|The NFL Draft is upon us. As I mentioned in my Monday Notes you can expect to see a ton of Ndamukong Suh chasing Colt McCoy around in the Big 12 Title Game as we approach draft time. I think his play and that game film have the Rams thinking twice about their options. There has been a lot of talk that they might be trading down with the Cleveland Browns, who are sitting at No. 7 but really seem to want that first pick. Adding fuel to the fire is the fact the Rams have not started any contract negotiations with Sam Bradford, Suh or any other dark horse considered to be the top pick in the draft. Most of the time by now the team with the first pick has their player targeted and that player’s representatives and the team in question have begun negotiating a contract, which is completely within the rules of the NFL system. They know who they want and with the first pick it isn’t like anyone else can get them, so they begin the process of working out the details. There have been many times on draft night that you would hear “With the first pick in the WhateverYear NFL Draft the TownName SoandSo’s select WhatsHisName…” Which would be followed quickly with the contract on the table. Sometimes it is signed, sometimes it isn’t, but the numbers are out there. If they aren’t, there are at least some references to the first team meeting with that player. That isn’t happening this year. Why not? It tells me that they either don’t know who they want or they aren’t keeping the pick. I find it hard to believe that they don’t know who they want and I can’t see what benefit there is to keeping it a secret. In fact, most of the time the rest of the league wants that first player signed or in the process of signing as early as possible because it sets the pecking order of signing bonuses, guaranteed money, number of years, etc. for the later picks. So that, my friends, means that someone else is jockeying for that spot and talking to the Rams about acquiring it. With that in mind the Rams are definitely keeping their mouths shut because they don’t want anyone between Nos. 2 and 6 to know who they want. Make sense?
Considering that I think Colt McCoy ends up in St. Louis in the second round. Of course when everything I’ve written above blows up in my face and the Rams do, in fact, draft Sam Bradford and sign him quickly I expect McCoy to be playing in Cleveland next year, going at pick No.38.
I’ll stick with my original thought, though, and say the Rams trade that pick and take McCoy in round 2.
Back next week with some NFL draft post-game.
Texas Baseball (and football)
The parallels between the Texas football and baseball teams are pretty eerie lately. Not Lincoln-Kennedy weird, but interesting nonetheless. In 2005 Texas won the National Championship in both sports. In 2006 the football team, defending that title, fell apart in the end, losing to K-State and A&M to close out the season. The baseball team, also the defending champs, fell apart, getting swept by Missouri in the season finale, losing to Nebraska in the Big 12 Championship Game and losing to Stanford and NC State in the Regional, ending the season in the first round. Both teams were National Title contenders (football pre-season No.2, baseball pre-season No.1) and ended the season in disappointing fashion. In 2007 it was more of the same. Both teams came into the season ranked No.3 in the polls and both teams came nowhere near where they wanted to be. The baseball team lost to Texas A&M in the Round Robin Big 12 Baseball Tournament, knocking them out of contention for the Big 12 Championship. The Horns hosted a regional but were ousted by UC Irvine in round 1. The football team was a mess, losing to A&M to eliminate them from any hopes of a BCS berth before playing Arizona State in the Holiday Bowl, which is right down the road from UC-Irvine. See? See??? In 2008 the football team was excellent and the baseball was not. But I’m not talking about that year because it messes up this comparison…
… But in 2009 it was downright scary how similar they were. Last year the baseball team was right there, on the cusp of a National Title, and faced SEC powerhouse and No.1 ranked LSU in the Championship Game (after splitting the first two, game three was for all the marbles). After getting in a hole the Horns rallied to tie at 4, but then made some mistakes and fell apart against the powerful Tigers, allowing five runs in the 6th inning and losing going away, 11-4. The football team faced SEC powerhouse and No.1 ranked Alabama in the Championship Game. After getting in a hole the Horns rallied to cut to 24-21, but then made some mistakes and fell apart against the powerful Crimson Tide and lost going away, 37-21. Colt McCoy’s injury in the football game changed the entire complexion of the BCS Title Game. Texas ace Chance Ruffin had allowed 10 strikeouts and had allowed only one run through 5 2/3 innings in game one and had to leave with a blister on his finger in the sixth. His injury changed the complexion of the game as LSU immediately tied the game after his departure and eventually won in 11. I’m sure there are more comparisons that I’m forgetting.
Keeping that in mind, the 2010 Texas football team is in very good shape if you look at the 2010 baseball season.
Texas began the season as the top ranked team and immediately dropped two out of three to New Mexico in the season opener, dropping them down in the polls. The offense had a tendency to disappear early in the year, like in a 1-0 loss at Houston, but the defense and pitching kept them in games while the offense worked out the kinks more times than not.
You can expect similar results from the football team as the new personnel on offense gets accustomed to each other and finds their individual roles. The constant while that happens will be defense and special teams. See where I’m going here? Back to baseball…
I don’t think there is anyone playing better baseball anywhere in the country than the No.3 ranked Texas Longhorns right now. Texas has won 12 straight, including 11 consecutive conference games. That means three straight sweeps if you are paying attention. Texas went to Norman and swept ou, came home and swept Kansas and then swept the A&M series allowing only 13 total runs in those nine games. The Horns shut out the sooners 5-0 and 2-0 in the first two games before finishing them off 9-3 on Sunday. While I hate them, the sooners have a pretty good baseball team, standing at 26-10 and third in the conference. Kansas came to town with a solid staff and solid defense and it showed as they played two competitive games with Texas, losing 3-2 in extra innings and 3-1 on Saturday. The Horns opened it up on Sunday, winning 10-4, which is the norm (more on that in a minute). A come-from-behind win over a very, very good Texas State team gave Texas nine straight wins heading into the State Farm Lone Star Whatever with the Ags.
The Aggies aren’t great this year in baseball but with two games at home they could have made a statement with a pair of wins over the Horns. Turns out it was Texas who made the statement. I don’t know if you can use the phrase “mudholed” in baseball, but if you can this series would be the sentence in the dictionary after the definition. It would say “mudholed” and show the different derivations and how to pronounce it then it would read “The Texas baseball team mudholed Texas A&M in the Lone Star Whatever.” Texas won game one in Austin in extra innings after blowing a 3-0 lead in the ninth when two errors opened the door for A&M to tie at 3. The Ags returned the favor in the bottom of the 11th when a booted ground ball with the bases loaded allowed the winning run to score. It was not that exciting in College Station over the next two days. Texas led off game two with a hit, followed by a sacrifice bunt and a base hit to score the runner and it was 1-0 in the top of first. That was all Cole Green needed as he allowed only one hit and pitched a complete game. He got more than he needed as Texas won 14-0, making it the biggest margin over the Aggies since the year of A&M’s football national championship (1939). More of the same on Sunday as starter Brandon Workman pitched a four-hit shutout and Texas got out their “Sunday Offense” with an 8-0 win. Kevin Keyes is going to miss A&M because he seems to hit two home runs every at bat against them. Maybe he’ll get another crack at them in the Big 12 Tourney? We’ll see.
If you don’t know the “Sunday Offense” reference Texas is in the midst of a pretty amazing statistic. Texas has scored at least eight runs on every Sunday of the season except for the first one of the year. That is pretty amazing considering the majority of those were conference games such as Texas Tech (17-5), Nebraska (13-3), KU (10-4) and A&M. You could probably call it “Game Three Offense” as well because Easter weekend the Texas/ou game was actually on Saturday and the Horns won, 9-3. Whatever you want to call it, the Horns are lethal at the plate on Sundays and with the staff (league-leading 2.41 ERA) and the defense (league-leading .980%) shutting down opponents Texas is a frightening team when the series finale comes around. They aren’t too bad the other six days a week, either.
There are still four series left in the Big 12 season, including a big tilt with second place K-State the first weekend in May, but the Horns look like they have all the pieces in place to make a series run when June gets here.
The No.14 Texas softball team was rained out over the weekend at ou and the ladies sit in second place in the Big 12 behind No.10 Oklahoma State, who is undefeated at 9-0. Do they make those up, or is it exactly the same as baseball where you lose the games? Someone educate me. I assume they don’t, so that means the series Oklahoma State this weekend will be for first place in the conference. Connie Clark’s ladies are playing terrific after run-ruling Baylor 8-0 last Wednesday, which came on the heels of their sweep of No.7 Missouri. They are 11-1 in their last 12 and have a mid-week date with A&M Wednesday at home, giving them the chance to avenge that one loss in the last 12 games.
The Longhorns lead the league in batting with a .324 average and are fourth in pitching with a 2.17 ERA. The star of the team is freshman pitcher Blaire Luna, who has to be considered not only the Freshman of the Year in the Big 12 but the overall Player of the Year. She leads the conference in wins with a 22-5 record, leads the conference in ERA at 0.91, in innings pitched at 168.2, strikeouts with 287 (63 more than the next closest pitcher) and complete games with 18. That is the definition of Player of the Year, don’t you think?
If you have a great pitcher you can dominate and Texas has a great pitcher in Luna. There are also good bats like Nadia Taylor and Taylor Hoagland, who are fourth and seventh in the league in batting, respectively. Courtney Craig and Tallie Thrasher are tied for 6th in the Big 12 with 10 home runs each and Amy Hooks is sixth in on-base percentage at .493. Just like the baseball team, the softball team has all the pieces in place to make a deep run towards the Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City in early June.
Next week we will talk some NFL draft as well as baseball and softball. See you Friday April 23rd for the weekend update that will have first round draft results.
News & Notes