Archive for the ‘2022’ Category

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.


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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,


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.


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Louisiana Monroe Pregame

It’s About Sarkisian                                                       

Last season on Willie Earl’s Longhorn Blog

Heading into the offseason, I’m far from confident that Steve Sarkisian will be successful in turning the program around. To me, the aura of his program feels hauntingly like Charlie Strong’s.  Unless Sark and his staff hit it out of the park in recruiting and the transfer portal between now and February, it’s going to be a long couple of years for Sarkisian and Texas Football.

You may have heard that Sarkisian and his staff did indeed “hit it out of the park” in recruiting and the transfer portal. According to 247 Sports, Sarkisian hauled in the fifth ranked recruiting class in the country featuring desperately needed offensive line help with the signings of five-star interior lineman Devon Campbell and five-star tackle Kelvin Banks. Banks is projected as the starting left tackle.  Cole Hutson, a four-star recruit from the 2022 class is projected as the starter at right guard.  Texas also hauled in four-star offensive lineman Neto Umeozulu, Cameron Williams, and Malik Agbo.

You can’t overstate the importance of bringing in four and five-star offensive lineman to the program. I believe, as your offensive line goes, so goes your team. Evidently Steve Sarkisian shares my belief.

It is problematic though for 2022 that Texas is starting two true freshmen on the offensive line. Offensive line is probably the hardest position to play for first year players. Are Banks and Hutson up for facing Alabama’s defensive line in the second game of their careers?  Hmm . . .

As for the transfer portal, you may also have heard that Texas nabbed five-star quarterback Quinn Ewers who earned the starting job beating out Hudson Card. Technically Ewers is a redshirt freshman having been a third or fourth team backup at Ohio State last year. But considering that Ewers played only a handful of snaps and hasn’t thrown a pass since high school in 2020 he’s, shall we say, “raw” coming into 2022.

Evidently, Texas losing is no big deal not only to me but to some of the players as well. Seems like the last three coaches have been trying to root out that attitude with no success. 10/11/21

I wrote the above in reaction to the rant at the team by Texas defensive line coach Bo Davis after the 30-7 loss to Iowa State. In case you missed the story, Davis was quite mad at the casual demeanor of some of the players on the bus after the loss.

Regarding the attitude of some of the team last year, Steve Sarkisian told ESPN a couple of weeks ago,

 “The kids knew not everybody in that locker room was all-in last year,” Sarkisian told ESPN. “I think they could feel it, and they wanted to weed out some of the warts, some of the bad apples. I think they got a sense of reality about some of the things we were talking about and trying to instill last offseason. I don’t know how much they gave credence to it, and then those same things reared their ugly head in-season.

“They came back in January with this mindset of, ‘We’ve got to take these things to heart because they will show up again.’ They’ve made that investment and bought into every aspect of it, and you can feel it amongst our team.”

In my opinion for Sarkisian didn’t take the high road in making these comments publicly. It sounds like he’s shedding the blame from himself for 5-7. If Sarkisian is reading the year’s team’s attitude correctly why state it publicly? Hey Steve, why don’t you wait and see how your team’s attitude is if they go on a three-game losing streak against Oklahoma, Iowa State, and Oklahoma State.  

As a Texas fan, what concerns me is the possibility that Steve Sarkisian is just a poor gameday coach. Yes, he’s a good play designer. Maybe he’ll be a good recruiter and maybe he’ll foster a great “culture.” But I have seen nothing this year that suggests he’s anything but a liability on gameday when the bullets are flying.  11/19/2021

If you’re a college football fan you’ve probably heard that Scott Frost’s record in one-score games while head coach at Nebraska is 5-21. This storyline led me to research Steve Sarkisian’s record in one score games. I didn’t count his first year at Washington in 2009 since he was taking over a team that was 0-12 in 2009. Overall, in his six and half years as head coach from 2010 to 2021 his record is 13-13. That includes going 2-5 in one score games last year.  It’s not a terrible record but it’s nondescript.

Sarkisian’s overall record as a head coach (again taking out the 2009 season) is 39-29. Again, nondescript. With seven and a half seasons to judge, the jury is still out on Steve Sarkisian as a head coach.


While the effectiveness of Quinn Ewers will be one of the keys to Texas’s success, Austin sports talk host Rod Babers voiced the best insight I’ve heard this preseason on Texas. Talking about the choice between Quinn Ewers the gunslinger and Hudson Card the game manager he said Bijan Robinson is Texas’s game manager. Amen. Sarkisian is an outstanding architect of the passing game, but his fortunes and Texas’s in 2022 would best be served if he put the ball in Robinson’s hands 30 times a game or more. Can you say Earl Campbell in 1977?  


I had lunch with David Frink the other day and he said that an 8-4 regular season record in 2022 would have to be considered a success. I understand his thinking, but after more than 10 seasons of mediocrity or worse, I can’t get too excited about 8-4.  I want a Big 12 Championship now.


The first time I ever heard about the “It” factor was when my father compared John Kennedy to Robert and Ted Kennedy. He said that Robert and Ted didn’t have “it.”  During the 1968 presidential campaign he changed his mind on Robert. He never did on Ted.

At this point and time, I don’t see the “It” factor in Steve Sarkisian. While he’s very well spoken on the subject of football, I don’t see the inner confidence that he can do the job. I sure hope I’m wrong.

As Dan Yoxall always says, “Let’s put the boot to the ball!”

Hook ‘Em,


Willie Earl’s Song of the Week        

Seems apropos for college football fans for the first game of the season. Also, a little Frink Family inside baseball.

I wished that you were there
I looked across the room
And saw you standin’ on the stair
And when I caught your eye
I saw you break into a grin
It feels so good feelin’ good agai


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The Pecan Plantation Golf Championship, Arch Manning, Bijan Robinson and Earl Campbell

This weekend I played in the annual Pecan Plantation Golf Championship hosted by Mike Frank and his sons Josh and Zach Frank.  Many of the players were old college friends (old in more ways than one) and Willie Earl readers.

On Friday and Saturday evening after the golf, the conversation inevitably turned to the upcoming Texas football season. No new ground was trod here. The most notable topic was whether Arch Manning would be as good as the hype. Nobody expressed a strong opinion either way and the consensus was, nobody knows. I found it mildly interesting that nobody mentioned Quinn Ewers until I did and then nobody was interested in discussing the Longhorn quarterback most likely to be the starter for the first game of the year against Louisiana Monroe.

Anyway, I was flattered when a couple of the guys told me they were looking forward to another season of Willie Earl. I am as well, and I expected my first column of the year would be published as usual on the Friday before the first game of the season. But after reading Kirk Bohl’s column this morning on Bijan Robinson I was inspired to write here what would have been in years gone by my letter to the editor commenting on the column.

In the second paragraph referring to Robinson Mr. Bohls writes, After all, he’s the best running back in America, bar none. The 6-foot, 221-pound Texas junior is one of the best in school history. He’s got Earl Cambell’s stiff arm, Rosevelt Leak’s power, the late Cedric Benson’s toughness, Ricky Williams’ tackle breaking, Eric Metcalf’s versatility and Jamaal Charles’ explosiveness. Did I omit anything?

Don’t get me wrong, I love and revere all those Longhorn greats but if I was writing a column about Bijan I would write, After all, he’s the best running back in America, bar none. The 6-foot, 221-pound Texas junior is one of the best in school history. He’s got Earl Cambell’s stiff arm, Earl Campbell’s power, Earl Campbell’s toughness, Earl Campbell’s tackle breaking, Earl Campbell’s versatility (I bet you didn’t know or forgot that Earl blocked a punt versus Arkansas in 1974) and Earl Campbell’s explosiveness. Did I omit anything?

See you soon.

Hook “Em,


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