I'll want to do this after every home game.
Football has finally returned. Oh, and not the goofy kind that Baylor and Wake Forest play on Thursdays. The Texas kind. There were cheers, tailgates, women, old guys with stories, drunken people trying to use my port-a-pot without asking, upsets on TV, beer, upsets announced on the Godzillatron, and most importantly, glorious, glorious touchdowns. After spending an entire day immersed in the wonders of gameday, I think it's only appropriate for me to point out a few things that I noticed regarding both the atmosphere and the team.
Gameday in Austin
Upsets - One of my favorite things about fall Saturdays is watching Far Off Mountain State Nursing School wipe out a ranked team, while flipping back and forth between another game until it gets decided. This time we have several upsets, only one, maybe two of which would actually count as upsets had they taken place three weeks from now, but all of which were just a little fun.
Bowling Green 27 #25 Pitt 17 - This is certainly not a surprise. Putting Pitt in my Top 25 has to be the most ass-headed thing I've ever done in my life. Yes, I know they suck, but those last five or six rankings are just darts on a spinning globe, anyway, so only minimal harm should be done to my reputation. (Horn Brain has a reputation? -ha ha, whills, you're hilarious.) The Not-Fake McCoy was held to 71 yards on 23 attempts, while our disaster-prone McCoy ran for 103 yards on half the attempts (12). Colt is now the Not-Fake McCoy.
#24 Alabama 34 # 9 Clemson 10 - Again, not exactly the "shocker" that ESPN would have you believe. We knew Clemson would go all Bowden on us at some point, and the first game of the season sounds reasonable enough, but I don't think we all expected Alabama to be this good. I think Clemson will claw its way out of this by winning most of their ACC games, while Alabama will struggle to raise the bar again in the SEC.
Utah 25 Michigan 23 - Now, nearly everyone expects Michigan to suck, and Utah to be pretty ok, so this isn't an upset by that standard. Then again, Utah just beat Michigan in the Big House. That's an upset. I quit watching this game to head into the stadium at the half with Michigan down 22-10. It looks like Michigan fumbled away some opportunities in the third quarter and had a chance to tie the game with a 2PC in the middle of the fourth, but came up short and had a total of I think 4 yards of offense after that. Michigan's defense is going to have to play better than this faster than this if they want to win some games. That Notre Dame game looms as an opportunity for ND to avenge the "Yakkity Sax" game. Link, lol.
Croom got Croomed - No explanation necessary.
Arkansas State 18 Poor Aggies 14 - This is only an upset in the sense that the Utah-Michigan game is an upset. Arkansas State won most of the stat categories, most importantly YPC and turnovers. The Aggies also missed both of their field goal attempts. You'd think that a team with a grind-it-out offense would focus on finding a reliable kicker, but them's Aggies. Don't worry, though, Stephen McGee will still have 300 yards of offense against us on T-day. Can anybody say "Grad-U-Ate"? Kidding aside, if our defense doesn't at least tie them I'll be mildly disappointed.
Stadium/VY - Oh my God, is that thing beautiful or what? I'm sitting in section 19, which is in the NE corner, about 30 rows up. I'm pretty happy with my seats, especially because I can look left and see the east grandstands erupting with fury, then look right and see thousands of screaming Longhorns hanging out of the sheer face of the North End. It got pretty loud a few times, but I don't think half of the shiny seat-back foundation members attended the game, so we have yet to realize the full potential of noise. I think the loudest we got was for the split second we thought Cosby was going to catch that pass McCoy lobbed up to him on the run a la 2007. AAHHHHHH oooooooo...
Vince's retirement was luckily delayed long enough to allow most of the fans to filter into their seats. I heard very little of what he said, because we were all just waiting for the next opportunity to scream. At halftime they showed a video about Vince helping out the community and little kids and stuff, which was cool, but mostly just because they spliced in some highlight clips. They did a good job, and I'm not as mad about how it was handled as I thought I would be.
Kevin Durant was there. Not wearing Burnt Orange, but he did throw up his horns every time the camera got on him. He hung out with Vince most of the time. That must have been cool for him.
Whoever the choke artist that shanked the free-frosties-for-everyone field goal is, I'm coming for you.
The band now sits in the south end zone bleachers, but I couldn't hear them for much of the game. What else is new?
The alumni whisper "fyyyyy" when the students yell "TEXAS" at them. I move that the students just do both and be done with it.
Your 2008 Texas Longhorns
First of all, everything we did worked (except "use John Chiles every third series"), so we really don't know much. I told my brother after the game that you can't tell if we'll be good from a game like this, but you sure can tell if we're going to be bad. It doesn't look like we'll be bad, but whether we'll be more than average remains to be seen.
The offensive line looked solid both running and passing, but FAU's defensive line was horrible, or looked horrible, so that's moot. Colt literally took about 8 seconds to decide what he wanted to do before running on one play with no hint of pressure at all. One example of knowing that we won't be horrible is that we didn't look like idiots in short yardage situations. Power package worked well, despite the fact that Greg Davis thinks it's so freakin' smart to put Chris O in motion to the left and then run to the right. Cody Johnson got that TD on his own.
Colt did exactly what we wanted him to do for nearly the entire game. Managed the game, took off when appropriate, and got the ball out to the receivers efficiently. Until Colt threw that near interception intended for John Chiles, you could almost say he played a perfect game. At one point he was 18-19 for about 166 yards and a TD, with the lone incompletion a drop by Malcolm Williams on first down. Most importantly, no turnovers. Colt got a little bit 2007 on us later on, doing things like running the ball three times in a row, lobbing up a prayer to Cosby on the run while jumping off his back foot, and fumbling once out of bounds. Hopefully that's just because the game was well in hand at that point, but again, we'll have to wait until we hit a wall to find out.
Chiles is going to kill many more drives before he's worth anything to us under center, but it will be a good investment. His TD pass to Cap'n Kirkendoll was good enough, which is all we really want out of him, anyway.
Sherrod Harris will not get to play football here unless Colt or Chiles get hurt. He handed the ball off to Cody Johnson out of the shotgun over and over. Whatever.
The receivers looked good against a secondary that was content to leave them wide f-ing open in the middle of the field constantly, so I'll say nothing about them, other than Malcolm Williams is the third receiver and Blaine Irby has a chance to be really special if he doesn't get killed.
Speaking of getting killed, I've never seen a running back get himself into so many intense collisions as Vondrell does. I thought he had split his pelvis in two when he went out of the game for the first time, then he comes back in one play later like nothing happened. I think he's going to need every inch of that ridiculous neck of his to stay alive for the next couple of years.
Chris Ogbonnaya, heretofore known as Obi-3 will be useful catching passes out of the backfield, but let's please stop asking him to be fast. Fozzy needs to come back from that injury and give us a legitimate change of pace back, the sooner the better.
Cody Johnson is Mack Brown's truck-stick. The TD that got called back for an illegal block was something we haven't seen at Texas since Cedric Benson left. He absolutely ran smooth over an Owl into the endzone. Even though we didn't get the points, that's still the coolest thing I saw the entire game.
I may have misjudged the defense from my seats. Without the benefit of multiple angles and unlimited replays, it seemed that our problem was inability to get pressure on the QB, while PB tells me that he saw quite the opposite. Schnelly had the Owls doing a lot of three step drops and roll outs (smartly) to avoid the majority of our pressure, but the price was hit or miss in the passing game. Rusty Smith finished 15-31 and the Owls finished 17-39 overall, passing for 255 yards, a TD, and an INT. Our problem was our young secondary, including supposed wunderkind Earl Thomas, completely whiffing on several tackles that turned into huge plays. Blake Gideon probably grades out as our most consistent contributor in the defensive backfield. Take that, Rivals star-ratings. Chykie Brown got the surprise start over Deon Beasley, who didn't come into the game for I think two or three series at least. If these guys play like they did in the second half, where the Owls had 53 yards of total offense, we could have a very good defense, very quickly. The thing is, playing like that against Oklahoma is different than playing like that against Florida Atlantic. Let's look into each position a little more:
The D-Line just got thinner. So I'm not saying anything about it. Let someone else worry whether we have him for the Land Thieves or not. This is stupid. Stupid, stupish, Stoops-ish.
The LB's looked ok. Kindle and Norton didn't do anything really awesome that caught my eye (remember, I don't have playback), but Muckelroy showed why Kirk Bohls and I agree that he will be the best 'backer on the team this year. He had a great play where he ran a rusher down from behind that made me say "perfect!" which is always a good thing for me to say about you. Keenan Robinson and Dustin Earnest played. That's all.
The DB's are really going to need this trial-by-fire coming up. UTEP at UTEP is as good a chance for them to prove themselves as it is for them to give up 500 yards. Stories of the day:
Palmer is too short, but good for him to finally get a pick. Foster called him brick hands all last year, but now he's more like 2x4 hands.
We can't tackle a fishing line.
Everyone played. Seriously, I am having trouble naming someone who didn't play. That's different. That's good.
Special Teams -
Cosby and Shipley returned kicks, but Malcolm Williams got his hands on one. He needs to try not coming to a dead stop on a return. We need to try putting in some of those guys whose redshirts are burned for seemingly no reason to field kicks. Jeremy Hills, maybe.
Cosby and Curtis Brown got to try and return punts. I think Curtis may have been told to fair catch the ball, because he fair caught it with about 3 seconds between him and the nearest Owl. Then he looked pissed that he didn't get to return it. I don't understand this.
Justin Tucker is our kickoff guy. Except for his initial miscue, he did a pretty good job. He has a strong leg, and had the ball in the endzone most of the time. If we could just learn to cover kickoffs, maybe some of the opposing returners would actually think about taking a knee now.
Hunter Lawrence took over place-kicking duties. I have no idea whether he'll be better than Bailey was last year, but I find it hard to believe. I miss the clutchness that is Ryan Bailey. Now I'll have to get a coin to open my knife for a week after every high pressure kick.
WE BLOCKED A PUNT! Holy crap! Did you see that? We had probably three or four guys in the punter's face! That was absolutely beautiful. Can we please do that at some important time during the season? Possibly for a TD? Earl Thomas earned back all those missed tackles in my mind when he did that. Hooray!
Texas. Football. Is. Back.