Pre Game Iowa State

Lowering the Bar


Last Saturday afternoon and evening, the Longhorn fans I was around were pleased with the team’s performance against Oklahoma and were generally optimistic about the rest of the season. Although it was pleasant to be around positive people, I was struck by the irony of the contrast between the attitude and mood of the fans after this loss compared to all the other losses to Oklahoma over the years.
I viewed the loss as another opportunity squandered by Charlie Strong and his coaching staff. The continued breakdowns in special teams play and the Keystone Cops clock management routine are becoming, well, all too routine. I’m told by one of Willie Earl’s knowledgeable readers that Charlie Strong’s Louisville teams had good special teams play. Maybe Strong isn’t ready for prime time. Maybe the big stage in Austin adds a complication that is taking the edge off his job performance. For me, it’s a real and a troubling thought.
I’m not yet optimistic about the rest of the season because if Strong and his staff don’t get the special teams fixed and if they don’t improve their game management Texas could lose to Iowa State and anybody else left on the schedule.
Walking it Back
I saw the same things in the Oklahoma game that so many of the Texas fans were excited about. Tyrone Swoopes played a very good game. Even with the pick six, he played more than well enough for Texas to win. Again, Charlie Strong squandered a wonderful effort by Swoopes and an evidently great coach-up by Sean Watson in not getting the W against Oklahoma. So as they say in politics, I’m walking back the harsh statements I made about Swoopes last week.
In all my years of watching football, I can’t remember another assistant coach who has done as good a job as Joe Wickline has done with the offensive line. Wickline’s performance is “as advertised.” Maybe Strong should put him in charge of fixing special teams. Give your biggest challenges to your best people, right? Oh well, maybe it’s not a good idea to distract Wickline from his offensive line coaching, but a big change in the approach to special teams is needed.
Charlie Strong’s specialty is defense and the strength of his first Texas team is definitely defense. The unit has played very well in in every game except the third quarter of the BYU game and that can be partly blamed on the offense’s ineffectual play. We haven’t had to talk about tackling yet this year which is refreshing after the last four years of futility in that area. And I’m orange-blooded enough to take extra satisfaction in that Vance Bedford is the defensive coordinator. If you haven’t heard Mr. Bedford talk defense and football yet you might get a kick out of his commentary if you can find it on YouTube or where ever.

Know it All Fan Ideas
1. While Strong and his staff are re-doubling their efforts to fix the special teams, why not just go ahead and turn a weakness into a strength? Is there must be some weakness in Iowa State’s special teams that they can game-plan to exploit. Maybe the Iowa State punter is slow, and Texas could block a kick. Perhaps the punt and kick-off coverage teams don’t stay at home, and the Horns could fake a punt or recover an onside kick. Instead of approaching the special teams from a defensive crouch, Texas should get aggressive.
2. Where are Texas’ hot shot freshmen running backs, Donald Catalon and D’Onta Foreman? Foreman was last seen fielding a kick off that was about to roll out of bounds on the five yard line. Before that, in his one of his two carries against North Texas, he burst off the right side for 34 yards and looked faster than Jonathan Gray. He can’t’ be redshirted, so let’s get him some work in the last six games.
I’ve read on a couple of the blogs that Donald Catalon is the best running back on the team but the coaches want to redshirt him. Don’t get me started.

Mid-Season Prognosis
This team is a more talented than a most observers thought after the first two games of the season. With better coaching Texas could be 4-2 not 2-4, in my opinion. Texas will win the remaining games on the schedule in which they play a clean game on special teams and Charlie Strong runs a competent sideline operation. They could win all of them or they could lose all of them.

HooK ‘eM,


Note from Willie Earl
To enhance the pleasure of playing Over/Under, starting this week, we will report the results no later than Sunday night. Play well.

OU Over/Under Results

There was a three-way tie at the top in another exciting OU Over/Under Contest (see what I did there?) with Helen Frink, Steve Holstead and Helen Art Zeitz answering eight questions correctly.  The guys, both proud Westchester Wildcats, picked the winners, Alabama and Oregon in the tiebreaker. In the closest finish that the staff here can recall, Steve edged Art by coming within 3 total points of predicting the actual points spreads for both games.

Clayton Frink, Zach Frank, Mark Adams, Wade Wallace, Dan Yoxall, Greg Swan, and David Frink tied for fourth with seven correct. Yes Mrs Bertoni, this contest was too easy.

Iowa State Over/Under Contest


6 Comments to “Pre Game Iowa State”

  1. Tide 59 Aggy 0. Oh Happy Day.

  2. W.E., agree it was frustrating to “see” (on ESPN GameCast) the Horns outplay the Sooners on both sides of the ball and still lose due to a few bad muffs. I was also scratching my head on some of those timeouts called and this is coming from a man far less schooled in the game than the Earl. I did my Iowa State pregame tailgate at the Embassy Oktoberfest last Thursday night with the usual assortment of Foreign Service officers and at least 50 youngish spooks taking a break from ISIL duty hunkering down on long tables in the Munich style. In years past, they had iced buckets full of unlimited Belgian Dubbels and Tripels hovering around 9% proof spaced about 3 feet apart, but last year a spook wrapped his rig around a lamppost, so the Ambassador put the kibosh on that. This year, we were drinking some lightweight Hefeweizen and Rieslings instead, but everyone still got plenty hammered and we enjoyed the “haram” (forbidden) pork knuckles and sausages with sauerkraut, such are the small pleasures in the perpetually inflamed Middle East. Enjoy the game, and I hope I wake up to a Tejas win.

  3. Two encouraging elements that have been lacking the last four years: player development and week over week improvement.

    Game time snack for the week: Fat Sal’s


  4. What I’m wondering is, what do you think of the UT special team play this year? Helen entered twice?

    • Paraphrasing the Rolling Stones, I’m a little bleary today. Art Zeitz was the other Westchester Wildcat who tied for first.

      I’ve made the correction

  5. Iowa State always plays Texas tough, Sam Richardson could have several Tayson Hill-like runs, but Texas has too much on the line in this one at home. Final: Texas 30-Iowa State 14.

What Say You?