Basketball tidbits. Just a reminder that the men's basketball season starts on Friday as the Longhorns host Stetson. That's right, it isn't just a hat. The news from the team is that Alexis Wangmene has returned from Cameroon and is practicing again. The young big man returned to his native country after the unexpected death of his mother.
After a scrimmage against Gonzaga, Rick Barnes reports that Dogus Balbay is still adjusting to his role on the team and attempting to find the proper mix of not being too agressive, but also not being passive. I believe John Wooden put it best, "Be quick, but don't hurry." Barnes says that Balbay is sometimes the Roadrunner, but spent the scrimmage being a turtle. Barnes wants something in between. One of the most important aspects of being a point guard is understanding the right tempo at which to operate. Players like Deron Wiliams and DJ Augustin are excellent at that part of the game, changing speeds, but also understanding when to press the advantage in transition and when to back it out and run the offense. Balbay's ability to do all of those things will factor greatly into how much he plays point guard, since Justin Mason and AJ Abrams are both probably better served operating off the ball.
Burnette leaves school. After being dismissed from the football team last week, Buck Burnette's dad reports that his son has decided to withdraw from school to move back to Wimberley for a semester, while contemplating his options and the potential for reviving his football career. It's understandable that Burnette doesn't want to be in school since he is a recognizable presence around campus, but the prospects for continuing his football career seem minimal. Perhaps the greatest issue surrounding any potential return or reconciliation with his football team was the division it could create.
Unfortunately for Burnette, there are no colleges or universities that have football teams that are entirely white (at least that I know of), like Burnette's at Wimberley. And that makes it hard to believe that African-American athletes at another school would accept him after his comments, no doubt wondering what he might say behind their backs and wondering if he truly is racist. For that reason, Burnette has the potential to divide another locker room like he could have divided the Longhorns' locker room. I always thought that social networking and email should have a breathalyzer to keep people from making poor decisions, but there isn't any control for ignorance. Even if Buck Burnette isn't at heart a racist person, he will likely pay for his racist comments with his football career.
Mythical Fozzy creature ventures closer to reality. It turns out that rumors of the mythical Fozzy creature making plays on the football field are not exaggerated after sightings in consecutive weeks. Mack Brown suggests that the creature may move from mythical status into a status more closely approximating reality in the near future after gaining 77-yards against Baylor. The mythical element still remains, as Longhorn fans across the country are said to hold their collective breath every time Fozzy touches the ball, waiting for the long touchdown that seems only a matter of time. Or so the myth goes.
Nearly as mythical is his inability to pick up the blitz, which appeared to be as real as the McCoy leading the football team, as Whittaker ably picked up the blitzes thrown in his direction by Baylor. To my eyes, Whittaker did a fine job picking up the blitz, slowing down one blitzer in the hole on a McCoy touchdown pass. Whittaker didn't drive the player backwards and probably never will, but he did achieve the most important goal of buying his quarterback extra time. Quite an achievement for a Fozzy creature facing down a charging Bear. Brown still worries about Whittaker's lack of size, but notes that he is finally healthy, which allows him to be hit in practice and demonstrate to the coaches he can pick up blitzes. As an addendum: There is no truth to the rumor that Fozzy will address the concerns of the coaches about his size by growing three inches during the offseason. Although you never know, that Fozzy creature does still have mythical powers.
So that's why they're blitzing so much...PB, along with numerous other observers, including myself, wondered before the Tech game why teams were blitzing the offense repeatedly, despite the ability of Colt McCoy to get the ball out quickly to receivers running hot routes. Turns out that Longhorn coaches wondered the same thing and actually did what the poor bloggers sitting at their computer screens in the basements of their parents' homes couldn't do: Ask the opposing coaches about it. Opposing coaches apparently feel that allowing McCoy to stand in the pocket unmolested is a death wish with his accuracy, while blitzing also clogs running lanes and helps make the Longhorns one-dimensional. I disagree with the reasoning to some extent because I don't think that the Longhorn running game needs to be run-blitzed to be shut down this year, while blitzing leaves open parts of the field for McCoy to exploit. For someone as comfortable as he getting the ball out quickly, it seems like he has more trouble when having to stand in the pocket and made throws downfield, which makes his arm strength an issue.
Not Vince Young, I repeat, not Vince Young. The fashionable comparison these days for any running quarterback is Vince Young. Just like the fashionable comparison for any guard with hops was Michael Jordan for a long time (remember "Baby Jordan" Harold Miner? How about Cedric Ceballos?). It's all ridiculous since there will never be another Vince Young (although Terrelle Pryor looks and moves the part), just like there will never be another Michael Jordan. Comparing anyone to those icons is a disservice to the incomparable greatness of the Jordans and Vince Youngs of the world, but is also a disservice to the young player, who has his own identity.
Many of the comparisons no doubt are a result of lazy journalism, so let's endeavor here to talk about what Robert Griffin is, not who he seems like, because his skills are singular enough to be his own football player. He is exceptionally quick, in a way that makes any Vince Young comparisons seem ridiculous. Yes, Vince was fast, but his running ability was more a combination of blowing up angles because his speed was deceptive and having such incredible balance that defensive lineman often had little chance, linebackers had almost none, and defensive backs were in serious trouble.
With Griffin, the speed is visual, you can see him taking the corner seemingly at will. Briles runs effective and dangerous play-action passes off the zone run that Greg Davis can only dream of devising, which gives Griffin a dimension that Vince Young never had. He also doesn't suffer from the same mechanical issues in his throwing motion, coming into college as a true freshman much more refined as a passer than Vince was even by his redshirt sophomore season. The Bears only had enough talent to hang with the Longhorns for part of the first half, but it seems likely Griffin will give the Longhorns a serious scare before his eligibility expires.