Archive for the ‘2022’ Category

UTSA Pre Game II

A few more thoughts on the Longhorns from my fertile football mind


1. It’s not breaking news and it doesn’t take a lot of expert knowledge to see that Quinn Ewers might just live up to his five-star hype. I’m not a recruiting expert so correct me if I’m wrong, but I think Ewers was the nation’s highest rated quarterback recruit since Vince Young.

Steve Sarkisian is going to have to find a way with Texas’s inexperienced offensive line to protect Ewers from the kind of shot he took that knocked him out of the Alabama game.

Reading between the lines on the reporting on the quarterback situation going into the UTSA game, I’m thinking Ewer’s injury may not be as serious as initially feared. I’ll go out on a limb and predict he’ll be back for the Texas Tech game next week.

2. Running against the grain of all the good feelings coming out of the Alabama game as I did yesterday, I’ll point out that Texas failed to make a few critical plays that would have turned the tide and scored them the victory.

Xavier Worthy failed to make a very makeable catch on a beautifully thrown ball from Ewers in the endzone in the first quarter.

You’ll need to help me here but either D’Shawn Jamison or Ryan Watts muffed an easy interception that may have resulted in a pick six for the Horns.

Ryan Watts had a clear path to sack Bryce Young for a sizable loss that probably would have derailed Alabama’s game winning drive and secured the win for Texas. This kind of missed opportunity has haunted Texas for the last 12 years. To have a breakout season, Texas needs to make these plays.

3. What the hell were Sarkisian and his defensive coaching staff thinking on conceding Alabama underneath pass routes at the beginning of their game winning drive. From my perspective, Texas basically let Alabama get to the Texas 40-yard line playing your basic prevent defense. This was a glaring strategic failure by Sarkisian and his coaching staff. You know the saying about the prevent defense, it prevents victory. It also gave Sarkisian his sixth one-loss game during his brief tenure in Austin.

Theoretically, Texas is still in the playoff race. The rule of thumb is losing a game early in the season to a quality opponent doesn’t eliminate you from contention for one of the four playoff berths for the national championship.

Further, Texas is still undefeated in the Big 12. 😊

Come on Horns, make some plays!

Hook “Em,

Willie Earl

For easy reference if you haven’t submitted your Over/Under guesses.

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Pre Game UTSA

I went to Austin Shoe Hospital this week to see if they had burnt orange/bronze shoe polish for a pair of my golf shoes that are only about a year old but have faded quite dramatically in Texas sun.  The clerk assumed that I was so excited about the Longhorns performance that I was looking for burnt orange shoe polish for general purposes. I wasn’t. It was totally coincidental that I was in the neighborhood of this location a couple of days after the Alabama game. I had needed some special polish for these shoes for some time now. The clerk went on about how great Texas was now yada, yada, yada. 

A longtime friend of mine and reader of the blog called me to discuss the Over/Under results and wanted to know why I hadn’t made it a money game yet.  He also went on to gush over how great Texas’s line play was on both sides of the ball was versus Alabama.  My friend and the Shoe Hospital clerk are a pretty accurate reflection of where the Longhorn fan base is right now.

I’m thinking, let’s all calm down a little bit and reflect a little bit more coolly about the where the Longhorns are after the Alabama game.  Here are a few facts about the game that we should all take under advisement.

1. Alabama committed 17 penalties. This was not normal for them by a long shot and certainly was a big factor in keeping the game close.

2. Alabama rarely plays on the road in September and coming into Austin and playing in a hostile environment was a new experience for them.

3. My friend gushed over Texas’s line play, but our offensive line got their first and second team quarterbacks injured. Also, Texas rushed for only 79 yards and averaged just 2.9 yards per rush.

4. Texas scored only one touchdown on five trips to the redzone. That’s just like the Texas offense for the past oh, I don’t know, 12 years?

I will elaborate more on this Friday evening or Saturday morning when my work and family obligations have calmed down a bit.

Until then,

Hook “Em,

W.E.

I finally got some feedback on making the Over/Under a money game. This is what the staff at Willie Earl has decided.  There will be two options for players.

1.Enter the money game with a $5 entry fee. Winner takes all.

2. Enter just for fun. No entry fee required. This type of entry is ineligible to win the pot.

3. Helen Frink is not eligible for the money game. She’s just too good and it wouldn’t be fair. 🙂

To enter the money game, send $5 via Venmo to me @Bill-Frink. If you don’t have a Venmo account get one. It’s free. If you’re too old and tired to learn Venmo, contact me via email and we’ll work out a payment option for you.

https://venmo.com/

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Alabama Over/Under Results

David Frink and Mark Adams tied for first place this week in a hard fought battle with lots of bumbs and bruises with 7 correct answers. David outlasted Mark in the tiebreaker going 1 for 2 in the pick ’ems with Tennessee, right, USC, wrong. Mark had Pitt and USC which were both losers. Both players played outstanding with 7 correct given that the scoring average was 5.05.

Mitch Frink, Homer Mark, Wade Wallace, and Tyler Cotton (classic QB name) tied for second with 6 correct answers.

W.E.

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Alabama Pregame

 

An Austin sports talk host asked listeners to text him the outcome for the Alabama game they hoped for since Texas couldn’t be expected to win. Some listener texted that Texas needed to keep it no worse than a two-score game. Another one just wanted to Texas to beat the line which is currently 21. Joel Klatt on the Colin Cowherd show said beating the line was where the Texas fan base was. A loyal reader of this here blog mused that he was hoping for a monkey pox outbreak that would force a cancellation of the game.

What the bleep happened to the Texas I used to know? Where’s the spirit? Where’s the guts, huh? “Ooh, we’re afraid to go with you, W.E., we might get in trouble.” Well just kiss my ass from now on! Not me! I’m not gonna take this. Saban, he’s a dead man! Young, dead! Anderson

Seriously though, folks, I don’t think Texas can beat Alabama. The offensive line and the quarterback are too inexperienced. I’m setting the over/under on sacks for Alabama at 4.5.  I don’t think the defensive line can stop Alabama from averaging five plus yards per rush. I think Texas’s secondary looked vastly improved against ULM but if Bryce Young has five seconds to find open receivers he’ll put up big numbers against any secondary. And I don’t like the matchup between Nick Saban and Steve Sarkisian.

With that being said,

Willie Earl’s Keys for Texas to Win

1. Start fast: Texas can’t afford three and outs early, especially if Alabama receives the kickoff and scores first. You might say a fast start is always a key to winning but note last week Texas’s first drive ended on a third down Ewers interception. Texas also went three and out on their first drive versus Louisiana last year and still won easily.

A couple of three and outs early by Texas that yield good field position for Alabama and the game will probably get out of reach early. Texas went three and out on three of their first four drives against Arkansas last year and you remember how that turned out.

2. Sarkisian adjustments: Last year I thought Steve Sarkisian failed to adjust his offensive play calling. Even after starting the second half behind 16-0 to Arkansas, he stuck to his script of a Bijan rush on first down followed up by two passes which were usually incomplete or completed for little or no gain.

3. Excellent Special Teams Play: Texas got a touchdown last week off a blocked punt. Alabama had a punt blocked last week versus Utah State. See where I’m going. Texas needs to prevent Alabama from gaining good field position from long punt and kickoff returns. And it would be nice if Bert Auburn made all his field goal attempts including 45 – 50 yarders.

4. Take advantage of easy opportunities: Defensive players must catch the ball if they have an interception opportunity. Texas can’t afford to muff freebees. Oh, and receivers also need to catch the ball.

If the Texas offense is presented with a short field they must score. A touchdown would be preferable. Anytime Texas gets to the redzone they must score. Again, a touchdown is preferred.

5. Don’t Play Scared:

Remember those OU games when Mack Brown and Greg Davis played not to lose?  They played scared. Steve Sarkisian can’t call a game not to lose or to keep the score down. He has to take some chances.

6. Play good situational football:

Speaking of not playing scared, there likely be situations when the right call will be going for it on fourth down.  For example, going for it on fourth and one from Alabama’s 36-yard line instead of trying for a 54-yard field goal.

In the red zone, Quinn Ewers needs to know when to live for another play and not try to squeeze the football into a tight window and risk an interception especially on first and second down.

Good clock management also comes under this heading. This includes being decisive on play calling and substitutions so you don’t waste timeouts or incur delay of game penalties. Mike Frank, feel free to elaborate on this point. I know it’s your favorite subject.

7. Push: My man Rod Babers gave a detailed analysis of Texas’s offensive success rates out of various formations in 2021. It was interesting and informative. He referred to his analysis as Steve Sarkisian’s “Cheat Code” for competing with Alabama. I can’t possibly regurgitate it for you here but that’s not my point.

Also, this morning I read a column on “Inside Texas” by Ian Boyd. It contained headings such as, Create Space for Bijan, Attack the Edges, and Protect Quinn Ewers.

All well and good but I internally chuckle at Boyd’s column and Rod Babers’ analysis. When it comes to breaking down schemes and Xs and Os, I always default back to Jeff Wards’ simple analysis he made years ago as a radio talk show host.  He said there’s no scheming that will help you if you can’t push the other guy around and if the other guy can push you around. Football is a simple as that. Amen. 

I’m pretty sure Alabama will win the push around game versus Texas, and I think that’s all that probably matters, game, set, match. But maybe if Texas can limit the extent they get pushed around on the offensive and defensive lines and play a near perfect game, they may get themselves into a one score game in the fourth quarter. Wouldn’t that be fun?

“Maybe we’ll win by 21” – James Brown 1996 before the Big 12 Championship game against Nebraska.

Hook ‘Em by God,

W.E.

Willie Earl’s Song of the Week      

Young at Heart

Fairy tales can come true
It can happen to you if you’re young at heart
For it’s hard, you will find

To be narrow of mind if you’re young at heart

Songwriters: Carolyn Leigh / Johnny Richards

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Over/Under Results ULM

I think the Louisiana Monroe Over/Under contest was more interesting than the game itself.  It was a light turnout for the first game of the season with 15 players. 15 Players is average for the middle of the season, but the first game enthusiasm usually yield 20 or so entries.

Anyway, Helen Frink won the season opener with eight correct answers. Well done Helen especially considering that Helen nor any other player picked Keilan Robinson to be the Texas player to score the first touchdown of the season. 13 of 15 players picked Bijan and two players picked Xavier Worthy.

There was a logjam for second place with Dan Adams, Wade Wallace, Tyler Cotton, Greg Swan, and Steve Holstead all coming in with seven correct answers.  

13 of the 15 players predicted Qwen Ewers would throw more than 2 touchdown passes. He threw two. 13 of the 15 players predicted Ja’Tavion Sanders would catch more than 2 passes. He caught six.

The average score was 5.47.

Money Ball

There have been discussions at Willie Earl headquarters about making Over/Under a little interesting with a $1 or $2 entry fee with the winner taking all. Please let me know if you’re interested in participating and if so do you prefer a $1 or $2 entry fee. Those who want to play but don’t want to bet will still be welcome to play but won’t be eligible to win the pot.

https://account.venmo.com/u/Bill-Frink

W.E.

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