54b's Preseason Unspectacular, Vol. 9

Ah, one of the great traditions for University of Texas football fans is finally here: The 54b Preseason Spectacular. This man needs no introduction for most of you. If this is your first 54b post? Enjoy. --PB--

In the interest of full disclosure, it should be duly noted that my article appearing in PB’s 2007 annual was--in true 54b "walk-on" fashion—located on the very last page of the book, right behind step-by-step instructions for inflating UT’s bubble-roofed indoor practice facility using only a hairdryer and Bevo’s flatulence.

And now that I can sleep at night knowing that you know where to find everything you ever wanted to know about the 2007 Texas Longhorns, let’s move on to everything you didn’t need to know but will be that much dumber after reading...



54B'S PRE-SEASON UNSPECTACULAR IX
"Summers in Texas are brutal, but it's not the heat it's the wait. Though another football season is but a few short months away, Longhorns fans continue to mark the time like inmates nearing parole. The Eyes Of Texas 2007 is a pardon from the pain of another insufferable off-season for born and bred Longhorn fans desperate for a glimpse of what redemption awaits them on the other side of August."

I wrote that a few months ago while helping the editor of the annual market the book to prospective buyers. But with the first game a few days away, I’m not sure I still feel the same. While it’s true that September 1st can’t get here fast enough for the majority of Longhorns fans, I guess I’m still struggling to get over the memory of the two, title-shot killing losses from last November and an upcoming September NOT to remember.

Click here to read the rest of this entry

Arkansas State, TCU, Central Florida and Rice comprise a non-conference schedule normally reserved for aspiring Division II teams. In previous years, patsies were palatable when UT also had a team like Ohio State on its non-con slate. Forgive me for casting an unpopular pall on the "welcome back college football, oh how I’ve missed you dearly, don’t you ever leave me again" parade, but I just can’t psych myself up for September, even if TCU is a Top 25 team.

And while I’m sure it would be a mistake to overlook the Hornfrogs, to me, it’s still a weak non-con schedule, not to mention a no win situation. UT wins and so what, the Horns did what was expected of them and gave a wedgie to a WAC dork. TCU wins and we’ve got Boise State II – Mid-Major Boogaloo all over again.

What’s truly sad is if UT had a BCS conference team like Miami on the schedule along with TCU, the game against the Hornfrogs would probably be viewed as just another get-together between two old Southwest Conference combatants. Perhaps not, but the allure of the TCU game wouldn’t be as great and let’s not forget that Texas fans didn’t exactly pack the house for the TCU game when they were in annual foe in the old SWC. But because it’s the only game of any real consequence on the non-con schedule, it’s being billed as another chance at redemption for the mid-majors.

For me, it’s September 29 and a date with K-State that can’t get here fast enough as I doubt the painful ending to last season will be assuaged with games of little or no national interest. That being said, I eagerly anticipate the redemption awaiting Longhorn fans when September ends...

Whoa, 20-second timeout.

Right about now you’re probably saying, that’s not the 54bullshit I’ve come to know and loathe. And you’d be right. Sorry, must have been the book deal. Plus 54b always lies when he cries. Come September 1st, don’t you know I’ll be down in Austin celebrating (read: imbibing heavily) a return to anxiety-ridden Saturdays along with the rest of you crazy Orangebloods. If you get there before I do, order me a beer with a Pepto Bismol chaser. Let’s get this party started. On to the...

2007 TEXAS LONGHORNS

As always, this commentary assumes that you already know the names, playing weights, wind-aided 40 times and favorite plea bargain tactic for all 22 starters, the specialists and the water boy. So if you're looking for in-depth depth chart analyses, returning starter ratio theorems, position-by-position breakdowns or legal advice, go pick up a copy of Athlon’s and call the Texas Hammer. Because if you're reading this commentary in search of answers, I'm afraid all I have to offer you is more questions with the always unpopular...

UN-SCHEDULED POP QUIZ

  1. Seeing as the Longhorns were besieged by many off-the-field transgressions this summer, including a couple of DWI’s, what will Mack Brown’s motivational team motto be for the first game against the Arkansas State Indians: Circle The Wagons or The Trail Of Beers Starts Here?
  1. When the Hornfrogs of TCU--with their rumored 5 to 1 girl to guy student ratio--take on the Longhorns of Texas--with their sleeveless Mathew McConaughey roaming the sidelines--it begs the question, which Horns will be the horniest?
  1. Did Deloss Dodds include the University of Central Florida on the non-conference schedule so Coach Brown could pillage the Sunshine State’s fertile recruiting grounds or so massive strength coach Jeff "Mad Dog" Madden could stop by Disney World and debunk the rumor that It’s A Small World After All?
  1. How many licks does Mr. Owl think it’ll take to kick Rice’s ass?
  1. Last year Kansas State derailed any hopes UT might have had for defending their national title by knocking our starting QB out of the game early and burning our heralded cornerbacks deep repeatedly. This year the game is in Austin and is being presented by United Healthcare. If Colt gets hurt again, will the Longhorns be able to fix his neck with a $20 co-pay, and will the Texas secondary provide us with better coverage?
  1. Essay Question: Pretend you are the Oklahoma University President and write a letter to Santa Claus appealing the North Pole’s ruling that the Sooners have been "naughty" this year.

Example:

Dear Santa,

I know that you are big and red just like the sports cars our players drive, but if you don’t put OU on the "Nice" list, I fear that Bob Stoops may lose institutional control of his bowels.

Boomer Bomar,
Little Davey Boren

  1. With Ex-Texas defensive coordinator Gene Chizik leaving UT to take the Iowa State Cyclones head coaching gig, when the Horns visit Ames, IA, will the newly led Texas Defense get blown away or fight crime with MacDuff?
  1. What should CBN (Christian Broadcasting Network) call their new reality TV show chronicling the trials and tribulations of the Bears football season under embattled Head Coach Guy Morris who is in the final year of his contract with Baylor?

   A) The Below .500 Club
  B) Saved By The Grail – The College Years
  C) So You Think You’re Not Allowed To Dance?
   D) Under Armour-geddon  

  1. Now that Nebraska only plays OU two out of every four years and Colorado’s athletic prowess has been rebuffed of late, it seems overzealous Cornhusker fans have turned their rivalry-starved attention toward the Longhorns. Do you think the Children of the Corn know that they’re at least 4th or 5th on Texas’ "we’ll get around to kicking your ass when we get to you" list? Discuss.
  1. What do Alaska Senator Ted Stevens appropriating millions of tax dollars for the infamous Bridge To Nowhere, Golfer John Daly gambling millions of dollars away at the blackjack table, and Billionaire alumnus T. Boone Pickens donating $150 million to the Oklahoma State Football Program have in common?
  1. What WOULD Texas Tech Head Coach and self-purported pirate enthusiast Mike Leach DO with a drunken sailor? (All responses must be sung.)
  1. Thanks to upset wins over Texas in Austin and some close losses to OU, Tech, and Nebraska, Dennis Franchione has been quoted on several occasions of late stating that Texas A&M was just a few plays away from going to the Big XII Championship last year and he expects them to do just that this year. That’s nice and all but what other notable achievements are the Aggies painfully close to accomplishing (circle all that apply):

   A) Growing the first organic Twinkie
   B) Cloning a sheepskin condom  
   C) Crotch-less overalls
   D) A biodiesel engine that runs on Fran’s bullshit  

But I digress. Speaking of that wonderful, magical, slight of mouth vernacular often referred to as "coachspeak," I hear Coach Brown recently unveiled his team motto for the 2007 season...

"EARN THE RIGHT"
Despite last year’s Stuart Smalley-inspired team motto of "Do What You Can Do" (to help the Land Thieves steal another Big XII Championship), let me be the first to record a record that has me going on the record saying that I’m fully on board with Mack’s latest, more relevant, put-that-on-your-bumper-and-poke-it-sticker-worthy motto. Well, it beats "Book’em Longhorns" anyway. And given the Big XII and National title expectations we adoring fans annually heap upon Mack and the boys (who never ask for it--yet to their credit--fully embrace), I say, "Earn The Right to where the Orange and White" indeed. Especially when you consider how high the bar for Longhorn football has been set.

Hard to believe we’re barely a decade removed from an unimaginable 4-7 season (many a goalpost lost their battle with verticality that year, my friend) when Texas fans actually gave teams like Rice a second thought and getting a couple of tickets to home games in Austin was still easier than saving a salamander. But while our expectations may have risen, it’s good to know some things never change, like the preseason second-guessing on all the online message boards. Just reading all the latest Chicken Little rhetoric coming from Bevo’s Water Cooler Blog Brigade, someone unfamiliar with the neurotic nature of Longhorns fans might actually think UT was on the precipice of futility once again, as questions of dire consequence abound:

• What if our secondary can’t cover the deep 3rd? (I think I smelled something burning last year.)  
• How fast will the new members of the O-line gel with the vets? (One bonding trip to the Golden Corral buffet usually does the trick.)
• Can the short-yardage running game be fixed? (Like a steer in the headlights.)  
• What if our linebackers never learn to stop the option? (That’s a Longhorn tradition, why start stopping it now?)
• What if Colt gets knocked out again? (I’ve got John Chiles running up my spine just thinking about it.)

Hell, if I didn’t know any better, I’d say UT would be lucky to end the season bowl eligible. In fact, I’m thinking about writing my congressman for some additional "No Team left behind" discretionary funds.

But just when I thought all hope was lost and started making arrangements to spend Christmas at the Weedeater Bowl in Shreveport, the AP Poll came out (Hallelujah!) and wouldn’t you know it, the Horns are ranked 4th. Of course, a preseason ranking and a bag of Crispy Creams might get you a date with the winner of A&M’s annual Miss Ewe-S-A pageant but it won’t win any games for you. And while I’m sure some of the aforementioned concerns are legit and it wouldn’t be the first time UT was overrated, the fact remains, "We’re Texas Damn It," and under Mack Brown we’ve always got a shot.

Aforementioned concerns aside, I think the Longhorns’ key to success this year is putting teams away early (yeah I know, I’m a genius). I felt like the 2006 Longhorns suffered from complacency much of the season and perhaps that has something to do with the need for on-the-field leadership that Mack preaches about constantly.  Much of the talent from the National Title team was still there in 06, but UT seemed to fall behind early or have to fight to the finish week after week despite fielding superior talent to that of most of their opponents. Even Baylor jumped out to an early lead and racked up 40 points on the Horns.

It was Texas’ tendency to take their foot off the pedal (and consequently the other teams’ throats) that finally caught up to UT and led to those late season losses, not so much Colt’s injury. Even playing without the "real" McCoy, in no way should K-State have put 45 points on our defense, and while credit is due A&M for coming into to Austin and getting the job done, something is inherently wrong when a team ranked #1 against the run gives up an 80-yard touchdown drive in which the majority of the yards and first downs were picked up on the ground. Not putting teams away early week after week takes a toll because even when you take your foot off the pedal, you can still run out of gas. (Yes, I’m back to 54bullshitting again, but it sounds good anyway.)

So will the Horns step on the gas and have what it takes to Earn The Right at another shot at the title? Well, for that capricious prognostication, we're going to have to turn it over to the always unbiased, unabated, unabridged, unethical, uneducated, and always uncensored...

UNPREDICTABLE PREDICTION
Apparently, when it rains, it really does pour...literally. Many parts of Texas have received record amounts of rainfall this summer while the Texas football team has endured one of off-the-field transgression after another.

So while searching for prognostication motivation, I came upon the love child of Sexual Chocolate front-man Eddie Murphy and his ex-girlfriend Scary Spice. His name is Tay Zonday, and along with his Casio he likes to make the Chocolate Rain:

 

So I figured why not borrow some of that passion and channel it into my 2007 Unpredictable Prediction. Without any further do-do, I give you...

"BURNT ORANGE RAIN"

Burnt Orange Rain
It’s been 8 months since last Colt felt the pain
Burnt Orange Rain
But dad says the neck’s okay, it was just a strain

Burnt Orange Rain
When McCoy drops back he’ll have a lot to read
Burnt Orange Rain
Look downfield and feel the need, the need for Sweed.

Burnt Orange Rain
Selvin’s gone, it’s time for Charles to be the man
Burnt Orange Rain
When the new O-Line gels he’ll be a Jamaal-American

Burnt Orange Rain
Gene Chizik’s gone and now the goin’s gonna get tough
Burnt Orange Rain
Akina’s got a new partner in crime, his name’s MacDuff

Burnt Orange Rain
The D-Line’s still stacked kicking ass and taking names
Burnt Orange Rain
While the LB’s fill the gaps and halt other running games

Burnt Orange Rain
Last season the Horns’ pass defense got burnt
Burnt Orange Rain
This year’s DB’s may be small, but they bring the hurt

Burnt Orange Rain
The votes are in, the Horns will start at number four
Burnt Orange Rain
84,000 wasn’t enough, DKR’s making room for more

Burnt Orange Rain
It’s been 8 months since Longhorn fans last felt the pain
Burnt Orange Rain
Four months from now we’ll celebrate on Lake Pontchartrain

Mark it down:

January 7, 2008, Superdome, New Orleans, LA
TEXAS vs. USC - Part Duex

Maybe not, but I couldn’t think of anything that rhymes with Weedeater Bowl.

Hook’em,
54b
http://54bblog.blogspot.com/

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