Lake Wobegon Longhorns

Welcome to Frank Denius Fields in August where all the Longhorn lineman are strong, all the receivers are speedy, all the defensive backs are All Americans and the head coach is always re-energized. Okay my apologies to Garrison Keillor for riffing poorly on “the Lake Wobegon effect” but never, in my memory, has so much praise been heaped on so many that have so far accomplished so little. Case in point, Desmond Harrison is now the Longhorns’ most celebrated offensive lineman since Jerry Sizemore and he has yet to play a down beyond the junior college level. As of this writing he has had three practices in full pads. If you believe most of what has been written and discussed by sports writers, bloggers and the talking heads around Austin the last four weeks you think Texas is destined to win at least 11 if not all 12 of their regular season games in 2013.Garrison Keillor

This consensus of high expectations for Texas’ 2013 season is based on the return of 19 out of 22 starters including all 11 on offense. And this offense will operate a cutting edge, up-tempo attack with an experienced quarterback and a bevy of talented and speedy running backs and receivers that will leave opposing defenses gasping in the Horns’ dust. Never mind that this is a brand new offense for the 11 returning starters with a new offensive coordinator because the new offensive coordinator is “The Major,”  Major Applewhite to those of you less familiar.

If you’re reading irony and skepticism in these words you’re very perceptive.  I have serious doubts about the offensive line no matter how many combined career starts they have.  I didn’t see them open that many holes last year and statistics bear me out. In 2012 Texas ranked sixth in the Big 12 and 53rd nationally in rushing offense.

I like David Ash. I think it’s possible that he will be a very good quarterback but I’m not sure of that. It’s equally as possible that he will be just what he’s been so far. Sometimes very good and sometimes pretty bad.  All in all he’s been no more than average. It doesn’t matter that Mack Brown says he’s farther along in his development than Colt McCoy was going into his junior year. We know what Colt did; for Ash it’s still all potential.

I also like “The Major.” But as an offensive coordinator he’s all potential at this point as well. And my inside sources tell me that they’re not convinced that Mack Brown will let Applewhite run the offense and not continue to meddle. The Alamo Bowl presented a pretty clear picture of the difference between Brown meddling and letting Applewhite run the show. The first half Brown meddled. The second half, in desperation, he let Applewhite have his way with the play calling.

Eight returning starters on defense also bodes well for Texas in 2013 the experts tell us.  Never mind that these experienced players were part of the defense in 2012 that was statistically the worst defense in Longhorn history and that its two best players, Kenny Vaccaro and Alex Okafor now play in the NFL. They tell us to pay attention to all the potential superstars such as Jordan “Auto Focus” Hicks and Jackson Jeffcoat. Hey I like that alliteration there. Let me be the first to suggest that we nickname the 2013 defense “The J&J Bunch.” But seriously why do the pundits predict that 2013 Longhorn defense will be so much better than it was in 2012? I think it’s because they’re conditioned to think that Jeffcoat, Hicks and Quandre Diggs are star performers and that a few others such as Peter Jinkens and Cedric Reed are potential stars. The reality is, so far the defensive whole has been less than the sum of its parts.  However please note that I think Malcolm Brown will be the best defensive lineman Texas has had in quite a few years.

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With  the glass is half empty perspective on the table my August forecast for the Longhorns autumn of 2013 is, mostly sunny with intermittent clouds and the possibility of a few showers. Some could be heavy at times.  The Longhorns will finish the regular season 9-3. The three losses come from these six games listed in chronological order: BYU, Ole Miss, Kansas St., Oklahoma, TCU and Oklahoma St.  Not an earth shattering, stop the presses prediction but a 9-3 finish will be disappointing to a large portion of the fan base.  Recently I have had conversations with two Burnt Orange Kool-Aid drinkers who have let themselves be convinced that this year is the year and they’re pretty smart guys. Smarter than me in most cases but I think they’re allowing themselves to over look what I see as reason this team finishes 9-3 and not 12-0 or 11-1. Culture and coaching. So what do you know? I buried the lead.

I’m not breaking new ground by pointing out that the Texas Football has been coming up short the last several years in player development, fundamental blocking and tackling and accountability.  Mack Brown starts 2013 with his third offensive coordinator in four years and he’s hired an old friend, Greg Robinson, to watch over embattled defensive coordinator Manny Diaz. This doesn’t reflect the stability a coaching staff needs to produce a championship.  There is much much more to be written about these subjects and I may choose to do so as the season progresses.  Additionally I may have to vent on the tone deaf U.T. athletic department’s executive suite that measures success in dollars and is willing to gouge and abuse the loyal fan base with a stadium game viewing experience that grows more crude, crass and obnoxious each year.

Okay enough with the Willie Earl’s floating in the Burnt Orange Kool-Aid. Lets get on with the games.

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I’m starting a new feature this year that may or may not appear weekly as part of the Over/Under Contest.  It’s the Willie Earl Poll Question

 

Over/Under New Mexico St.

[contact-form-7 id=”296″ title=”Over Under Contest”]

 

 

 

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  7. I envy my Texas Orangeblood brethren waiting for the fall season’s action to commence today. Here in Jordan we await the season opener in the Middle East Conference. We have heavily favored visiting (US) Navy up against Syria State in a still unscheduled match. Returning starter Tom A. Hawk Cruise will lead Navy’s quick firing “missile offense” against Syria State’s outmatched defense, though Head Coach Assad promises a “graveyard” for the visiting team. Navy’s “CEO” Coach Obama counters that injuries should be slight since Cruise and his teammates will be heavily armored, in fact aren’t even human, and they will disintegrate each time they score. Air Force, Army and Marines might follow Navy in future matches, all against hapless Syria State, which for curious reasons is decimating its own fan base. Meanwhile, Great Britain has decided to leave the conference, possibly to be replaced by France (of all teams) in a surprise move. Other match-ups in the conference include the longstanding Israel-Palestine rivalry series (which Israel leads 100 to 0), Egypt Army versus Muslim Brotherhood, and Iraqi Shiites versus Sunnites, where action has already ensued with more fireworks in store. TV deals are solid for the conference with non-stop global coverage provided by CNN, Al Jazeera and every major network in the planet. Syria State has landed a major equipment and sponsorship deal with Russia and won endorsements from China but it remains to be seen if this will assist its campaign this fall. Osama Bin Laden will not be returning for Al Qaeda (ever) but the squad promises a bevy of fresh recruits following this season’s kickoff. Hook ’em from Amman.

    • The time of Kick-off on this match -up is currently TBA pending network programming decisions.

      • You got that right, amigo. Why does this seem like a return to 1898, Hearst and Pulitzer, and the “splendid little war.”

        • Well–As Billy Shakespeare–the owner of one of the UT Greek’s favorite bars–said, “what is past is prologue.”

  8. Sort of fired up for the season this year.
    And I have no reasonable idea why I am.
    Now that we have our own stringer on the Forty Acres I will review the box scores each Sunday to check on the accuracy of her reports.
    Meanwhile, great to read the musings of my favorite ink-stained brother in law.
    Hook ’em all ‘Horns
    and
    “Give ’em Hell, Kimberley
    Michael

    • Hope to see you at a tailgate soon, hermano. Thanks for moving me into Kinsolving <3

  9. IF you want to be 9-3 pessimistic, you’ve got to include that last game AT Baylor.
    I’m with David in that I see and either/or situation: either anything worse than 11-1 is unacceptable (and that one has to be something like the TT game a few years ago or the Colorado game a few years before that; not clear defeats by OU or TCU) or a complete meltdown, where they lose four or five of those games. That also will be unacceptable, but will surely result in a new staff.

    • Regarding your comment “At Baylor.”

      I liked the symmetry of losing 3 out of 6 so I had to make choices. Could have also chosen to include Iowa St., Tech or Baylor

  10. W.E.-

    Good writing… Especially considering the night before you were out past midnight seeing Steely Dan and quaffing double IPAs with Bod Frank.

    Regarding the Horns, I continue to hope for the best and prepare for the worst.

    • Good times and good quaffing at the Communist Posse to be sure.

  11. The season rests not on what David Ash or any other “skill” player does. It’s all about the offensive line, which has been downright offensive for five years or more, and Jackson Jeffcoat’s pectoral muscles. New Mexico State may be the worst team in America. If Horns don’t hang 55 on them before Mack puts in the “scrubeenies” (see what I did there, Bill?), it’s gonna be a long, unhappy season.

    • If Ash has mediocre to bad season passing the Longhorns will lose more than 3

What Say You?