Housekeeping. As you've no doubt noticed, I'm struggling to get Morning Coffee together on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays (Big Roy has Tuesday-Thursday). Or maybe you haven't noticed, since Dimecoverage now provides us with the best daily link round up imaginable. In any case, as unfriendly as is my schedule to Morning Coffee, I'm aiming to keep my focus on my other weekly posts, while shifting my schedule to compose a Morning Coffee to run each Monday morning, with thoughts on the past weekend. We'll see how it goes.
Your first Monday Morning Coffee begins after the jump.
'Tis but a scratch. Barely a year after my barely platonic mancrush on first began, news arrives that Baylor's superstar quarterback is done for the year with a knee injury. Perhaps not surprisingly, Griffin also does injury with otherworldly superiority: Though he first injured his knee on a 4th and 2 on the Bears' opening drive of the game, suffering pain Griffin described as a "10" on the severity scale, he spent only a few minutes on the bench before getting up to jog around and test the injury. Feeling better (the pain down "to a 4 or 5"), Griffin said he could go back in the game, where he proceeded to complete 11 of his next 14 first half passes, racking up 198 yards and 3 touchdowns by halftime, with the Bears in front 41-10.
Robert Griffin: Better on one leg than you are on two.
More Griffin. Beyond mere mourning for the loss of one of the game's brightest young stars, a couple additional thoughts on the Robert Griffin injury: First, while I couldn't feel anything but badly for Sam Bradford when he went down in the opening week, there was undeniable joy in contemplating the pain as pertained to Bob Stoops. Likewise, while my joylessness about Griffin's injury runs even deeper, I'm again pleased as pie that the quarterback's coach will suffer. The last time Art Briles was on Texas' fans radar came at the conclusion of last year's regular season, when the first-year Baylor coach might as well have cast Mack Brown's name in urine on his Coaches Poll ballot, voting Oklahoma #1 and Texas #5. It's gonna be fun when half the crowd in Waco this November stays to the end of a 50-point throttling to sing the Eyes of Texas.
Moving beyond retribution, the plague of injuries to high profile quarterbacks this year (Bradford, Griffin, Matt Grothe, Tim Tebow) demonstrates how quickly plans can change. While the need for McCoy to get going in 2009 has dictated he take most of the team's snaps during the first four games, Mack Brown would be wise to shelve his starter as early as possible in any future blowouts, both to protect McCoy and to continue to provide meaningful looks to Garret Gilbert. Not only would that help prepare Gilbert for any nightmare scenario this season, but also for next year, when Texas will have a loaded roster of returnees capable of contending for the title. From what we've seen so far, Gilbert is every bit as good as advertised; with the national picture clearing a clean path to Pasadena, Mack Brown should let his freshman QB run the show for as much of every second half as the lead allows.
Saturday night study time. A decade later, the debates about Mack Brown's scheduling philosophy have reached the same end point as the "field" of literary criticism -- increasingly nuanced, decreasingly useful. There's little left to be said beyond what is well-established: Mack's strategy serves us well for an undefeated run to the title game and poorly to emerge atop any one-loss scrum. Though I would prefer a different approach, there are merits to his method, at least insofar as the scheduling situation neatly serves Texas' Rose Bowl interests this year. The team can't lose, but among contenders, their path to Pasadena is the one of least resistance.
If Exhibit A was Oklahoma's opening week loss to BYU, Exhibit B will be on full display Saturday evening hen OU travels to Miami. ABC announced over the weekend that the contest between the Sooners and 'Canes will be the Saturday evening showcase (7 p.m. CT, ABC). The Longhorns, meanwhile, will get to spend their bye-week Saturday night studying how Oklahoma plays a top-tier opponent. Certainly, we won't know for a while yet how all this plays out -- a one-loss OU team that beat Miami and Texas en route to winning the Big 12 might get into Pasadena -- but the situation as it stands at the close of September clearly favors the Longhorns. Texas will have two weeks to rest and prepare for their next two opponents, Colorado -- a team that doesn't look capable of competing with the Longhorns in Boulder, let alone Austin -- and Oklahoma.
Red River Shootout preparation begins in earnest right now; join us here at BON on Saturday night when we, like the football team, will settle in to study the Sooners.
One of these things is not like the other. Answer: "Through four weeks, college football's top eight offenses in total yards per game." Question: "Who are Houston, Florida, Auburn, Texas, Hawaii, Kansas, Alabama?"
A good guess -- and good for you for remembering that offensive witch doctor Gus Malzhan is on the Plains -- but not quite right: The aforementioned are CFB's second- through ninth-ranked offenses in total yards per game. Topping the list is... Texas A&M? Can that possibly be right?
Ball don't lie. Okay, maybe a little -- the Agros rank 13th in yards per play (6.7 on the season) -- but the basic point is undeniable: Texas A&M is not sucking against crappy teams. Progress! Open your wallets, Aggie comrades, the Bill Byrne Reclamation Project is turning a corner.
Speaking of which: I was fortunate to receive an advance release of the opening to Byrne's Wednesday Weekly; let's take a look and see what he's got to say about the team's strong start:
The wheels are turning, brothers and sisters. Our ship is set to sail! Or better put: our rowboat is about to begin its rowing... (Perhaps needless to say ((you knew I'd say it anyway)), the top-seeded Lady Ags won the Southwest Region Rowing Championships this past weekend. that other university in a city centrally located in our state did not even win their heat. Whoooooop! (((For future reference, when I italicize the text it is to indicate audible commentary. Thus, when I wrote Whoooooop! a moment ago, I bellowed a hearty Aggie Whoooooop! when I typed out the sentence. Readers are encouraged to join along by reading aloud future italicizations.))))
If you could not tell from my opening salvo, I am in quite the mood for metaphors today. So let me propose another: The Fightin' Texas A&M Football Team is fearsomely marching behind their General Sherman. (No need to say those aloud, Friends. Here, I italicized for emphasis, to be sure you picked up on my metaphor. Maybe I should use underlining to indicate audible portions of the text? Or perhaps CAPS LOCK, which seems to be the preferred method on the Internet for indicating a raised voice. If you have a strong opinion about which you'd prefer, I invite you to use the AggieAssist texting service.) ((It occurs to me that the Sherman marching line may be a pun, not a metaphor. I am tempted to revise this blog, but as I hope is very clear I am making every effort to be "genuine" with each blog I write. My understanding is that there is a stream-of-consciousness element to the endeavor; I strive to welcome you "inside my head," metaphorically speaking, (Whoooooop!), where we can meander together through the great passions that unite the Aggie Family.))
Damn. Maybe we'll get more in the full text on Wednesday.
It's fair to point out that A&M's offensive aptitude has come at the expense of three miserable teams (New Mexico, Utah State, and UAB), but let's face it -- this is progress for a team that a year ago managed just 14, 28, and 21 points in a home loss to Arkansas State and narrow wins over New Mexico and Army. Having distance betweenand a football field is undoubtedly helping, but the Aggies have thus far been more than "Not As Inept As McGee." The excellent tailback duo of and are taking pressure off of quarterback , a talented player coming into his own as a full-time starter. Whether the offensive line will fare so well against stiffer competition is another question, but A&M is at least fielding playmakers well-suited to Big 12 play.
Texas fans might ponder the question Scipio Tex and I discussed on our podcast: Among the final four games on Texas' schedule (vs UCF, at Baylor, vs Kansas, at A&M), which opponent looks to present the toughest game? Even before Griffin was injured, both of us wondered whether the season finale in College Station might be the trickiest challenge. The Jayhawks are the superior team, but must travel to Austin. Time will tell, perhaps as quickly as this weekend, when we'll get our first look at A&M against a competent team, as the Aggies and Razorbacks square off in Jerryworld.