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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Texas Football: The Colorado Game 

Week Five: No. 5 Texas (4-0) vs. Colorado (3-1)
Last Week: Texas 52, Arkansas 10; Florida State 39, Colorado 21
Last Meeting: #2 Texas 70, Colorado 3 (2005)
All-Time Series: Texas leads 9-7

During the nadir of Texas Football the inclusion of Colorado on the Longhorns' football schedule almost certainly meant one thing: an increase in the "L" column. The Southwest Conference was dying, Texas took a yearly backseat to Texas A&M in the standings, and try as they might, the outmatched Horns just couldn't keep up with the Big 8 Conference's powerful Buffs.

Colorado hosted the Longhorns in both 1989 and 1993, soundly trouncing them both times. In 1990 and 1994 they visited then-Memorial Stadium and eked out victories late in the game to spoil what would have otherwise been benchmark victories for the David McWilliams and John Mackovic eras, respectively. And once the Big 12 formed in 1996, Colorado extended its dominance with wins in both 1996 and 1997.

It seems like such a long time ago. Because it was.

Texas' last regular season loss to the Buffs - the aforementioned '97 contest - helped usher John Mackovic out of Austin, and it closed the book on one of the longest losing streaks against any regular Texas opponent in the past three decades (only Texas A&M has a more successful run, from 1984-89). Since that time the Horns have run off wins in 2000, 2001, 2004 and 2005 (twice). Their lone loss came in a postseason encounter (more on that later).

Why do I bring this up? I simply wish to illustrate the recent dominance Texas has exerted over its once-formidable foe. Again, why? Because it needs to continue. Texas has to win this game.

Win this game and the Horns go to Dallas for a Top 5 match-up with Oklahoma. Lose this game and they go to Dallas staring an 0-2 conference start in the face for a second consecutive season, and with another Top 5 waiting in Missouri, they could easily extend that mark to 0-3.

This weekend then becomes the fork in the road with a springboard toward a possible conference title march in one direction, and a disastrous mid-season tailspin in the other. So to reiterate...

Texas has to win this game.

This Week's Game in a Nutshell

At the risk of overloading visits to Matt's blog, he had a solid write-up earlier this week about Texas' national rankings heading into Big 12 play (statistical rankings, not polls). As he notes, our run defense has been superb, and that's good news considering Colorado is the first team we're going to play that has shown an ability to grind out yards. On the flip side, Sophomore Cody Hawkins can also air it out, but keep this in mind: CU has now lost two starting offensive linemen. Texas' front seven chased Casey Dick all over the field last week, and Brian Orakpo is no doubt drooling at the thought of continuing his Lombardi Trophy campaign by adding to his sack total (it currently sits at six through four games).

A night game on the road is always a potential recipe for an upset, but Texas wins this game if they: (a) keep pressure on Hawkins, and (b) show a sense of composure that doesn't resemble the 1999 Stanford game.

Matt breaks down the Big 12 in The Week that Will Be

Read the whole thing. Especially the Facebook Status Messages.

Congrats, buddy!

They Said It...
"I can remember looking up in the third quarter thinking, 'Man, they might score a hundred. We got to stop these guys.' That was a very good football team and I take my hat off to them, but I have never felt more embarrassed. My family was there and that was a big-time game on a big stage"

Buffs WR Patrick Williams, referring to Texas' 70-3 annihilation of Colorado in the 2005 Big 12 Title Game
Consider that payback for the heartache sustained in 2001. Leaving Reliant Stadium that day, I had no doubt in my mind that Texas was going to win the Rose Bowl.

"I think that package has been successful"

Greg Davis
, referring to the "Q Package" prior to Rice.
Yep, I left that in from last week. Why? Because...
"The Q package right now hasn’t brought us anything much. We’ll continue to look at it. … It doesn’t look like it’s going to be as involved as we thought at the beginning of the year."

Mack Brown
The Q Package is much more appealing when dealing with 2007 Colt McCoy than it is when dealing with 2006 or 2008 Colt McCoy. When McCoy's TDs outnumber his INTs by a 14:1 ratio, and Greg Davis (I guess) shows enough imagination to designed runs for him that bring an added element to an offense lacking a marquee back, then gimmicky two-QB sets become less necessary. Chiles' athleticism continues to waste away on the bench, but that's not Colt's fault, and maybe these comments signal an eventual position change. By the way, Davis changed his tune in the last week. A week after it was successful, the Q Package "hasn’t been as productive as we’d thought." I know it's an election year, but flip-flopping was so 2004, Coach.

In the Huddle with "Sir Rod"

Listen guys and gals...all i'm gonna say is...THEY DON'T SELL ALCOHOL ANYMORE during the games there, so it probably won't be as much of a contact sport as it was in the past. By the way....it's hard as hell to catch your breath after just a couple of quick plays. Oxygen masks will make a resurgence during this game.

We should crush this group so we can have a certain 'SWAGGER' about ourselves goin' into the TX-ou game!!!!!!!!!!


(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

Will return next week...

(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

Colorado once denied Texas a trip to the BCS Championship Game. It apparently happened in 2001. I have no personal recollection of this unbelievable occurrence, but I read about it a few times this week while prepping for the column. I do remember watching from the end zone at DKR while Texas whipped the Buffs by 34 points, but a loss? Nope. I don't think it actually happened.

The Things I think About

There's this juvenile, asinine, inane, (insert adjective here) practice common to message boards, where people take a school's abbreviation and turn it into some perjorative that supposedly describes said university. I mention this because it's common for some of the old Big 8 fans to refer to Colorado as sCUm. "sCUm." Get it? Yeah, I think it's pretty lame, too. Maybe I should quit posting on message boards.

(For the record, CU fans do have a reputation as being among the conference's worst)>

Personal Anecdote Involving This Week's Opponent

Four years ago the Democratic Party had a tremendous, though futile, GOTV effort going in the greater Denver metro area. Kerry supporters seemed to be everywhere you looked, on every street corner (Bush won 50%-45% anyway). As a fan of the President, I took a little bit of pleasure in letting the people accosting me with their Kerry/Edwards propaganda know that I was already backing the winning horse. It wasn't as pleasurable as watching the Horns destroy the Buffs that weekend at Folsom Field, my second favorite road venue in the conference, but a few days later when my friends and I sat up until the wee hours to toast a successful re-election bid, it made for a pretty good story. Why do I use that memory for this week's column instead of the penultimate moment of elation in recent Texas history? Because I thought I'd plug my latest post on my latest blogging venture.

For the record I should probably admit that I celebrated a little too much prior to the 2005 Big 12 Championship Game and may or not have slept through the third quarter.

Semi-Relevant quote from the movie Tombstone
"Texas Jack: You ever seen somethin' like that before?
Turkey Creek Jack Johnson: Hell, I never even heard of something like that. "
That's what CU fans, players, coaches and administrators thought when they looked up at the scoreboard with about seven minutes to play in the third quarter of the 2005 Big 12 Championship Game.

Thank God for the game. It meant that the most lopsided annihilation I ever attended in person was no longer a 66-3 loss to UCLA.

Deluded/Rational Thoughts from an Opposing Message Board

Did I mention that Colorado fans have a reputation of being among the conference's worst?

Check this out

For those wondering what "don't forget the batteries means," I'll relay another (non-personal) anecdote.

In 2000 some friends of mine made the trip to Boulder. As the Longhorn Band came marching by they stood to applaud and throw up their Horns. Then my buddy Wheeler noticed that some of the CU students about 10 rows from the field were throwing marshmallows at the band, only they weren't just marshmallows. They were loading them with AA or AAA batteries first. Long story short, Wheeler, as he was known to do, ended up in a scuffle with one of the battery chunkers, and after losing his hat and tearing his ACL, whilst throwing the battery chunker head first toward the bottom row, he found himself kicked out of a game Texas won 21-7.

Colorado fans - at least the battery chunkers - are indeed assholes.

If only my company didn't block YouTube...

I would have a highlight this week. F me for procrastinating and having to put the final touches on this from my place of employment (shhh, don't tell anyone).

Prediction: Colorado fans, in defeat, uphold their reputation as assholes.



Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Texas Football: The Arkansas Game 

Week Four: No. 7 Texas (3-0) vs. Arkansas (2-1)
Last Week: Texas 52, Rice 10; Alabama 49, Arkansas 14
Last Meeting: #7 Texas 22, Arkansas 20 (2004)
All-Time Series: Texas leads 55-21

"I think I know that this game is important to the people of this state. I don't need any sixth sense. Every conversation I'd hear every week would be: 'Congratulations. We're behind you. Beat Texas.' There'd always be those two words thrown in at the end of the exchange."

Jack Crowe, Arkansas Head Coach, 1990 (Bleeding Orange, pp. 101)

Depending on how many hotel rooms Hurricane Ike and ACL Fest left remaining Austin, expect to see plenty of Razorback fans invade Austin this weekend. It may be any old game for the Burnt Orange - especially those not old enough to have ever watched a "Raycom Game of the Week" between the Horns and Hogs - but for the folks from Fayetteville, this weekend means a chance to prove something against those arrogant Texans.

Arkansas was always the outcast in the Southwest Conference, even when they were among its elite. When they bolted to the SEC in 1992, a move that helped expedite the SWC's demise, their rivalry with Texas ended. It did for Texas, at least. Longhorn Coach David McWilliams cracked that it was sad, but "not like my cat dying." The point is, Orangebloods moved on.

Arkansas did not.

Old school Texas fans have peppered their younger brethren over the years with tales of woe and misery about ventures into Fayetteville or Little Rock. Gas stations denied them fill-ups; Restaurants denied them food. Crazed men in Pig hats spat on them; Decrepit ladies with wrinkled faces gave them the finger. They were cursed at, even peed on; their tires were slashed and their windshields busted. In short, they were shown everything but hospitality from a foe their team usually defeated.

I made the trek to see for myself in 2004, and while I left the stadium free of bruises, open wounds or urine-covered clothing, I faced more verbal taunts than every other road venue I've visited combined, and there have been more than a few. And I also took an elbow to the chest from a random co-ed who apparently thought my presence was impeding her walk toward the stadium.

Texas won that game, but it took a few breaks in the waning moments to hold off an Arkansas team that simply wasn't as good as Texas, the eventual Rose Bowl champions. Overall talent level mattered little, though, just as in 2003 and 1999 (actually the 2000 Cotton Bowl), when Arkansas bested Texas teams that were better on paper. You could cite a number of reasons for why Arkansas played as well as they did against Texas in those games - a Big 12 title game hangover in 1999, coupled with Major Applewhite's shredded knee, and Texas' inability to cover kickoffs in 2003, coupled with a disastrous 3rd and 30 conversion - but one element was central to each of them: disdain for all things Texas.

Oddsmakers have Texas as a 27.5-point favorite this week, and the Horns could very well end up opening that proverbial can of whoopass. But Arkansas still hates Texas with every fiber of their being, and that won't change no matter how large the spread grows. This game will mean more to the Hogs than it will to the Horns, and that's an equalizer that could affect the outcome.

This Week's Game in a Nutshell

Now that I've talked up Arkansas' equalizing hatred of Texas, the Horns will roll through them like Hurricane Ike through downtown Houston.

Matt Answers Who Is and Is Not Worth a Damn in The Week that Will Be
I’ve never been one for pre-season polls. Far too often the teams that we think are worth a damn aren’t worth a damn and the ones that aren’t supposed to be worth a damn are worth a damn. That’s a lotta damns and a lotta worths. But now that we’re a few weeks into the season, we have a better idea of who is what and how fat Houston Nutt has gotten. So here’s a damn poll that’s completely worthless, Matt’s Top 20 Poll:

20. Oregon Hey, look! Another Pac-10 team in the Top 20! The Ducks probably won’t be here long, however. They’ve already used 4 quarterbacks this year, and none of them are named Dennis Dixon. Autzen Stadium isn’t even the formidable place it used to be. They’ve lost 2 of their last 4 there.

19. Boise State How many years of eligibility does Ian Johnson have? Is he on the Justin McLemore plan? There are senior senators that have been in Congress for less time than Johnson has been in the backfield for the Broncos. ER had it’s pilot in Johnson’s freshman season. Has he divorced the cheerleader yet?

18. Utah [Tries to think of something witty to say about Utah…gets bored and checks his Google Reader…scrunches face….takes sip of water…flips through the channels…shrugs]

17. Kansas KU basketball players Darrell Arthur and Mario Chalmers were recently dismissed from a NBA rookie orientation session because officials found marijuana in their hotel room. Can’t you just imagine Mark Mangino hitting the bong in his hotel room and designing new formations and plays? Isn’t this the most plausible reason on how you get that fat? Whatever they’re doing, it’s working in Lawrence.

16. Ohio State Don’t you just look at Ohio State and think Buffalo Bills? Would it really surprise you if Beanie Wells lost his helmet on the sideline this year? But you already know what is going to happen. The Buckeyes are going to keep winning games by a field goal or a late interception. They’ll keep doing this all the way to the Rose Bowl, and there will be talk of a “rejuvenated” Buckeye team, who now has a healthy Wells…and then they’ll get stomped by Missouri or whatever team gets sent out there to replace USC.
Check out the rest at Matt's blog.

They Said It...
"It's like a little fat kid. You talk about him enough, and he's going to get tired of it. And we're tired of it. That's why sometimes we have a chip on our shoulder. We have stuff to prove. We have an image of us and guys haven't even played us"

Texas DT Roy Miller
We've read this stuff a lot over the past few years. Sometimes it's been a precursor to a big Longhorn performance (Arizona State last year), sometimes it hasn't (Kansas State and Texas A&M last year). Howard Schnellenberger disrespected Texas in Week One and the Horns mauled his team. But Florida Atlantic wasn't going to beat Texas no matter what their coach did or did not say. Texas needs to come out and stomp Arkansas or else quips such as Miller's are going to be routinely ignored and people will continue to label Texas with the descriptions they're tired of hearing.
"I think that package has been successful"

Greg Davis
, referring to the infamous, and little-used, "Q Package" that Texas coaches apparently deemed successful after nine uses against Rice.
I'm as excited as anyone else about the prospects of John Chiles getting a chance to use his athleticism in a manner that benefits the team, but trotting out this package against Rice - when it didn't do squat in the first two games - hardly instills a sense of confidence that it will make a difference against an Oklahoma.

What, did you expect me to just say "that's what she said"?
"'I thought he bounced back pretty good, ' Paul Petrino said of Dick."

Arkansas WR Coach, Paul Petrino
That's what she said.

In the Huddle with "Sir Rod"

"All I'm gonna say is.....i first strapped it on with these guys in 1991. how long ago was that? seems like two weeks ago to me. oh well.....let me just say..........i don't eat pork and i haven't since THAT year..(1991). if the tailgate lives up to par for wild boar...THEN I'M EATING!!! Mmmmmmmmm. BRING IT DREW!"

(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

Coming soon...

(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

Bleeding Orange, Kirk Bohls' and John Maher's recap of Texas' "Shock the Nation" tour in 1990, noted that surprisingly, lowly Rice had defeated Texas more times than Arkansas. In the 18 years since its publication, Arkansas has evened the Owls with 21 all-time victories against Texas. But SMU, who hasn't beaten Texas since the early 80s, remains a game up with 22 wins, and Baylor, if you count the "Bullshit on the Brazos" contest in 1992, has pulled ahead with 22 wins of their own.

The Things I think About

I'm just glad that this time around we're not thinking about this:

Personal Anecdote Involving This Week's Opponent

I've often told the story of watching the 1987 Texas-Arkansas game and going crazy when Tony Jones caught the game-winning pass with no time remaining. I should confess now, 21 years later, that I thought at the time that Eric Metcalf caught the pass. It was a while before I learned Jones actually hauled in the catch. I was 10 years old, and Metcalf was my favorite Longhorn. I thought he caught every pass.

Semi-Relevant quote from the movie Tombstone
"We started the game we never got to finish"
When I first though of using this quote, which Doc Holliday spoke to Johnny Ringo just before he put a bullet between his eyes, I thought it relevant from the perspective that an old rival has returned. Forget the one-sidedness of the rivalry, or that it's been dormant in 13 of the last 16 years. For those of us that grew up hating Arkansas with a fervor topped only by Oklahoma and Texas A&M, matching up with the Hogs remains something special.

This week the quote takes on a second meaning, as we all started getting ready for a Texas-Arkansas showdown two weeks ago that was tabled due to Hurricane Ike.

Either way, when the teams stand toe-to-toe, I hope Texas plays Doc Holliday to Arkansas' Johnny Ringo.

Deluded/Rational Thoughts from an Opposing Message Board

Whether Hog fans need a straight jacket for thinking they can win, or whether they think their team needs to age, like wine, you can count on seeing Razorback fans refer to our great state and team as "Texass."


The Ultimate Texas-Arkansas Highlight

Prediction: Arkansas fans leave Austin wishing Ike had postponed the game for good.



Thursday, September 18, 2008

Texas Football: The Rice Game 

Week Three: No. 8 Texas (2-0) vs. Rice (2-1)
Last Week: Hurricane Ike 1, Texas 0; Vanderbilt 38, Rice 21
Last Meeting: Texas 58, Rice 14 (2007)
All-Time Series: Texas leads 68-21-1

This week's game will be postponed due to...

Wait. That was last week.

Texas' annual ass-kicking of Rice will proceed as planned.

This Week's Game in a Nutshell

Rice is Rice. The last time they beat Texas it took an equalizer in the form of Houston's biggest monsoon till Ike, a Texas team that came very close to mutiny prior to boarding the bus, and a recovered onside kick in the final minute.

With both Ike and the John Mackovic in the rearview mirror I think the Horns have very little to worry about... except the running game and the secondary, which we'll address momentarily.

Matt visits the mailbag this week...
What we learned last week: We learned that Benjamin Franklin left out UCLA falling on their faces on the road in his “life and taxes” speech…We learned that USC and Oklahoma appear to be on a different level…but let’s be careful about putting them in Miami already…We learned that Georgia and South Carolina can play some mind-numbing football (but wasn’t the worst game in the SEC that day, unbelievably)…We learned that Mark Mangino apparently has never met Darrell Royal…We learned that a postponement of a game due to a hurricane means in fact that Austin will get no rain…and we learned that for some reason, this 2008 Texas Tech offense

Why couldn’t we just cancel the game? Don’t you people know there are more important things than football right now?

B. Petrino
Fayetteville, AR

Well Bobby, this isn’t the NFL and the Atlanta Falcons, you have to actually finish what you start, here. But don’t worry, we have no doubt forgotten that you backed out of next year’s game and the embarrassment of losing to your school in 2003. No seriously, judging by our luck in “revenge” games the past few years, we probably have forgotten about it. Now, almost losing to Louisiana-Monroe and Western Illinois = Kat Deluna singing the national anthem, so we might not be able to help kicking your ass.

Do you have any OxyContin? Vicodin? Percocet? Morphine?

C. Weis
South Bend, IN

Oh, poor Charlie. Things just go from bad to worse. Although you did pick up a victory over perennial Rose Bowl participant Michigan, so you’ve…what? Michigan went 9-4 last year and were lucky to be that good? They’ve already lost to Utah and could have easily lost to Miami…of Ohio? Oh my, Charlie. Well at least you beat San Diego State. And you still have Syracuse left, that oasis in the desert for so many programs. Speaking of which…
Check out the rest at Matt's blog.

They Said It...
Historically, other than 1998, we've started a little slow in the run game. And we've ended up being pretty proficient at it. Hopefully that will be the same again

Greg Davis
The good news here is that the past four seasons, Texas has topped 300 rushing yards almost every time time they've faced the Owls (2007- 227; 2006- 330; 2005- 361; 2004- 339). Each of those contests, except for last year, marked Texas' third game of the season. Coincidentally, Texas gained a season-low 53 yards in their third game in 1998, when they didn't "start slow."
I’m not real pleased where we are on defense.

Will "Boom" Muschamp
I wouldn't want to be a Longhorns defensive player Saturday night if Rice puts up numbers anywhere close to resembling the first half of Florida Atlantic or the entirety of UTEP. Rice has a stellar WR in Jarrett Dillard, so a young defense's baptism by fire will continue.

I'm not worried about who does it. I just like to have yards. We don't care how we score. We don't care who does it. We like scoring a lot, and that's what we want to do.

Mack Brown
I think Beavis and Butt-head took on a similar mentality in the mid-90s. Many Texas fans, I imagine, are looking forward to seeing Fozzy Whittaker at full speed this weekend. If Texas puts up another three-spot on Rice then we'll likely see some highlight reel plays from the newcomer.

In the Huddle with "Sir Rod"

Coming soon...

(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

Coming soon...

(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

It's not Longhorn-related, but I found this little stat, courtesy of Barking Carnival, pretty damn fascinating: "Rick Neuheisel’s first loss as UCLA coach was by 59 points. Pete Carroll’s 14 losses at USC have been by a COMBINED 59 points. Wow. Thanks to Senator Blutarsky for the heads up on that one."

The Things I think About

Last week Hurricane Ike tore through Texas, causing massive amounts of destruction. This week the Miami Hurricanes are set to tear through College Station, Texas, causing massive amounts to the Texas A&M Aggies. What's that? Miami isn't very good? Well have you seen Texas A&M play?


A few other College Football-related Thoughts
Personal Anecdote Involving This Week's Opponent

Eh, anything I have has been told before.

Semi-Relevant quote from the movie Tombstone
"Why Ike, whatever do you mean? Maybe poker's just not your game Ike. I know! Let's have a spelling contest!"
Those kids from Rice are pretty smart.

Deluded/Rational Thoughts from an Opposing Message Board

Rice fans are reminiscing this week.
Is it just me, or did we look significantly bigger as a squad back then? Maybe the pads were biggger, I don't know. But everyone from the QB to the CBs looked big and pretty fast. Maybe it was the wet field that slowed down Texas, or maybe Texas just got a lot better and faster with Mack, but I thought that Rice team looked full of BCS-type athletes (of course we were in the SWC then and had several NFL or pro players - Kalu, Izzo, George, LaRocca, etc). The announcers mentioned how fast the Rice D was that night, althought they thought our FS Stanley was small, but he was over 6'0 and weighed almost 200lbs! You have to think the talent gap between Texas and Rice has widened since 94, for many reasons, including conference alignments, coaching staffs, and money (BCS), but it appears to be closing again.
(Delusional part in bold.)

And the response:
I don't know if we were bigger back then. I think the difference might be that they (the Texas, ESU-type BCS schools) are so much bigger now. Its my impression that the average size of a lineman and most of the "skill" positions have increased somewhat in the last fifteen years. Given that and our fall from the SWC to a lower-tier conference, amongst other things, I would think that we would field a relatively smaller looking team now vs. then.

Of course, that Texas team was coached by John Mackovic, so that could've had something to do with it as well.
(Rational part in bold.)

Random highlight that has nothing to do with this week's game, but asks a question that can be summed up with a simple answer...

For. The. Money.

Rice administrators are smart, too.

Prediction: Texas rushes for 300 yards



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