Archive for August, 2013

Quick Football Post-Game Reaction: Texas Longhorns 56, New Mexico State Aggies 7

Posted by    |    August 31st, 2013 at 11:51 pm

I wondered why I set the alarm clock for 2:00am to watch the game in a hospital lounge after the first quarter and half of play. 7-0, New Mexico State at home? Really. Were we withstanding their surge? Thankfully, I stuck with it and the Longhorns rewarded us all with an exciting display of the potential of the new offense and a competent display of defense. Albeit all against a fairly miserable New Mexico State team that I’ve got winning three games this year.

This is a quick react – I’m sure my fellow writers will dig much deeper soon.

Offense

The awful early start – featuring three first half turnovers, penalties, David Ash getting the ball out too slowly, and Mike Davis looking like a player who hadn’t seen contact since the Spring – finally found a groove when Ash hit John Harris on a line against a flat-footed NMSU safety in cover 2 for an easy score and then followed it with a backyard pitch and catch that Daje Johnson made look all-too-easy. By the way, Daje makes everything look easy. He seems to glide, disdainful that defenders are even attempting to touch him.

Suddenly, the offense was in sync, our players found tempo and confidence, and the Longhorns compiled 56 unanswered points in three quarters while amassing a school record 715 yards on only 72 plays. Welcome to the hurry-up, no huddle spread. Holy shit.

QB

David Ash struggled early with tentative early play that didn’t match game speed, but didn’t experience an existential crisis (aided with no fear of a short hook) and he smoothly proceeded to compile 343 yards passing on 20 of 28 with 4 tds to take the edge off of his opening 2 interceptions (the safety read interception was solely on him and quite horrible, the other was of the shit happens in football variety).

Ash also showed his ability to bail out the offense on 3rd down with timely scrambles and even housed a 55 yarder down the sideline against a NMSU LB and safety corps that isn’t breaking 4.7 in the 40 anytime soon. We’ll chalk that up as a 10 yard gain against BYU next week. Ash compiled 434 yards and 5 TDs and, most encouragingly, in his post-game interview I saw a joyful, confident QB.

WR

Honestly, Daje Johnson is postion-less. And also the best player on the team. There’s not much else to say. If he continues to expand his ability to get the ball downfield – particularly operating as a zone buster and slot weapon – he’ll be the X Factor that opens up the entire offense. He touched the ball 9 times and had 129 yards and two scores.

Mike Davis’ early rust was irritating – a careless fumble, a couple of bad route reads – but his gorgeous one foot-in touchdown catch while being interfered was classic Magic Mike body control. I expect him to show up as the season progresses and he gets into game speed. I do worry about an injury as his conditioning catches up to game action though.

Jaxon Shipley was appropriately possession-y and he’s improved as a blocker. Both in willingness and effectiveness.

It was great to see John Harris uncork one. I hope the big guy can keep it up, because we need a credible #3 big body who can feast on safeties.

TE

Swaim is our starter and he’s a game blocker. Still a weakness overall, but we’re trying to integrate MJ.

RB

Four Longhorn teammates out-rushed our top two RBs – Gray and Brown – but that’s a good thing. Jalen Overstreet cleaned up on tired scrubs (9-92-2tds), but there were some gorgeous cutbacks in there. He has real vision and very sweet feet. I’m beyond intrigued. Reminded me a lot of another converted East Texas QB named Joseph Addai…

Joe Bergeron running against a tired defense is very unfair.

I’m not worried about Gray or Brown and it was nice to see Malcolm house some easy candy on that screen. Johnathan’s time will come. He really blocked well, BTW.

OL

Good overall protection for Ash and the running game opened up quite well once we stopped respecting New Mexico State’s DBs and slitting our own throats with turnovers, penalties, and over-thinking at the QB position. Impressed by our 2nd team OL – these guys are actually more talented than the starters – just less blooded by competition. Desmond Harrison is clearly being groomed for bigger things. How quickly do we bring him along? Some of our bye weeks are really going to be crucial in that respect.

Bergeron and Overstreet really showed what can be done off of the inside zone when the back has some breathing room and the chance to cut back hard against the grain. Hopkins played at an All-Big 12 level.

Defense

A competent effort. I was really irritated by some of our bad habits from last year showing up early – a failure to account for obvious play calls on 3rd and short, not lining up in time for the snap, missed tackles, not realizing the QB is run eligible on the read play – but once we adjusted I was OK with the overall play and our ability to create some pressure without allowing anything deep.

NMSU gained 356 yards, but needing 84 plays to do it and 7 points on the scoreboard sits just fine with me. 7 of 21 on 3rd and 4th down is also getting the job done. As always, this is a defense that will thrive best when it has the chance to play with a lead and a more predictable set of play calls from the offense. I also think this game proved very little that’s projectable to Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, or Ole Miss.

DL

Cedric Reed is my player of the game on defense. He physically dominated against the run and was a solid pass rusher. He has a different body from when he first arrived and he’s really coming into his own. Jeffcoat looked like himself and had some nice hits on the QB. He’s just such a sound football player. He’ll better show his wares when some teams try deeper drops and some stuff downfield.

Malcom Brown really locked down the interior running game and is responsible for a lot of NMSU’s struggles to establish any conventional running game. There was just nothing available inside.

I liked what I saw from the 2nd team defense. Our depth is vastly improved.

LB

Dalton Santos has improved considerably. He’s so much more mobile and instinctive than last year and Edmond will have his hands full keeping his starting gig. He had some big hits, played with energy from sideline-to-sideline and generally exudes the lunatic personality a defense needs. I thought Jinkens had some early struggles, particularly losing the TE/H-Backs on 3rd down, but played through it. He’s not going anywhere. Hicks is a rock of stability. He’ll lead us in tackles.

DB

Love Quandre at the nickel. Adrian Phillips was very concerning, whiffing on two open field tackles and his interception can’t make me forget that. Byndom also blew one in the open field, but his coverage was lockdown. Sheroid Evans is pretty much a starter and showed well, though recognition on 3rd down was lacking at times. Let’s not be surprised by a 5 yard hitch on 3rd and 3, shall we? Thompson was solid, though never truly tested. Overall, NMSU had zero ability to threaten us downfield so the DBs experienced very little challenge beyond formational recognition. We also played to keep everything in front of us and were more than happy to concede 4-6 yard routes.

You may not like the slow bleed at times, but it’s fundamentally pretty good defense at the college level if you can tackle reliably. That remains to be seen.

Special Teams

Fera has a leg. The 68 yarder was a thing of beauty. Some of his other punts were not. Consistentcy. Quandre Diggs appears to be our “safe catch” punt returner while Daje Johnson is the “try to score” returner. Wasn’t particularly impressed with blocking or coverage on either punts or kickoffs, despite solid kicking from Rose. A real shame – we have too many good players and too much depth not to press a major advantage here.

Overall

NMSU is quite bad (though their coaches, to their credit, ran the only logical game plan they could) and it took us a quarter and a half to getting around to demonstrating that. Once we spat the bit, I was pretty impressed with the weapons at our disposal. And I liked seeing Ash struggle early and then right himself. Though only in retrospect.

BYU’s defense is very sound and should give us a very solid picture of where we are on offense. The defense has every opportunity to make a statement in Provo if we can stop the run. We’ll see on special teams.

Great to see some Longhorn football, amigos y amigas. Hook ’em!

Vince Young, released by Green Bay Packers

Posted by    |    August 31st, 2013 at 11:00 am

Thanks to the @packers for the opportunity great organization great team wonderful fans good luck this season.

— Vince Young (@VinceYoung) August 31, 2013

Well, shit. Can he run around a football field somewhere? CFL? NFL Europe? Does that still exist? Arena? I will buy a VY Claymores jersey.

I just want to watch this guy play football.

Kliff Kingsbury, Texas Tech head football coach and ultimate bro

Posted by    |    August 31st, 2013 at 10:50 am

I just loved this picture.

The Uninformed College Football Top 10

Posted by    |    August 31st, 2013 at 10:27 am

Hello football fans. Last year I came at you with an uninformed top 25 list. The premise of that piece being that I, a lifelong college football fan then living in communist China, far removed from the college football scene would write a summary of the top teams in the nation with little or no insight into the actualities of the teams. I guess it went okay. But in reality, Shanghai was pretty connected. We had decent internet, a huge expat population (it is the largest city in the world, and full of Americans still not doing the whole “well I’m an expat I guess I have to pick some EPL team to pretend to give a shit about” thing), and lots of bars open all night showing college football into the wee hours o’ the morn. So, basically, I wasn’t so uninformed.

Now I live in Burma. Internet here is literally delivered on tin cans connected by string, and the cans are rusty and the string breaks a lot. Internet costs 500 bucks to get installed here, a SIM card costs 200 bucks and the 3G internet doesn’t work in most of the city because it’s overloaded due to poor infrastructure. So I have internet at work but my hypervigilant French boss won’t let me slip by for a minute slacking. My best option for internet until I get it installed this weekend is going to one of basically 4 bars in Rangoon and usually I just drink and try to avoid the douchebag investment types trying to take advantage of cheap labor here to make a better profit margin on Adidas mesh shorts while filling the empty pit that used to be their soul with stacks of business cards, LinkedIn connections, and money.

Not having hard data on the teams I’m analyzing sort of goes along with my approach to sports in the first place. Your team cheats, your “student athletes” are probably spoiled pricks who you’d loathe to run into on campus (had you actually gone to the school you’re rooting for, and I’m looking at you Georgia sidewalk alums), and your coaches are mostly modern day pimps taking advantage of dumb jocks. (see “golden boy” Urban Meyer helping cover up the trail of terror of that piece of human garbage Aaron Hernandez). So relax, this is a soap opera. If you’re super deep into Xs and Os that’s cool, I just assume your technical football knowledge is commensurate with the depth of the ass groove on your Lay-Z-Boy that’s been carved into by months of sitting reading downloaded PDF playbooks and playing NCAA 14 while deep down knowing the closest you’ll ever come to being a real coach is buying a 120 dollar Nike Sideline Polo. @Smartfootball aside, that dude is cool in my book.

I don’t really know why I wrote all that. You probably all hate me now, but it’s okay we’d like each other if we were sitting on some macadamized car park drinking a beer eating some BBQ. But seriously take your fedora off and stop pretending you’re a coach.

So here’s the Top  10 and some random thoughts about them. First I ask you to listen to the following soundtrack while reading this whole article.

The Delfonics – Didn’t I Blow Your Mind This Time
Joe Strummer & The Mescalaros – Johnny Appleseed
Lee Fields & The Expressions – Ladies
Monk Higgins – Little Mama
Ornette Coleman – Embraceable You
Serge Gainsbourg – Cannabis (Instrumental)
William DeVaughn – Be Thankful For What You Got
Willie Hutch – I Choose You
Isaac Hayes – Never Can Say Goodbye (Black Moses Album)
J. Geils Band – Nothin But A Houseparty (Blow Your Face Out Live)
Todos tus Muertos – Andate (off the Dale Aborigen album)
Bob Geldof – How I Roll (How to Compose Popular Songs That Will Sell)
Lou Reed – Sweet Jane (only the one of the Take No Prisoners album)
Camp Lo – Luchini (This is It)

#1 – Alabama – sure, why not. Nick Saban is a legendary coach, but the fact that he seemingly derives zero pleasure out of his endeavors is a huge, huge, indicator of a broken man  trying to prove something to someone long gone in his life who belittled him with words and closed fists. He’s the Grinch of college football. He’s the mean old coach from Waterboy. His overrecruiting tactics are de regeur these days. This is college football, the Crystal Football is the blood diamond of trophies so who gives a shit. They’ll probably win it all again and they’ll continue to accrue more national championships (real and made up, ala UNC basketball) than their fans have teeth. That was cheap and I’m not ashamed of that joke.

#2 – Ohio State – Something’s weird about Urban Meyer. Besides his heart rhytyms, I mean. Just something sort of dark brewing under that exterior. Also I love that he’s got the “cool divorcee” leather jacket style going.

#3 – Avacados – they’re fantastic and really add some thickness and good cholesterol to a protein shake.  Although you’ll have a morning of farts that smell like Mr. Pibb and pepper vinegar if you load up on them.

#4 – Stanford – Sports writers have incorrectly assumed this is an academic ranking. Stanford, to me, is like British rap. Sure the people near it might like it, but on the bigger scene who really gives a flying fart. A tree as a mascot is pretty boss though.

#5 – Georgia – Well they are first going to lose to Clemson so what’s even the point. Athens is an amazing town it’s a shame it gets wasted on such awful, awful people. Although big shoutout to my friend Kaylen who is taking care of my cat in China and bringing her to Burma for me in a few weeks. So not all Georgia people are obnoxious jerks. Also they get points for having a live mascot, but if your mascot has to sleep on an icebag just to live it’s kind of a bitchass and that’s not a dog pun I mean it’s a weak, ugly, panting bitch. I’m sorry that’s too harsh, I grew up close to Athens and had great times there and kinda like UGA.

#6 – Sakerlina – It burns every cell in my body to respect them but I do. Just, please, lazy sportswriters, stop with the Clowney articles. There’s literally nothing that hasn’t been written about him. People in sports have a short memory, they’re hard rooting goldfish. There’s nothing about Clowney that didn’t also apply to Florida’s Javon Kearse. I wouldn’t even say he’s any better other than the fact that he’s good now, whereas Kearse was good a decade ago so nobody cares about that.

#7 – Texas A&M – First, “Johnny Football” is the lamest, hackiest nickname in sports not crafted by hairy armed buffoon Chris Berman. If this was 1943 and we were watching a reel before a Tarzan serial in a theater, that name would be totally acceptable. That being said, he’s not doing anything I wouldn’t do as a freshman Heisman winner. I’d be doing coke out of the dimples on the small of a southern debutant’s lower back every day while I flexed my muscles in the mirror like Patrick Bateman. I’d definitely do that if I was him. And I definitely also would do what if I was me and on vacation in Vietnam last October. I mean, theoretically.

#8 – Clemson – Writing a “Clemsoning” article is lazier than a Clowney article. You’re a sportswriter, so you have to write a meaningless filler article predicting the future of a team. You’re uninformed of Clemson’s weaknesses so you overrate them. They “underperform” according to your ignorant prediction. So instead of you biting the bullet and admitting you %#$@ed up you blame the tem and try to create a meme out of it. You should be defenestrated. Clemson will be good this year and their o-line will be solid for the first time since Kyle Young ran shit in the trenches and Will Merritt was, well, there and not terrible. The defensive backfield will again be a weakness so expect breakout runs and deep passes by opposing teams but the offensive firepower and Chad Morris pace should be enough to make up for it. I think we’ll see a couple of losses this year but overall a good , solid outing by this team.  I think a top tier bowl win is the team’s ceiling.

#9 –  Louisville – Charlie Strong is a hell of a coach who was denied a lot of jobs because he is in an interracial marriage and also because he buttons his polo shirts up all the way. Both are true but only the first one is a disgusting reason to deny a solid, great man a job. He was my position coach at Lou Holtz Footbal Camp at Sakerlina. He’ll continue to build Louisville up but I still can’t be really bothered to care until they join the ACC which I don’t know whether has happened or not. Yeah that review got a little real didn’t it.

#10 – Florida – They’re Pitbull. Good sales, big fanbase, lots of awards, vaguely Hispanic, and I couldn’t really care less. Respect.

That’s it. Follow me on Twitter for CFB stuff at @dannyfordisgod and follow my more Asia news/comedy/personal focused account at @heyitschili

I’m competing in the Hong Kong International Comedy competition on Sept 28 so if you’re in HK, come check me out. I’m trying to win 5000 USD and spots at 3 of the top US comedy clubs. I heartily encourage those of you out there who have crafted a pretty solid comedy voice on Twitter to give it a shot in front of a live audience. It’s incredibly rewarding and sometimes you can have sex with a Swedish girl interning at the Shanghai IKEA who came to one of your shows.


Texas Longhorns Football: New Mexico St. preview 2013

Posted by    |    August 31st, 2013 at 10:05 am

I won’t pretend like I’ve done anything more than read Phil Steele in explaining to you barkers what could be significant in the game today for the purpose of foretelling the rest of the season. However, it’s still a football game right? The other side hands out scholarships too, right? Do they, actually? Somebody look into that.

Here’s what we can glean from the fact that the Longhorns are playing in a football game against an opponent that will be attempting to compete in said game.

1) Base schemes

Since we have a new offense and a defense that struggled to find, much less execute, a basic identity in 2012, there’s actually a lot we can learn from how the Longhorns play this football game.

You can’t hide your basic principles and philosophy from Oklahoma’s keen scouting department. We’re not going to run the Wing T today in order to throw off the brothers Stoops.

On offense we have a collection of solid looking wide receivers, many of whom are hurt, a cast of athletic and mobile OL that lack the straight ahead road-grading power this offense would really thrive with, and a stable of extremely talented backs.

Then there’s David Ash, still in some sense a blank slate of athletic ability who’s potential is probably still mostly unknown even to himself.

How Applewhite looks to fit these pieces together to form the beautiful bridge to paradise on the cover of the puzzle box will tell us a lot about our plans for this season. If it goes remarkably well, or poorly, that could be a good indicator of how the season will look.

Personally, I’m very curious to see how our full-house backfields work. The rumored schemes that stack the backfield with two or three running backs at a time should be fascinating and potentially very innovative or revolutionary to the game. Most diamond formation type schemes rely on placing a few blockers in the backfield so a formation that looks to use option, motion, or passing routes from the backs could be something new in the world of spread-option offense.

On defense, I’m looking to see if we try and play Man-Free and lock down New Mexico St. as we did in our opener against Wyoming last year or if we play our Palms defense and just try to rely on execution and team pursuit to swallow up their offense.

Additionally, even a basic Diaz defense still makes heavy usage of the Fire Zone, so look to see if we continue to make those a big part of our defense.

2) Execution in the basics

Remember Longhorn Scott talking about looking for “vertical displacement on Inside Zone” from our offensive line? Yeah, that’s even more important now with our new spread offense focusing more on the between-the-tackles run game.

In the past, this OL has not been able to blow through defensive lines with solidly built folk up front. This New Mexico St group…okay, maybe I didn’t even read the Phil Steele bit on NM St…I have no idea what kind of resistance they’ll offer.

Let’s just hope that it doesn’t even take one quarter for our boys start moving people out of the way for our inside run game.

Again, as Scotty detailed, we’re looking for quick decisive reads by Ash paired with strong and accurate throws to the flats. In reading how good a job he is doing in live action, keep an eye out for the positioning of the NM St outside linebackers and safeties.

If the linebackers are packed near the line of scrimmage and safeties split outside the hash marks, that’s going to give Texas a lot of “pass” reads. Personally, that’s exactly what I’m expecting for most of the year until David Ash and these receivers prove they can punish teams with the quick passing game.

So look for the positioning of their defenders, and then whether or not Ash is making quick throws to receivers that allow them to turn and get upfield quickly. If they are quickly swallowed up by defenders that’s a good indicator that our WR blocking or Ash’s passes are not getting the job done.

On defense, we want to see our linebackers coming downhill quickly and decisively in the running game, and then obviously making tackles. It seems a reasonable guess that NM St. will employ a healthy amount of spread option given their OC’s background and how atrocious we were last year in defending it.

Our defense against the option in the past has been designed to channel the ball inside to the hard-charging linebackers. We shouldn’t see the QB cutting upfield through big creases, or hitting the pitch man very often. If the ball is getting strung out to the pitch, it should be happening in as slow and indecisive manner by the offense as possible.

People are going to talk a lot about tackling by the safeties but the real key is overall defensive leverage. A better sign to look for in determining if our run fits and team tackling is improved is to watch for ball carriers stopping/slowing down and looking for new places to run.

That means that our defenders are leveraging themselves properly to yield the tackling results we all want to see. Bad tackling happens when poorly positioned defenders attempt to wrap up offensive players who have momentum.

3) Guys who “flash”

This is often overblown, but it’s still fun and reasonably accurate. If Daje Johnson makes a quick cut on a screen pass and runs past the entire NM St defense that doesn’t just mean that they are too slow and unathletic to hang with Texas, it also means that Daje is pretty good and we’re getting him involved.

How do you think Ricky Williams put up huge Heisman numbers? He ran for 215 yards on New Mexico St, and only 43 yards on Kansas St. when they attacked him with a nine man box. Now, he also ran over some good teams, but the point is: Great players abuse bad teams.

Our best players on offense should be abusing this team and putting up big numbers and it should be enjoyable to watch. This is always one of the underrated parts of having a great team, it can be fun to watch them absolutely stomp an inferior squad. Let’s enjoy it while we can.