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Oklahoma Pre-Game

Texas Football in Crisis?

I read in one of Kirk Bohls’ column this week that the Texas fan base is “seething” after the loss to TCU. Besides the TCU loss, he wrote that the fans are “furious” about Tom Herman’s 27-16 record at Texas and his endorsement of his players’ snub of “The Eyes of Texas.” I guess he has evidence to back up these claims but doesn’t cite any in his column. 

I can share that I heard from three diehard Texas fans after the TCU game that they were no longer emotionally invested in the program because of years of mediocrity. I can relate but I can’t claim that those three are a representative sample of the entire fan base.

If it is accurate that a significant segment fan base is angry or disinterested, I would say that after one loss the anger is premature.  Further I would suggest that those fans who are angry had outsized expectations—again—of how good the Longhorns were going to be this season.

This is team coming off a barely above average 8-5 2019 season. The program was in such a state that Herman replaced both coordinators and some key position coaches. As I mentioned in the first column of the year, replacing that many coaches is not an earmark of a program on the rise.

If history has taught us anything, it is that four- and five-star recruits don’t directly correlate with elite college football players and that two or three consecutive top 10 recruiting classes don’t directly correlate with a top 10 team. 

Three games into his fourth season as coach, Tom Herman is doing no better than Mack Brown during his last four years at Texas and Charlie Strong’s brief three-year tenure at developing elite talent into championship teams. Three different coaches with different styles and personalities failing in a similar fashion. It makes you wonder, what gives?

It was reported and opined that in his last three or four years at Texas, Mack Brown took the “CEO” head coaching style too far and was delegating too much of his duties to coordinators and staff.  I heard second hand from a former player who was close to the program that Brown was playing golf with big-money-donors on Fridays before home games. That’s what I call delegation.

I don’t think it’s controversial to suggest that Charlie Strong at Texas was in over his head. The “Peter Principle” on display.

Hiring Tom Herman theoretically addressed the failings of his predecessors. He was a hands-on, fanatically detail oriented coach/executive.  And . . .  he was in Mensa!  I like to call him “Mensa Boy.” At 27-16, it’s too early to judge that Herman is not the answer for Texas, but it’s trending in that direction.

Even though Oklahoma is unranked coming off two consecutive losses and start a redshirt-freshman at quarterback, while Texas has Ehlinger, the Horns are a 2-point underdog. This suggests that the reputation of annually being overrated has caught to Texas.

While actual, real-life turning points are rare, this year’s Oklahoma game could be one for Tom Herman and the Texas program.  A game plan featuring sideways passes like last year’s and missed tackles in the double digits won’t get it done even against what looks to be Oklahoma’s worst team in more than 20 years. You don’t have to be in Mensa to figure that out.

Details

I attended the Texas-TCU game. It was little bit like going to a preseason scrimmage back in the 70s. Besides the friend I went with, no one was sitting within six feet of me. The fans behind me were two rows back and were the closest to me. There was no one within 20 feet of me to my right or left beyond my friend. Annoyingly, the jumbotron volume was literally ear-splitting. I suppose the people in charge are trying to compensate for the absence of about 85,000 fans. Bad plan, in my opinion.

The most lasting impression I took from of going to a Texas game in this most unusual year was what happened immediately after the game ended. We all knew that a large majority of the Texas players would not sing or acknowledge “The Eyes of Texas.” What had slipped my mind regarding the Longhorn post-game tradition was the players’ acknowledgement of the fans during the playing and singing of “The Eyes.” I don’t know what happened after the UTEP or Texas Tech game but it was a sad coda to the TCU loss that all but five or six players hastily left the field without acknowledging the fans after the game.

The detail-oriented Herman and Chris Del Conte should have anticipated this scene and come up with a plan, one way or another, for the players to acknowledge the fans after games.

A little levity
Scipio Tex’s used this diagram in his TCU Post-mortem to illustrate Texas’ defense on Max Duggan’s fourth quarter touchdown run.

BEAT The Hell OUT OF OU!

W.E.

Hook ‘Em,

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TCU Over/Under Results

This week’s contest came down to photo-finish between Tom Yoxall and Wade Wallace who tied in regulation with seven correct answers.  They both went 1-1 in the pic ‘ems losing on Oklahoma and winning on Georgia. Both players predicted Alabama would blowout A&M. Tom’s margin was 34, Wade’s was 22. The actual margin was 28 so they were both six points off and still tied forcing the contest to go all the way to total points scored in the Alabama-A&M game. The actual point total was 76 on a score of 52-24. Wade’s prediction of 45-13 and 58 total points scored was nosed out by Tom’s 51-17 and 68 total points making Tom the winner. You follow?

Congratulations, Tom.

Wes Peoples, David Bergstrom, and Rick Mosher tied for third with six correct answers.

Over/Under Notes

  1. Seems like about once a year the staff formulates a flawed question and we got it out of the way early this year with #10: Which team scores the most points in the fourth quarter? If the teams scored the same number of points—always a distinct possibility—the question becomes invalid. Well, that’s what happened with both teams scoring 10 in the fourth.  Therefore, we threw out the question.
  2. Question #7 was: 6.5-point lead for Texas going into the 4th quarter.  16 of 18 players predicted over which was incorrect as Texas trailed at that point in the game.  Were the Longhorn fans’ expectations for the Horns too high?  Yes. As usual.
  3. With 18 players entering the TCU Over/Under, we scored the highest turnout thus far for the season and it was tied for the fourth highest turnout in history. 

Which contest had the highest turnout in history you ask? That would be the Texas-Oklahoma game in 2008 with 24 entrants.
Ah, those were the good old days.

W.E.

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TCU Pre Game

Jump Around

In honor of the House of Pain let’s Jump Around.

Pack it up, pack it in, let me begin

Fox Sports’ college football analyst Joel Klatt said this week on the Colin Cowherd Show that Oklahoma is getting antsy because they haven’t won a National Championship since 2000. That drought is their longest since the 18-year dry spell from 1956 to 1974.  The Longhorns current drought is only 14 years and counting, so there.

Speaking of championship dry spells, the Longhorns haven’t won the Big 12 since 2009. Oklahoma has won seven since 2009 including the last five and have qualified for CFP playoff four out the last five years. Texas has yet to qualify.  Ouch.

Klatt and Cowherd were plugging the Texas-TCU game which Fox is carrying and Klatt is calling. Cowherd asked Klatt if this was a must win game for the Horns and Tom Herman. Klatt said yes because Texas should be the best college football team in the state. The Horns lost to TCU and Baylor a year ago. Herman is 6-4 versus TCU, Baylor, and Texas Tech since he became the coach in 2017.

Klatt also said Sam Ehlinger is likely a second-round draft pick in 2021 and could sneak into the first round if he has a Joe Burrow type year.

 “I got the skills, come get your fill”

With all due respect to Devin Duvernay, I think Joshua Moore has a chance to be the best Longhorn receiver since Roy Williams. Going out on a limb, I think he could end up being the best Longhorn receiver ever. Moor has size, speed, and excellent ball skills. We’ll see.

Tom Herman and the coaching staff deserve credit for successfully bringing Moore back into the fold after his 2019 arrest for gun possession. Obviously, Moore also deserves credit for turning his situation around.

“Get up, stand up (c’mon!) see’mon throw your hands up”

The TCU game time is 11am. Texas is 5-5 in 11am starts in the Tom Herman era.

“I’m coming to get ya, I’m coming to get ya”

Not so much for the Longhorn pass rush. Alan Bowman threw 52 passes last week and nary a sack for the Horns.

“I’m the cream of the crop, I rise to the top”

I hope Bijan Robinson’s career at Texas turns out better than the Horns’ last two five-star running back recruits. Malcolm Brown and Johnathan Gray weren’t exactly busts but their careers at Texas didn’t reflect their five-star status. During August I kept reading how Robinson was an irresistible force in preseason workouts. Though Keaontay Ingram and Roschon Johnson are solid veteran performers, I was hoping Johnson would emerge as the lead back. Through two games he has 12 carries for 50 yards with a long run of 12 yards.

For comparison, in their first two games, Earl Campbell gained 139 yards on 23 carries and Ricky Williams ran 24 times for 165 yards. While researching this, a smile came to my face when I found that in Campbell’s first two games his teammate, wishbone halfback Graylon Wyatt, was the Texas’ leading rusher with 210 yards.

“I won’t ever slack up, punk you better back up”

I read this week that Texas Defensive Coordinator Chris Ash was insanely detail oriented. C’mon man, stop writing and reporting that this coach or that coach is detail oriented. I can’t think of a bigger sports cliché.

“I came to get down, I came to get down”

Getting down with my game prediction, in what I see as a theme for the 2020 season, the Horns will trail late in this game before coming back for another heart-stopping victory. Call it 35-31.

“So get out your seat and jump around!”                    

HooK ‘Em,

W.E.

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Texas Tech Observations

  1. A blocked punt, a nearly blocked punt, a D’Shawn Jamison fumbled punt, an onside kick not recovered. So far, I’m not impressed with the much ballyhooed offseason hire of Special Teams  Jay Boulware.

  2. Tackling was once again an issue and one blogger wrote that it’s something that can be fixed quickly. Could be the dumbest thing written about UT Football so far in 2020 given that tackling has been an issue going on for—oh, I don’t know—a decade.
  3. Surprise, the catch-all excuse for college football coaches in 2020 is no spring practice.
  4. I admit that I wrote the game off when Texas Tech went up 56-41. Resigned to a loss and somewhat disgusted, I left the television for about three minutes doing grill prep for a Saturday night cookout. When I got back, Ehlinger was throwing a TD pass to Eagles to pull within eight points.
  5. I know the conventional wisdom in college football is to play defense first when you win the coin toss before overtime so you know when you get the ball if just a field goal wins the game. But I think Texas Tech coach Matt Wells made a big tactical error by letting Texas take the ball first in overtime when his defense was gassed and the Horns had all the momentum.  
  6. At times during the first half, I thought Texas varied the offense for the sake of varying the offense when they might have built an insurmountable lead if they had continued to do what was working. Overconfident maybe?
  7. I wrote last week: Alan Bowman is another in a seemingly endless supply of good passing Red Raider quarterbacks and I’m confident he will put up 300 plus yards passing versus what I believe are the overhyped individual talents in the Longhorn secondary. Told ya.
  8. Saturday evening, I wasn’t all that satisfied with the win but then I looked at Oklahoma and LSU. 2-0 is 2-0.

That’s all I got for now.

HooK ‘Em,

W.E.

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Texas Tech Over/Under Results

Texas Tech Over/Under Results

Andy Garrod and Helen Frink emerged from a large field of 17 players this week and tied for first place with eight correct answers.  Two strong performances in a week when the average score was a very average 5.7.

Andy and Helen both went 1-1 in the pick ‘ems. They both were wrong with TCU which was getting 2.5 points and lost by three. They both were right in picking Vanderbilt which was getting 29.5 and kept it close losing 17-12.

So, it came down to their predictions of the final score in our game. Neither one was very close but who foresaw anything close 63-56?  Andy Garrod wins at the gun by virtue of being closer in the point differential of Texas’ win with his 42-17 versus Helen’s 48-13.

Congrats to Andy and Helen.

David Bergstrom took third place by himself with seven correct answers.

Points of Interest

  1. Only two players guessed SaRodorick Thompson would go over 105.5 yards rushing. He ended up with 104 yards.
  2. Only five players guessed right on what Texas rusher would have the most carries. Roschon Johnson and Same Ehlinger were both correct answers with 16 carries. David Bergstrom was the only player who picked Ehlinger. Andy and Helen picked Johnson.

W.E.

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