Archive for October, 2014

Texas Triage: Clamping Arteries & Wielding Stain Remover

Posted by    |    October 30th, 2014 at 7:05 pm

You may have noticed that the Texas offense is…not good. If you were worried about Shawn Watson before the season, this may be an affirmation of those suspicions.  I’ve had my own weak moments, but keep returning to a limited data set on a short graph where confounding variables are populated like bacteria on an Okie’s electronic monitoring genital cuff.

Before the season, the offensive players I considered most valuable to the Texas offense were David Ash, Dominic Espinosa, Kennedy Estelle and Desmond Harrison.  Probably not a controversial opinion unless you’re a subscriber to the RB personality cult.  They were valuable as much for their individual talent at key positions as for what the replacement level talent behind them could offer. Losing someone like Kendall Sanders wasn’t crippling because there were other players who can approximate a good bit of his value.  The players behind the offense’s four most important starters had no such approximation.  The drop-offs were severe – not only in individual talent, but in what it meant to larger offensive consistency, competency and flexibility.  Their replacements weren’t ready for prime-time. Or a late night Ecuadorian infomercial.

Further, our best offensive ceiling – the wild cards that could offer break-out, big play power? – Daje Johnson and Montrel Meander – also gone.  Kendall Sanders and Joe Bergeron were important role players, insurance policies that offered offensive diversity.  See ya.

Once the smoke cleared, we were left with an offense robbed of both floor and ceiling.  That’s a tough combo.  These aren’t setbacks that our coaches can coach through with a little adjustment or can be wished away with a platitude of “Everyone has injuries!”  It’s a systematic devastation of an offense that had a thin veneer of talent and experience where talent and experience matters most. This was a cosmic sniper with a contract out on the Longhorns.  Demolition set on the support structures and a wrecking ball through the penthouse. Our offensive staff had inherited an interesting old landlord-neglected building with possibilities and some character and, by late August, were left with a squatter’s camp set in the rubble.

Interestingly, many fans and media (not picking on Howe, his piece represents the best argument that the coaches should be doing more and fan uncertainty – cherry picking the worst would be easier) have focused on the approximations and correlations that generally correspond to deficient coaching when assessing this disaster: delay of game penalties, burned timeouts, offsides calls, poor snaps, red zone screw-ups, clock management issues, substitutions that aren’t to their liking, holding calls on key downs, a lack of adjustments, bone-headed turnovers and poor offensive diversity.

Correlation is not causation.  And it’s not as if the key precipitating event – the devastation of the offense and what their replacements should mean – is unknown to us.  Occam’s Razor offer a simpler explanation: these are the shoddy results when players that should be on the sideline start and are still learning the basics of the game, a brand new position, a new offense, lack skill or ability and are learning how to conduct themselves in a new program culture.

I’m still agnostic on Watson the offensive coordinator and play caller (I’m in on Watson the QB coach), largely because his career offers a lot of interpretations.  However, this year is a terrible basis for forming an opinion or seeking to confirm existing biases.  What we’ve seen so far is more instructive about triage priorities than an inability to address our favorite coaching pet peeves.  What many see as inattention to detail comes from working backwards from results they don’t like instead of forward from a realistic appraisal of options.  “Why doesn’t he call more touchdown plays?”

This staff is in emergency triage.  Prioritizing core demands that they value knowing full well that our inattention to other matters will have consequences.

The coaching demands for this group are many, practice time is small.  Too many of our guys need to be taught the game of football and the actual requirements of their positions – stuff that should already be long engrained when their name is on the top of a depth chart.  Once you understand that, an offsides penalty on 3rd and 3 from a former 4th string DT turned OT or a project 3rd stringer nicknamed “No Contact At All” makes a lot more sense. You can rail about general accountability, but it’s a blowhard criticism, the lowest common denominator of analysis.

Because so many of these errors are roughly correlated to what we associate with “good coaching”, “adjustments” and “discipline”, it’s an easy call out.  Even if some of the call-outs – such as the still-cited UCLA “clock issue” tell you that you’re not exactly reading the musings of a game theorist.  If you’ve noticed our offense is narrow and inflexible, I’m with you. The better question is: Why?  Answering that requires you to work from our real options instead of preferred imaginary preferences.

On offense, this team has near infinite learning demands, a very narrow implementation window, insufficient resources, and unskilled, inexperienced labor.  That’s hard to overcome in a bake sale, much less a football team.  We’re playing our Spring game during the regular season.

So we have to work big to small.  Or in our case, glaringly huge to medium.

Should we be teaching Swoopes six new route combo reads in two days of full practice targeted at Wildcat zone looks before we play on the road because they run Cover 4 combos that are going to mystify his unstudied 2A QB brain? And if we do, will he be proficient by game time?  Is he Peyton Manning?  Or the guy we thought might be our TE of the future? How much time should be spent teaching him the basics of his position (which is plainly a work in progress) and consolidating remedial gains? – concepts that most teams are working on with their 3rd string redshirt freshman QB rather than their starter.  Those are the real questions.

If you’re critiquing our skinny, redundant playbook or repetitive play calls with accompanying proscriptions for how the New England Patriots destroy Cover 4, you’re not discussing football. You’re playing Gridiron Dungeons & Dragons. It’s a fantasy world.

Every bit of time we spend teaching Tyrone to play the position – reinforcing poise, form, basic decision-making by down and distance, how to recognize coverage, how to keep his eyes downfield, learning the signals so he doesn’t ask twice and cause delay of game or burn more time outs, is time away from specific opponent game planning.  This is all a giant zero sum game until he reaches a baseline level of competency when instruction and game-planning can meld into one.  He’s not there.  Swoopes isn’t reading post-curl combo routes proficiently?  You don’t say.

When OU blows a quarter of their coverages and doesn’t account for the QB in the option because of how they play Striker and ISU runs a collective 4.9 40 on defense and still insists on blitzing man coverage, Swoopes can handle that material.  When KSU presents new material that may as well be in Mandarin and Tyrone breaks down fundamentally, we’re left with dwindling options and our coaches look terrible.  They could be.

Of course, a good, experienced OL might help stabilize things.  Anyone know how to play center?  Joe Wickline has asked that question a lot this year.  The heart of our OL is out for the season and young Raulerson got overwhelmed. Doyle – you seem smart.  Want to be our center?  You did it once when you’re 14.  See, you’re a natural.  Do you know how to identify the MLB on every play?  No.  Well, look at that guy and count numbers to the TE…that tells you how to make our line calls. Let’s practice that. Unless it’s a shaded nose.  Uh, we’ll cover that later, maybe.  Oh yeah, the defense shifts pre-snap and renders your call incorrect. Sucks, huh?  Hey, your stance is wrong.  Only two days ’til OU!  Try to get in some extra reps with Tyrone – I expect flawless exchanges.

We’re supposed to lecture Doyle or our coaches on accountability when he starts snapping to Tyrone’s shoelaces or blows a protection against twist pressure? Might he have other things on his mind?  LIKE HOW TO PLAY CENTER?

Marcus Hutchins – I know you were an undersized and ignored 3rd string guard switched to 4th string DT by the previous staff hoping you’d transfer out, but we need you to…uh….start at OT for us. Because you have decent feet and try hard.  Do you know how to line up?  Well.  That was a good try.  Get a good base.  Drop your ass. Oops, you fell over. That’s better.  Do you know how to kick set from the edge? No?  I’ll teach you. Once you do five thousand more reps it’ll feel natural. FYI, you’ll be blocking the best athlete on their DL every week. Good luck.

Did Hutchins jump offsides because he’s thinking about a dozen things that no trained OT has to worry about?  Did he grab a little cloth because he’s overwhelmed?  Or is it poor discipline and coaching?

When a patient is admitted bleeding to death in the ER, I’m not fretting much about the dog crap on his shoe, the compound fractured arm, the deep abrasions and road rash all over his body, his ear dangling off of his face and the bloodstains on his nice shirt.  The doctor is trying to keep the patient from dying on the table by re-attaching his legs and getting his heart beating.  From my comfy armchair, I’m trying to figure out the degree to which the the blood spurting everywhere is bad surgical technique or the depth of the trauma itself.  It’s messy in there and what we’re mistaking for negligence may in fact be appropriate triage.  Working big to small.

Yes, I noticed that his ear looks messed up.  We all do.  I promise.  Someone should fix that.  And yes, that bloody shirt is messy.  Looks awful.

Would you like the doctor try to get that out with a Tide stick or would you like him to keep clamping arteries?

The Texas Pregamer: Texas Tech

Posted by    |    October 30th, 2014 at 5:44 am

A “rash” of poor decisions has led us to this Crossroads in the middle of nowhere.

TTU-Mast-14

Well, that sucked. Black Magic, Bill Snyder, etc. etc.

But where do we stand as a program? For Texas fans of a certain vintage, this is as bad as it has been. Blanked by a state school from Flyover Country only a week after needing all of the seconds and a “Kick From A Rose” to beat Iowa State. IOWA STATE!

Things are so bad that at least ⅔ of the Pregamer staff has fled to China, a land where even things as universally beloved as Kenny G can be contentious.

With no late season Florida Atlantic to buoy the win total a bit, Texas could conceivably lose out and finish with a 3-win season. That would be bad. Historically bad. UT was that bad once in the 1930s, which led to spending all of the school’s Depression-era savings to bring in Dana X. Bible. Or in 1956, when the school fired Edwin Price to bring in another guy with a letter in between his first and last name. Darrell K…something-or-other?

But Texas already has their coach. Charlie M.F.N. Strong (His middle name is actually Rene, but I’m not willing to die making a joke about it).

This was year always going to hurt, but beating those terrible, awful, national championship pilfering, pirate-cum-fashion model ingrates would take a modicum of the sting out of an awful year. And it can’t be that hard right? TCU just hung 82 Points on them!

So to revisit just how bad it’s been: The team that gave up 82 last week (and lost by 55) to a team that “didn’t play well all game,” is favored against the Horns this week by 24.5 points!! Using some transitive property I just made up, that means that when we play TCU, they will score in the vicinity of 106 points on us.

Tech 24.5

With red-hot West Virginia, a decent Okie Light, and the marauding Purple Thanksgiving-ruiners looming, this week’s game seems like the most winnable and the most necessary. If Vince can do 42-unanswered against Oklahoma State, surely Swoopes can manage a measly 24.5? Right?

[Gulps]

Hook Em,

trivia new

Better Know a Roster

Texas Tech lists 3 players as “Kicker” and one as…”Place Kicker?” That Kliff Kingsbury kicks konvention to the kurb, for sure. Kliff has kwickly kollected kwite a team and it is our job to kollate that for y’all.

  • Jared Kaster (JR, OL) – Unfortunately neither Coach Kingsbury nor any member of his staff is old enough to know why Jared “Plaster” Kaster insisted on rooming with Payton Hendrix (FR, S).
  • Kramer Fyfe (SR, K) – Is a good litmus test of cool:
    • If you thought of the flute-like instrument: you’re a band nerd…not so cool.
    • If you thought of medieval feudalism: you are either a history buff or a LARPer, both of which have variable levels of cool.
    • If you thought of 2014 Aussie Rules football MVP, Nathan Fyfe: you are either lying, from Australia (thanks for reading!), or WAY too obsessed with the idea of sports.
    • If you thought of the Scottish County that is the home to St. Andrews: then you are probably a golf aficionado, and have probably been to the Old Course (I hate you).
    • If you thought of the founding member of A Tribe Called Quest: then you can probably discuss the nuances of The Low End Theory vs. Midnight Marauders and are most likely very, very cool.
  • Ryan Bustin (SR, K) – Solid O-name-atopoeia.
  • Kash Knutson (FR, WR) – Following in the KK/brah mold of his coach. Came up with his name after a circle-jerk with teammates (as Red Raiders often do to pass the time in Lubbock): “Yo, that’s KASH KNUT, SOOOON!”
  • David Brenner (JR, Deep Snapper) – really torn on whether rapper-turned-actor David Banner has a more impressive discography or filmography?
  • Vincent Testaverde (FR, QB) – Yes, Our Cousin Vinny’s son! As greasy as you’d imagine.
  • Kahlee Woods (FR, LB) – Be careful in the dogpile. She’ll give you the Rash.
  • Justin Stockton (FR, RB) – Probably wished Gene Chizik could’ve gotten that hotpants thing going before leaving Austin.
  • Payne Sullins (FR, QB) – Literal antithesis to Pat Moorer’s life philosophy: “Pain is the best.”
  • Nigel Bethel II (FR, DB) – like Ray Rice, video exists of him punching (and breaking a bone in the face of) a woman in the offseason. He was kicked off the team, but fear not Rice crusaders, he’s back and has played 5 games THIS season!
  • Talor Nunez (FR, LB) – It’s like his name is missing a letter in two languages (y+ñ)
  • Micah Awe (JR, LB) – Way back in our inaugural Pregamer (then called the Friday Pregamer), we joked assuming his last named was “aww.” It is actually pronounced like “ahh way.” That knowledge may’ve led to an Tech-specific version of the Usher hit.

Perspective

The UT vs. TT “Rivalry” is apparently called the “Battle for The Chancellor’s Spurs.”

  • Texas is 14-4 since the Spurs were introduced.
    • 77%–Remarkably consistent with overall series percentage: 76%
    • The 4 losses have all been fairly critical.
  • UT lost in 97, which mattered little because Texas was awful but it helped usher in MackBrownTexasFootball! That season was over after the UCLA game anyways.
  • UT Lost in 98, which mattered, but Ricky still won the Heisman.
    • If Tech hadn’t held Major Applewhite to his worst game as a starter, the Longhorns would’ve won the Big 12 South, had a rematch against (an undefeated and scary) KSU, negated one of the Aggies only legitimate claims on their stadium, and could’ve legitimately vaulted into the Sugar Bowl.
  • UT Lost in 02, which was unfortunate, but led to Mack over Saban(!!!) in the Cotton Bowl. Pre-“SEC!SEC!” life was glorious.
    • This game and Kingsbury’s 900 passing yards in it are probably a big part of why he is the current head coach.
    • This loss also knocked Texas out of a trip to the Big 12 Championship and a BCS Bowl.
    • 2008? Never happened. Blake Gide-who? I’ve never heard of him. Michael Crabtree was just a local drug dealer who the 49ers signed in a wonderful rags-to-riches story.

    games

    TTU Bingo

    forecast nw

    Predictions:

    VY Pump Fake: Damnit. Screw you, guy. Texas by 10.

    Kyle Carpenter: Will Kingsbury be hungover from the Sorority Halloween party the night before? He went as Justin Bieber for Halloween a few years ago, so there’s that.

    Let’s also hope that the Red Raiders defense, not unlike their coach’s watch game, is shoddy and fake. Hanging 42 points after being shutout would do a lot for the fans. Only giving up 42 would be almost 100% improvement for Tech. How does 42 – 31 sound to everyone?

    TTU Rayban Sponsor

    Parting Shot:

    Seeing as TejasChaos is on a Trans-Pacific flight (not Malaysian…right?) over some ocean, we’ve had to make do with varying levels of Photoshop skills. A classic!

    KK rings bell gif

    The Week That Will Be: Levelland

    Posted by    |    October 30th, 2014 at 12:26 am

    Going uphill, staying steady or staying level? Who knows with this Texas team?

    Last Week: 1-5 ATS 3-3 SU
    For the Year: 23-30-1 (.434) ATS 39-15 (.722) SU

    We learned last week…

    • Utah’s fan base was so shocked to beat USC that they rushed the field…what a great moment for them…oh, what’s that, Utah was ranked higher than USC? We really need a Rushing the Field Czar that doles out punishment as needed…

    • Michigan drove a stake onto the field at Michigan State in a pre-game show of false bravado, and then appeared that they enjoyed one too many steaks in the pre-game meal. Look, I get it, your coach is getting fired, but at least try to show some effort out there against a top rival, okay?

    • Ole Miss coach said that the final play against LSU (where Bo Wallace threw an interception when the Rebels were in reasonable field goal range) was not what he drew up, but anytime you let Bo Wallace throw the ball, you take fate in your hands. You choose poorly, coach.

    • West Virginia won a game with their running game and defense, on the road. There had to be a long shot futures bet in Vegas on that one.

    • You’re feeling good about things, you finally got rid of that stodgy old guy, you get a school legend to be your coach, he starts out 6-0, and sure he lost every game the rest of the season, but he’s just cool, man, and he’ll get it turned around. We don’t care about winning out here as long as we score a lot of points and beat Texas and/or Oklahoma every couple of years, we have a coach that gets invited to the Oscars! And wears Ray-Bans! And gives up 82 points in a game? Wait, what?

    • And finally, looking at my picks last week, the only entity that had a worse week than I did was the Texas Longhorns.

    Well I don’t want to write about that game about as much as you don’t want to spend your Internet time on a company computer reading about that game, so how about this week we look at some bowl/playoff projections? Remember, as always, comedy comes before bowl hierarchy and accuracy.

    THE ENOUGH ALREADY BOWL : THE BCS VS. THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF

    Enough already. In the BCS days it was wah wah, so and so should be #2, and then not a word is mentioned about said team weeks later when they lose to Northwest Directional State on a Tuesday night ESPN game.

    There is plenty of football left. Way too much bandwidth is being wasted on playoff talk already. It will play out. Chill.

    THE AUTOGRAPH BOWL – TODD GURLEY VS. JOHNNY MANZIEL

    So…Todd Gurley has to miss four games for signing a few autographs, and has to do COMMUNITY SERVICE like he is a criminal, yet Johnny Manziel missed half a football game against Rice, and I don’t think he missed it at all, if you get my Office Space drift.

    All that we ask is that the NCAA be fair and consistent, and they are about as fair and consistent as a night out in a border town.

    THE ESPN BIAS BOWL – THE SEC VS. THE SEC

    Of course the SEC would get two teams in this game. Look, ESPN is the worldwide leader in sports. As heavy and self-aggrandizing as that tagline might be, it is true. And as heavy and self-aggrandizing as the SEC is, they are the best conference in college football. Period.

    Bo Pelini, if you don’t want to hear about the SEC all the time, try not to get your ass handed to you by teams from the Big Ten and Pac-12…conferences worse than the SEC.

    THE LIBERTY BOWL – BAYLOR VS. TENNESSEE

    Tennessee takes a break from getting their heads beat in by the SEC to get their heads beaten in by the Big 12 again.

    THE RUSSELL ATHLETIC BOWL – DUKE VS. TCU

    What, “Starter” wasn’t available?

    THE ADVOCARE TEXAS BOWL – TEXAS VS. TEXAS A&M

    College football’s most anticipated bowl outside of the playoff has ADVOCARE in the title? This will never happen, by the way. Sadly I’m not sure whether it will never happen due to Texas not being able to score enough to win football games or if it is because of the political cloud that still hangs over the rivalry…but dammit this is my column and I can write whatever I want.

    THE COTTON BOWL – OKLAHOMA VS. MISSISSIPPI STATE

    The Bulldogs are regulated here after losing to Alabama. Between the cowbells, Oklahoma’s cannons and the noise pollution at the Death Star, most watch this game on mute.

    THE CACTUS BOWL – WEST VIRGINIA VS. WASHINGTON

    The one not played in Glendale.

    THE ALAMO BOWL – KANSAS STATE VS. ARIZONA STATE

    A new windbreaker for Bill Snyder!

    THE FIESTA BOWL – MICHIGAN STATE VS. CLEMSON

    The Fiesta Bowl always gets the sexiest match-ups, right?

    THE ORANGE BOWL – NOTRE DAME VS. EAST CAROLINA

    Lincoln Riley leaves before the game to take the SMU job.

    THE ROSE BOWL – OREGON VS. OLE MISS

    Why haven’t we been doing this before?

    THE SUGAR BOWL – FLORIDA STATE VS. ALABAMA

    Doesn’t get sweeter than that.

    THE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP – ALABAMA VS. OREGON

    Wait, how the hell did that happen?

    On to the games…

    Florida State -4 @ Louisville:

    Florida State puts their 23-game winning streak on the line as a Thursday night favorite at Papa John’s Stadium in Louisville, which has to be the worst stadium name out there but at the same time makes me very hungry.
    The Seminoles have needed three comebacks from second-half deficits to keep that streak intact this year, but have scored at least 31 points in every game that Jameis Winston has started this season.

    Charlie Strong left a full pantry in Louisville, as the Cardinals have the country’s top defense (243.9 yards per game), best rush defense (66.9 yards per game), and the fourth best scoring defense (14.6 points per game) in the country entering this contest. Simply put, they have the athletes to run up and down the Seminoles and not be intimidated.

    The question here is if Louisville can put up the points. Florida State’s defense isn’t as strong as it was last year, but can still clamp down, allowing 20 points or less in four games this year.

    It wouldn’t surprise me in the least to see the Cardinals come out here and get the upset in a hostile environment, but when it comes down to it, I trust the Seminoles offense to be able to find themselves before I trust the Louisville offense to pull off the upset.

    Florida State 31 Louisville 24
    ATS – Florida State
    SU – Florida State

    Arkansas @ Mississippi State -10.5

    Arkansas becomes the first team in college football history to play five straight top 10 teams in conference this week as they travel to Starkville to play the Bulldogs.

    The Razorbacks came close to beating Alabama, and probably should have beaten Texas A&M if they didn’t suddenly think they were a passing team. But they’ll have their hands full here with a Mississippi State team that is averaging 42 points per game and has the rushing defense (118 yards per game) to contain Arkansas.

    The Bulldogs roll.

    Mississippi State 38 Arkansas 24
    ATS – Mississippi State
    SU – Mississippi State

    Auburn @ Mississippi -2:

    Ole Miss began to show some cracks in the armor last week, allowing LSU to rush for 264 yards on 55 carries, and by allowing Bo Wallace to throw a forward pass, but this one is in Oxford, which could be bad news for Auburn.

    The Tigers average more than 46 points per game at home, but only a little over 21 in their two road games this year.

    Ole Miss gets back on track.

    Mississippi 34 Auburn 28
    ATS – Mississippi
    SU – Mississippi

    Oklahoma State @ Kansas State -14.5:

    Oklahoma State has managed a grand total of 19 points in back to back losses to TCU and West Virginia, hampered by poor quarterback play (Daxx Garman 1,735 yards 11 TD, 9 INT), a poor rushing attack (only 156 yards per game), and turning the ball over (97th in the country in turnover margin).

    That is not the formula to defeat Kansas State.

    Kansas State 37 Oklahoma State 17
    ATS – Kansas State
    SU – Kansas State

    TCU -5.5 @ West Virginia:

    ESPN’s College Gameday travels to Morgantown for this one, and it will be a miracle if they make it out of there without the set burning down.

    Both games in this young series have gone to overtime, with TCU coming out ahead 39-38 in Morgantown in 2012 and West Virginia defeating the Horned Frogs 30-27 last year in Fort Worth.

    As mentioned above, the Mountaineers have been doing it with defense, as evidenced by the fact that they held Baylor and Oklahoma State, their two most recent victories, to 16% on third down conversions. If that is not enough, West Virginia has only allowed 9 passing touchdowns all year, when they allowed 62 the previous two years combined.

    It should be another exciting one, but this is a tough trip for the Frogs.

    West Virginia 34 TCU 31
    ATS – West Virginia
    SU – West Virginia

    Texas @ Texas Tech NL:

    Much has been made of the Texas Tech magic over the years, especially the myth of the
    “weird things happen on the great plains”, but for all that talk, Texas has won 13 of the last 15 in this series, the only losses coming in 2002 and 2008…in Lubbock.

    2002 was that game where Kliff Kingsbury threw for about a million yards, while 2008 has been erased from my memory. Can’t remember what happened.

    Texas, of course is sitting at 3-5 and desperately needs a win here if they want to entertain any thoughts of going to a bowl game. The last time Texas finished with three or fewer wins was 1956, when they went 1-9 under the tutelage of Ed Price. He was replaced the following year by a guy by the name of Darrell Royal.

    Neither team knows which quarterback will play Saturday night. Tech’s Davis Webb was injured in their beatdown at the hands of TCU last week, so it might be Patrick Mahomes, who was 5/11 for 45 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

    There are no injuries or quarterback controversy at Texas, of course, it is just a matter of whether the confident, eyes down the field Tyrone Swoopes shows up, or the in a shell, eyes at his happy feet Tyrone Swoopes that will show up.

    Your guess is as good as mine.

    You know a few weeks ago, when I said it was now or never for Texas to get a win against Iowa State, and they promptly almost lost that game? Well, if this Texas offense is going to get going….all together now….it is now or never.

    The Red Raiders fired a defensive coordinator this year and it didn’t help one bit. They are still giving up more than five hundred (!!!) yards a game, including nearly 250 on the ground. They give up more than 42 points a game, they’re near the bottom in third down defense, fourth down defense, first down defense, second down defense, and probably would be worst in the country in fifth down defense if we could bring those Colorado officials back for another game.

    And if that wasn’t bad enough, they are near the bottom in the country in turnover margin and penalties, so if they don’t let you waltz into the endzone or give you a few extra downs, they at least let you keep the ball.

    Once again, if this offense plays like they did against Oklahoma and Iowa State, this is a win going away. If they play offense like they have in most other games this year, well, hopefully Vance Bedford can do to them what he did to Baylor and Oklahoma.

    I feel that this team is desperate, and for all the grief that this senior class has received, I do believe that they want to go out with something resembling a feather in their cap, even if it is off the clearance rack at Michael’s.
    Texas wins…but they’ll have to work for it.

    Texas 31 Texas Tech 24

    No line on this game at the time of publication, so if one ends up getting posted, we’ll keep the same score and work from there.

    For entertainment purposes only. Save your money for the Advocare Texas Bowl.

    Texas-KSU Football: Defensive Post Mortem

    Posted by    |    October 27th, 2014 at 3:07 pm

    The Texas D wins most of the downs, but loses the important ones.

    The Longhorns defense earned an overall passing grade against Kansas State, but solid overall total defensive statistics (KSU was held more than a yard under their per play average) and some nice red zone stops belie a sloppy underbelly.  I saw a number of qualitative things that bothered me during the live watch and even more on the re-watch. I’m guessing Strong saw 10X what I did.

    Bill Belichick is an amazing football coach for a number of reasons, but one of the primary ones is his insight that situational football – a few plays on key downs – inordinately determine the outcome of games between closely matched opponents.  As a result, he constantly drills his players, staff and himself on situational football and goes after players with some broader understanding of the big picture.  Do your job, consider the larger game situation, play the defense accordingly, get off of the field.  Laugh at the WR celebrating because he had a 10 yard catch on 3rd and 15.

    We are not very good at this.  On “normal downs” this is a very good defense.  Our only real weakness is against the running game when we’re in our 3-3-5.  That’s about it.  Given a back 7 that’s far from elite, that’s pretty impressive.

    On key situational downs when the defense should be at advantage – 3rd down & 5+ and 2nd and 8+ – we’re not so impressive.  That’s usually a function of poor defensive calls or a lack of overall cohesion. However, in our case, it may also be that the key recognition elements of our defense – the linebackers and secondary – are either athletically, football IQ, or experientially deficient. No offense to the cornerbacks and DL, but not much rocket science is required of them beyond very basic fundamentals.  Such as not trying to jump a 7 yard slant on 3rd and 14.  The safeties and LBs have larger considerations.

    Against KSU, the Longhorns allowed conversions on 9 of KSU’s 17 third down plays.  Waters was 9 of 11 for 137 yards on 3rd down.  On other downs, he was 10 of 19 for 87 yards.

    FIVE of those conversions came on an average of 3rd and 11. That cannot happen.  A good defense allows 1 in 5 conversions on 3rd and 10+.  Yet KSU’s two longest plays from scrimmage – a 24 and 29 yard completion – came on 3rd and 13 and 3rd and 14 respectively.  Both plays were wide open and they were the instrumental plays in two drives that combined for 10 points.  There’s your football game.

    Duke Thomas got looksy instead of play the percentages and on the other completion our zone opened up like a New Yorker to his therapist. The other three conversions came on missed tackles, covering grass instead of receivers and misalignment from Diggs.

    On normal downs, our defense handled KSU quite easily.  On money downs, they crushed us.  Probably why KSU had the ball for 40 minutes to our 20.

    KSU also effectively stopped running their offense in the early 4th quarter.

    **

    DL

    Proud of these guys across the board.  One of their best games of the year against an experienced KSU OL that really struggled to block them.  Bluiett played a fundamentally sound game (7 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, great outside-in containment sack) and impressed me tremendously, Brown drew double teams on most of his snaps and Ridgeway had a sack and three tackles for loss abusing Wildcat single blocking.  Cedric Reed played well (6 tackles, 2 pass break ups, drew 1 holding call) and was hugged on half of his pass rushes like my dog in a thunderstorm.

    Hughes was deservedly benched after some poor containment lapses.

    LB

    We stank against their running game in the 3-3-5 even though they were reluctant to run Waters. Hicks was the best of the lot and had some nice licks, Edmond had a net neutral game impact and Peter Jinkens pretty much gave up on two goal line running scores to his side and doesn’t understand anything George Kennan ever wrote about containment.  Cobbs and Tevin Jackson logged significant snaps, which might give you some insight into the frustration level on our sideline.

    DB

    Covered in my intro.  I understand that Bedford is trying to protect our safeties in a nickel scheme that needs them to be major playmakers, but Diggs and Thomas can shoulder plenty of the blame as well.  They came up small on 3rd down repeatedly and we’re getting murdered in situational football.  If Bedford needs to review basic down & distance football with his guys, this week might be a good time to do it.  Lead them through a Socratic dialogue of what 3rd and 14 means.

    Overall

    When a lack of depth means benching isn’t a legitimate threat for expressing dissatisfaction with anyone’s play, Bedford and the defensive staff better find a way to get this unit’s attention however they can.

    Ten thoughts about the Texas Longhorns basketball roster

    Posted by    |    October 27th, 2014 at 12:15 pm

    Who will get a piece of the playing time pie?

    News has started to trickle out about the Texas Longhorns basketball team. Head Coach Rick Barnes held a press conference a handful of days back, providing general commentary about the state of his team. That was followed by the bright minds inside Bellmont deciding to hold a last-minute, impromptu open practice hours before the Iowa State football game. If Bellmont was shooting for an attendance figure on par with the ill-advised Texas-UCLA game inside cavernous Reliant Stadium, then well done.

    1. If the season tipped off today, your starters would be: Isaiah Taylor, Demarcus Holland, Jonathan Holmes, Connor Lammert, and Cameron Ridley. ESPN’s Jeff Goodman leaked the news that Lammert started over heralded freshman Myles Turner in the Texas-Davidson closed scrimmage. If true, I’m not surprised.

    2. Lammert isn’t redshirting. After Turner committed to Texas, some rabble-rousers posited that Barnes would put Lammert on the Connor Atchley/Jason Klotz redshirt school for bigs who can’t post good path to success. Never mind that Lammert has been the first big off the bench each of his first two seasons, averaging 20 MPG. I expect similar minutes this year.

    3. Turner is talented and raw. But we knew that already. I suspect Barnes is still trying to figure out how to best deploy Turner. To the extent that Turner can find a defined role in the offense and serve as a help defender and plus rebounder on defense, the more minutes he will get. Texas’ best starting lineup includes Turner, given sufficient maturity along the experience curve.

    4. Thanks to Todd Wright’s witchcraft and wizardry, Jonathan Holmes is svelte. Holmes as a 3 is a matchup nightmare against lesser teams. Is Holmes slimmed down enough to ball-you-man speedier, athletic wings (think Kansas’ Wayne Selden or Kelly Oubre) or provide enough coverage against 3-guard sets? We’ll see.

    5. Roster length equals substantial zone defense and the possibility of half-court trap sets. Barnes has never been a full-court pressure guy. Texas lacks requisite guard size and lanky, lengthy wings, so the arithmetic doesn’t change.

    6. Let’s apply Peter Bean calculus to the frontcourt (3/4/5) positions. Ridley, Holmes, Lammert, and Turner will average 20-25 minutes a game. That leaves 20-40 minutes to split amongst Prince Ibeh, Jordan Barnett, and [insert third guard here]. Not a lot of PT to be had.

    7. The backcourt picture is clearer. Taylor and Holland will start. Last year, the duo led the team in minutes played: 30.1 for Taylor and 29.6 for Holland. The same is the same. Barnes wants Taylor to score more. Interesting.

    8. Do those minutes come at Javan Felix’s expense? Unlikely. Felix is still the primary backup for both the 1/2 spots as either the primary ballhandler or scoring sparkplug. His minutes are dependent on how easily the starters get the ball through the hoop and how quickly Felix takes to becoming an efficient rather than voluminous scorer. It’s also likely Felix plays crunch time minutes when Texas is behind.

    9. 30 minutes each for Taylor and Holland plus 20 minutes for Felix leaves club trillion minutes for Kendal Yancy and Damarcus Croaker. What can Yancy and Croaker do to get PT? (A) All-conference D [a la Holland]. (B) Get buckets. (C) Play the 3 better than the backup alternatives.

    10. Back of the envelope addition says Texas is working with a law of large numbers. With twelve capable scholarship ballers on the roster, playing time will be earned, not bestowed. I’m looking forward to seeing which guys rise to the challenge.