b The Longhorn Mafia <$BlogRSDURL$>

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Texas Football: The Arkansas State Game 

Week One: No. 4 Texas (0-0) vs. Arkansas State (0-0)
Last Season: Texas (10-3; Won Alamo Bowl); Arkansas State (6-6)
Last Meeting: Never Met
All-Time Series: Never Met

As I write this I'm tuned into ESPN's "25 Hours of College Football Live," and the thought occurs to me: am I really so hard up for football that I'm watching Rece davis and his annoying colleagues blather about the same tired storylines that they've droned on and on about for weeks now? Well, yes I am.

I know I'm not alone, either. Yesterday I read a post on HornFans.Com that had spawned more than eight pages worth of debate (some of it heavy on the vitriol) about whether the Horns' decision to honor the late Lady Bird Johnson with a small bluebonnet sticker on the back of their helmets was appropriate or not. Seriously. Finally one rational person summed it up: "Man the season needs to start..... "

Yes, it does. And on Saturday it finally will.

This Week's Game in a Nutshell

Per Mack Brown, Arkansas State feels like all four of their defensive backs will get drafted. Considering Texas hasn't played a season opener decided by fewer than 27 points since losing to NC State in 1999, Indians coach Steve Roberts might want to try putting all four on the punt block team (if they can force Texas into a few fourth downs).

Brown says he's not concerned with how many yards his team gains on the ground this season, but with a banged-up receiving corps, and with Jamaal Charles finally in position to be the showcase back, who doesn't expect to see Charles rack up carry after carry? How well can the Arkansas State secondary step up to stop the run?

According to NCAA 2008...

Texas wins, 45-7. The Horns account for only 345 yards in total offense, though, including 122 yards on the ground. Colt McCoy completes 11 of 15 for 193 yards and three TDs. Electronic Arts doesn't care about Jamaal Charles, I guess. For the record, the computer has now completed more games against itself than I have completed against it. Brief aside: NCAA '08 has been the biggest waste of $50 since the round of jaegerbombs I bought while playing wingman for my buddy Justin once at Sherlock's. But at least with the bombs I got a buzz and a random makeout session (even if it was with homely friend).

Matt brings it strong in this season's first TWTWB

What we learned last week: We learned way too much about dog fighting. Thank God that college football is finally here.


You're gonna have to go through hell, worse than any nightmare you've ever dreamed. But when it's over, I know you'll be the one standing. You know what you have to do. Do it. – Duke to Rocky before fighting Drago in Rocky IV

(If you have Eye of the Tiger in your iTunes library, go ahead and fire it up).

2005 will forever be ingrained in the memory of Longhorn fans nationwide, and with good reason. It was the perfect storm of Vince Young’s heart and determination, Michael Huff’s brain, Ramonce Taylor’s electricity, Billy Pittman’s speed and an offensive line that could move the Rocky Mountains to Oregon.

But 2006 will forever be remembered as the year that could have been, the year where focus was lost, where things were seemingly on track to at least win a Big XII title and go to a BCS bowl, and then it all came crashing down on a cold night in Manhattan, Kansas.

And then the unthinkable happened. A lackluster loss to the dreaded Aggies. At home. And frankly the team didn’t even look like they cared to be there.

Perhaps it was the dreaded championship hangover that a lot of championship teams endure in the next season. Or perhaps the team just wasn’t good enough. Perhaps you shouldn’t expect much from a team with a freshman quarterback.

And I’m not saying that 2006 was a failure. Ten wins isn’t anything to sneeze at in today’s college football landscape.

But 2006 left us wanting more.

Because we know this team is better than that. We know the coaching staff is better than that. Texas is not the 99th best team in the nation against the pass. We know this. Texas is not a team where you only have one 100 yard rushing effort all year. We know this. We know that we don’t give up 90 yard drives, mostly on the ground, with the lead in the 4th quarter in our own house. We know this.

At the risk of getting a bit cheesy here, when Apollo Creed died in the beginning of Rocky IV, and Rocky got all down, Duke had to come to him and tell him, yeah, he’s gone, but you’re the one now. He’s gone, but you have to keep up the spirit now.

Vince is gone (as are Michael Huff, Kasey Studdard and a myriad of others). Although he certainly personified it, Vince wasn’t the passion and the heart of the Longhorn program. It’s time to put 2005 in the memory bank and the trophy case and go out and do it again.

It all starts on the defensive side of the ball. The Longhorn defense in 2006 was, for lack of a better word, stupid.

We heard the linebackers were below average, so the secondary was brought up to stop the run, but we were burned on the play-action pass all season. Baylor had a double digit lead in DKR for chrisakes.

The injuries in the linebacker corps didn’t help last year, but it’s time for Muckelroy and Killebrew to quit showing all of their potential on Denius Fields and start showing it in DKR. It’s time for Sergio Kindle to quit being an idiot and go out and do it. We all bitch and wonder why certain guys are behind others on the depth chart, but it’s time for the second string guys to get out there and do it.

Frank Okam could have been a first round draft pick this past April but decided to come back because he wanted to show he could do it and possibly jump in the Top 10 of next year’s draft. His linemates will be just fine. Derek Lokey was showing the potential to be one of the best defensive linemen in the nation before he broke his leg in Lincoln. Brian Orakpo is my pick to be the dominant defensive player this year, and Aaron Lewis will be more than solid taking the place of Brian Robison.

The secondary has the chance to lose two first-round draft picks and be better than it was last year. Marcus Griffin needs to step up and establish himself as a leader on this team, and Drew Kelson needs to show that the coaching staff jerking him all over the field was a huge mistake and start to show it on the field. Erick Jackson will be the biggest hitting safety we’ve had here in a long, long time (I expect him to be on YouTube by week 3 at the latest). Ryan Palmer and Brandon Foster have been nickel corners here seemingly since the McWilliams era, and it’s time for them to show that they can do it.

This offense has the chance to put up stupid numbers.

Colt McCoy tied a freshman record for receptions last year despite missing the better part of two games. Jermichael Finley looks like he could start. In the NFL. And although they are banged up, this receiving corps has the chance to be the best since the Williams/Johnson/Thomas days. Nah, screw that, they are better. They’ve scored against Oklahoma.

So who needs to do it on offense? Jamaal Charles.

Yeah, 831 yards and 7 touchdowns is a “nice” season, but for this offense to be truly feared from Stillwater to Norman to Lincoln, Charles needs to step up this year and realize his potential as a touchdown threat every single time he touches the ball. And not only that, the Texas coaching staff needs to find every single way imaginable to get him the ball in open space.

The pieces are there, it’s time to put it all together and play Texas football every single game. A national title isn’t necessarily the goal again. But there is no reason that this team can’t play it’s best every single Saturday and let everything else take care of itself.

The 2005 team did it. The 2006 team hoped the 2005 team would do it again.

The 2007 team needs to step up do it for themselves.

All your strength, all your power, all your love. Everything you’ve got. Right now!--Duke
They Said It...

"He has done an outstanding job, and in the nine years he's been here, he has generated tens of millions of dollars in new revenue."

- UT President William Powers, Jr., regarding Mack Brown's raise and contract extension, announced Wednesday.
Some of that revenue even came from sources not named Joe Jamail. But I'm glad to see that money is more important than championships. We're Texas!

In the Huddle with "Sir Rod"

Coming soon, hopefully...

Tailgate Talk

With Longhorn Foundation members finding themselves displaced by the construction at DKR, the state lots in around Scholtz and the Bob Bullock Museum should be even more lively than normal. The weather should be beautiful (read: it won't be 103 degrees like last year's opener), and the tickets plentiful. Brisket, chicken, sausage and cold, cold beer -- who cares that the Horns are playing a glorified scrimmage?

A few other College Football-related Thoughts

  • I don't care much for Mississippi State (f Jackie!), but Sylvester Croom seems like a top-notch guy. I'd like to see him do well. Maybe I'd rather he get fired from MSU and go to a school I like so that I can really get behind him.

  • The season hasn't yet started and I'm experiencing serious USC-fatigue.

  • Mark May... could he be more intolerable?

  • Stuart Scott has described events as "bananas" twice tonight on Sportscenter (what happened to CFL for the past hour?). Do people really say "bananas"?

  • Typically I don't make a big deal out of supporting other Big 12 teams for the sake of being a "conference strength" kind of guy, but I'd love to see Oklahoma State go to Athens and upset the Dawgs.

  • OU still sucks.

  • Fifteen Years Ago this Week

    (note: 2007 marks the 15-year anniversary of the Temple Wildcats' 1992 5A Div. II Texas State Championship, which came during my sophomore year of high school. I'll re-cap that season throughout the fall.)

    The road to state started on the road at Austin's Nelson Field against Johnston High School. As fate would have it, No. 3 Temple scored a TD on their first play from scrimmage and never looked back. The Cats won 27-7, setting up a showdown with top-ranked Odessa Permian in Week Two. Temple, coming off of a 9-3 season in 1991, was picked by Dave Campbell's Texas Football to win the state title, but the schedule Coach Bob McQueen lined up would not make it easy. Both Permian and perennial power Converse Judson appeared on the non-district slate, while defending Division I champ Killeen and rival Waco awaited Temple in district play. leaving the stadium that night, those of us in Royal Blue knew only one thing: beating Austin Johnston told us very little. One down... fifteen to go.

    Personal Anecdote Involving This Week's Opponent

    I know nothing about Arkansas State. But I do remember my last trip to the state of Arkansas. The folks there were the antithesis of hospitable. No one threw anything at us, nor did anyone pee on us (one lady kindly asked our group to relay the lack of urinary abuse to our friends back home as proof that Hog fans do possess civilized traits), but they were rude and obnoxious, and I did catch an elbow in the chest from a passing co-ed. Something tells me that we'll see more than a few Razorback t-shirts among the 700 Indians fans that actually bought tickets.

    Semi-Relevant Song Lyric from the Old 97s

    "I went through the motions with her, her on top and me on liquor."
    Going through the motions may be the best way to describe Texas' approach on saturday. I figure that the Horns show about 15 percent of their playbook in this one. As fans we'll try to make this up by using at least 85 percent of our livers during the all-day tailgate.

    Deluded/Rational Thoughts from an Opposing Message Board

    This one doesn't come from a message board, but rather from the official Arkansas State athletics: with more than 1300 votes registered thus far, 33 percent of fans expect the Un-Indians to win "six or fewer" games. Almost 28 percent expect seven wins. No other category garnered more than 18 percent of the vote.

    Now for the actual post, from pioneerhog on TribalGrounds...

    You may not believe this but I actually dreamed something ... we kick off to UT they return it, didn't get how far in my dream, on their first play they throw it and it is intercepted and returned for a TD. We then kick off and hold them to 3 and out and we get the ball and Reggie breaks a 64 yard TD run. We are up 14-0 in the opening moments of the game. I then woke up excited, wishing I had dreamed more of the game.
    My completely unrealistic dreams usually involve naked women (or did before I met my girlfriend).

    The Greg Brown Memorial Pregame Premonition

    I just can't get rid of this section.

    Texas kicks off to ASU. The Indians go to the air on their first play, but Erick Jackson nabs the interception and returns it for a touchdown. Afer the kickoff the defense holds Arkansas State to a three-and-out and gets the ball back. Jamaal promptly scampers 64 yards for the TD and Texas leads 14-0 in the opening moments of the game.

    Mine flows better, don't you think?

    Random Texas-Arkansas highlight that has absolutely nothing to do with this game, but was sweet nonetheless

    Again, my friends and I did not get peed on before or after this one.

    Prediction: Pain



    This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?