Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Week Five: No. 7 Texas (4-0) vs. Kansas State (2-1)
Last Week: Texas 58, Rice 14; Kansas State (bye)
Last Meeting: Kansas State 45, Texas 42 (2006)
All-Time Series: Texas leads, 5-4
I'm not going to lie; last week felt good. It would be folly to read too much into the Horns' 58-14 win against Rice, but for the first time all season Texas came out and played like Texas.
So what now?
This team still has a bevy of questions to answer, and unless their bizarre 4-0 start has been the product of a cunning ruse, meant to instill a false sense of confidence in our neighbors north of the Red River, then fans have every right to continue feeling a slight bit of unease.
But watching Colt throw downfield, Limas outrun coverage, Vondrell McGee show flashes of brilliance, and a trio of young linebackers swarm to the ball, sure made it seem like this team does have a shot in hell to pull off a third straight win against Oklahoma.
First things first: Kansas State will serve as a litmus test for the Horns. They need to win another convincing game headed into OU. Can they do it?
This Week's Game in a Nutshell
More Muckleroy and Norton; less Derry and Killebrew. More throwing down the field; less throwing bubble screens and hitches. More mixing it up on offense; less time spent on page one of the playbook.
Last year Texas fell prey to a confluence of emotion (or lack thereof) and bad breaks. It's unlikely to happen again.
According to NCAA 2008...
Texas 20, Kansas State 7. I'll take it.
Matt's theme in this week's TWTWB fits this site's motif like a stack of hundreds in the hand of a Capo...
What we learned last week: We learned that Michael Hart is a horse and may very well lead Michigan to the Big 10 title, which will only lead to more heartache for Michigan fans…We learned that prior to last week, LSU kicker Colt David’s 15 yard touchdown run on a fake field goal would have been the longest run from scrimmage for Notre Dame this year…We learned that Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy is an idiot, and before the season starts you can mark Mike Leach and Texas Tech down for one loss that comes out of nowhere, and THAT is why they will never even play for the Big 12 title…We learned that Jovorskie Lane shows more aggression towards the waterboy than on the field, that Dennis Franchione was the biggest fraud outside of Enron in this state, that A&M fans are real classy and will vandalize their starting quarterback’s car when they don’t win a football game, and that Martellus Bennett obviously should have followed Gus Hansen to LSU…We learned that it is indeed possible to have a lead on Oklahoma this year and perhaps the other 118 teams should bother showing up the rest of the season…And finally, we learned that Texas can indeed push a lesser team around the field and that John Chiles could probably start for the Chicago Bears on Sunday.They Said It...
He had taken the Jones Beach Causeway, as always, because it was usually deserted this time of night, at this time of year, and he could speed recklessly until he hit the parkways on the other side. And even there traffic would be light. The release of driving very fast would help dissipate what he knew was a dangerous tension. He had already left his bodyguard’s car far behind.
The causeway was badly lit, there was not a single car. Far ahead he saw the white cone of the manned tollbooth.
There were other tollbooths beside it but they were staffed only during the day, for heavier traffic. Sonny started braking the Buick and at the same time searched his pockets for change. He had none. He reached for his wallet, flipped it open with one hand and fingered out a bill. He came within the arcade of the light and he saw to his mild surprise a car in the tollbooth slot blocking it, the driver obviously asking for some directions from the toll taker. Sonny honked his horn and the other car obediently rolled through to let his car slide into the slot.
Sonny handed the toll taker the dollar bill and waited for his change. He was in a hurry now too close to the window. The Atlantic Ocean air had chilled the whole car. But the toll taker was fumbling with his change; the dumb son of a bitch dropped it. Head and body disappeared as the toll man stooped down in his booth to pick up the money.
At that moment Sonny noticed the other car had not kept going but had parked a few feet ahead, still blocking his way. At that same moment his lateral vision caught sight of another man in the darkened tollbooth to his right. But he did not have time to think about that because two men came out of the car parked in front and walked toward him. The toll collector still had not appeared. And then in the fraction of a second before anything actually happened, Santino Corleone knew he was a dead man. And in that moment his mind was lucid, drained of all violence, as if the hidden fear finally real and present had purified him.
Even so, his huge body in a reflex for life crashed against the Buick door, bursting its lock. The man in the darkened tollbooth opened fire and the shots caught Sonny Corleone in the head and neck as his massive frame spilled out of the car. The two men in front held up their guns now, the man in the darkened tollbooth cut his fire, and Sonny’s body sprawled on the asphalt with the legs still partly inside. The two men each fired shots into Sonny’s body, then kicked him in the face to disfigure his features even more, to show a mark made by a more personal human power.
”Sonny’s dead, they got him at the Jones Beach toll,” his bodyguard would tell Tom Hagen on the phone.
You might as well have called all of your friends at 10:42 PM on November 11, 2006 and told them, “The Longhorns are dead, they got ‘em in Manhattan, Kansas.” Because for all intents and purposes, the loss to the Wildcats that night sent the 2006 Texas team spiraling down a chasm from which they seem to have only recently emerged.
The Longhorns were riding high into that game, having won 8 games in a row since their loss to #1 Ohio State in early September in Austin. With continued success and a couple of breaks here and there, Mack Brown’s team stood within striking distance of working their way into a rematch with Ohio State in Glendale, AZ for the national championship.
The KSU game started out promising, too. Freshman sensation Colt McCoy led the Longhorns on a 14 play, 80 yard drive to open the ballgame, but on a 4th and Goal situation from the half-foot line, the call from the booth was a QB sneak, which got into the end zone but left McCoy out of the game with a neck stinger injury that would prove fatal to the Texas season.
It was all Kansas State after that, as freshman QB Josh Freeman threw for 269 yards and 3 touchdowns and the Wildcats ran more trick plays than the entire Boise State playbook on their way to a 45-42 win.
McCoy tried to play the next game against Texas A&M, but was wildly ineffective. The Texas rhythm was completely gone, and they lost that day too, 12-7, their first loss to the Aggies since 1999. A lackluster win over Iowa in the Alamo Bowl left the Longhorns at 10-3 for the year, a record most teams would gladly take, but left the Horns knowing they were better than that.
Like the death of Sonny Corleone, the loss to K-State was a major setback.
In the Mario Puzo classic The Godfather, the Corleone family comes under attack after they refuse to grant the financial and political backing to the drug kingpin Virgil ‘The Turk’ Sollozzo, who is working with the Tattaglia family to bring narcotics to the northeast portion of the United States. Don Corleone is shot, but he survives in a weakened state, leaving oldest son Santino Corleone as the family’s boss. But when Santino’s sister Connie calls him telling him that her husband Carlo Rizzi has beaten her yet again, this sends Sonny into a rage, and he leaves to beat Rizzi senseless. Little does he know, however, that it is all a set-up, as Rizzi has tipped off the other families that Sonny Corleone will be on his way to his house...
That evening Don Tommasino returned and took Michael aside. News had come from America, he said. News that it grieved him to tell.
Santino Corleone had been killed.
In order to bring his son Michael home safely, Don Corleone made peace with the other families, and Michael was allowed to return and became the de facto head of the family.
The Corleone family was weakened, however, with other families taking business interests away from them, their political ties said to be faltering, and the fact that Michael had been a civilian most of his life. On top of that, the Corleone family had never avenged the death of Sonny Corleone.
After the death of Don Corleone to a heart attack, and during the Confirmation into the Catholic Church (at least in the movie) of Michael’s nephew, Corleone had the leaders of the other four families assassinated, along with Vegas typhoon Moe Greene and his brother-in-law Carlo Rizzi, in order to settle old family debts.
You have to answer for Santino, Carlo.
I’m pretty sure that the Barzini and Tattaglia families didn’t tear down the tollbooths after the death of Sonny Corleone, but Kansas State fans sure did after the final seconds ticked off the clock last November.
You can argue among yourselves who best represents whom in this analogy (although Ron Prince is most definitely Bruno Tattaglia), but the fact of the matter is that even if you think the match-ups on either side are a toss-up (which they are not), even if you think Kansas State is building a fine program in Prince’s second year (which they are), and even if you think Texas this year best resembles The Longhorn Mafia more than the Corleones, you have to admit that the Longhorns have the one intangible that keeps a team focused no matter who they play the next week or how they’ve played in recent weeks.
Many fans and members of the national media have already written off the Longhorns this year, citing their slow start to the season as a weakened team that might be able to spend Christmas in San Diego if they are lucky. Others say they are too young and don’t have the experience required to make a late season run.
And yes, the Longhorns have certainly helped dig that hole of perception, but a convincing win on Saturday will erase the demons of last year and give the team confidence heading into the much celebrated match-up with Oklahoma.
On Saturday afternoon, in the “church” that all Longhorn fans hold dear, when the intro starts playing and the smoke starts blowing, when Texas Fight starts blaring and the burnt-orange clad Longhorns (get it, Godfather fans?) run down the tunnel, pre-season expectations will go out the window and the national media will be shut-out of mind. Yes, winning will be the first priority, but also, remember this:
It’s time to settle all Family business.
"I think you know who Freeman is now you jack ass... over ranked!!!"I italicized "after" because Mr. T evidently lacked the wherewithal to retort with such vehement defiance prior to the game. And I'm confused as to whether or not he felt compelled to label me over ranked [sic] or the Horns
- LM Blog Commenter Jim T, after KSU beat Texas last season.
Who is Freeman, by the way?
- "They’re real vulnerable right now. I wouldn’t really mind playing them this week because I don’t think they’re playing very good football."They weren't. Now they are. I commend Rowland for having the wherewithal to call out the Horns with vehement defiance prior to the game... before the game. I'm of the belief that if it takes two-bit trash talk like this to stir your adrenaline then you have no business playing for The University of Texas, but that doesn't make the comment any less asinine. Why take the chance to awaken the proverbial sleeping giant?
- KSU LB Justin Rowland, 9/19/07
"Last year's loss isn't about this team. I'm sure some players use revenge. If somebody wants to stay mad over last year, that's their deal. And some will. But that's not my deal ... I really feel like if guys can't get excited about playing in the opening conference game, they shouldn't be playing anyway."Texas has played down the revenge angle all week, and why not? The Horns could hang a Rice-like beating on K-State and it wouldn't change what happened a year ago. Move on.
- Mack Brown
The Things I Think About
By Saturday evening Texas will have played, and hopefully defeated, two teams -- TCU and Kansas State -- whose primary color is purple. Of the other two major college teams that sport purple -- LSU and Northwestern -- which is more likely to face the Horns later this season? LSU could find their way to the Cotton Bowl, a potential Texas destination, if the SEC proves as brutal as advertised. Or they could continue to maul opponents en route to a BCS appearance. Most Texas fans would scoff at a potenital Horns-Tigers match-up in that setting. Meanwhile, the other Wildcats sit at 2-2, and by my count they have only three winnable games remaining (Minnesota, at Eastern Michigan, Indiana). They'd have to pull the upset against Michigan, Iowa or Illinois to become bowl eligible.
The odds of Texas playing a third purple team, in other words, look bleak.
In the Huddle with "Sir Rod"... and Friends
"Sir Rod" Walker says:
Hey! Quiet in the Huddle! Listen up... last week's win was great! Not from the standpoint of execution, but it IS a morale booster and confidence builder. With those two alone, one could think he's superman! that's how i hope these Horns feel.......just like superman! Football isn't about just being fast and quick though. You MUST have technique. You can be strong like superman, but if someone has better technique.... super is no more. So we must be smart about this game. It can't look like we have flaws. Our next opponent needs to be shakin' in their cleats after this game!!!! We need to blow these guys out early in the first half! Now buckle you chin straps tight... keep your head on a swivel....and kill any Wildcats you see! READY, BREAK!!!!
Stoney Clark says:
It's going to be hot. Damn hot. And we're not going to serve any wildcat meat. Look for a potential discussion about assorted hijinks from the Mackovic era.
A few other College Football-related Thoughts
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.)
Temple finished a perfect 5-0 non-district slate with a 49-7 shellacking over Tyler Lee. Nothing of note occurred in a game that Temple led 42-0 at the half. Ho-Hum... almost one-third of the way to the state title.
Personal Anecdote Involving This Week's Opponent
Last year I watched Texas-Kansas State at Ringer's sports bar in Austin. It reminded me why I hate watching Texas games outside of the stadium or someone's home. After the game my friends and I decided to get rip-roaring hammered. I remember very few details from the end of the game until I woke up the next morning. And I'd like to forget all of them.
Semi-Relevant Movie quote from a football movie about a team that used to matter
"No one comes into our house and pushes us around."Though Texas lost two home games in both 2006 and 1999, Mack Brown-coached Texas teams have not had consecutive seasons that featured home losses. Either that's a stat that could fall by the wayside in 2007, or Texas fans should feel the comfort of history on their side when Kansas State visits on saturday (and when Nebraska and Texas Tech visit later this seson).
- Coach Dan Devine, Rudy
I'm giving everyone a reprieve from kanye, Jay-Z and Fitty this week.
Deluded/Rational Thoughts from an Opposing Message Board
Come on Texas fans...
you guys have a fine team, but do you really think you terrify anybody??*yawn*
I am sure our coaches are very worried, as they are for any game....mainly because coaches OUGHT to worry about every game....even teams like Arky St.
As for a fan being worried??? I have seen the Horns and Mack way to many times to think that we don't have a chance. You might say that scoreboard last year was because of Colt getting hurt...ok...who's to say he won't get hurt again?? I promise you he will get hit hard a few times...
With that said, UT has done nothing all that special under Mack Brown except with Vince Young (who indeed was a stud) and outside of that...get your tails handed to you by Bob Stoops and thus not win the South almost every year.
Let's get this straight....I HATE ou WITH A PASSION. I cheer against them in every game and in every sport and I cheer just as hard for the Horns during the RRS as I do for my Cats...but come on....
Are your memories THAT short???
I dislike Stoops as much as you do and he was one of our own...however, if the cards had been played differently and Stoops would have ended up at UT. Let's just say you wouldn't have had to rely on VY's talent to win you one NC and he would be the best thing since "sliced bread". You would have won multiple NCs during the past few years (even without VY)....IMHO.
In closing...should you win in Austin?? Sure.
Is there any indication it will be a blowout?? No.
Good luck and no matter what happens vs. KSU....PLEASE, PLEASE find some miraculous way to beat ou. IF Mack can do that this year, I will be the first one to come to your board and proclaim him a GREAT coach.
I don't see me making that post anytime soon....but, I would love to be wrong.
Folks, Mack's main goal next weekend is to make sure that "ksucatinokc" posts a mea culpa.
The Greg Brown Memorial Pregame Premonition
Colt McCoy runs a QB sneak that doesn't result in him leaving the game.
Random KSU video that makes me hope I don't look like this when I play Guitar Hero with the blinds open
Prediction: Texas fans celebrate a victory with a rousing chorus of "Beat OU!"