I had about 40 during spring and fall semesters and in my hometown, Reston, Virginia, in the two summers I was home.  I approached most of those dates thinking, “This could be the one.” Sure, I knew ahead of time that some of those girls I wasn’t going to marry or even go out with more than once, but most of the time I was hoping this one might be the one.  No matter how often I was disappointed, no matter how many times I had my feelings hurt – which  was more than a  few – I didn’t get discouraged, I didn’t quit dating. I kept looking and kept hoping that maybe that this next one could be the one.

In particular, I remember a first and only date I had for the first Sigma Phi Epsilon party of the fall semester in 1976. It was a blind date set up by one of my roommate’s girlfriend, although my roommate was unaware of the arrangement.  Those of you familiar with the Greek social scene would know what I mean when I say it was on pledge line night.  I remember which sorority she was in, but I don’t remember the girl’s name. I have a vague memory of what she looked like – five, four or five, five with chin-length medium-brown hair parted in the middle – though I couldn’t identify her in the 1977 UT yearbook that I consulted not more than ten minutes ago. I remember that she was a junior like me that she had a great sense of humor – she laughed at all of my jokes – and she made several witty remarks and observations herself.  We had a great time. I was attracted to her, and I thought we had chemistry. We were among the last to leave the party, and when I was walking her to the door of her sorority house, it started to sprinkle large drops, portending an eminent hard rain.  As we got to the door, in the brief moment that I was wondering if she wanted me to kiss her good night, she scrunched her shoulders, girding for the rain and said playfully something along the lines of, “Hurry up and kiss me before we get soaked.”  I did and it was a pretty good kiss, not perfunctory.  As I drove away in the rain, thoroughly smitten, I was already planning on asking her out for the next weekend.

At this point if you’re confused, let me assure you that you are reading Willie Earl’s Longhorn Blog.

The next day, my roommate asked me if I had a good time at the party, and when I told him I had he asked me who my date was.  When I told him, he was surprised because he knew the girl and that she was in a pretty serious relationship. He asked his girlfriend about this and found out that the reason she accepted a blind date with me was because her boyfriend wasn’t back in Austin for the semester yet.  My roommate, being one of the nicest and most honorable guys I’ve ever known, thought that the girl behaved shabbily in accepting a blind date to the party with me and leading me on .  He wasn’t too pleased with his girlfriend for setting it up, either.

How did I react to hearing this news?  Well, by now you must know I was a hopeless romantic. So, being a hopeless romantic, I knew that the girl really liked me. We laughed together. We had chemistry! She couldn’t be that mercenary. 

Though I was a little fazed, I called her a couple of days after the party and asked her out.  She politely declined and told me that she had a boyfriend. 

Wah-wah.  A metaphorical cold shower and a lesson in the mysteries of human nature.  Bloodied but unbowed, within hours I was on to finding my next first date.  I think it was Connie.

***************

I had my first date with 2019 Longhorns last Saturday.  I’m thoroughly smitten.  I’m smitten with the overall talent level and team speed.

As I mentioned last week, I’m pretty taken with Sam Ehlinger. Obviously the La Tech game was just a warmup for him for LSU. I suspect he was working with only about 40 percent of the playbook. 

I love the way Keaontay Ingram ran against Louisiana Tech. The preseason hype about his added bulk turns out not to be hype. He’s definitely bigger with the same twitch he had last year.  As for the worry over Ingram being the only healthy scholarship running back, I can remember when the number two running back didn’t play much more than the number two quarterback.  Quick, tell me who the backups were for Ear Campbell, Ricky Williams, and Cedric Benson?  So maybe I’m a little infatuated to draw a comparison between Ingram and Campbell, Williams, and Benson but I think he can carry the load for a few weeks.

As the offensive line goes, so goes the team’s chances of winning and I loved the way the offensive line blocked last week and I like the depth of the unit. In addition to the starters, Zach Shackelford, Parker Braun, Junior Angilau, Derek Kerstetter, and Samuel Cosmi, Denzel Okafor is really a co-starter at right tackle and Tope Imade is an up-and-coming left guard. 

I loved Devin Duvernay’s role last week as a slot receiver/running back.  Besides Ehlinger, he could be the most important player on offense versus LSU. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him have a combination of 15 receptions and rushes this week.

I also loved the way Jake Smith handled himself in his first college game receiving punts and catching passes. 

I expressed my abiding love for Colin Johnson last week.

As for the defense, to start with, I’ve been a big fan of Malcolm Roach since the first game of his freshman year. He’s up to the role of team captain and leader of the defense.

Deondre Coburn looked solid at nose tackle in the first start of his career last week.  Sure, he’ll have growing pains but I think he’s a potential All-American as is linebacker Joseph Ossai who had one interception last week and interception return for a touchdown that was negated by a penalty.

The Longhorns have good to great players all over a defensive backfield lead by senior safety Brandon Jones and sophomore safety Caden Sterns.

The cornerbacks need to tackle better (what else is new) and maybe Kobe Boyce shouldn’t be a starting cornerback. The only thing I really didn’t like last week was when Boyce seemed to be celebrating breaking up a pass while the Louisiana Tech receiver was catching the ball and running down the field.

***********

The hopeless romantic that I am, I’m allowing myself to believe that the 2019 Longhorns just might be the “one” and I’m confident that my affection for the 2019 Longhorns after our first date will be reciprocated with a win over LSU Saturday night. 

One final thought. 

Tom Herman was born to win this game.

Hopefully I’m more perceptive now than I was on that late August night 43 years ago.

Hook “Em,
W.E.

LSU Over/Under

  • Tiebreaker: required

    Pick the winners against the line

    Texas A&M + 17.5 @ Clemson
  • Miami -5 1/2 @ The Mack Browns
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Louisiana Tech Over/Under Results

Andy Garrod and John Scott tied for first place in the Over/Under season opener with eight correct answers. Interestingly enough — not only did they tie — they also share the same birthday. Not only do they share a birthday, they were both born on the same day in 1956.

In the tiebreaker, John emerged as the winner going one-for-two in picking winners against the line. He won with Boise State and lost with Houston.   Andy went o-for-two picking Florida St. and Houston.

Clayton Frink and Rick Mosher tied for third with seven correct.

They average score amongst the 17 participants was 5.9.  That’s a little high from the perspective of our question formulator.  The formulator will try to make the LSU contest more difficult.

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I thought the Longhorns looked very good – not great – against Louisiana Tech.  With LSU coming this week, very good is better than great in my opinion as the Horns needed to save plenty snap, crackle and pop for the Tigers.

Stay tuned, more on Louisiana Tech and LSU coming Friday.

W.E.

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Louisiana Tech Pre-Game

Briefly

My Preseason Observations and Predictions was also kind of my Pregamer but here are a few more items to ponder going into Saturday night.

Willie Earl Wields Influence

About three hours after Willie Earl published Seven Predictions and or Observations on 2019 Longhorn Football Joshua Moore was suspended from the team.

Running Back Depth

Texas starts the season with just two scholarship running backs available to play — Keaontay Ingram and Jordan Whittingting — and they’re not 100%. I’m wondering if Tim Beck will supplement the traditional running game with a few Devin Duvernay and Jake Smith jet sweeps.

The Forgotton Man

Remember John Burt, Texas’ leading receiver in 2015? There were high hopes for Burt — also a 200 meter hurdler on the Texas track team — after his stellar 2015 freshman season.

But a pretty bad case of the dropsies pushed Burt down the depth chart in 2016 and 2017. In 2018, Burt caught just one pass and was redshirted after appearing in only four games.

Well low and behold I spotted Burt as one of the starting wide receivers on this week’s Longhorns depth chart. Burt the track man — as you might expect — has great speed and I’m pulling for him to be the great Longhorn redemption story of 2019.

Hook ‘Em and remember
Love your mama, love your brother 
Love ’em till they run for cover 

W.E.

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Seven Predictions and or Observations for the 2019 Longhorns Plus Willie Earl’s Seven Must- Know Steely Dan lyrics.

Prediction #1
Tom Herman will be asked by a reporter this week, “Due to the season-opening losses the last two years to Maryland, is the Louisiana Tech game a must win?”
Herman will answer, “No . . . “

Lyric #1
Is there gas in the car
Yes, there’s gas in the car
                                   – – “Kid Charlemagne”

Observation and Prediction #2
Louisiana Tech was a much better football team than Maryland in 2018. They went 8-5, including a victory over Hawaii in the Hawaii Bowl. I’ll make a lightly-informed prediction that Louisiana Tech will be better than Maryland in 2019. In fact, I don’t think I’d draw much criticism if I said that, historically, Louisiana Tech has a better football program than Maryland. 

Texas will lead Louisiana Tech by seven points or less at halftime, play better in the second half than the first, and win 31-19.

Lyric #2
I crawl like a viper
Through these suburban streets
Make love to these women
Languid and bittersweet
I rise when the sun goes down
Cover every game in town
A world of my own
I’ll make it my home sweet home
                                            
“Deacon Blues”

Observation #3

Granted, I only know what I’ve read in the newspaper and in the news online about Joshua Moore’s arrest.  But with that information, I don’t understand why at the very least he hasn’t been suspended from school and the team. 

If the school’s and Herman’s position on this is defensible, they owe the public more information than Herman’s statement, “We have talked with him and his family and are handling this internally at this time, but will continue to monitor the legal process. We will determine any further action upon the completion of that process.”

Moore’s arrest reminded me of Longhorn sophomore tight end Reese Leitao.  You may recall that Leitao — shortly after signing with Texas – was arrested and charged with a felony for allegedly selling Xanax on his high school campus. His lawyer got the charge reduced to a misdemeanor, and Leitao was allowed to enroll at Texas. He was suspended for the first three games in his freshman year, games that he was unlikely to have played in anyway.

Most young people make at least a few stupid mistakes and errors in judgment, and I’m not suggesting that Moore and Leitao should have their character and life forever tainted by their youthful mistakes.  Still, UT and Herman claim to have high standards for moral conduct.  In fact, Herman, like Charlie Strong, has core principles that include no guns and no drugs.  When and how do those principles apply?

It’s still relatively early in Herman’s tenure at Texas, but perhaps he should consider whether he wants to run his program more like his former boss Urban Meyer or more like Mack Brown.  It’s also an interesting question for Longhorn fans.

Lyric #3
Who is the gaucho, amigo?
Why is he standing in your spangled leather poncho
And your elevator shoes?
Bodacious cowboys
Such as your friend will never be welcome here
High in the Custerdome
                                                 – -“Gaucho”

Observation and Prediction #4

Collin Johnson is the second best player on Texas. He’s a close second.  He’s a beast, a third-down conversion machine as well as a deep threat.  Last season, he had 68 receptions for 985 yards.  This year, he’ll be unstoppable, becoming Texas’ tenth receiver all-time to have more than 1,000 yards receiving in a season.  During the 2019 12-game regular season he will amass 80 receptions for 1243 yards.

Lyric #4
You’d never believe it
But once there was a time
When love was in my life
I sometimes wonder
What happened to that flame
The answer’s still the same
It was you it was you
Tonight you’re still on my mind
                                                  
– -“The Nightfly”

Observation and Prediction #5

Eleven years ago (goodness gracious, 11 years?) this week on this here blog, I predicted to a highly skeptical readership that Texas would go 11-1 in the regular season because of Colt McCoy.  The consensus of writers, fans, and pundits was 8-4. Believe it or not, before the 2008 season I would estimate that at least half of the Longhorn fan base did not believe in McCoy. I did, because of a combination of his performance over the 2006 and 2007 seasons and the way he handled himself in interviews. I believed his wholesome, humble image was real, not an act. He seemed like a cream-of-the-crop human being to me. Also, I walked by him in the concourse of the Erwin Center during a UT basketball game in the winter of 2008, and I was surprised at what a big man (physically) he was. I’m guessing he grew at least two inches and gained 25 pounds between his freshman and junior year.  It reminded me of Johnny Moore’s growth spurt that took him from a skinny, six-foot freshman to a physical ,six-foot-three junior who became the foundation of two of Texas’ best basketball teams ever.

Sam Ehlinger had imposing size for a quarterback when he arrived as a freshman in 2017. Other than that, his growth as a player and a person after two seasons reminds me of Colt McCoy.   I’m still a little worried about how frequently he exposes himself to big hits, and like everybody else I’m concerned about him staying healthy for 13, 14, or 15 games.  If he stays relatively healthy, he’ll have as big an impact on the 2019 Texas season as McCoy had on the 2008 and 2009 seasons.

Sam Ehlinger leads Texas to an 11-1 record in the 2019 regular season.

Lyric #5

Love your mama, love your brother 
Love ’em till they run for cover 
                                          
– – “Turn That Heart Heartbeat Over Again”

Observation #6
You may think 11-1 is too optimistic because of the wave of new starters Texas will have. Well, no roster on any team in any sport at any level is perfect.  Texas will have eight new starters on defense, if you include the nickel-back as a starter.  There will be three new offensive line starters.  Ten of the eleven new starters are experienced backups. Nine of the eleven were four-star recruits. One was a five-star. Let me repeat that. Nine of the eleven were four-star recruits and one was a five-star. The other new starter is three-star offensive guard Derek Kerstetter, who has started 15 games over the past two seasons.  That’s an impressive list of new starters.  I submit to you that nine of the new starters are an upgrade over the starters they’re replacing.  Two of them – cornerbacks Anthony Cook and Jalen Green – should end up being better than the players they’re replacing, Kris Boyd and Davante Davis.
Texas will field the most impressive position-by-position starting lineup that they have had since 2008.  Not only will they post an 11-1 regular season record, they should post an 11-1 season record.

Lyric #6
Drive west on Sunset
To the sea
Turn that jungle music down
Just until we’re out of town
                                            – – “Babylon Sisters”

Closing Observation
If Nick Saban or Dabo Swinney were coaching the 2019 Texas team, what record do you think they would have?
The future is now, Tom Herman.

Closing Lyric
I never seen you looking so bad my funky one
You tell me that your superfine mind has come undone

Any major dude with half a heart surely will tell you my friend 
Any minor world that breaks apart falls together again 
When the demon is at your door 
In the morning it won’t be there no more 
Any major dude will tell you
                                            
– – “Any Major Dude”        

HooK ‘Em,
W.E.

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