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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Texas Football: The Florida Atlantic Game 

Week One: No. 11 Texas (0-0) vs. Florida Atlantic (0-0)
Last Season: Texas (10-3; Won Holiday Bowl); Arkansas State (8-5; Won New Orleans Bowl)
Last Meeting: Never Met
All-Time Series: Never Met

Here we go; it's opening week, the Horns are in prime time, and they've got a non-conference showdown in store with a team from Florida that won its conference last year and finished victorious in a bowl game just a few blocks from Bourbon Street.

It sounds like a barnburner... wait, what's that? Texas is playing Florida Atlantic?

zzzzzzz... zzzzzzzzzzzzzz... zzzzzzzzzzzz...

In truth, that's what we all thought last year, right up until the time Arkansas State pulled within eight points late in the game.

FAU is a better team than Arkansas State, and as contradictory as it sounds, that's both good and bad for Texas. The Owls return 20 starters from a squad that captured the Sun Belt title in 2007, including QB Rusty Smith and his 3,688 passing yards. He'll test a Texas secondary that's long on talent but short on experience, and that certainly represents a threat. But with a front seven capable of dominating the Owls at the line of scrimmage, Texas should overcome that relative weakness while gaining valuable game experience for the younger guys.

Florida Atlantic is also coached by a semi-legendary figure that has manged to win quite a few games when he wasn't serving as the punchline for an alcohol-related wisecrack. Before his comments last week, in which he basically called Texas a bunch of pansies, Texas fans (the non "t-shirt" variety) would have best remembered Howard Schnellenberger as the puffy, red-faced, one-time coach of the Oklahoma Sooners, who holds the odd distinction of being the only OU coach never to either defeat, or lose to, the University of Texas. Despite the experience he'll have to leverage, Schnelly's boys won't carry quite the marquee reputation of the squad he led to a 24-24 tie in the Red River Shootout. And with a tie no longer possible, win or lose this weekend, he no doubt hopes to avoid the same post-Texas tailspin that ensued in 1995, when his Sooners limped to a 1-4 finish, thus ending his tenure in Norman.

Owls' AD Craig Angelos may want to keep John Blake's number handy, though, just in case.

This Week's Game in a Nutshell

After last year I simply cannot see Texas coming out flat. Florida Atlantic has enough firepower to keep this interesting longer than some fans might like to see, but there are too many factors at play for the owls to pull off an upset:

  • Renovated DKR: The Horns will run out of the tunnel on Saturday to face the largest crowd to ever see a football game in the state of Texas. There's no way that happens before a loss... again (see: State, Ohio)

  • Boom MF'er: Coach Muschamp's aggressive defense will hopefully begin to erase the painful memories of the past two season. It'll help that he'll have Sergio Kindle and Rod Muckleroy at his disposal. The junior LBs weren't in the starting lineup a year ago (one due to a suspension, one due to sheer disbelief).

  • Vince Young: The man that delivered Texas fans all of their hopes and dreams returns to the Forty Acres for the first time in a year on Saturday to see his No. 10 retired. There's no way that happens before a loss... again (see: State, Kansas)

  • History: Unless FAU blocks three punts, the history books suggest Texas exits the field a winner.

  • Welcoming back an old friend... The Week that Will Be

    Matt (aka HornMafia) has carved out his own little corner of the Interwebs this year, so TWTWB will now reside at Friday Night Tailgates. This week's edition is now up, so go go get fired up for the Horns (and see what's up with some of college football's notbale personalities).
    Facebook Status Messages From Around College Football:

    Colt McCoy has joined The Village People group.

    Rich Rodriguez has left the West Virginia Alumni group.

    Mike Sherman has started a Water Balloon Fight. Throw a water balloon at Mike!

    Ricky Williams wrote on Major Applewhite’s Wall: “I’m glad you were never my coach.”

    Bob Stoops and Josh Jarboe are not in a relationship anymore.

    Jim Tressell is hoping his team gets to play Oklahoma in the BCS this year.

    Mitch Mustain is LA SUCKS.
    They Said It...
    We've spent a good part of the summer expanding the package that we kind of toyed with last year. I feel good that we'll have a nice package when we open. It's obvious that John's a playmaker, and we need to find ways to get him the ball.
    I really hate to think that Texas' offensive success this season depends so much on Greg Davis' package.
    "Once we step out on the field with Texas, the only ones who can help us is ourselves. Texas always has a very polished team that has great talent, but they aren’t tough, they aren’t a physically tough team. My defense will get to a point where they will be mean, nasty and ornery bastards and that’s what you need for Texas. Texas will move the ball with tit-for-tat, screens and options, but we’ll make them pay a price whenever they catch one of those dinky passes. We’ll put three hats on them and make them not want to get up, that’s the way to beat Texas."
    • Howard Schnellenburger
    Schnelly tried to backtrack afterward, but per this link his quote is accurate. Rudy Carpenter jawed a little bit about the Horns last December and the Texas Defense responded with a rampage of an effort that ended up earning Samwise Gamgee a nice royalty check come mid-fourth quarter.
    "I'm not proud of that moment, and I've stopped swearing since then. Well, I'm working on not swearing. Seriously. I'm not proud of it. How do you go home and explain that to your 6-year-old?"
    I suppose Coach 'Champ may not have plans to purchase this beauty.

    In the Huddle with "Sir Rod"
    Blue 16!!! easy...easy.....Check Red 198!! Red 198!!! Set! Hike!

    I hope that we don't hear too much of that.....audibles. I really hope we just play smash mouth football from the jump. Of course if there is an 'obvious' reason to change the play at the line of scrimmage then we should. but no experimenting. just play hard nose football. let them taste OUR Texas heat as the temp rises right before game time. We should wear their 'izzzes' down! (hi coach mackobitch)

    After we get them frustrated and fighting with each other on their sideline....once their coaches bicker with one another b/c they can't get a grasp on the different blitzes we'll be throwin' at'em......that's when Gabriel can blow his horn!

    That'll be a Ready Break!!!
    (Note: "Sir" Rod Walker played RB for the Horns from 1991-1994. He currently chairs a committee seeking to enshrine John Mackovic in the Longhorn Ring of Honor.)

    Stonie's Stone Wall
    "Yea! It's finally football season. Thank goodness for the Olympic games, or I might have lost my mind trying to find something to watch on TV. I'm excited about seeing what we've got this year. I visited practice and the guys looked kind of small to me out there, but hopefully that means we'll be able to fly to the ball on defense and outrun some folks when we have the ball. I'm dying to see the stadium filled up with the extra seats that Ricky and Vince had so much to do with building. I'm looking for a 38 - 10 victory for the Horns this week to get things started off in the right way. I love Burnt Orange! Hook 'em
    (Note: Stonie Clark played DT for the Horns from 1992-1995. He once left a permanent dent in Sooner RB James Allen's torso with a flying body tackle.)

    Betcha Didn't Know

    Thought I don't know it for a fact, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that Texas' inclusion of both Florida Atlantic and Rice this season will make them the first team to play two teams named the Owls in a single season. Let's all be thankful that Bellmont wasn't looking to schedule an additional cupcake in Temple (University, not High School, which as some of you know, is my alma mater).

    Edit: Dan In Atlanta noted that I'm wrong about this: "Memphis played both Rice and Fla Atl last season, but the Fla Atl-Memphis game was a bowl, Hawaii played them back-to-back to start the 2004 season."

    The Things I think About

    Twenty years ago I attended my first game at then-Memorial Stadium. Texas played then-North Texas State University and needed a comeback and a favorable call late in the game to eke out a win. The stadium had astroturf, the playing field (long before it bore Joe Jamail's name) was encircled by a track, and even without upper decks on the east side or north end, thousands of tickets went unsold.

    I would have never scoffed in those days at "only" winning ten games.

    Things have certainly changed.

    A few other College Football-related Thoughts

    Nah, not this early.

    Personal Anecdote Involving This Week's Opponent

    Not surprisingly I don't have one, though I have made my fair share of "Howard Schnellengerger is a drunk" wisecracks over the years.

    Semi-Relevant quote from the movie Tombstone
    You look up and you think, "God made all this and He remembered to make a little speck like me." It's kind of flattering, really.
    From Godzillatron on the south end to the new mammoth edifice beyond the north goalposts, Royal-Memorial Stadium has eveolved in recent years to one of the country's largest and most aesthetic college football facilities. The north endzone makes its debut on Saturday, and it should be quite a sight to behold.

    Deluded/Rational Thoughts from an Opposing Message Board

    Owl fans (and a few non-Owl fans) seem to be united in their feeling that Coach Schnelly's comments were ill-conceived.
    Hmmmm, I don't know if he is aware of what he just did. You have just awaken a sleeping giant. Texas will be out for blood after being called soft. Texas has some big mofo's on their squad you can squash any player on FAU. I witnessed it last year at the UCF game. Those guys were huge.
    This guy apparently didn't witness Texas' outings against Kansas State and Texas A&M, where they had much more motivation to stomp a proverbial mudhole, yet failed to do so. The carryover from the Holiday Bowl, as well as the presence of "Coach Youtube," should help instill the fire that was absent in those two losses.

    Random Texas highlight that has absolutely nothing to do with Florida Atlantic, but did take place just up I-95

    Do people still crank that Soulja Boy?

    Prediction: Will Muschamp lets an F Bomb slip...



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