Thursday, October 31, 2013

Throwback Thursday

For your Thursday viewing pleasure, why don't we toss it back to these two awesome clips.  

I don't know about you, but I think it is pretty cool when the greatest boxer on the planet bets $220k on my quarterback.

I also think it is pretty cool when one of the most famous rappers on the planet considers my quarterback a close friend.

Gosh I love my quarterback.

Monday, October 28, 2013

A Rejuvenated Spirit

First off, apologies to our expert Crawford Jones, he passed along his Vandy preview last week, and we dropped the ball (with excuses ranging from work to Vegas).  To further legitimize his “expert” title, I will go ahead and say that Crawford predicted everything correctly.  He is the expert for a reason.

Second off, big snag for the Aggies today as they pulled in Jermaine Eluemunor, one of the best JUCO offensive linemen in the nation.  This guy could easily start next year given his advanced age and the fact that he will be enrolling at Texas A&M this January (giving him a head start with spring practice).  It's all about the trenches!  YESSIR!

Well here we are; knee deep in the thick of the season.  The BCS rankings are out and the Heisman chatter is starting to heat up (FINEBAUM IS BACK ON THE JOHNNY BANDWAGON). The Aggies have taken us on an absolute roller coaster over these past few weeks.  That Auburn game hurt.  It hurt like all those old Fran and Sherman breakdowns.  I was there, confused and dumbfounded as those last seconds melted off the clock.  Other-worldy efforts by Johnny and Mike were wasted.  Our defense looked like a soggy paper bag.  Ugh, I will say no more, there is no reason to rehash the pain.

Then within days, our moods were lifted by the news of TWO five-star recruits committing their future to our beloved Texas A&M (I will jump back to this in a moment).  Then a few days later, the Aggies went out and did what a great team should do; they dismantled a solid opponent at Kyle Field.  Vandy was coming off a solid victory against the team formerly known as Georgia, and undoubtedly had high hopes that they could run over A&M’s defense in true Auburn fashion.  Vandy isn't a BCS-caliber team, but if you give a well-coached, legitimate opponent a glimmer of hope (and a few timely turnovers), anything can happen.  Sumlin and Johnny didn’t let that happen. A&M showed up and took care of business.  Johnny went bananas early and gave himself some extra visor-time in the second half.  It was a truly well-rounded effort on offense and the defense appeared to take a positive step forward.  I feel good going into a half bye week against UTEP.  WELCOME HOME, JAMEILL SHOWERS (even though the poor guy still doesn't get to make a start at Kyle Field due to an injury).

So let’s get back to those recruits (and our defensive future).  Our abysmal defensive line has been our Achilles heel this year, so to hear the news about Myles Garrett and Daylon Mack in such close proximity was a huge pick-me-up.  Championships are won in the trenches, and a dominant defensive front seven can single-handedly win you football games and save seasons.

Here is what we need to happen.  Starting in the middle, we need one of our three true freshmen DTs (Golden, Walker, and Manning) to become a genuine star (Isaiah Golden is the frontrunner here).  This is crucial and for the sake of time, it needs to be one of the guys already on campus.  Daylon Mack is two full years behind these guys; he will be in the next wave of difference makers.  Surprise, we need somebody to step up and be a star at DE too.  Julien Obioha is a solid player, and maybe he takes his game to the next level, but I feel like we would have already seen flashes (I think that description will apply to Jay Arnold as well in the future).  That leaves us with two guys Daeshon Hall and Myles Garrett.  Hall will have a year’s worth of experience (and weight room) on Garrett, but as we all know, Garrett is a freak.  Either Hall makes the jump or Garrett becomes a stud from day one (Nkemdiche and Clowney did it), but one of those things needs to happen.  We need some studs.  Studs elevate the play of everyone around them.  An average defensive lineman playing next to a stud immediately becomes an above-average defensive lineman.  It’s that simple.

I feel like we already have a head start in regards to our linebackers, because Darian Claiborne is a football player.  A true freshman stepping into the middle of our defense smack dab in the middle of SEC play, now that’s impressive.  Just like that, we only need to fill in two more linebacker spots for the next three years.  I think Jordan Mastrogiovanni eventually takes over one of the spots.  He has had a naturally up-and-down season (which isn’t bad at all for a true freshman).  He impressed early in camp (notably his pass rush), got on the field, and has done a thing or two worth noting.  I think he becomes entrenched as a starter next year.  So who gets that last spot?  Tommy Sanders?  Brett Wade?  Donnie Baggs?  I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say it’s our troubled, but uber-talented future Aggie HOZA SCOTT.  Based on all accounts, he seems to have overcome whatever issues he had during the off-season and finally got his head on straight.  I think he just barely qualifies, and then thrives when he gets to College Station.  Don’t forget that after last year, it was Hoza Scott who was the consensus best recruit in Texas, not Myles Garrett.  So don’t call it a comeback.

The front seven will still be super young next year, but all we need is two sophomores to jump to the next level (Golden and Claiborne) and two freshmen to show they can be difference makers (Garrett and Scott).  Obioha will provide a steady presence. Walker, Manning, and Hall should be in the rotation.  Mastrogiovanni could become a dynamic weak-side pass rusher.  None of these scenarios are unreasonable.

It’s crazy how a simple SEC win (and a few high schoolers) can rejuvenate the spirits again.  The future is bright.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Inside the Huddle: Myles Garrett

Check out this awesome feature on 2014 DE, Myles Garrett, from back in September. Garrett is currently rated as the number 1 defensive end in the nation and a top ten overall player in the 2014 class. Last week he committed to play for Kevin Sumlin and Texas A&M. Be patient, Aggies, help is on the way.

Friday, October 18, 2013

From the Expert: Auburn Preview

The expert got just enough right last week to be invited back for another go-round.  We are a results oriented blog.  I am kidding.  Mr. Crawford Jones knows his way around a football field.  TWEET AT HIM!

Mid-season is upon us! Texas A&M comes into this one after a huge scare against Ole Miss. The game itself wasn't even the biggest scare; when Johnny Manziel clutched his knee in agony last week a collective gasp rippled through College Station. There will be no rest either as Auburn represents another tough test for the Aggies. Thus is the life in the SEC.

Who is Auburn this year?
  • Auburn comes into this game with an identical 5-1 record and a national ranking of #24. Their lone loss was to #6 LSU. This game has Auburn’s full attention since it was scheduled between two cupcake games versus Western Carolina and Florida Atlantic.
Battle to Watch
  • Mike Evans vs. Auburn Secondary: This is a big question for every opponent, but who will guard the big wideout? While Evans is third in the NCAA in receiving yards, the Tigers do have ballhawk Robenson Therezie (who is tied for the SEC lead in interceptions). So what’s the problem? Well, Therezie stands only 5’9” while Evans comes in at 6’5”. Giving up over a half foot to an already explosive receiver seems like a recipe for disaster on deep balls.  How will the Tigers counter this glaring mismatch?
Common Opponents
  • At this point it’s only Ole Miss. The Aggies beat the Rebels last week on a late field goal while the Tigers beat them two weeks earlier by a score of 30-22. The Tigers were more dominant overall, albeit they got to play them at home. The Tigers defense fared better against the Ole Miss offense, but the Aggies put up more points than Auburn did.   I don’t think we learned anything new here.
Defensive Outlook
  • A&M notched another sack last game, pushing their season total to five. IN SIX WHOLE GAMES! Once again, they will need to get pressure on Auburn QB Nick Marshall. Marshall has 4 TD’s and 4 INT’s (half of those coming in their loss to LSU). If he can take care of the ball, manage the game and keep the A&M offense off the field, the Tigers could be thinking upset. The Aggie defense gives up the most yards in the SEC, making the potent Auburn rushing attack all the more frightening. The Aggies will need a couple turnovers to create additional possessions and wear down the Auburn defense.
  • The Tigers bend-but-don’t-break defense ranks 3rd in the SEC in scoring defense but 10th in yards – with most of those coming through the air. This defense is tougher than what they faced last week, but it could still be a big passing day for Johnny Manziel.
  • With a defense that gives up a ton of yards through the air and nobody to match Evans’ size (honestly who does) expect his assault on SEC secondary’s to continue.   He will find the end zone at least once.
Offensive Outlook - More Fireworks!
  • Enjoy this one because it will likely be a high scoring repeat of last week, but expect the Aggies to work more through the air with just enough of Malena and the William’s duo to keep the defense off balance. The Aggies have always been the pacesetters on offense so expect them to score early (captain obvious, I know) and get the Tigers out of their comfort zone.
  • The Tigers would be smart to hold on to the ball as long as possible and try to play a “time of possession” game with the Aggies. The Tigers run the ball well and the Aggie defense is stuck in neutral, being pushed around almost at will. With that being said, I still expect the Tigers to make one or two crucial mistakes to give the Aggies some breathing room.
  • Texas A&M (-14) vs. Auburn @ Kyle Field 
  • 2:30 CST (College Station Time) 
  • CBS (prime time SEC slot)
From the Mouth of Head Coach Kevin Sumlin
  • "They're 5-1. They're ranked 24th in the country. They're very different from the team we played last year. They've got a lot of energy. In some respects, it's a lot like where we were last year. They've got a new coach. They've got new players. They're playing with a lot of confidence. Gus (Malzahn) does a great job schematically. They're playing very well. They've played some close games and gained some confidence. It might be a lot of the same guys, but it's a completely different football team from an attitude standpoint. That shows up, not only in their record, but in their approach as well."
Injury Report
  • Johnny Manziel took another couple years off of every Aggie fans life expectancy last week with his knee injury but he should be good to go this week.  Sumlin stated that Deshazor Everett is “probably probable” for Auburn.  I expect him to play, and the Aggies defense needs all the help it can get.  Which leads me to the understatement of the week: the Aggies really miss Kirby Ennis. 
  • Manziel will need to gash the defense through the air this week after torching the Ole Miss team on the ground last week. I expect that Manziel to predominantly move the team down the field with his arm, but finish one or two with his legs.
Kicking Game
  • Josh Lambo got the nod and gained some much needed momentum (and trust from the Aggie faithful) when he hit the game winning chip shot. Overall he was 2 of 3, but he made the one that mattered most.  RIP Bertolet.  
Last Week
My Prediction
  • I was close on A&M’s score last week but I gave too much credit to their defense. I expect a similar game this week in relation to the scoreboard. A&M Wins this one 41-32 with Lambo hitting a late FG to ice it.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

On Oxford

My goal each year is to make one road trip to watch the Aggies play an SEC opponent. Last year, it was Tuscaloosa, and this year I went to Oxford. I want to go back to each town every chance I can get, so my goals may need to be adjusted accordingly. Oxford was a freakin' blast; if there's some black holes in my recap of the gameday experience and the game, c'est la vie in The Grove.

Oxford/Ole Miss/Grove
  • The Grove is everything you think it probably is, and more. It's entirely different from other tailgates I've been to, for these reasons and surely more but I was in no state to notice:
    • There aren't any actual "tailgates". The grove is similar to how Spence Park is set up, only if there's absolutely no extra space to throw the football or spread out.
    • It's literally a city of tents. There are walkways between tents (think Friday nights at chilifest, to an extent) but no space in the Grove is unoccupied.
    • No one cooks/grills in the grove. Every tent I saw had premade or bought food and set it out in an elaborate display. The best such display I saw was a table full of good around a huge cotton plant centerpiece. Robert E. Lee would be so proud!
    • No one plays music in the Grove, and there are relatively few TVs to watch other games on.
    • You don't see washers, cornhole, or ladders being played in the Grove. I'm serious when I say people just go there to eat, drink, and drink some more. There are no other activities.
    • Literally everyone is in a space the size of Spence Park. I've never seen such a concentrated tailgate scene. It's not as big as what you see at A&M, Bama, LSU, etc but the density of the tents in that one space is really cool.
    • Ole Miss does a "walk of champions" where the team walks down a pathway in between all of the tents. Our tent happened to be front and center for this, which gave us ample opportunities to ask each passing white Ole Miss player, "Are you the kicker?"
    • The scenery at the Grove, if you know what I mean, was worth the drive from Texas.
  • Vaught-Hemingway stadium was a giant letdown for me. I knew the stadium was small beforehand but I expected to find it charming. Instead, I quickly realized that it needs major upgrades and is one of the quieter big time football stadiums I've been to. Think DKR at UT, but with half as many people in attendance. I was shocked at how lifeless the crowd was for such a big rematch that also happened to be an instant college football classic. They got loud once or twice to chant "DEFENSE" like they were at an NBA finals game, but other than that it was pretty dead. Except for when they cheered as Johnny lay injured on the field. That was so sweet, Rebs!
  • Ole Miss's insistence on hanging their "banners" in the south end zone was a) enlightening because I forgot they are indeed 3-time national champions but b) incredibly depressing as they haven't accomplished anything worth noting since 1963. Thats 50 years without even a conference title. Half a century!
  • The stadium experience drove the nail deeper that there is a large gap between the Mississippi/Arkansas schools and everyone else in the SEC West. Student body size, alumni base, donor influence and school prestige are so clearly an advantage for A&M, LSU, Bama and Auburn. Do recruits see this?
  • If anyone has info on how many Aggies were at the game Saturday night, let me know. I was in the largest Aggie section so I didn't have much perspective. The stadium holds 60k and we had an entire end zone and two huge corners. I would ballpark at 75/25 Ole Miss fans total.
  • I freaking love Kevin Sumlin. Johnny put A&M on the map, but it's Kevin Sumlin that will keep us there. If you don't watch the YouTube videos of his post game speeches and see how fired up he gets this football team, you're doing it wrong.
  • Auburn better beware. After a sluggish performance coming out of the bye week and still coming out of Oxford with a galvanizing win, the Aggies are going to look to punish the Tigers.
Aggie Defense
  • Darian Claiborne is a playmaker.
  • Defensive line was nonexistent again.
  • Obioha was supposed to be the next beast after Von and Damontre. What's up with him?
  • My boy De'vante Harris played very well. He made a few nice tackles and generally covered well.
  • Howard Mathews needs to be benched. The fact his abysmal performance came after a bye week is shocking. He didn't miss tackles or get burned, per se, but he looked completely lost out there.
  • Floyd Raven got burned for a TD in the second half but recovered to make a play or two down the stretch.
  • Tony Hurd jumping offsides on 4th and long is inexcusable. Next play was a crushing TD.
  • Looks like the Jordan Mastrogiovanni experience has been put on hold.
  • Otis Jacobs was hit or miss.
  • I've given DC Mark Snyder the benefit of the doubt all season long because of the exodus of talent after last season, but Saturday night pulled back the curtains on a scheme problem. The secondary is often visibly confused and reminds me of watching the Cowboys' D in Rob Ryan's "complex" defensive schemes. Has Snyder muddied the waters this year by adding wrinkles to the scheme? It sure looks like no matter the talent, the D is hesitant to let loose and make plays.
Aggie Offense
  • Being at the game may have skewed our perception, but my entire group when leaving the game agreed Johnny gave us the quietest legendary performance we can remember. It probably looked better on TV. For some reason it seemed less than dominant in person. With that said, what a gutsy, ballsy performance. Seeing the post game chatter about Johnny's smile as Ole Miss took the lead in the 4Q confirms what we already knew: this young man doesn't give a shit about your feelings; he's just going to do the damn thing. His scrambling in the 4Q on a bum knee was spectacular, and left Ole Miss and their fans completely and hopelessly frustrated. As a few of them told us at the bar after the game, "we just got Manzieled".
  • Mike Evans was a sleeping giant last night. Ole Miss had a safety rolled over the top of him almost the entire game last night. When he finally got the ball, Evans made it memorable as he totally bitched an Ole Miss DB by hurdling him AS HE WAS JUMPING. Seriously, Evans would have hit his head on the rim on that play.
  • Because Evans was so smothered, one Travis Labhart was able to rise to the occasion. Labhart was huge; on most plays he was the only open receiver on the field. Credit the Ole Miss defense for that.
  • One surprise was Malcolme Kennedy's quiet game. His awesome shoestring (non) catch aside, he wasn't much of a factor.
  • Where the heck was Tra Carson? The running game last night was dominant when given the chance to play. I don't know the final stats but I remember seeing A&M had averaged about 6 yards per carry at some point in the 4Q. We had the lead almost the entire game - why was the running game abandoned in the middle of the game like a sinking ship?
  • Clarence McKinney got totally exposed last night. It seemed like the offense never really found a rhythm because the play calling was so inconsistent. The yardage definitely added up in the end but with the amount of time the offensive line gave Johnny, it was shocking that more vertical routes weren't called. However the 4th and inches play was particularly frustrating. Why line up in shotgun if you're going to hand off to RB?! I get that we operate out of the shotgun, but what's wrong with a classic QB sneak in a goal line formation, or at least going jumbo and have big Cam Clear pave the way for Malena/Carson?
  • World, meet Trey Williams. Trey Williams, meet the world. Good god is he shifty. Saturday night was what anyone who watched his HS highlights on YouTube 2 years ago dreamed of. His TD run to the northeast corner of the stadium, right into the A&M visitors section, was impeccable.
  • Did Johnny's TD run to the northwest corner at the pilon seem like it lasted an eternity to anyone else? His knee injury didn't seem to significantly hinder his agility, but he definitely didn't have his top gear when sprinting on that run. Pretty scary.
  • Darell Walker is a freak, and he gives me good feelings. Not sure if he's a deep threat, but we need some vertical opportunities next week.
Aggie Special Teams
  • Thank you Aggie Jesus for Josh Lambo. Don't let the door hit you on the way out, Bertolet. After the inconsistency Bertolet showed in kickoffs, do you think Sumlin will have Lambo handle kickoff duty too?
  • It still hasn't hit me yet that A&M won the game on a field goal, and didnt miss a single extra point. That sounds like a headline from The Onion. Truly amazing.
I'll be back, Oxford. Lucky for you, Ole Miss, Johnny Manziel won't be.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Friday, October 11, 2013

From the Expert: Ole Miss Preview

Aggie Rundown decided to hire (we pay pretty well) an expert.  His name is Crawford Jones (you can follow him @cjones13uh or check out some of his previous blog posts).  Crawford played quarterback at the University of Houston under Kevin Sumlin.  Credible enough for us.  We let him do his thing this week in prepping us all for the Aggies trek to Oxford.  Enjoy!

A preview of the Aggies matchup this week vs. previously ranked Ole Miss (broken into multiple pieces for the ADD in all of us).

A Quick Look
  • Texas A&M comes into this one after a much needed bye week. After not getting a bye week last season, they fortunately received one this year in the heart of their conference schedule.  The Aggies should be feeling well rested in order to take on a pesky, but reeling Ole Miss squad.

Battle to Watch
  • OT Jake Matthews vs. DE Robert Nkemdiche: Both defenses have been struggling, but the freshman Nkemdiche is arguably the best athlete on the field at any given time. If the Rebels want a shot at beating the Aggies, Nkemdiche will need to wreak havoc against the run and pressure Manziel into an ill-advised pass or two. I haven’t watched much of Matthews this year, but when I have it seems like he has been getting pushed into the lap of Manziel more often than his predecessor (Luke Joeckel) did. Matthews has the experience and will need to anchor down more strongly when taking on the freakish, 290 lb. frosh.

Close Eye on
  • The Texas A&M secondary vs. Ole Miss O-Line: No that’s not a typo; the two will go hand in hand this weekend. The Ole Miss O-Line has struggled mightily the last few weeks, highlighted by the 6 sacks they gave up in their loss to Auburn.  On the other side, the A&M secondary really seems to be missing Tim Deruyter and the stellar pass rush that graduated. The defense is ranked #117 in sacks, #109 in rush defense and #94 in tackles for a loss. If Ole Miss QB Bo Wallace takes advantage of a few extra ticks of clean looks in the pocket, the A&M secondary will be called upon to stick with the receivers even longer.

Defensive Outlook
  • A&M’s defense will need to generate pressure to keep this one from going down to the wire. While A&M is still the solid favorite, they have only produced a measly 4 sacks in 5 games. To put that in perspective the Aggies had 8 in week 1 last year. Sacks be damned, A&M should win, but sprinkle in a few extra and the game could be in hand by the 2nd quarter.

Evans Factor
  • Despite the Rebel defense allowing only one pass of more than 25 yards in the past four games, look for the big bodied Evans to pull in at least one of these on his way to an 9 catch 120 yard day (with a touchdown of course).

Offensive Outlook - Fireworks!
  • A&M will look to take advantage of a porous Ole Miss run defense that is allowing almost 200 yards per game. On the other hand, the pass defense has been quite solid, allowing about the same amount.  Expect to see a lot of runs, followed by some play action bootlegs that will offer Manziel the chance to run or throw (and do Johnny things).

Game Info
  • Texas A&M (-6) @ Ole Miss (Vaught- Hemingway Stadium) -  7:30 CST (College Station Time).  A&M is 5-0 all-time vs. Ole Miss.

Head Coach Kevin Sumlin
  • (On Johnny Manziel) “He’s matured when he takes off. He's probably slid more in the last two weeks than he's slid in his life. He’s going through his reads. It's a comfort level for both sides. He’s more comfortable being in his second year back there. He has freedom within the offense to check plays rather than him being stuck and having to take off and run with it. He has the ability now to look at some things and change the play to something that has a high probability of not being a negative play. It has nothing to do with telling him not to run as much. It has to do with his overall growth and development as a quarterback.”

  • Defensive Tackle Kirby Ennis went down in the first half against Arkansas, but tried to play again after half time. He left almost immediately and it doesn’t look like the Bye week helped at all. He is done for the year, yet another a tough loss for the Aggies upfront.

Johnny Manziel
  • Just be Johnny. This section is almost as easy as the next one. As long as Manziel stays healthy, continues his passing game progression and doesn’t turn the ball over 2+ times, he will cause more than enough headaches for all aspects of the Rebels D.

Kicking Game
  • Bertolet/Lambo should be locked in a closet with nothing resembling a football and only allowed to kick extra points (and even those are a crap shoot). This will be my take on the kicking game until further notice.

Last Week
  • Texas A&M: Bye week
  • Ole Miss: 30-22 Loss @ Auburn

My Prediction
  • Ole Miss sticks around through halftime down only 24-13, but A&M makes the necessary second half adjustments and wins this one handedly 45-27.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Football Changes in the Great Republic of Texas

Disclaimer: I am about to write a bunch of stuff about UT, our relationship with them, their inevitable coaching transition and what it means to me (and Texas A&M).  If you are one that despises the idea of giving UT even the faintest time of day, well this may annoy you.  Texas A&M and UT will always be intertwined.  That is (geographically) obvious. I don’t like ignoring my surroundings, I like understanding them.  Texas A&M is, without out a doubt, the toast of Texas at the moment.  We have all the momentum in the great Republic of Texas and I want to keep it.  So you can bet your ass, that I am always keeping an eye on our friends down the road. 

With that disclaimer in mind, I assure you, my life is not consumed by what UT does on a day to day basis, I just love rooting against them (which I would argue makes me a better fan).  I will root against them until their arrogance has been muddled down into a small, sad pool of despair.  Plain and simple, I still reside in the great Republic of Texas and as long as I do, I will be surrounded by Longhorn fans.  And if I am going to be surrounded by them, I want their team to fall flat on their face every Saturday and I want those people to be generally unhappy as a sports fan.  That’s just how I am as a fan.  I don’t acknowledge moral victories and I don’t like my rivals to succeed.  I don’t think that’s wrong of me (ok, it is a bit malicious).  UT and Texas A&M are the two largest, most established, most nationally respected universities in the great Republic of Texas; that definitely means something.  Should we be playing each other every year?  Honestly, I say yes.  I understand the argument against it (shoving it back in their face, not giving them the time of day, etc.), but at the end of the day, the two great powers of Texas should face off; it’s the right thing to do.

Five short years ago (unfortunately right in the middle of my collegiate career) UT was far superior to us, I won't ever deny that, but in the last two years the tides have turned in the most dramatic of fashions.  UT is swimming in a great big pool of mediocrity and we are sun bathing on our yacht.  I have said before, if I was a smart fan not driven by emotion, I would root for UT every few weeks to pull out some sneaky victories, stumble into eight wins and hopefully keep Mack Brown’s corpse around for another year of Aggie enjoyment.  I struggle to do that though. I enjoy their losses too much.  Barring some miraculous finish, it looks like the writing is on the wall for ole Mack.  And while I enjoy the circus until then, I can’t help but to acknowledge their potential to turn it around.

The right coach can make all the difference.  Coaching matters more in football than any other sport (by a landslide).  So let’s address a couple widespread rumors that have entertained me.  The only way Nick Saban is coming to UT is if, his tyrannical brain thinks it would be beneficial to his legacy to build another dynasty.  It won’t be about money.  Could UT pay Saban more money than Bama?  Yes, in a vacuum, probably so.  Will it get to a high enough dollar figure to make Bama bow out?  No way.  There is no precedent for it.  Would UT double the already highest salary in college football?  Maybe, but that’s still only gets it to nearly $12 million.  Would Bama match that?  I think so.  The highest college football coaching salary is not going to jump from $6 million dollars a year to $20 million with the snap of some donor’s fingers.  There may be multiple $10-20 million dollar coaches in 5-10 years, but not next year.  So yea, the only way Saban is leaving is if he thinks it would be fun to try and build another dynasty in the powderpuff Big 12.  It’s not money, it’s not allure, it will be what Saban’s crazed mind desires.

Let’s address another relevant rumor with a bold prediction.  The only way Kevin Sumlin leaves A&M (through his own will) is for an NFL job.  He isn’t going to USC.  I am a realist (as evidenced by the early portion of this post), yet I still don’t think there is any chance Sumlin leaves us for another program.  We will match any semi-outlandish offer, we have a rabid fan base, we are in the process of taking over the lush Texas recruiting grounds, and we play on the grandest stage of all, the SEC.  We aren’t the premier program in the nation by any means, but I don’t believe any other coaching job is leaps and bounds above Texas A&M.  Sumlin is a savvy mind, a superb motivator, and overall a dynamic leader.  And I truly believe he knows the grass isn’t greener on anybody else’s field.  And yes, that means I think the outlandish Sumlin to UT rumors are just that… outlandish.

Moving back to UT and USC; as Clay Travis and so many others have already reiterated, the fact that two of the premier college football programs will be searching for a coach at the same time is quite fascinating.  Rumors will be plentiful, and honestly I have no idea which direction these programs will go.  I don’t follow my Southern California news very closely, so I am going to leave that one to the other experts.  But here in Texas, I am fascinated by what is to come next.  The wrong hire will stall the program for another five years, but the right hire? Well, they will be back to national prominence within a year or two.  I hope they get caught up in making a splashy hire and neglect the next great coach.  Go ahead, bring Muschamp back, I can live with that.  You know who I might be most scared of?  Art Briles. 

Sidenote:  It still baffles me that Arkansas didn’t throw the kitchen sink at him.  It made all the sense in the world, the offensive system, the Texas ties, it would have been a dynamic hire.  Instead they went with an accomplished Big Ten coach who will likely help them become, at best, a mediocre team unable to surpass the powerhouses.

I won’t ramble off anymore coaching names, instead I will just encourage you to read my buddy Crawford Jones’ thorough breakdown.  Crawford knows a thing or two about college football having played under Sumlin at the University of Houston.  So enjoy his breakdown and make your own prediction.  (Oh and look forward to me peer-pressuring Crawford into an expose of what it was like playing under Sumlin).

Texas has a great deal of pressure on themselves at the moment.  We know what that feels like.  I wish them zero luck.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Iowa State, Paul Rhoads, and A Very Forgettable Thursday Night

Let's get a few things clear first; yes I think the refs blew the call, no I'm not surprised, and yes I still think Mack gets fired.

But, honestly, I'm not looking to dive into the Texas side of the story-line, because plenty of the national media is already beating down that door. I want to discuss the irony of the Iowa State anguish about last night.

Iowa State Head Coach, Paul Rhoads, had a stellar soapbox (see post below) after their one point loss to the Longhorns on Thursday night. I understand his frustration with one play, one call (maybe two or three), but what exactly does he think will change with a better call? Say the refs called it a fumble and ISU won the game. The blurry replay of a football you can't even see on your own 1 yard-line is small potatoes to the fact that you're program is still lacking any sense of traction. Does that help fix the season opening loss to Northern Iowa? Does that help fix the loss to that OTHER Iowa school? You're already 0-2 in your own state of IOWA, how exactly does a fluke win over a leaderless Texas help your team go into three straight weeks against ranked opponents (#20 Texas Tech, #17 Baylor, and #21 OSU) who are a combined 10-1? I highly doubt there is much difference between beginning November 2-5 than 1-6.

Here's the deal, Texas is a name brand, we all know that. So beating Texas looks good! Right? But this isn't like TCU beating an overrated Texas from last year. This Texas team has already been stripped of any "overrated" aspect this season when they were exposed in Provo. The talking point all week was "how bad is Texas?" and the common answer was "they are bad enough that they just might find a way to lose to IOWA STATE!"

That's not a compliment. No one was betting on you. They were betting against Texas.

And you still proved them wrong.

Mr. Rhoads and his box of soap.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Better Late Than Never - Arky Thoughts

I was born 5 minutes from Arkansas (thankfully still in Texas) so I get the pleasure of giving you my thoughts on this week's game against Arkansas:  Due to bye week laziness, you get 8 thoughts instead of a properly compiled 10.  Enjoy (with some footnotes from Scott).

1) Johnny played in the rain and guess what? Johnny was not as efficient in the rain (the kid just loves sunlight and bright lights... who can blame him). It was all good though due to our stellar running back corp.

2) Best running back corp in the nation, you say?  I think so. They OWNED IT last Saturday. When the second half rolled around A&M was staring at a four point lead and a rainy mess of a passing game.  No worries though, the run game stepped up to the plate and eventually beat Arky into submission.
*I would like to chime in and say that I have a football crush on Tra Carson.  I have said this before, but going into the season I was enthralled by our other three running backs, Carson was merely an afterthought.  Now, he is my favorite running back on our team.  Speed is sexy, but the powerful tenacity that Carson runs with gives me goosebumps.

3) Our defense still kinda sucks. I honestly want to believe in DeVante Harris, but he is so hit-or-miss that I can't decide if he is one step away from becoming a lockdown corner or one step away from a spot on the bench. To his defense he plays CB which is literally the most "hit-or-miss" position on the team. Oh yea, and Deshazor is a play-maker from anywhere on the field.
*I will stand behind DeVante till the bitter end.  #Outchea till I die.

4) Despite our defense still being kinda sucky, with the game on the line, the defense stepped up.  Look at the box score, Arkansas was shutout in the 4th quarter. TONS of credit to our still shitty defense, but lots of credit to our running game for some long, slow 4th quarter scoring drives. A well rested defense will always be better than a winded defense.

5) Mike Evans is a cyborg.  After out leaping five Arkansas defenders for that TD, he came back to the sideline practically dragging his right foot. Twitter blew up at the likeliness of a torn Achilles' tendon (which would undoubtedly end his year). Instead, he went into the locker room at halftime and jut installed a new right leg as if he was Rafa Nadal changing tennis rackets after a popped string.
*Mike Evans might lack that top end speed, but I have truly never seen a wide receiver with his body control and concentration.  He is so far beyond collegiate cornerbacks, it's not even fair.  Best of luck on Sundays Mike, we will miss you.

6) Contrary to popular belief, Johnny doesn't have to carry this team. The OFFENSE, as a whole, has to carry the team.  Fortunately, the offensive line is superb, the running backs are superb, the receivers are superb, and the down-field blocking is otherworldly (thank you cyborg Mike Evans).  I can recall numerous times that Johnny was merely the statistical benefactor of the studs around him.  Oh, but he is also the Heisman winner. So that's kind of important.
*I bet that quarterback from Tuscaloosa could even play well with our offense.  Everyone wants a quiet, teary-eyed, game-manager at quarterback.  Add in a bitchin' chest tattoo, and wow, that's the full package.  

7) Arkansas looked (at least on TV) like a really fun place to play. The crowd actually stayed with it until the end! The weather was MISERABLE, yet the fan support and noise level never suffered one bit. I'll be sad not to return there for the next ten years.  Hello, soulless spaceship, also known as Jerry World.
*Those little piglets really put on a show. 

8) At the end of the day, an SEC road win is an SEC road win. There's not much else to say here except that we won by double digits in a hostile, rainy, SEC environment. Kudos to the coaching staff for keeping our boys mentally and physically prepared for the task at hand.
*Hello bye week and tackling drills!