Monday, October 29, 2007

Texas a Top 10 Team?

Somehow, despite the fact the the Big 12 boasts three Top 10 teams and four Top 15 teams, they've still got bad conference rap.
You can call them top heavy, but a quarter of the conference's teams are in the Top 15. That's pretty impressive.
Don't blame ABC's Craig James for the negative reputation. He has four Big 12 teams in his Top 10, including Texas.
It's a pretty interesting ballot he filled out — Oklahoma No. 3, Alabama No. 12 — but it's not too ridiculous.

But don't worry, if you think Texas shouldn't be ranked that high, guys like Austin Ward from the Casper Wyo., Start-Tribune help even things out. He's got the Longhorns No. 25.
His Top 3 are Arizona State, Boston College, and then Ohio State, and I get the feeling he's not ranking his top 25 teams as much as he's trying to correct for perceived mistakes among his fellow voters.
I don't get into critiquing voters' selections much — if they all had the same opinions the poll would be pointless — but his ballot is pretty bad.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

So Texas Won...

Alright, by this time you should know Texas beat Nebraska 28-25.
After trailing 17-3 in the third quarter Ryan Bailey kicked a couple field goals. Then Jammal Charles went insaned, rushing for 216 yards and three touchdowns in the fourth quarter. He ended the game with 290 yards on the ground.

If you read this week's Double Coverage you'd have read half my column on how Charles is pretty good and how he should be getting the ball more. Unfortunately, half of it was lost... I'm still not sure how.

Anyway, it's only fair — to myself — to post it here, so everyone can see my genius.

By Ryan Killian
Daily Texan Columnist

It’s time to stop saying Jamaal Charles needs to regain his confidence while limiting his carries and taking the ball away from him in crucial situations.
Hand him the pigskin and give him the chance earn it back.
Sure, that popping sound you’ve grown almost accustomed to during Texas games is the sound of 88,000 exasperated fans slapping their foreheads as the Longhorns fumble away an opportunity, but it’s not always Charles.
Vondrell McGee fumbled twice against Baylor, including once with the scrimmage line at Baylor’s one-yard line.
I know he wasn’t entirely to blame for that bungled pitch that resulted in a 14-point swing for the Bears, but if it had been Charles in his cleats the furor would have been palpable.
Brown’s coaching staff has given up on the run too early in almost every game this season. How can the running backs be effective when you make Colt McCoy throw it all the time?
How can Charles perform like the national-championship-winning junior he is when he can’t get the ball.
Despite the coaching staff’s insistence that the running game isn’t where it should be, Charles is the conference’s second-leading rusher. He’s somehow managed to average a touchdown every game even though McGee and Chris Ogbonnaya are getting more and more goal-line opportunities.
Last week marked the first time this season that Charles failed to average at least four yards per carry. Along the way he averaged seven yards per carry against UCF, over six yards per carry against TCU and another six yards per carry against Iowa State.
And he’s fumbled four times.
By this time in that magical 2005 season one Texas player had fumbled six times. His name was Vince Young, and you didn’t hear too many complaints about it.
At this point in 2005 Young also had already notched pair of two-fumble games.
When you’re given a football and told to run up the field while eleven guys (the smallest of which is about 200 pounds) try to hit you as hard as you can, the ball is going to be knocked from your grasp from time to time.
Charles isn’t blameless, but he’s trying and he’s not doing as bad as everyone is acting — or overreacting as the case may be.
The Cornhuskers have the Big 12’s worst rushing defense and this is the week to for Charles to make like Forrest Gump and run and run and run.
A field of corn would be harder to run through than the Husker’s defense, which is giving up 227.38 yard per game on the ground. Only four teams in the whole Bowl Subdivision are doing worse.
After three games this season, Charles had rushed for 100 yards in each one. Against Rice that streak came to an end when he rushed for three touchdowns but only 72 yards. His last carry came in the first drive of the third quarter.
I’m not saying you should keep players in just to reach milestones, but when you take Charles out at that point and then talk as if he isn’t being as productive as he should be, something’s fishy. When he scored a touchdown during the next game against Kansas State it was his ninth game in a row with a touchdown.
Since then he’s only scored once more.
I don’t get it.
Brown keeps saying he needs to get Charles out in space. I haven’t seen it happen. I’ve seen him run the counter and get pulled down in the backfield time and time again. I’ve seen the zone read fail over and over, but I haven’t seen Charles get out in space much.
At least twice this year Brown has confessed getting away from the run game too early. You can credit offensive coordinator Greg Davis for that.
He’s got the same view I do. We’re both up above the field tucked behind a glass wall watching the game play out like it’s a play and we’ve got box seats.
And he sees something totally different than I do.
Most of that can be credited to a lifetime spent studying football. Compared to him I’m less nearly clueless about what’s going on right in front of me.
So how doesn’t he see that the running game would be fine if he showed the determination to let it tire out defenses?
Over five yards per carry ain’t bad. Eight touchdowns in eight games ain’t bad. Four fumbles in eight games? Not that bad.
While McCoy’s been unholstered this season and allowed to make plays, the offensive coaches at Texas have stuck a dunce hat on Charles and put him in the corner.
McCoy’s also thrown 12 interceptions, accounting for more than his fair share of Texas’ turnovers.
Keep praising McCoy and let him do his job, that’s fine with me. But give Charles a break, and give him the ball.

Nebraska leads Texas 10-3 at the half

I wrote in this week's Double Coverage about how Texas needed to trust Jamaal Charles and run the ball down Nebraska's throat. They're not listening to me, and Texas is down by seven.
Meanwhile, Charles is averaging 5.9 yards a carry — but he's only had nine.
Vondrell McGee has run the ball three times and is averaging 7.3 yards per.
Texas quarterback Colt McCoy has only completed half of his 18 passes he stuck a ball right in a Nebraska linebacker's stomach. Luckily for the Longhorns the Husker didn't make the interception.
Unluckily for the Longhorns, Bailey missed a 34-yard field goal attempt.

Texas took the lead with a Bailey field goal, but Nebraska has scored 10 unanswered points beginning with a field goal of their own from Alex Henry. Sam Keller then threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to Nat Swift to cap an impressive 80-yard drive.

Texas vs Nebraska - Pregame

The crowd's a little bigger than usual with the Cornhuskers in town, but this isn't the match-up everyone envisioned after the Longhorn's narrow win in Lincoln, Neb., last year.
Nebraska's unranked and 4-4. The Huskers' headcoach Bill Callahan needs to update his resume.
Meanwhile, the Longhorns have lost twice and proven that anyone can beat them.
But head coach Mack Brown likes to point out that it's always special when the Red N and Burnt Orange Bevo collide, and there's some truth to that.
This is Texas - Nebraska. One way or another, it's going to be fun.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Halftime: 28-3

Texas is taking it to the Cyclones.
Colt McCoy looks like he's a freshman, and for the slumping sophomore, that's a great thing.
McCoy has thrown three touchdown passes in the first half and completed 15 of 19 passes.
Four receivers have over 30 receiving yards, and Jordan Shipley has already caught two touchdown passes, including a 58-yard run and catch on Texas' first offensive play of the game.
Jamaal Charles has only had five rushing attempts, but he's averaged seven yards a carry and gotten into the end zone once.
A Quan Cosby catch accounted for Texas' other first half score.

Mack Brown raised a few eyebrows by putting in his entire second team on offense — comprised solely of freshmen — while Texas had only a 14-3 lead. I'm not sure what he was trying to accomplish, but it could easily be construed as a sign of disrespect.

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Ames, Iowa

Sure, it's been drizzling off and on but I'd be lying if I said I didn't like the weather here in Ames, Iowa. It's 53 degrees.

An hour and a half before the game, the student section at Jack Trice Stadium opened up, and fans came racing down the stairs, gunning for the primo spots. Once they got there, they'd lay down and save as many seats as they could for friends.
It looked pretty cool until I realized that the first rush of like 100 people was the only rush. So everyone got nice seats. It was a pretty silly exercise.

We're staying at the Holiday Inn in downtown Des Moines, and by Daily Texan standards, it's a Five Star resort. We even have our own beds.

I was going to say that today's depth chart makes the departure of Limas Sweed official, but it says he's starting at split end. He's not.
Quan Cosby will be there. Nate Jones will be opposite him, and Jordan Shipley will be in the slot.

Security at Jack Trice Stadium is refreshingly lax. I think a bit of ingenuity would get you into the game just as easily as a ticket — if you were the kind of guy that didn't like paying to see sporting events.

Jamaal Charles' problems holding on to the ball this season have been well documented. During the season, the Longhorns as a team have fumbled six times. The Cyclones have coughed up the ball 14 times and lost it nine.

It's just under an hour till game time. I'll try to update sporadically today.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Major League Baseball is Amazing

Sorry to go off topic, but if you missed the end of the Rockies/Padres one-game playoff, you really missed out.
Baseball, America's pastime and the most literary of sports, is widely yawned off these days. I'll refrain from making a generalization about the American people to explain why they can't enjoy it like they used to — steroids has nothing to do with it, they've only brought longball-loving fans in.
But games like this is why it's so beautiful. 162 games wasn't enough. Then nine innings wasn't enough. Finally, the Padres scored two runs in the thirteenth inning and brought future Hall of Famer Trevor Hoffman and his 524 saves to the mound.
Even that wasn't enough.
Kazuo Matui and Troy Tulowitzki led off the inning with back-to-back doubles to bring the Rockies within one run. Then Matt Holliday tripled off the wall and right over the glove of a leaping Brian Giles.
Hoffman intentionally walked the always dangerous Todd Helton, bringing up Jamey Carroll, a weak hitting infielder who entered the game as a pinch runner. He didn't end the game with a hit. Instead, he flied out to right field.
That was enough.
Holliday lumbered home, arriving just as Giles' throw got there. Catcher Michael Barrett blocked the plate with exquisite near-perfection, but Holliday's fingertips found a piece of the dish. At least home plate umpire Tim McClelland says they did, and he had the best view.
Barrett retrieved the ball as it dribbled lazily away from the site of the collision, and he tagged a stunned Holliday. But McClelland was already signaling that the runner was safe.
He'd touched a piece of the plate and grabbed a piece of history with it.

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