FROM THE STANDS
EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT UT SPORTS
WITH TREY McLEAN
CO-OP Game Day
•Monster win, Horns. UCLA isn’t going to win the Pac-12, but that’s a physical team that really took it to Texas last year, setting a miserable tone for 2010, and a team that has had Texas’ number the last 15 years.
•It looks like the tone has been set in Westwood, too, as the stands were far from full and the sideline reports of “no energy” from the UCLA team looked true. Slick Rick might not make it out of the weekend.
•The starting quarterback for UCLA looked hurt or something. He didn’t seem to want to be out there at all. Watch him run out of bounds before contact in the first quarter and you’ll see what I mean. The other guy might not have been as talented, but he was fighting. Can’t say the same for the starter.
•Recruitocosm tweeted Saturday night, “Texas is the best team in the Pac-12, imo.” Awesome.
•I was really angry when the unnecessary roughness penalty was thrown on Marquis Goodwin for something you see on just about every great kick return on film. But after watching the Florida State/ou game and seeing the kid from FSU get knocked out, I see why they are doing it, and I see they are calling in every scenario. They just need to be clear as to what the rule is- is it helmet-to-helmet? That was not helmet-to-helmet on Goodwin. It was in the ou/Florida State game, but not in the Texas game. Is it to protect a defensiveless player? Then we need to define “defensiveless” player. A guy chasing the ball carrier is not defensiveless in my opinion. He wasn’t prone, falling after a catch or throwing a pass, he was running to make a tackle. Every football player from elementary school on is told constantly “keep your head on a swivel” to protect them from exactly that sort of play. It’s a violent game and things happen and while you never want to see anyone get hurt, sometimes guys are going to get laid out. That should not have been a flag. Imagine watching Jordan Shipley’s huge catch against ou in 2008 getting called back because Quan Cosby’s decleating block of Lindy Holmes was a personal foul, because right now it would be.
•“Those look like they were made from a rich girl’s purse” was the quote I heard Saturday night in regards to the Florida State kicker’s shoes. Indeed, my little friend.
•Washington vs. Nebraska again? It’s like they are minor league baseball teams as often as they meet. The next meeting will be Bo Pelini Bobble Head Night.
•Sometimes I still think Landry Jones has absolutely no idea what to do with himself when he gets pressured. I’ll give him credit for coming a very, very long way from 2009, but my gosh does the guy make some interesting choices with the ball when on the run.
•Here’s what I know about conference realignment as it pertains to Texas: Texas is going to the ACC. Or the Pac-12. Or the Big Ten. Or going independent. Or they are tearing the Big 12 apart because of the Longhorn Network. Or they are trying to keep the Big 12 together because of the Longhorn Network. Or they are doing nothing. I’ve been clear with anyone that has asked me that I think Texas will alter the LHN so it fits into the Pac-12 scheme, but that’s what I think.
Texas heads into the bye week before conference play 3-0 after Saturday afternoon and I am going to enjoy it. Let’s see how Texas got there.
No.21 TEXAS 49 UCLA 20
I said last week that Texas was overflowing with confidence going to LA and that the confidence and trust in the quarterback, namely Case McCoy, was going to be the galvanizing force that united them and helped them turn the corner from a team that thinks it could win into a team that knows it can win. Hang on … Sorry, couldn’t type AND pat myself on the back. The Texas Longhorns looked DYNAMITE in their first road test and while UCLA did some things to keep it close, at no point did Texas, UCLA or I think they were going to win this game. There are still things to work on, but plenty went right and I like where this is headed. Here’s what I saw on Saturday:
Quarterbacks: Outstanding. The Horns were molasses-slow offensively in the first two games, scoring 16 points in the first half and only three in the first quarter; but the change at quarterback kick-started the offense immediately. After a 3 & out to start the game, Texas picked off UCLA at mid-field and faced a 3rd & 10 at the UCLA 45. Case McCoy took the shotgun snap and saw his first read covered and slid to his right, buying some time. As he did he saw tight end D.J. Grant crossing the field deep and hit him in stride, while on the run, for a 45-yard touchdown pass to give Texas the early 7-0 lead. On the sixth offensive play of the game, Texas more than doubled their first quarter total of points and the offense seemed inspired and played inspired. McCoy didn’t have super spectacular numbers Saturday, but he finished the day 12-15 for 168 yards and two touchdowns and no turnovers. Maybe not “super spectacular,” but pretty damn good.
It’s just amazing what confidence from a single player can do for team confidence and unity. The 3rd & 28 play where McCoy ducked, dodged, dived and ducked (Dodgeball reference!) his way to a monster completion to Mike Davis and the underthrown ball that should have been intercepted but was a tipped completion (also to Mike Davis) are plays that frankly just didn’t happen with Garrett Gilbert back there. McCoy isn’t the physical presence that either Ash or GG are, but he has what Mack Brown used to call “it” back in the day. McCoy has “it” and, in turn, the team has “it” when he’s out there. Look no further than the 21-0 lead Texas jumped out to for reference.
David Ash did well in his role, going 3-3 for 31 yards and running the option packages well. I think this is going to settle into a Chris Leak/Tim Tebow thing, where McCoy (Leak) is the primary quarterback and Ash (Tebow) is the running quarterback. Notice, please, I didn’t call anyone Tim Tebow, I just mean that Texas has their starting quarterback and a situational quarterback for certain packages, just like Florida did in 2006, and there was no controversy as to who was the starter and who was the backup.
The team responds to McCoy and everything seems to click better when he’s in. Expect to see him as the starter from now on as he solidified himself with a terrific game in LA.
Running Backs:The backs aren’t about to settle into anything because their roles seem to be already solidified. D.J. Monroe is the speed back, coming in and using his speed and abilities outside. On Saturday he proved his worth being a decoy as much as a runner, keeping linebackers and linemen at home with play fakes and influencing the secondary to flow with him on those fakes. Fozzy Whittaker is showing how utility he is: running out of the wildcat with Monroe next to him, catching the ball out of the backfield and giving The Franchise a break. In the Rose Bowl Saturday, Whittaker took full advantage of the attention paid to Monroe, exploiting a fake to D.J. to get outside for an 8-yard touchdown run and taking a third quarter Wildcat snap 36 yards for another score. On the day he finished with two scores on eight carries for 63 yards, showing his abilities and versatility.
But there is only one Franchise and his name is Malcolm Brown. Sure, it’ a bit early and very dramatic to label a guy “The Franchise” after three collegiate games, but the guy is the type of player that can carry an entire team (or franchise). He had his first career touchdown and first 100-yard game at UCLA Saturday, carrying the ball 22 for 110 yards and a score, and aside from a fumble was just about unstoppable. If he keeps progressing, I can’t imagine where he ends up.
I am certainly not ignoring Cody Johnson and his 22 yards and game-sealing touchdown run, but Texas has a very special, special player at tailback. The supporting cast is excellent, but Malcolm Brown showed why the entire country wanted him last year. Well done from everyone.
Wide Outs/Tight Ends:It seems as the guys outside are settling into their roles as well. Jaxon Shipley is the team’s No.1 wide out, drawing the best coverage and still finding a way to get open, finishing with five catches for 46 yards and throwing a 5-yard touchdown pass to D.J. Grant. He also had an end-around for 15 yards running the ball. Shipley’s ability to run, catch and throw makes him priority No.1 for defenses to stop in the passing game, and he still manages to make plays. Marquis Goodwin added 33 yards on the ground on just three carries as well as a catch for five yards and went home with one of the best hits of the year, even though a flag was thrown on the play (see my thoughts on that in the intro). Mike Davis is the deep threat and proved that he’s quick, elusive (“The Scramble” as we‘ll call it) and adaptable (“The Tip” as we’ll call it) as he finished with three catches for 77 yards, all of them clutch. None of the three had a traditional NFL No. 1 wide out-type day, but they all did their jobs as the deep threat (Davis), the veteran playmaker (Goodwin) and the go-to guy (Shipley) and fit into the scheme very well.
Did you know you were allowed to throw to the tight end? Me, neither! I thought it was a rumor. D.J. Grant was FANTASTIC, leading the team with three touchdown receptions on six catches for 77 yards. He was the recipient of the Case McCoy slide on 3rd & 10 from the UCLA 45 to open the scoring and set the tone and he added another two scores. He made the defense pay for focusing on the run the game and Shipley outside, which means Texas now has a another weapon over the middle, and more importantly a quarterback who sees that weapon and gets him the ball. It was the best day for a tight end since 2007, and Texas was pretty good at tight end in 2007.
Great job from Grant and good job from everyone else, finding their place in the system and making plays.
Offensive Line: Outstanding. Out-expletive-standing. 284 yards rushing, 488 total yards offense, no sacks, 5.7 yards per carry and general awesomeness. The glory is going to the skill guys, but this game was won up front. Again, out-expletive-standing.
Defensive Line:If there was a concern coming into Saturday it was the Texas defensive line. The UCLA Bruins have a couple of NFL-ready backs and an offensive line that, while maybe not dominant, are good at run-blocking. Stats don’t always tell the story, like on Saturday, when the Texas defensive line controlled the line of scrimmage well enough to hold the Bruins to two touchdown drives and 141 yards rushing, which is a 111 yards below their average. I’d like to see more production out of the ends, but I say that every week, don’t I? Not a great day, but a good day controlling the line of scrimmage and allowing others to make plays.
Ugh, Ashton Dorsey — how do you get called for offsides when you are lined up OVER THE BALL? That isn’t a freshman mistake, it’s a football mistake. That gave UCLA a first down and helped lead to a touchdown drive.
That has to stop. Still, a good day.
Linebackers:The stat line for the starting trio: 17 tackles, two for loss, one sack and one broken up pass. In the face of a serious rushing game, the Horns’ linebackers more than held their own and, with the exception of a few break downs during the day, did an excellent job making sure UCLA would not be able to control the game with their running game.
I thought Keenan Robinson wasn’t as dominant as he was against BYU, but still- well done.
Secondary:And here we thought the secondary was going to be the weak link of the team. The supposed “weak link” had three interceptions in the first quarter to get Texas out to a huge early lead and put the Bruins on life support. Not only did they set Texas up early for a score (Carrington Byndom’s interception on UCLA’s second offensive play), but they countered a special teams turnover by forcing another interception (a tipped ball by Blake Gideon that Adrian Phillips intercepted at the Texas 5 after UCLA took over at the Texas 19) and knocked out the starting qb (Kenny Vaccaro’s pick of Kevin Prince, his third, at the Texas 43) for the interception hat trick … IN THE FIRST QUARTER. The Bruins have some big wide outs and they made a few plays, but Texas held a team that was forced to throw to get back in the game to 176 yards passing and three picks.
Every game this young Texas secondary is successful is another step towards their maturity and elite status. Saturday was a part of that and I say, “well done.” And Christian Scott will be back for Iowa State.
Special Teams:Yuck. Texas resigned themselves to pop kicks because they had no answer for return man Josh Smith. Awful. It wasn’t any better on the return end for Texas, where Jaxon Shipley fumbled away a punt return and the kick return men seemed to find the first defender to run into and fall down. Texas made all their points, but extra points should be a given and not up for praise.
The bottom line is the Texas special teams need to be better and it has to start RIGHT NOW.
In Conclusion …
If I am the coaching staff I am going hard at this team this week. Very hard. The special teams were atrocious, the defense gave away first downs with offsides penalties and let wide outs get open on the sideline. The offense fumbled away a series and Case McCoy made some bad decisions with the ball, one bailed out by bad ball skills from a UCLA safety and good hands from Mike Davis. The Franchise has two fumbles in three games. Where are John Harris, Darius White and Blaine Irby? The Bruins were running at will inside at times. Does ANYONE want to cover a kick? That effort might be good enough to win at UCLA, but it’s going to get Texas beat against the Big 12 teams coming up. I want to point out every mistake, every flaw and every deficiency to keep this team focused on what needs to happen rather than what has already happened. The reason for that is easy: what has happened is awesome.
In the last two weeks Texas has found their new quarterback, established the run, established the offensive line is wicked mean and shown a defense that morphs and shifts into something that will confuse and contain offenses. Success is nice, but it can be a curse as well because a team can see the press clippings and get satisfied. I want these guys worried about what is wrong and not thinking about what is right, because right now Texas is a game away from their record at this time last year. A 3-0 start is terrific, but you don’t get rings for an undefeated September and no one will remember any of these games if Texas falls apart. Keep that edge because there is plenty of room for improvement and opportunities to get better; and they must get better, because the opponents are getting better and a league title is out there to be had.
If I know that, you can be sure the coaching staff knows that and they are going to do everything in their power to keep that edge. As well, Texas seems to have the leadership in place on the team to remind everyone that nothing has been won yet and there is work to be done. But so far, so good.
Well done, Horns. Take the week off and then let’s get back to work.
No. 18 TEXAS (3-0) BYE
LAST WEEK IN THE BIG 12
Friday, September 16th
IOWA STATE 24 Connecticut Huskies 20
You go, Cyclones. The Clones are 3-0 for the first time in a decade and they are doing it on the arm of quarterback Steele Jantz. They came from behind to win in Storrs, but who cares? That isn’t the story. The story is ISU quarterback Steele Jantz. His name is Steele Jantz. He sounds like the lead singer of a glam band from the 80’s, or a doctor on a soap opera, or the lost and forgotten third cooler in Road House. I could go on. Best name in the Big 12, hands down.
Saturday, September 17th
Stephen F. Austin (1-AA school) 0 No.24 BAYLOR 48
Western Illinois (1-AA school) 0 MISSOURI 69
KANSAS 24 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 66
The Jayhawks kicked a field goal and went to the half down only seven at 24-21. They should have stayed in the locker room. Wait, did they? That makes sense. The Wreck scored six touchdowns in the second half and totaled up 768 total yards. Look on the bright side, it could have been worse. You guys could have … never mind, that’s about as bad as it gets.
Kent State Golden Flashes 0 KANSAS STATE 37
I was going to give you a “did you know?” who went to school at Kent State, but they have a ton of famous alumni and quite a lot of them are NFL names you know, like Antonio Gates, James Harrison and Jack Lambert. Sadly, neither they nor Patriot Julian Edelman nor Hall of Famer Paul Warfield are on the field now. It seems the team is made of a bunch of guys like me. I mean me right now. And right now a bunch of guys like me are going to get shut out. A lot.
No.1 oklahoma 23 No.5 Florida State Seminoles 13
How can you not read a story with this headline: “Did Zombies Roam Medieval Ireland?Two 8th-century skeletons with stones shoved in their mouths suggest that the people of the time thought so.”? Well you can’t: http://news.discovery.com/history/zombie-skeletons-ireland-grave-110916.html#mkcpgn=rssnws1
No. 7 OKLAHOMA STATE 59 Tulsa Golden Hurricanes 33
Weather forced this game to be delayed for three hours. So that means that already-ridiculous 9:15 pm kickoff was delayed until 12:15 am. That’s right — this game kicked off at midnight. I don’t sleep much, so I woke up at 3:15 or so and turned on the TV to see Oklahoma State leading big with eight minutes to play in the game. The final second ticked off at 3:35 am and all things considered, with that many points, it could have been going when the sun came up. Imagine if super star qb G.J. Kinne for Tulsa hadn’t gotten hurt in the first quarter?
Idaho Vandals 7 No. 9 TEXAS A&M 37
So when you are in the SEC and playing this game, Ags, will it be on TV then? No, it won’t. Whoop!
TEXAS TECH 59 New Mexico Lobos 13
Don’t forget to register for the 10,000 Maniacs Getaway Weekend. Sign up free at the Dress Barn downtown, Randall’s or at any Boston Market. Coming up next we’ll announce the winner of Applebee’s Free Office Lunch Giveaway, but first it’s new music from Bon Jovi, right here on the MTN, adult contemporary radio …
THIS WEEK IN THE BIG 12
IOWA STATE (3-0) IDLE
KANSAS (2-1) IDLE
Rice Owls (1-1) @ No.19 BAYLOR (2-0) 6 pm FSNSW
The Bears are rolling, scoring 98 points in just seven quarters since their game against SFA was called after three quarters due to weather. I don’t see any reason that slows down this week as RGIII and the Bears keep churning along.
KANSAS STATE (2-0) @ Miami Hurricanes (1-1/0-1) 2:30 pm ESPNU
The U is on serious upset alert. They whipped Ohio State last week and have to be feeling pretty good about themselves and, honestly, how excited is the Miami fan base going to be about Kansas State coming to town? I think Miami wins, but K-State keeps it very, very close.
No.6 OKLAHOMA STATE (3-0) @ No.8 TEXAS A&M (3-0) 2:30 pm ABC
Easily the game of the day in the Big 12. Or the SEC West. Or the Pac-12 East. Whatever. Both teams cruised to easy wins last weekend and both have high octane offenses. So it will come down to who has the better defense. That’s A&M, and logic says that better defense and a big home crowd mean the Ags win, especially when you take into account the problems I keep saying OSU has on defense. But I’m nothing if not illogical, so I’ll take the Pac-12 over the SEC.
MISSOURI (2-1) @ No. 1 oklahoma (3-0) 7 pm F/X
Why is an “orange” called an orange?
The word was originally “norange” as in “a norange” but the N migrated from the beginning of the word norange to the indefinite article — making it “an orange.” Compare the Spanish word “naranja”.
Oranges probably originated in Southeast Asia and were cultivated in China by 2500 BC. The fruit of Citrus sinensis is called sweet orange to distinguish it from Citrus aurantium, the bitter orange. The name is thought to derive ultimately from the Sanskrit for the orange tree, with its final form developing after passing through numerous intermediate languages.
Nevada Wolfpack (1-1/1-0) @ TEXAS TECH (2-0) 6 pm FCS
No telling where Tech at this point after playing a 1-AA school and a team that should be a 1-AA school. I can’t take any of these stats seriously. On the other hand, Nevada was steamrolled by Oregon in week one, but responded with a conference road win at San Jose State last week. They aren’t very good, but their two games have shown them where they are. Tech has not had the luxury, and I think they will struggle with the Pistol. I think Tech wins, but its close.