Archive for the ‘2022’ Category

Gut Check

In the end, getting the win over Iowa State was a needed step forward for this team. Texas was 2-7 in one score games under Steve Sarkisian before this game. Here are a few thoughts on the game:

1. Texas’s game winning drive was 11 plays, 75 yards, and ate up 6:15 in the fourth quarter.  Other than the drive ending with a touchdown to take back the lead late in the fourth quarter what’s notable is that 9 of the 11 plays were runs.  This illustrates that Sarkisian can adjust his script in crunch time and orchestrate a game winning drive. Previously I was skeptical that he had that capability. Maybe he’s grown in the job.

2. Speaking of scripts, for the third straight game Texas went three and out on their first possession. As you recall, Keilan Robinson blocked Iowa State’s punt after their first possession giving Texas the ball on Iowa State’s 21-yard line. In three plays Texas gained zero yards on a Bijan run, and incomplete pass, and completion for zero yards. Then Bert Auburn missed a 39-yard field goal.

I’m assuming based on Sarkisian’s usual scripting of the first 15 offensive plays of the game, those first three plays were part of that script. Whatever happened to going for the kill shot immediately after forcing a turnover deep in your opponent’s territory?  Just asking.

3. From my seat on row 50 on the 35-yard line for the Iowa State game I observed Bijan Robinson turning down a couple three sure 5-6 yard runs and instead using his amazing jump cutting ability to try and make longer runs. The result was one- and two-yard gains. I may be wrong but sometimes Robinson should take the 5-6 yards.

4. Is it me or is Roschon Johnson faster this year?

5. Sarkisian addressed the recent slow starts at his Monday press conference. He kind of threw Quinn Ewers under the bus saying they needed to look at things to help Quinn make a faster start. Maybe the main thing to look at is Sarkisian’s conservative approach on the first possession of those games.

Oklahoma State

While we’re on the subject of faster starts, Texas might need to score on most of their possessions against Oklahoma State. It could be one of those games where you have to hold serve to keep up.

Spencer Sanders

As of this writing Spencer Sanders’ status for this game is unknown because of an injury to his throwing shoulder.  I’d be surprised if he didn’t play. Last week, versus TCU Sanders completed only 16 of 36 passes for 245 yards. For the season he’s completing a relatively low 58.5 % of his throws. He is however the leading passer in the Big 12 both in total yards at 1639 and average yards per game at 273.

Sanders averages 51 yards per game rushing which when combined with his passing yards makes him the leader in the Big 12 for total yards per game at 324.7.

If Sanders passing is limited by his shoulder injury, Texas’s ability to contain his designed runs and scrambling will be a big key to the outcome of this game. How many 3rd and 4th down conversions will Sanders make with his legs?

Quinn Ewers

Last week I pondered what a bad Quinn Ewers game would look like. If it was his 17 completions on 26 attempts for three touchdowns and 172 yards against Iowa State Texas is in pretty good shape. He would have had more than 200 yards and 4 touchdowns if Casey Cain hadn’t dropped a sure touchdown in wide open spaces.

Stillwater

Texas won 41-34 in overtime the last time they played in Stillwater in 2020. They lost there in 2018 and 2016. The media refers to Boone Pickens Stadium as a hostile environment for Oklahoma State opponents. It’s hostile if you’re mediocre or worse. If you’re a good team and the Oklahoma State star quarterback has an injured throwing shoulder, you should be able to quiet the crowd by sometime in the third quarter.

Final

I think we are all sensing that this Texas team might be of Big 12 Championship caliber. If our senses are good, Texas should march into Boone Pickens Stadium and relying heavily on the running of Bijan Robinson and Roschon Johnson with a few shots to Xavier Worthy sprinkled in, Texas should get a much-needed win for the program and Steve Sarkisian.

Hook ‘Em,

W.E.

Song of the Week

Donald Fagen, Boz Scaggs, and Michael McDonald Holy Crap!

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Iowa St. Over/Under Results

Dan Adams won this week, and I was about to type it was his second straight victory. It is his second straight week winning Moneyball, but the outright winner last week was Helen Frink who’s ineligible for Moneyball.

The scores came back down to earth with Dan’s winning score of 7 compared to last week when two players tied with a perfect 10. The average score was 4.5. Only 3 of the 21 players picked ISU’s Xavier Hutchinson to have more receiving yards than Jordan Whittington. I was surprised by this metric since Hutchinson had 83 receptions for 987 yards last year and had 57 catches of 604 yards coming into this game.  Anybody doing research out there?

Dan takes home $55, the biggest pot in the history of Over/Under Moneyball. Dan seems to have found nice stream of retirement income.

Mark Stephan and David Bergstrom tied for second place with six correct answers.

This week’s 21 players ties with the West Virginia Over/Under for the season high turnout.

W.E.

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Star Power

Steve Sarkisian is the producer and director of a star-studded offensive production that includes headliners Bijan Robinson, Quinn Ewers, and Xavier Worthy, with strong supporting players in Roschon Johnson, Jordan Whittington and Ja’Tavion Sanders. If the director and the cast can nail the scenes in the last half of the story this production could be up for some major honors when awards season comes along if you get my meaning.

Quinn Ewers

Bijan Robinson is a Heisman candidate, but Quinn Ewers is—to use an old cliché— the straw that stirs the drink. We’ve seen in just one quarter of the Alabama game and three from Oklahoma how Ewers opens up the offense and Sarkisian’s playbook. He makes everything blend and fizz.

From what we’ve seen from Ewers so far he looks like the best Texas quarterback in a generation. Yes I know that would mean he’s better than Vince Young and Colt McCoy. Call my supposition blasphemous if you will but Ewers’ passing is more potent and more valuable than Young’s running, and I don’t think I’ll get an argument in asserting he’s a far superior passer to either McCoy or Young.

Casual confidence

Quinn Ewers doesn’t swagger and doesn’t seem to celebrate his talent much. But he has the confidence–after a very short time–of a four-year starter. When he stands in the pocket whether it’s clean or muddled he looks casual like he’s throwing the football around in the street with friends. And he remains casual looking when he throws those intermediate darts and 50-yard bombs alike. I can’t imagine another college quarterback that can match his arm talent. I think there’s only about five NFL quarterbacks who can. No B.S. And he’s ours. Amazing.

Do you think Arch Manning is rethinking his position?

A glorious Saturday

I wasn’t in the Cotton Bowl last Saturday but I’m sure it was a glorious experience for the Texas fans that were as the Oklahoma side of the stadium emptied midway through the third quarter. It wasn’t too shabby for those of us who watched on television.

Virginia is for Lovers

The icing on the cake for me was to be in touch during and after the game with two great friends who I have known for 40 + years.

During the game and later during the Notre Dame – BYU game Joe Camarda and I were actively texting. Joe, who lives in one of my three hometowns, Reston Virginia, is my Masters, Players Championship, and U.S Open running buddy and partner in various other adventures. We drove from Reston to Austin where we hung out for a couple of days and then to Dallas for the 1978 Cotton Bowl. To say it was a great road trip would be damning it with faint praise.  Texas lost to Notre Dame spoiling a perfect season that would have ended in a National Championship had the Horns prevailed. It’s funny that in the years gone by since that game the loss takes nothing off the luster of that magical 11-1 season that came with a Heisman for Earl Campbell.

Anyway, for some reason Joe roots for the Horns as long they’re not playing Notre Dame. Joe, we’ve got to get busy with the historical novel we’ve been taking about for so long, Bill and Joe’s Excellent Bicentennial.

Joe wasn’t the only friend of 40+ years residing in Virginia that I heard from last Saturday. Reed Ramlow, my Daily Texan compadre, former roommate, and 30-year expat returned stateside checked in with me from a writer’s conference in Richmond. One afternoon in 1980 when Reed and I were living in the Bluffs of Barton, he came home and announced he was joining the Peace Corp and would I write a brief personal reference. Now Reed and I were former fraternity wise guys and were still on the party circuit so at first I thought he was joking. He wasn’t. Reed joined the Peace Corp which set him on a 30-year odyssey through Asia, Africa, and probably a few other continents. Our continuing friendship through all those years and since he’s come home have made me a smarter person.

It really was a Glorious Saturday.

On to Iowa State

Statistically, Iowa State has the best defense in the Big 12 giving up just 13.7 points and 277.5 yards per game. Granted, some these numbers were accumulated versus Southeast Missouri St. and Ohio University but games versus Baylor, Kansas, and Kansas St. are also included. Holding Kansas and Kansas St. to 14 and 10 points respectively looks impressive.

On the flipside, Iowa St. is last in the conference in scoring 23.2 points per game and yards per game at 364.

These statistics would suggest that Iowa St. poses reasonable opposition to the Texas offense and defense. Can the Texas offense run up big numbers against a good Iowa St. defense and can the defense dominate another struggling offense. I’m more confident in the former than the latter.

Golf is life

Helen Frink’s favorite golf expression is post birdie F ‘up. This refers to a golfer having a bad hole after birdieing the previous hole.  Will Texas have post birdie F ‘up—so to speak—against Iowa St. after the Oklahoma game?  The Eight Ball answers, my sources say no.

Then there’s this golf maxim. It’s not how good your good shots are, it’s how good your bad shots are.

We’ve seen Quinn Ewers play great against Alabama and Oklahoma. How good will his bad game be?

The Eight Ball answers, cannot predict now.

*******

Will Texas beat Iowa St. Saturday? Willie Earl answers yes, 45-12.

W.E.

Song of the week

This is a nice way to remember the Beatles. Though soon to break up, here they are, still young (all four still in their 20s), having fun, and looking fabulous.

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Oklahoma Over/Under Results

Well, well, I hate to be redundant, but we had yet another barn burner for the Oklahoma Over/Under. For the first time in Over/Under history, there was a tie for first between two players who posted a perfect 10 score. Dan Adams and Helen Frink were the perfect ones.  Helen nosed out Dan for the win because she picked TCU and A&M in the tiebreaker. Dan picked Kansas which lost by 7. The line was 6 ½. Unfortunately for this Frink household, Helen was declared ineligible at the beginning of money ball because of her proximity to the Wille Ear staff so Dan takes the bag which was $50 this week. Congratulations Dan!

Thank goodness Hudson Card played one series and relieved the staff of deciding whether Card being the holder for extra points and field goals should be counted as playing in the game. Only two players predicted that OU would go over 99.5 yards in the first quarter. The average score was high at 6.9.

W.E.

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OU Actually Sucks–For Now

I’ve always thought that the chant by Texas fans was classless. How can we complain about Horns down when we do that? I’ve never chanted that at an OU game or any other game. But currently with Oklahoma looking like a bad football team I couldn’t resist the headline.

In case you’re not following Oklahoma football closely, they have suffered two straight losses at the hands of Kansas State and TCU. In those two games OU has given up 96 points and 1177 yards. OU did amass 550 yards and score 34 points in the loss to Kansas State.

Oklahoma was the consensus pick by the media to win the Big 12 again but perhaps it was just out of habit. They returned only 9 of 22 starters and of course Lincoln Riley went to USC and took Caleb Williams with him. That smarts. Oklahoma hired longtime Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables to succeed Riley. So far it’s not working out all that great. Is Bob Stoops ready to step in as interim coach if Texas puts a thrashing on them? Just a thought.

As of this writing, Texas is an 8 ½ point favorite. By game time I’ve heard it could go a 10-point spread if Oklahoma’s quarterback Dillon Gabriel, who is in concussion protocol,l is officially ruled out for the game.

Not a must win

I don’t know what a must win game is. I do know what a bad loss looks like and If Texas loses this game it will be a bad loss. Clearly on paper Texas is a far superior team as of today and a loss would damage Steve Sarkisian if not the team and the program. The West Virginia win righted the ship. It was a win against a conference opponent and Texas dominated. Now Sarkisian needs to get a win away from home and it wouldn’t hurt if it came against Oklahoma. It would be Texas’s first two game win streak since early last season. A lot of chips are on the table for Sarkisian in this hand. I suspect that Texas will race to big lead in the first half as they did last year in this game, and it would be nice if Texas doesn’t let Oklahoma doesn’t stage another comeback.  From what we saw in the first quarter of the Alabama game I don’t this stage is going to rattle Quinn Ewers. The Texas media and certain readers of this column are touting the player development under Sarkisian. Saturday this development will be tested. Onward and upward.

Hudson Card

I’m not the first one to say this but hats off to Hudson Card for not taking his ball and entering the transfer portal after Quinn Ewers and Arch Mannin decided to come to Texas. Card was rewarded, so to speak, for sticking around and his performance has been strong considering the circumstance and his ankle injury.

My wife Helen is a high school guidance counselor and an associate of hers told Helen that when Hudson transferred to Lake Travis not because he was recruited by the school but because his family move to the area, neither he nor his parents asked for special treatment. They didn’t send Lake Travis coaches game film or anything like that. Hudson just signed up for football and showed up for practice. It seems evident that Hudson Card is an individual of high character at a young age.  I’m a Hudson Card fan.

The OU game

I could go on and on about what Texas-OU is all about. In fact, I have on this here blog. If you’re not a longtime reader and are interested in my perspective, check out these columns from years gone by: OU Weekend 1977 and Why I love OU Weekend. I hope the OU game is as big a deal to the current generation Texas of students and fans as it was to mine.

Cheers to all of the Longhorn revelers who will be there tomorrow.

Now let’s go win one for the old—okay—older Longhorns.

BEAT THE HELL OTTA OU!

Hook ‘Em,

W.E.

Song of the Week

One of the great rock songs of the 70s Rock Era

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