Archive for the ‘2020’ Category

Diatribes and Urban Meyer

During Tom Herman’s weekly press conference last week, he was asked about speculation that Urban Meyer would take his job in 2021 if not sooner. In summary his response was that reports in the press and blogs about his shaky job status were based on unnamed sources and was driven by people with an agenda.  Sounds about right to me.

I saw Herman answer that question on LHN and his response seemed strong but reasonable. But the media reported that Herman had launched into a five-minute diatribe in defending himself. Diatribe? By definition can a diatribe be only five minutes long? Anyway, I thought I must have missed Herman’s answer to a follow up question on the same subject, so I skimmed through the press conference again. I hadn’t missed anything. His answer wasn’t a diatribe.  And how did the reporter and the press expect Herman to answer?  Did they think he would say, “Yeah, I’m going to be fired if I don’t win the Big 12 and I’m very worried about my job security?”

Seems to me that asking that question was a waste of time. In fact, I find about 90% of the questions Herman gets asked in his press conferences are a waste of time and it annoys the heck out of me when a reporter can’t articulate his or her question in less than a 150 words.

Urban Meyer

Let me state this succinctly.  Do we Texas fans really want that creep heading our football program?  Are we that desperate?  I’m not.  I do hope that the next coach–unlike Tom Herman and Charlie Strong—has a resume that includes consistent winning as the head coach at a power five conference program.

Such as:

  1. Dabo Swinney – At least a 100-1 shot I know but you have to ask, don’t you?
  2. Brian Kelley – Kelley is in his 11th year at Notre Dame where his record is 100 – 37. That includes a BCS Championship appearance and CFP appearance. Notre Dame’s record in the four years prior to his hiring was 26-24. Before Kelley was hired, a consensus was developing that Notre Dame would never be an elite program again because of geography (Have you ever been to South Bend?) and academic standards. Kelley has proven that consensus wrong. Maybe Kelley would like the idea of living and recruiting in Texas and earning more than $1.66 million a year.
  3. Kirby Smart – Smart is in his fifth year at Georgia where his record is 49-14 including an appearance the CFP Championship Game in 2017. The last three years he’s won 13, 11, and 12 games. Maybe Smart would like to compete in the Big 12 rather than the SEC.
  4. Mack Brown – He fulfills my criteria of consistently winning at a power five program. Okay, just kidding. 😊

Iowa State

It just so happens that this is a huge game. Texas must win to remain in Big 12 Playoff contention and a loss would put Tom Herman’s tenure at Texas on its deathbed.  Iowa State needs to win to stay in control of their Big 12 Playoff hopes and prove they’re not a pretend contender as they’ve turned out to be so often during the Matt Campbell era.

Iowa State leads the Big 12 in rushing averaging 205 yards per game and Breece Hall is the conference’s leading rusher averaging 147.5 yards per game at 6.3 yards per rush.

They’re third in the conference in total defense holding opponents to 333.8 yards a game and fourth in scoring defense allowing 23.4 points per game.

Bottom line, statistically Iowa State is better than Texas. The latest line has Texas favored by 1 ½ points. Betting wise, given that the home team is spotted three points, Vegas thinks Iowa State is a better team than Texas.

Seems to me the difference in this game will be the choke factor for three of the most important participants.

  1. Will Brock Purdy choke? He’s overrated as far as I’m concerned. I expect a rested Sam Ehlinger to play great in his last game at home for Texas.
  2. Will Tom Herman get scared and play too conservatively on offense in big moments as he so often does in big games? Will he commit any major gaffes in clock management?
  3. Matt Campbell will not lose his job if Iowa State loses this game, but Iowa State has not a won a conference championship of any kind in more than 100 years, so the pressure is on.  If his team loses in an embarrassing fashion, Michigan may lose interest in him.

This should be an exciting game with plenty of drama. Too bad there will only be about 17,000 fans in attendance. Has anybody noticed that without Sam Ehlinger’s heroics versus Texas Tech and Oklahoma State, Texas would have lost those games and would have lost to Oklahoma by a wide margin? My gut tells me that Sam Ehlinger puts on the performance of a lifetime and Texas wins a nail bitter.


HooK Em,

W.E.

Oklahoma State Over/Under

  • Tiebreaker: required

    Pick the winners against the line

    Notre Dame -4.5 @ North Carolina
  • Auburn +24.5 @ Alabama
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West Virginia Over/Under Results

Clayton Frink broke through this week and posts his first win of the season with seven correct answers. Second place was a clean sweep for the Sig Eps with: Jeff Otto, Andy Garrod, and Greg Swan tying with six correct answers.

The average score was a low, low 4.6.  That’s a W for Willie Earl.

Naming Texas’ leading tackler may have been a bit too difficult. Al Spell it Like it Sounds and Wes Peoples were the only players to answer correctly in naming Juwan Mitchell.  Only five of 18 players, including winner Clayton Frink, predicted there would be no lead changes in the fourth quarter.

16 of 18 players correctly predicted that Texas would rush for more yards than West Virginia.

The turnout was good with 18 players turning out.

W.E.

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The Reports of Herman’s Demise are Greatly Exaggerated

Sports talk show host Colin Cowherd has a mantra about passionate sports fans wanting to be right more than they want to get it right. If I had a mantra about passionate sports fans, it would be in a similar vein to Cowherd’s: they want to be the first to predict more than they want to accurately predict. 

Since Texas’ loss to Oklahoma I have observed passionate Texas fans being guilty of both above foibles when predicting or flat out stating as a fact that Tom Herman will be fired after this season if not before. They want Herman to be fired and if they say it emphatically enough times, they think they can make it come true.

In the cold hard light of the win over Baylor and the stirring come-from-behind win over Oklahoma State, the prognosis for Herman keeping his job in 2021 looks pretty good. And, I don’t think Texas has to win its remaining four games for Herman to be retained.  If Texas wins three out of four and finishes 7-3 for the regular season Herman will remain, in my opinion. That would give him a 34-18 record. Not great but I think it would be a bad look to fire a coach who just went 7-3 and has won 65% of his games over four years. If Herman doesn’t win the Big 12 in 2021 or doesn’t have a Mack Brown like 10-2 regular season record without a championship, then he’ll be fired and his buyout will be more reasonable than it would be at the end of this season.

Texas’ Keys to Victory over West Virginia

  1. Texas has averaged 92.7 yards in penalties over the last three games. They had 142 yards in penalties against Oklahoma State. Texas can’t continue to be penalized at this rate and expect to win its remaining four games or even three out of four.
  2. Texas overcame penalties and an average offensive output to beat Oklahoma State because they forced four turnovers. They need to win the turnover battle over a West Virginia team that is fourth nationally in total defense and 19th in scoring defense.
  3. It was clear during the Oklahoma St. game from his play and his facial expressions that Sam Ehlinger was in pain. Between Texas’ porous offensive line and Herman’s penchant for using quarterbacks heavily in the running game, Ehlinger is beat up. Texas needs to protect Ehlinger the passer much better and Herman needs to rely more on his running backs and less on Ehlinger to run the ball.
  4. West Virginia average 32 minutes in time for possession. Texas can’t fall behind by double digits in this game and expect to win.

Final Observations on the West Virginia Game

Texas gave up 400 passing yards and 530 yards total to Oklahoma State. Texas overcame those ugly statistics with a heroic performance from Joseph Ossai and strong performance from Ta’quon Graham. It’s reasonable to expect those two to play well against West Virginia but not to win the game again this week.  I’ll go out on a limb and predict that if West Virginia total more than 500 yards of total offense they’ll win.
Texas was held to 287 yards and 3.8 yards per play and Ehlinger was sacked five times against Oklahoma State. I’ll go out on another limb and say if Texas gains less than 350 yards total offense this week they’ll lose.

Texas got a touchdown on D’Shawn Jamison’s 100-yard kickoff return. Without consulting the Google machine, I believe that’s two kickoff return touchdowns and one punt return touchdown for his career at Texas. So, a Jamison long return or return touchdown isn’t a fluke but it’s unlikely to happen two games in a row.

This is a Big 12 elimination game. The loser will be out of title contention. Will Texas come down off the high of the Oklahoma State victory and play a more consistent game offensively and defensively against West Virginia or play poorly for the third time this year in a game that starts at 11am?

HooK ‘Em.

W.E.

West Virginia Over/Under

  • Tiebreaker: required

    Pick the winners against the line

    Clemson -5.5 @ Notre Dame
  • Oklahoma St. -12.5 @ Kansas St.
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Oklahoma State Over/Under Results

Congratulations to the field of 17. Your average score at 6.4, is the highest of the year and puts this one in the loss column for Willie Earl.  The field was spotted a point when no one took the bait and guessed that the Horns would have a kick blocked.  Only player in the field was correct in going under on the largest lead of the game at 11.5.

The only player who got the largest lead question right was Al Locascio and his nine correct answers tied for first place with Mike Frank. Mike wins this week by edging Al in the tiebreaker by going one for two on the pick ‘ems. Al got both wrong by picking Penn St. and Dallas to beat the spread against Ohio St. and Philadelphia. Congratulations to Mike and Al.

Al, I wish you simplify the spelling of your last name, so I didn’t have to copy and paste it from your entry every time you make the news.

Mark Stephan took third place all by himself with eight correct. D.R. Flower, Clayton Frink, Greg Swan, and Tyler Cotton tied for fourth with seven correct.

I think I’ve mentioned this in years gone by but looking over the names of the entrants each week is like a “This is Your Life” television episode for me.

W.E.

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As Time Goes By

You must remember this
A kiss is just a kiss
A sigh is just a sigh
The fundamental things apply
As time goes by                                  
                        From “As Time Goes By”
                                                                  -Dooley Wilson

If a kiss is just a kiss and a sigh is just a sigh, is a song just a song?   When a group of UT athletes demanded that the University ban “The Eyes of Texas,” I asked a friend what he thought of that. He answered, “It’s just a song.”  His answer became a mantra for people who were willing to jettison the school Alma mater.  Ironically, no one told the UT athletes that “It’s just a song.” Instead the University formed a committee to examine the history of the song.  That’s what I call “Higher Learning.”

Get Your Story Straight

During Tom Herman’s weekly Monday press conference, he was asked what he thought about Baylor coach Dave Aranda’s weird decision to punt from Texas’ 30-yard line. Herman said that he wasn’t aware of that happening. Huh? And that he had been so immersed in watching Oklahoma State film over the past 48 hours that the Baylor game now seemed like four weeks ago.  Then Statesman reporter Kirk Bohls asked Herman if he had noticed any weaknesses in Oklahoma State to exploit.  Herman replied that because of all his media obligations he had only spent about three hours watching Oklahoma State film. Around our household we might need to change Herman’s nickname from “Mensa Boy” to “Mr. Self-awareness.”

Evaluating the Baylor Game Performance  

I played in a golf tournament last weekend, so I didn’t watch the Baylor game, but I recorded it and despite my media obligations, I’ve had a chance to watch it.

A few observations:

  1. Ehlinger is taking too many hits in my opinion. If he keeps running as much as he’s been forced to so far this season either on called quarterback runs or scrambling, at the least he’s going wear down. At the worst he’s going to miss a game or more because of an injury as he did in 2018. Why not call Bijan Robinson’s number a little more, Ehlinger’s a little less?
  2. Keaontay Ingram, Bijan Robinson, and Roschon Johnson combined for 113 yards on 29 carries. The long run was 12 yards. This is workmen like not dynamic. Unless there’s dramatic improvement this week in run blocking, Texas running backs aren’t going to be major contributors against Oklahoma State who is 19th in the country in total defense unless it’s as pass receivers.
  3. Back to the “Get Your Story Straight” from above. I noticed that before Baylor punted from the Texas 30, they tried to incur a delay of game penalty to give their punter more room to pin Texas inside the 10-yard line. Texas was too smart for that and declined the penalty. So, Tom Herman declines that penalty but doesn’t remember Baylor punting from the Texas 30-yard line?  Why lie or prevaricate about this Tom?
  4. Texas’ pass protection is subpar. This will be a problem against Oklahoma State.
  5. Texas averaged about 18,000 in attendance for the TCU and Baylor games. According to the 25% capacity limit this year, Texas could have up 25,000 in attendance for a game.  So, are we to extrapolate that with this team, in a normal year, Texas would be averaging about 72,000 fans per game?  I know I’m just filling column space here but if you take a look up the road to College Station, the Aggies have reported 24,000 + attending their home games. From what I saw on television, I think they had about 50,000 at the Florida game. I’m just wondering if there’s an enthusiasm deficit this year for the Longhorns. Maybe it’s just that Texas fans are more careful about the pandemic than A&M fans.
  6. The defense looked good overall. The talent level appeared good across the board. Is that a reflection on Baylor or an improvement in Texas’ defense?  We’ll see tomorrow.
  7. Defensive end Alfred Collins needs to play more. Looks like to me he could be a star.

Oklahoma State

Texas is a three-point underdog. If I was a gambler, Oklahoma State would be a very tempting bet. I have an easier time imagining an embarrassing loss for Texas than a potentially job-saving win for Herman.

The writers on “Inside Texas” talk about the advantage on the “headsets” that most Texas opponents seem to have. Based on past performances, Oklahoma State has a decided edge on the headsets in this game.

I know it’s not going to happen, but I’d like to see Texas in the throwback white unis they donned against Baylor again this week.

HooK ‘Em,

W.E.

West Virginia Over/Under

  • Tiebreaker: required

    Pick the winners against the line

    Clemson -5.5 @ Notre Dame
  • Oklahoma St. -12.5 @ Kansas St.
Read more
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