FROM THE STANDS
EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT UT SPORTS
WITH TREY McLEAN
•To the big-mouthed jackass Mizzou tackle that “hates the state of Texas”: Nearly half of your 85-man roster is from Texas, my man. Without Texas high school football you’d be an 8-man squad, and your favorite-ist player ever, Chase Daniel, is repping another team in the NFL. Enjoy the win and the success and just say “thank you” to the Texans that made it happen.
•You know what I hate, Mr. Mouth? I hate Mizzou field turf. The Missouri Tiger field has long been the worst playing surface in the conference, and once again your terrible, terrible field cost both teams a great player. So my advice to you, Missouri, is spend a little of that SEC money you’re getting and BUY A NEW FIELD ALREADY. Insane you guys play on that.
•And enjoy those 35 or so guys you have from Texas on the roster, because when you aren’t playing half your games in our state and the high school kids here can’t quite figure out which out-of-state program you are, my guess is they aren’t coming to Columbia as often as they are now.
•Oregon looks to be back on track.
•Bedlam is setting up to not only be for the Big 12 Championship, but for a spot in the National Championship.
No.16 TEXAS 5 MISSOURI 17
In hindsight you can’t lose your top four playmakers — Malcolm Brown, Jaxon Shipley, Joe Bergeron and Fozzy Whittaker in the first quarter — and one of your defensive leaders in Keenan Robinson and expect to win. Still, Texas had their opportunities but couldn’t capitalize. The result was an ugly loss and a severe hit in the confidence department for a team that was feeling really good about itself. Here’s what I saw on Saturday:
Quarterbacks: F. With the loss of the potent running game Mizzou simply loaded the box and made the quarterback throw to win, and clearly that didn’t happen. David Ash was off in every possible way, throwing too late, too hard, too high, too short, too everything. His numbers were decent, 13-29 for 158 yards and an interception, but let’s be honest, Texas needed him to be the go-to guy, the one the offense leaned on with all the injuries, and he wasn’t. Texas even tried to change things up with Case McCoy, but it wasn’t any better.
I know the wind was terrible, the loss of Whittaker was a psychological blow and you got no help from the offensive line, but it has to be better. Learn from it, use it and take this experience and grow, David Ash.
Running Back: Nice effort from Jeremy Hills, Cody Johnson, and DJ Monroe, but there were no holes and no big plays. Texas sorely missed the trio of Brown, Bergeron, and Whittaker. Again, it was a fatal mental blow for Texas when Whittaker went down with the knee injury on that AWFUL field turf and you could see the attitude seemed to change right there for the entire offense. The go-to formation, the Wildcat, was off the table and the Horns seemed to have no answer.
Here’s what I think about the injuries to Brown and Bergeron: I think they practiced some during the week, enough that most people assumed they would play, even those close to the team. I think in pre-game the training staff saw how terrible that playing surface was and realized the odds were very high that neither Bergeron nor Brown would finish the game with their nagging injuries and they shut them down. That’s just a hunch, and if that isn’t true I really don’t have an answer as to why they were suited up and not let in, because Texas desperately needed them on Saturday.
Wide Outs/Tight Ends: The classic “incomplete.” You can’t grade out a unit if they don’t get any reps, can you? No. Texas missed Shipley, who didn’t make the trip, but with a lot of the passes nowhere near the receiver, I’m not sure it would have mattered, although Shipley’s abilities underneath and over the middle might have been just what Texas needed. Can no one else do that?
Offensive Line: What’s worse than F? G? I’ll go with L. It was a windy day with lots of injuries and a struggling quarterback and the O-line needed to take over. They didn’t. Blitzes ruined pass attempts, missed blocks and getting whipped ruined run attempts, and the offense managed three points (the special teams got the safety).
A big step back for the boys up front, and that is the most disappointing thing of this game to me.
Defensive Line: Jackson Jeffcoat and Alex Okafor combined for 18 tackles and two sacks and seemed to be everywhere. These two have really elevated their game in the last three weeks and look like the guys everyone was raving about at the beginning of the year. Inside at tackle Ashton Dorsey, Chris Whaley, and Desmond Jackson did a great job of taking heat off Kheeston Randall and shutting down the inside run. It seems Chris Whaley makes a play in the backfield every game now; I think he’s about to explode and become a household name. Randall also had a nice day, notching a tackle for loss and not allowing Mizzou to grind out yards inside.
The d-line is money and everyone seems to be coming along.
Linebackers: EAcho played his best game in years, I think, leading the team in tackles with 12 including 4 for loss, breaking up two passes, and nearly getting a sack. He was everywhere and I give him a ton of credit for stepping up his game when fellow senior Keenan Robinson went out early with an injury. Jordan Hicks filled in and I still think there are times he seems like he’s lost, but he probably just needs more reps. He should get them now with Robinson shelved.
Excellent effort from Acho Saturday.
Secondary: The corners were decent, but they seemed so concerned about getting beat deep they ignored the underneath stuff and Mizzou really took advantage, moving the chains down the field. Even still, I thought it was solid effort from both Byndom and Diggs, who are still learning and growing.
As bad as the quarterback play was is as bad as the safety play was. Blake Gideon just seems to be out of position as often as he’s in position. On the Missouri option touchdown run, I watched him get WAY too wide and it seemed he never even saw the ball carrier, and the back simply cut behind him and walked in for the score. It surely wasn’t just Gideon, though, as Christian Scott let a guy get inside him for a big gain that set up a touchdown, and Kenny Vaccaro had two huge penalties — a facemask and a targeting — that extended drives and both led to Missouri scores. These safeties have played too much football to be making these sorts of mistakes. I see the problems at the qb spot and the o-line and I see young players making those mistakes; that is not the case with the safeties. It has to be better if Texas is to win more than six games this year.
As for that targeting call, it was border-line at best and it absolutely changed the entire game. Texas would have gotten the ball (that play was on third down) trailing 7-3. Instead it’s called targeting and 15-yards get tacked on to the end plus an automatic first down. One play later Missouri ran the option for a 35-yard score and it was 14-3. It seemed like it was 30-3 at that point, and the entire Texas sideline seemed deflated. It was a tough call because he didn’t look defenseless, in danger, or prone. He looked like a guy that caught a high pass, saw the hit coming and ducked his head into that contact to protect himself. I understand the reason for the rule, but it sure looked to me like the Missouri guy’s curling up created that hit. It is plays like that I think the NCAA needs to be take a good, hard look at. There was no intent to harm, there was no spearing, the offensive player was not in danger, he had the ball in his hands and was looking at the defender. What else could Kenny Vaccaro do? Sometimes you get lit up in football and it’s OK. That was one of those times, but the officials gave Missouri a chance to extend the drive.
Special Teams: Texas needed to win this area and they didn’t. There was the blocked punt for a safety and the punt downed inside the one (that set up the safety), but Mizzou blocked punt that led to a field goal and Texas missed a field goal. Even when they did things well, the offense couldn’t take advantage: Texas ran the kick after the safety back to the Missouri 46 and ended up trying a 53-yard field goal which was missed. That means the offense netted 10 yards on the drive. YUCK.
In the end it was probably a draw, but on a day when the offense was non-existent Texas needed to win this phase decisively and they couldn’t.
You can’t dwell on a loss in football, because if you do you can get beat again. Hence the phrase, “Don’t let a loss beat you twice.” So Texas needs to move on and get ready for the Purple Horde coming to town for Senior Day.
No.13 KANSAS ST. (8-2/5-2) @ No.23 TEXAS (6-3/3-3)
Saturday, November 19th
A lot of times it takes me several days to get over a loss. Yes, I am completely ridiculous, I know that. But I’m past this one. Sure, the offense was ugly, ugly, ugly, but there were several factors involved with that — factors I don’t think will be an issue this week. The defense was awesome, the special teams had good moments, and last week’s loss will have this team dialed in. More importantly, this is K-State. Last year’s loss to UCLA was the first sign of real trouble and the Iowa State loss was the derailment, but the loss to Kansas State was that derailed train flying off the mountain side and crashing into the canyon in a fiery heap. The Horns were embarrassed in Manhattan last year and the performance of Garrett Gilbert was so bad he eventually lost his confidence, his job and is no longer with the team. Texas was flat, uninspired, and uninterested and the game was over in the first quarter.
That is not going to be the case this time. Texas will recover from Mizzou with a better effort and healthier personnel under the lights at home on Senior Night. Let’s see what will happen.
If you look at what these teams do, they mirror each other quite a bit. Both want to run the ball to set up the pass and both want to shut down the run on defense. They both have excellent special teams and both are looking to replace their big play return men — Tyler Lockett for K-State, Fozzy Whittaker for Texas — and both want to play physical on both sides of the ball. This might be a 2-hour game with 11 passes thrown if these offenses have their way, but you know that won’t happen. Here is what K-State intends to do:
I swear every time I watch them play they are running the single wing, which is a very old school option where you snap it to the quarterback and he rolls to one side, looking for a crease or cut back lane to run through. The numbers back me up, too: The Wildcats are dead-last in the league in passing (155 ypg) and fifth in the conference in rushing (208 ypg), but they still score 35 points per game on the backs of their conference-leading 30 rushing touchdowns, and this is due entirely to quarterback Collin Klein.
Klein looks the part at qb, standing 6-foot-5 and weighing 226 pounds, but looks can be deceiving. He isn’t the big-time passer he would appear to be, instead he’s Vince Young-type runner. OK, I did just say “Collin Klein” and “Vince Young” in the same sentence, but I mean that in size and running style. Klein, like VY, is very big, very smooth and his running motion is deceptive. He doesn’t look like he’s running fast, but no one is catching him. Maybe a better comparison is the one Manny Diaz made on Monday when he compared him, hype aside, to Tim Tebow. Or maybe Matt Jones from Arkansas as my buddy said. Whoever you want to compare to, the kid can run and he really enjoys the contact, using his size to run over and through opponents. On the season he has an NCAA-best 24 touchdowns rushing and 1,009 yards on the ground, which is in the top 25 nationally. It is absolutely vital that he make plays with his feet, clearly, because he’s the key to the offensive success. When K-State has to throw the ball, Klein is serviceable but not consistent. He’s had games and moments where he’s looked great (like A&M last week), but the numbers don’t lie: 1,504 yards passing, 58% completed, 10 touchdowns, five interceptions. Again, Klein needs to run for this team to be successful.
He’s joined in the backfield by John Hubert. The sophomore is a Darren Sproles-type at 5-foot-7, 185 pounds. He is very quick, agile and fast and can get lost inside due to his size. He’s the second leading rusher on the team with 781 yards and two scores and his quick and darting style is the perfect complement to the towering Klein’s power.
When they do throw, the top receiver is Chris Harper. The 6-foot-1, 215-pound junior was a former quarterback (and Oregon Duck) and has crazy athleticism. He has good speed and size and will remind you a lot of John Chiles. He leads the team with 509 yards and four scores. It came out last week that super frosh Tyler Lockett is out for the year with a lacerated kidney (ouch), and with his loss expect to see lots more passes to tight end Travis Tannahill. The 6-foot-3, 245-pound junior hasn’t been used a lot this year, but he can devastate a defense in play-action passing situations, but again, this team isn’t going to win many games if they have to throw: They want and need to run to be successful.
And who will make that happen? The guys up front. They are terrific run blockers (obviously). There are no stars on this unit, but they can fire off the ball and move the pile. When Klein and Hubert are clicking, the line is opening holes and giving them opportunities. When they have to throw all bets are off. They don’t pass block well, allowing nearly three sacks a game, which is a very high number considering the agility of the quarterback. All signs point to making K-State a one-dimensional passing team makes them very average, but with the exception of the ou game they always seem to find a way to make plays when the have to, buying Klein enough time to find a receiver. I don’t expect this week will be any different.
K-State is running their quarterback this week and forcing Texas to account for him. Expect the zone read, the option, the wing t, the draw … every possible quarterback running play you can think. He’s going to get beat up and they know it and they are all okay with it. They want to establish the running game and take shots downfield to the tight end and Chris Harper and occasionally hit the backs on wheel routes matched up with linebackers. It isn’t a super-complicated offense, but it works and they won’t change it this week.
This defense isn’t elite, but they do a few things really, really well. They allow 35 points per game, 117 yards per game on the ground and 293 through the air. They’ve given up 22 passing touchdowns and are in the low 100’s in pass efficiency defense; fortunately for them the team they are playing this week hasn’t shown the ability to take advantage of that.
Here’s a weird stat: The starting defensive line are Nos. 9, 10, 11, and 12 in tackles, bunched right there together. They aren’t overly big and they don’t really get a lot of pressure on the quarterback with the exception of defensive end Jordan Voelker who has four sacks. The number of batted down passes tell me they aren’t getting a lot of push at the quarterback, but they are still able to make some plays. K-State is very good defending the run, holding teams to 117 yards per game, and while the defensive line doesn’t have All-Big 12 numbers, they are doing a good job of keeping the linebackers clean to make plays.
And these linebackers will make plays. Led by Miami transfer Arthur Brown, the lb’s are the strength of this team. The 6-foot-1, 223-pound junior leads the team in tackles with 78, which includes two sacks and six tackles for loss. He isn’t very big for the mike spot, but he is very athletic and active and he’ll dance around blocks and use his speed to make plays. In fact, you could say that about the entire unit. Emmanuel Lamur is No. 3 on the team in tackles with 58 and has six passes defended. He’s a former safety that their staff spun down to strongside linebacker to get more speed and athleticism to the line of scrimmage, and you can see that when he drops into coverage. Tre Walker plays the will and is another bulked up safety-type player at 6-foot-3, 222 pounds that uses his speed and athletic ability to make plays on the edge. K-State won a Big 12 Title in 2003 with a 210-pound middle linebacker, so they are aren’t overly worried about a lack of size at lb. These guys are bouncing around and moving constantly and will come from all angles to make plays and in stopping the run they do it pretty well.
Quick, who leads the nation in interceptions? The answer is Kansas State cornerback Nigel Malone, who has seven on the year. He isn’t very big at 5-foot-10, 176 pounds, but the junior college transfer is terrific in coverage and adjusts to the ball in the air as well as anyone out there. If a throw is not spot-on, odds are high he’s making a play on the ball — just look at the 21 passes he’s knocked down (14 defended, 7 broken up). On the other side is David Garrett, who is second on the team in tackles with 65 and has two interceptions himself. He’s only 5-foot-8 and 175 pounds, but he’s very physical, aggressive, and an excellent tackler, evidenced by his 4.5 tackles for loss on the season. He’ll react quickly to screens and reverses and does a very good job getting the ball carrier down in the open field. Tysyn Hartman and Ty Zimmerman are both former quarterbacks that now start at safety, and they certainly look the part as big, imposing run stuffers. They are tied for fourth on the team in tackles, have four interceptions between (three for Hartman), and do an excellent job supporting the run. Still, despite the 13 picks from the starting four, they allow 293 yards a game in the air and their pass-efficiency defense (a combination of getting off the field to stop drives on third down, incompletions, completions, touchdown passes, interceptions, etc. …) is 139.24, which is 88th nationally. So while the K-State secondary can make plays on the ball, they are just as likely to give up a touchdown pass and be completely out of position while it happens. Think of them like a power hitter in baseball. He might hit three homes in the game, but he’s just as likely to strikeout four times and look terrible doing it.
It’s no secret what the game plan will be for K-State. Load the box to stop the run, put the talented corners in coverage, and use a safety to play the middle of the field when Texas throws. The really interesting thing is they don’t even really do it that well when they do it right, but they seem to do it well enough most of the time to give their offense a chance to win. I don’t see them changing it up this weekend.
The loss of Tyler Lockett as a return man is as devastating for The Purple as the loss of Whittaker is for Texas, and we will see how both teams respond. They do some things well, but they do some things “meh” also. They average only 40 yards per punt and have had two blocked, but it seems they are good at pinning opponents inside the 20 (10 times in 45 kicks) and getting enough elevation to prevent returns (22 fair catches) and they allow only 6.4 yards per return when the opponent does return it, but there will be opportunities to make a play for Texas. Field goal kicker Anthony Cantele is only 13-18 on the season and has had one blocked, but he was clutch last week against A&M. Cantele doesn’t get much on the ball on kickoffs (only 12 touchbacks in 62 attempts), but K-State does a good job on coverage, limiting opponents to 19.1 yards per return with no scores. Where they take a big hit is losing Lockett, who averaged 35.0 yards per kick return with two scores. Freshman Tremaine Thompson steps in and has done an excellent job in punt returns, averaging 14 per, and will now get a shot at kickoffs as well.
Cantele was rock-steady last week, but he’s shown he will miss a kick sometimes. The loss of Locket will be hard to overcome and they seem to have some serious protection issues on kicks. I think that could be disastrous against this Texas team.
No time for a pity party, Horns. Sure, four big-time offensive players were out last week and sure, that was a bad call that changed the game, but you gotta move on. I’m sure the team has as they prepare for K-State, who could care less about who is healthy and if that was targeting or not. The Wildcats have owned the Horns lately and it’s time to change that. Here’s how …
I’ll be curious to see if Texas has its full complement of weapons this week. A healthy Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron are going to make the run game 10x better and a healthy Jaxon Shipley puts pressure on defenses in many different ways since he can catch, run and throw. I assume at least a couple of them will be back this week, and I know that the effort up front and the effort at quarterback have to be better or this game ends in a loss.
The Texas O-line was whipped last week and the qb play was bad and the result was the first touchdown-less game since 2004. It’s a home game, its Senior Night, and no doubt this has been a brutal week of practice for the hogs. Expect a ton more energy, attitude and willingness to fight on Saturday night from the boys up front. I also expect more help for the quarterback with more underneath routes and crossing patterns from the slot receiver and tight end. Texas seemed to go deep way too many times last Saturday and the result was terrible. I see more high percentage short passes this week to loosen up the defense; of course this is all contingent on the running game clicking. Texas has to run the ball for the offense to work and flow, and if they can’t, it’s going to stall. Brian Harsin knows that, so expect someone new back there running the Wildcat. It was clear on Saturday that is the bread & butter play to get a yard when needed and Texas missed it greatly when Whittaker went down. My guess is Mykkele Thompson, a true freshman who was an excellent quarterback in high school, is the guy you will see back there.
I fully expect more production, energy and points this week.
Stop Collin Klein. That’s it. If you can stop Klein, it’s a win. It’s easier to diagnose than apply, but if Texas can keep Klein from running the ball consistently well it shuts down their offense. When he can run, it opens up lanes to throw as defenses focus on him and stopping him is not easy. He’s tough and fearless and will be battered and bloody by the end, but he doesn’t mind as long as his team wins. He’s huge and tough to bring down and will scratch and claw for every inch, so Texas needs to hit him and get him down. It’s classic option-football defense: load the box, stop the run and let the corners deal with the receivers. Play your assignment and get the qb on the ground at every opportunity. Sounds easy, eh?
I compared Klein to VY, but he isn’t as elusive. He can run, but he won’t make you miss like Vince, so Texas needs to use the ends to keep him inside and funnel him to the middle, where I think you’ll see big doses of freshman linebacker Steve Edmond this week with an injured Keenan Robinson. He’s a big, physical kid that is tailor-made to play the mike and there will be some big collisions between them.
I think Texas does a good job of limiting Klein this week; a good enough job to give the offense a chance to win it.
I smell another block coming. Texas has shown the ability to get one and K-State has shown the ability to give one up. Josh Turner almost had two last week and I think he gets there this week.
The one thing Texas has is proven return men in DJ Monroe and Marquis Goodwin to step in for Whittaker, but can they bring back the 2009 magic? Let’s see.
Justin Tucker is going to be nails in his final home game and Texas wins this match up decisively with a few big plays.
IT’S ON …
I was really, really critical of the offense against Mizzou for good reason — it was terrible, but not the end of the world. A true freshman qb starting in his first road game, the two top offensive weapons out, the other big gun in the backfield out and the heart and soul of the offense going down in the first quarter… that’s a lot to overcome and Texas didn’t. Again, if something is learned from a loss, I’m OK with it. The Texas team, and I mean everyone, can take something from that game and apply it to this week.
And they will. I think you’ll see a few of the injured return, a different game plan to get the qb more high percentage pass attempts, a renewed effort from an O-line that has had their backsides chewed for a week, and a big home crowd cheering them on for the last time in Austin this year. The defense has shown they can and will take over games and the special teams will make some plays to give the offense opportunities to make plays. The offense comes through this week and Texas exorcizes this K-State demon and gets a big win in prime time.
LAST WEEK IN THE BIG 12
IOWA STATE (5-4/2-4) IDLE
No. 7 oklahoma (8-1/5-1) IDLE
Saturday, November 12th
No.25 BAYLOR 31 KANSAS 30 OT
This sounds like a really good first 14 minutes of a Big Monday basketball game, doesn’t it? KU had a 21-point lead they blew and missed a two-point conversion in OT for the win. Baylor snoozed through this game and the lack of talent at Kansas gave them the ability to come back. Now Baylor is bowl eligible.
TEXAS A&M 50 No. 14 KANSAS STATE 53 4 OT
Whoop! 10-point lead with eight to play! Aggies! SEC domination! No way this running quarterback beats us with his arm, NO WAY! Aggies are on the way back! We … Was that a touchdown pass? Nonetheless! We will run the ball to end this game with our SEC power and run out the clock. We … Why are we passing? And now a punt, super. Wrecking Crew! Wrecking Crew! No way the best defense in the SEC West gives up the game-tying field goal … We did? Overtime? Again? No way we … I thought you weren’t going to the SEC! You aren’t? Then how did you beat us? This isn’t fair. We are going to the SEC. This isn’t fair!
No.2 OKLAHOMA STATE 66 TEXAS TECH 6
I said the beat down was coming. I didn’t know it was going to be this sort of beat down. Okie State led 49-0 at halftime and this game was over before it started. On a day when all the eyes were on Oregon/Stanford and talking about who would give No.1 LSU the best game, the Cowboys wanted to remind everyone who is ranked No. 2. Only Iowa State and oklahoma are in the way.
THIS WEEK IN THE BIG 12
Friday, November 18th
No. 2 OKLAHOMA STATE (10-0/7-0) @ IOWA STATE (5-4/2-4) 7 pm ESPN
Whatchya got, Cyclones? Can you hang? Can you pull off the shocker of all shockers? No. You can’t. But I’ll watch, anyway.
Saturday, November 19th
No.5 oklahoma (8-1/5-1) @ BAYLOR (6-3/3-3) 7 pm ABC
You know who went to Baylor? Jeff Dunham. Yeah, the puppet guy. And now your day is complete!
KANSAS (2-8/0-7) @ TEXAS A&M (5-5/3-4) 11 am FSN
Which ones are they? The Jayhawks? They are the basketball ones, right? And they are the ones that stink at football, right? And there is no chance they are going to the SEC, right? Are you sure? You said the same thing about Missouri. Please check again… Okay, you’re sure? And you are certain THIS is the team that is terrible at football? Please check on that, too… You’re sure? Okay, then. Yay! SEC! Bowl game! Equal partners! We do not regret this decision at all! Hitting on all cylinders going to the SEC! Whoop!
TEXAS TECH (5-5/2-5) @ MISSOURI (5-5/3-4) 2:30 pm ABC
Tech is done. Mizzou gets to win No. 6 as Tech just wants this all to be over.