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And so it seems the end is near…

Posted by Travis on September 6, 2011

for the Big 12. I began attending UT games in 1977 and I have seen many changes. Royal to Akers to McWilliams to Mackovic to Brown. Astroturf to natural grass to “RealTurf”. I have watched from the west side, the east side, both end zones and field level while holding Bevo XIII’s reigns.

This week will likely mark the end of the Big 12. Unless a last minute deal with OU is struck, Deloss Dodds and the powers that be have to decide the future direction of UT athletics. It seems impossible that the lasting legacy of the Dodds era could actually be that the A&M and OU rivalry series both end.

Cards still need to be played, but the lasting imprint is clear.  While only a relative few have even laid eyes on it, the $300MM pandora’s box has forced the hands of those around us. In June of this year, all 10 schools met and agreed upon a new TV revenue sharing plan that brought about more equality. Even A&M President R. Bowen Lofitn seemed pleased stating “What’s happening clearly is we’re moving in a steady pace toward a more equal sharing revenue model, which is a good thing for the long-term stability in the conference.”

But that goodwill was short-lived. There is plenty of blame for all. ESPN and Texas will surely top the list. But a fear of the unknown is really the culprit. No one really knows the impact of the Longhorn Network. But in the end, one thing was for certain, no one really wanted to find out.

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A Fitting End…

Posted by Travis on March 20, 2011

The Texas Longhorn Men’s basketball season ended fittingly Sunday night. Off to a fast start, stumbling in the middle, closing well, but not well enough.

I talk a lot about basketball IQ. At times I think I overuse it. But when watching 2 good teams play, it is usually the team that makes better decisions late that win. Jordan Hamilton called timeout with a 2 point lead and the ball in his hands with about 12 seconds to play. Hamilton isn;t an elite free throw shooter like J’Covan Brown showed he was in the tourney, but as trhe leader of the team at that point, just hold on to the ball and wait for the foul. Or turn up court and make them chase you. Instead, Hamilton calls timeout and Texas allowed Arizona to set a defense and try to force a turnover, and that is exactly what happened.

Maybe this game will be rememberd for the phantom 5 count or the ref ignoring Corey Joseph calling timeout (Video evidence shows the ref using the visual hand count but never reaches 5 — you be the judge) But to most Longhorn fans it will probably just be another missed opportunity.

In the end, even the great play of Brown (23 points incl. 13-13 from the free throw line) couldn’t stop the Longhorns from getting in thier own way.

Maybe Thompson and Hamilton will come back next year. Who knows? And if this nucleus stays together and adds incoming talent like Myck Kabongo then I guess we can always be hopeful that one day Texas Basketball will get back the the Final 4.

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Unprecedented

Posted by Travis on February 17, 2011

What is not to like about this Texas basketball team? Tristan Thompson, Jordan Hamilton and crew are playing lockdown defense everynight. They get off to fast starts scoring and rarely let teams back in the game late. Nothing is a given in sports, but I think this is the best UT basketball team I have ever seen and they should be a favorite to be in Houston for the final four.

The Spurs keep rolling. I keep waiting for a slide that never seems to come. Now on the “Rodeo Roadtrip” the Spurs are beginning to look like title favorites and it appears all hands will be healthy come playoff time.

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Disgusting…

Posted by Travis on November 7, 2010

I’m not sure there is any other way to describe the 2010 Longhorns. I think most knew that this team did not have the supporting cast afforded Colt McCoy in his first year at QB. 2, 3 or even 4 losses certainly seemed possible. But no one could have envisioned this.

Prior to the season Mack Brown thought this defense could be his best since coming to Austin. How could he have been so wrong? Sam Acho is still playing like an NFL caliber player, but not many others are. The interior of the line can’t anchor their position, linebackers routinely fill the wrong hole, take poor angles and get themselves caught up in the wash when they need to be scraping outside for support. The defensive backs, particularly safeties, take poor angles and are terrible tacklers. All this adds up to a team that is under .500 and would appear to have little chance at making a bowl game just one season removed from the National Championship Game.

Not that the defense is the only unit to blame. The offense is every bit as bad. 5 interceptions in a game is a new UT record. The wide receivers have very little ability to separate from a defender and not a single running back on this roster would crack the 2 deep on most of the teams Texas has played this year. The offensive line has taken a lot of heat the last several years, but against Kansas St., on a night when Garret Gilbert threw 59 passes, he stayed clean for the most part and a majority of the interceptions had nothing to do with the offensive line. Kansas St. came in as one of the worst statistical defenses in the country, yet it was the Texas offense that resorted to 2 fakes in the game and no real ability to put pressure on their defense.

We can talk about players all we want…special teams errors, turnovers, missed tackles, but at this point, the major failure is coaching. Central Florida had 252 yards rushing on 51 carries against this K State team. Yet what has long been a conservative offensive staff to the point of being boring at times, decides to put the ball in the air early and often. 3 interceptions later Kansas St. had a 24 -0  lead with scoring drives of 38, -1, 54 and 10 in the first half. Add a 14 yard touchdown drive early in the 3rd quarter and the route is on.

Insanity is the repeating the same mistakes over and over and expecting different results. That is what this Texas coaching staff has done most of this year. Curtis Brown was finally replaced as a punt returner by Adrian Phillips, and at least we made through a game with no fumbled punts.

The QB issue is a much larger problem. Transfers and position switches has left the position with a sophomore starter and 2 true freshman backups. Garret Gilbert continues to make poor decisions and errant throws, yet Brown and Davis seem unwilling to give Case McCoy any meaningful snaps.

The problems at this point are widespread and deep. Confidence is shot. Oklahoma St. comes to Austin next week in the Big 12 South drivers seat with a high powered, balanced offense. Their defense has given up points, but considering Texas hasn’t scored 24 points since the Tech game, that shouldn’t be much of a worry. A&M comes off an upset of OU and despite Ryan Tannehill’s bumpy effort against the Sooners, they are full of confidence and will likely be favored on Thanksgiving Day. For this staff, it time to start earning their paychecks, or face the unemployment line.

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NFL playoffs and more

Posted by Travis on January 16, 2010

I never followed up on the BCS National Championship game, so here it is. Alabama fought for and deserved the win. Mark Ingram made me a believer. He may not be a home run threat like Trent Richardson, but he is hard to bring down. He uses his body positioning and free hand to deflect defenders tackle attempts and gains yards after contact better than any running back out there. He is very “Emmit Smith” like. Ingram has a high ceiling and if Alabama wanted, or needed to, Ingram could be a 2,000 yard rusher. With a backup like Richardson thought it would be hard to imagine him getting enough carries for that.

I felt good about the way Garret Gilbert played overall. I know at least 2 and maybe all 3 of the real interceptions he threw were slant routes where he either didn’t look for or didn’t see the linebacker or safety. He threw the ball down the field well, especially down the seam and the 2 point conversion pass was a rocket that showed off his arm strength. If he ad gotten any help from his receivers in the second quarter this might have been a different outcome, but all things being equal, it will serve as a good jumpstart on the next couple of years.

Dallas vs. Minnesota should be a great game Sunday. I look for the Dallas pass rush to be the key here. I don’t think this Minnesota line will give Adrian Peterson big enough holes to run through and I don’t think they can keep Favre on his feet all day. A couple of hurried throws cold lead to turnovers and what I think will be a Dallas victory.

All 4 remaining teams in the NFC are essentially dome teams. Although the Cowboys and Cardinals are technically retractable roof stadiums.

I would like to see New Orleans and Drew Brees win, but there is a real possibility of Dallas hosting Arizona in the NFC championship game.

Say all you want about how well San Diego is playing, Indianapolis is the best team in the AFC and I expect to see them in the Super Bowl.

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BCS Countdown

Posted by Travis on January 5, 2010

I fly out tomorrow afternoon and I can hardly wait. Here are a few thoughts I have as we get closer.

The Alabama defensive line will NOT be all over Colt McCoy. Despite hearing many in the media claim that Alabama mammoth NG Terrance Cody will toss McCoy around ala Ndamakong Suh, it just isn’t going to happen. And it isn’t Cody’s fault. For the season, Cody has 6 tackles for loss, 3 QB hurries and no sacks. The interior line for Bama’s 3-4 defense isn’t asked to get up field. Their job is to hold up the line and keep the linebackers clean. While the Bama front seven is very good overall, as a team they have 31 sacks on the season compared to 41 for Texas.

Greg McElroy is not the second coming of Joe Namath (at least not yet).  The Southlake Carroll grad has never lost as a starter, a fact that we have been hearing nearly as much as about Shipley and McCoy being roommates (did you hear their dad’s were roommates too! Weird). But make no mistake, he exists to hand the ball off to Ingram and Richardson. McElroy is pretty efficient with 17 td’s to only 4 picks, but he hasn’t had to win a game by himself. In Bama’s three toughest games, (Tennessee, LSU and Auburn), McElroy was 58-94 for 61%; 4 TD’s and 1 int. for 614 yards. Only 2 pass plays went for more than 25 yards and the longest, 73 yards to Julio Jones against LSU was a screen pass.

The Texas Defense will be stout against the run. For all of the talk and predictions that have Alabama winning, the single most feared question is, what if Bama can’t run the ball against Texas? I think Bama will have some marginal success up the middle against Texas, but the X factor here will be that Texas will be the fastest and most physical defense Bama has faced all year. Running outside won’t be an option and yards up the middle will come in fits and starts. Alabama will have to bide their time and hope that this becomes a field position grudge match and that late in the game they can put together just enough to win, much like their gameplan against Auburn.

My take: Everyone here knows I’m a Longhorn so of course I am predicting a Texas win. This is going to be physical and close most of the way. Texas finds just enough success early to put a couple of scores on the board and has enough late to hold on for the win 27 – 23. McCoy ends up winning the MVP award and Alabama remains winless against Texas and Saban falls to 0 – 2 against Mack. At least that’s how it looks through my Orange colored glasses.

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Bowls and Playoffs

Posted by Travis on January 3, 2010

Kudo’s to Texas Tech for playing through adversity to beat Michigan St. Iowa St., Nebraska and OU also claimed bowl victories for the Big 12. Oklahoma St. and Missouri were a little disappointing. More so for Ok. St. Offensively they couldn’t sustain anything and failed to put points on the board when they needed to. Otherwise, it has been a good bowl season for the Big 12 and could be much better after the 7th!

Are the Cowboys actually on a roll? Romo looks good and the defense has pitched back to back shutouts. Philly comes back to Arlington next week. It is tough to beat a team 3 times in one year, especially when on paper these 2 teams are pretty equal, but Wade Phillips could silence a lot of critics if his defense comes back to play this well next week.

Looks like disaster for the Texans. The Bengals are mailing it in and it looks like their 9-7 season will go unrewarded. Looking back, a couple of missed field goals sure loom large now.

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The Dreadskins

Posted by Travis on December 22, 2009

I’m glad Dallas has Washington next week because they are the only owner/franchise combo in the NFL that make Jerry Jones look good. Ok, Al Davis makes Jerry look good also. Watching the game last night against the giants was awful. And what ws up with the poorly executed swinging gate play? Hunter smith had numbers with the quick pass to the set back to the gate but instead decided to heave it downfield.

Great effort by Dallas over the Saints. New Orleans has had their struggles and I think everyone thought they would lose eventually, but jumped on them early and held on. Credit Drew Brees for making a late run to get New Orleans back in it, but in the end, DeMarcus Ware was too much.

Oregon St. vs. BYU tonight in the Las Vegas Bowl. BYU has spent the holidays in Sin City the last 4 years going      2-2. I expect and Oregon St. win here and I expect BYU will petition the Mountain West to shuffle their bowl lineup so they don’t come back for a 6th straight.

The Horns beat North Carolina this past weekend and now host Michigan St. Rick Barnes hasn’t yet won a national title but this years team looks like a contender to the end. The early season schedule has served them well. Blowouts early to let the freshman get experience followed by 3 legit tests (Arkansas on Jan 5th is the 3rd) before heading into conference play. A 12 man rotation and quality play inside and out make Texas scary, even with spotty outside and free throw shooting.

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Random Thoughts…

Posted by Travis on December 14, 2009

One odd think I picked up from re-watching the Big 12 championship game was that there were 2 illegal chop blocks called on Texas during the game but no holding penalties against either team. Very odd. And for what it is worth, neither chop block was illegal. By rule, (as I understand rule 2-3-3) for a chop to be illegal the defensive player must be engaged by an offensive player while being chopped. In both cases, Suh extended his hands to engage the guard while the center was going low. The guard in both cases was influencing outside and never made an attempt to engage. Protect Suh was obviously discussed in the officials locker room.

I’m OK with Mark Ingram wining the Heisman. This was not a great statistical year across the board. I think Ingram and Gerhart had the most consistent seasons of anyone and probably deserved to finish 1-2.

Why was Tebow invited to the ceremony? I realize he is popular and ESPN probably wanted him there, but honestly, I kind of felt sorry for him having to sit there after the voting totals were released to find out he wasn’t really even close.

I’m actually looking forward to watching Georgia vs. A&M in the Independence Bowl. Seriously.

Average coaching. Average play calling. Less than stellar execution. Another Cowboy loss.

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Nebraska vs. Texas

Posted by Travis on November 30, 2009

I’ll be in Dallas Saturday for the Big 12 Championship game and, no, I’m not taking the Cornhuskers lightly. Much like A&M had the best offense Texas has faced all year, this Nebraska group will have the best defensive front and best downhill running scheme. Texas running game, while much maligned this year, has actually done exactly what it has needed to do, provide quality carries when Colt needs help. The 4 headed monster at tailback has accounted for 1,315 yards this season while Colt has pitched in another 368.  Just shy of 1,700 yards rushing for a devout passing team isn’t bad, and they average 4.4 yards per carry to boot. When you consider all yards for the season, Texas has rushed for 1,967 yards and still 4.4 yards per carry. That is after sacks are taken out of college totals. Compare that to the 2 bell cow rushing programs in the conference, Oklahoma St. and Texas A&M at 2,301 and 2,285 respectively. Oddly enough, Ok. St. averaged 4.4 ypc and A&M 4.5.

Nebraska brings a feature tailback, Junior Roy Helu, Jr. Helu is a workhorse and does a good job of running between the tackles and can also bounce outside effectively. He’ll need all the help he can get from his offensive line as Texas has the conference’s and nation’s best rush defense.  Plano freshman Rex Burkhead logged big carries down the stretch last week against Colorado.

I look for both teams to play their own game early. Texas with the short passing game and Nebraska trying to establish the run. Nebraska is tested this year. They played Virginia Tech early on the road and most of their games against like opponents have been close and fairly low scoring. If Ndamukong Suh and Jared Crick can hold the middle and get pressure on Colt (they have combined for 29 tackles for loss and 15.5 sacks) then Nebraska will likely be in the game and have it fairly low scoring. Texas will look to shut down the run and force Zac Lee to beat them with his arm. I think Texas has the advantage here and will eventually be able to make more big plays.

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