Archive for the ‘2021’ Category

Dazed and Confused

I’m still in daze over the Longhorns meltdown in Fayetteville but after a few days of reading and reviewing key plays online, I’m not so confused.  Steve Sarkisian looked dazed and confused on the sideline during the second half in Fayetteville. His team was as ill prepared as any Texas team I can remember. This includes Tom Herman’s Maryland meltdowns, about 75% of the Charlie Strong era, and Mack Browns 63-14 and 65-13 losses to Oklahoma in 2000 and 2003.

Sarkisian lost the Arkansas game for the Horns before it started with a bad game plan offensively and defensively compounded by not being able to adjust when the tide started turning against them. Distilling what I’ve read this week, the fatal flaws of the Arkansas gameplan include a blocking scheme that Kyle Flood and Sarkisian prefer to run. Unfortunately, the personnel on the offensive line collectively doesn’t have the skill or talent to execute the scheme Flood and Sarkisian want to run. It turns out last year’s blocking schemes were more suitable to the talent currently available than Flood’s and Sarkisian’s.

During his Monday press conference this week, Sarkisian said (I’m paraphrasing) there were a few plays that had they gone differently, the entire game would have taken on a completely different tone. He didn’t itemize the plays, but I will.

  1. The Arkansas punt returner fumbled the punt inside their five-yard line and Texas’s Kitan Crawford recovered but with his toe on the line.
  2. Early in the second quarter on a third and 15 from the Arkansas 34, Card slightly overthrew a wide-open Jordan Whittington in the end zone.
  3. Trailing 16-0 late in the second quarter from the Texas 29, Jordan Whittington drops a relatively easy catch on the Arkansas 28.
  4. Darned if I can find the where and when but Card missed an open Xavier Worthy for a touchdown.
  5. Midway through the second quarter, Cameron Dicker muffs a snap and had his punt blocked and Arkansas recovers on the Texas 6-yard line.  


Yes, if these plays had gone the other way the game would have taken on a different tone, but Texas would still have been dominated on the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball which still would have led to a decisive Arkansas victory. Texas’s quarterback and pass receivers need to make plays that they didn’t make in the Arkansas game. Even if they do, Texas fortunes still depend on the play of the offensive and defensive lines.

Sark’s Bad Numbers

To date, Sarkisian’s record on the road as a head coach is 10-22. If you take out his first two years after taking over an 0-12 Washington team his road record is 7-14.


He’s 12-20 versus ranked teams. And did I see a graphic on the screen during the Arkansas telecast that said Sarkisian was 0-18 when trailing at the start of the second half?  I hope that’s not what I saw.

Quarterback Shuffle

Naming Casey Thompson the starter for the Rice seems like the only thing Sarkisian can do now. Going back to the Alamo Bowl and through two games this year, Thompson looks like a decent quarterback. Unless he plays poorly this week, it’s time to end the quarterback shuffle and consign Hudson Card to mop-up duty. After the Arkansas game, I’m wondering if there will be any mop-up duty this year. Nothing against Card long-term, but I think it’s been well documented that a quarterback shuffle isn’t what’s best for the team.

I know some of my fellow baby boomers remember the Roger Staubach-Craig Morton shuffle. How silly was that?

Rice

Think what you will about Rice Football, but know this, they were tied with Arkansas through three quarters in Fayetteville.
Somewhere out there Mark Adams is saying, “Those pesky Rice Owls!”

Willie Earl’s Song of the Week

“Life During Wartime” – Talking Heads

This ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco,
This ain’t no fooling around
No time for dancing, or lovey dovey,
I ain’t got time for that now

Oh my god. This is “Greatness.”

Hook ‘Em,
W.E.

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Arkansas Over/Under Results

Reed Ramlow returns to the winner’s circle winning this week’s contest with eight correct answers. Kelly Malek, Clayton Frink, Andy Garrod and David Frink tied for second with seven correct. The average score was 5.1.

Thought it was interesting that 17 of the 19 players answered correctly with under on 63.5 passing yards for Casey Thompson. He finished with 57 while scrambling out of the pocket three or four times instead of passing, including on his touchdown run. Dan Adams was the only player who correctly predicted that Arkansas would go over 310.5 total yards in offense.

W.E

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Mauled

After the shortest honeymoon in history, excuse me while I wipe the egg of my face before I give you my order of shame in last night’s mauling in Fayetteville.

  1. In my first column of the year, I said I appreciated that Steve Sarkisian stated flatly that he was the play-caller so he’s number one on my list of who’s to blame for the blowout loss. His game plan depended on the offensive line being able to at least hold its own against Arkansas’s defensive front. When it was proven early and often that it couldn’t, Sarkisian didn’t adjust. He kept running Bijan Robinson up the gut where he was consistently hit three and four yards behind the line of scrimmage.  After consistently facing second and long throughout the first and second quarter, without consulting the box score, I can’t remember a single first down pass called by our play-caller. The few times that Robinson picked up four or five yards on first down, Sarkisian called another run up the gut that resulted in losses that put Hudson Card and the Horns in third and long. This happened three or four times in the first half.

I’m not an Xs and Os expert but I’ve watched enough football to know that when you face a fired-up defense that’s charging upfield on every snap, you try to take advantage of their all-out pursuit with a quarterback draw, a screen pass, a reverse or some kind of misdirection. How ‘bout an option play where Card faked a give to Robinson inside and kept the ball and ran in the opposite direction?  We saw nothing like that. I thought before that key fourth and one midway through the third quarter, Texas had an opportunity for a huge gain by suckering the Arkansas defense inside with a fake give to Robinson and then a pass or a Card Keeper. Nope, a run up the gut by Robinson for a one-yard loss. Game over.
First and foremost, the blame for this game is on the play-caller and head coach. It’s frightening to consider that Sarkisian is only a great offensive mind when he has a dominating offensive line.

2. The offensive line gets an F- if there is such a thing. Here’s my technical analysis of the collective play of Texas’s offensive line. They can’t block. Maybe Kyle Flood is only an outstanding offensive line coach if he as three, four, or five future NFL starters.

3. I hesitate to include Hudson Card on this list without knowing who told him that he wasn’t allowed to run for positive yardage when he couldn’t see open receivers and the opportunity availed itself. It looked like to me he had several opportunities for substantial gains running but instead, he danced around in the pocket before taking a loss. We saw Casey Thompson make some nice gains, including a touchdown when he tucked and ran, albeit long after the issue had been decided.
I guess a review of the tape will tell Sarkisian if Card held the ball instead of throwing to open receivers. Other than that, Card missed throws on a couple of potential touchdowns to Jordan Whittington. Whittington didn’t help matters much by dropping a perfectly thrown ball by Card that would have resulted in a huge gain.

In his post-game press conference, Sarkisian said that he thought the defense played well for as long as it could given the offense’s futility. I agree. Yes, the defense gave up 40 points and big yardage but I’m going to assign at least half the blame for that to the offense.
Sarkisian looked relatively composed during the press conference, but I was disappointed that he didn’t directly shoulder more of the blame for the offensive futility and the embarrassing loss.
After two games, I have no idea where the Horns go from here.

Hook ‘Em,
W.E.

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Our Greatest Fears

Balzac—whoever he was—wrote, “Our greatest fears lie in anticipation.” I’m sensing what I believe to be unfounded fears in Texas fans of playing Arkansas in Fayetteville, theoretically a hostile environment.

When I look at Arkansas, I see a team that was tied with Rice through three quarters last Saturday. I see a team with experience that was 3-7 last year. Is that great experience? I see a team that lost in Fayetteville last year 52-3 to Alabama which had an offensive coordinator named Steve Sarkisian.

We have to look back quite a few years for a history of the Longhorns Ws and Ls in Fayetteville but here goes.

2004: W
1989: W
1987: W
1985: W
1981: L “The sea was very angry that day my friends.”
1979: L
1977: W
1975: W
1973: W
1969: W That was an exciting game.

Hmm, 8-2 over the last 10 in that hostile environment where the natives hate Texas with the heat of a thousand suns.

It’s only one game but what we saw in Texas last week was the closest thing to a professional operation that we’ve maybe we’ve ever seen as Texas fans against a team that—according to the experts—that is better than Arkansas.  Of course, paraphrasing an old saying, “On any given Saturday . . . but I think the 2021 version of the Longhorns can withstand a few bad bounces of the football in Fayetteville and still come out on top. I’m willing to bet we’re going to have to suffer a couple of 10+ yard runs by Arkansas’s quarterback KJ Jefferson and maybe even the Longhorns first turnover of the season. But when all is said and done, I see the Longhorns prevailing in Fayetteville tomorrow evening with their second straight 38-point output.

I’m calling it Texas 38 – 14 over those pigs from Arkansas.


Willie Earl’s Song of the Week

“All Gas No Brakes”
              Or
“Life in the Fast Lane”

I like this song but it’s not among my 100 most favorites. It’s not even in my top five of favorite Eagles songs. But its origin story might be my very favorite.

If you’re rock and or pop music fan and you haven’t seen the Eagles Documentary, “History of the Eagles”, you must see it. One of my favorite parts was Joe Walsh talking about his iconic guitar lick that became the opening for “Life in the Fast Lane.”  One of his fellow band members heard him playing it in his hotel room and asked him, what was that?  Walsh answered, “It’s just something I have.”  If you’re familiar with Joe Walsh’s speech pattern, you can imagine how funny that was.

Walsh explained it a little differently to Paul Schaffer. Here’s that clip.

Hook ‘Em,
W.E,

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Louisiana Over/Under Results

Before I get to the results, I thought I’d give you just few quick thoughts on the game.

  1. As a play-caller, Steve Sarkisian comes as advertised, one of the very best college or pro. Formation is a part of play calling and Texas’ first touchdown, the pass to Bijan that he walked in, was about Sarkisian out formationing (A word I just made up) Louisiana’s defensive coordinator.  Also, the Hudson Card 3-yard touchdown was a brilliant call.
  2. Speaking of play calling, correct me if I’m wrong but I think Texas scored touchdowns on every one of their redzone possessions.
  3. Hudson Card, what a talent!  He could be the best we’ve had since Vince Young. I’ll go out on a limb and predict he’ll be a first round draft pick in 2023. What did I tell you about Sark going with the “talent’ right of the gate?
  4. So great to see Jordan Whittington breakout with seven receptions for 113 yards and a touchdown.
  5. The offensive line needs improvement. Too many sacks and holding calls. I’m guessing Sarkisian and Kyle Flood will get this right soon.
  6. Overall Texas looked like the best coached team we’ve had in a long, long while.

W.E.

David Frink wins the opener with six correct answers. We had an incredible logjam for second place with Andy Garrod, Tyler Cotton, Helen Frink, Greg Swan, Mark Stephan, Randy Bogard, Wes Peoples, D.R. Flower, Clayton Frink, and Reed Ramlow all answering five questions correctly.

I’m sorry about very poorly formulating the question about total yards rushing for Louisiana all though Randy Bogard was the only one who was even in the ballpark with his prediction of 64 yards. Louisiana had 76. I gave Randy credit for a correct answer.

With 19 entries I thought it was a great turnout despite the Delta variant and the technical difficulties we had early Friday afternoon.

See you Friday.

Hook ‘Em,

W.E.

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