This past weekend I witnessed my first game at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium (http://paulyard20.com/2011/11/07/in-the-heart-of-longhorn-nation.aspx), as the Texas Longhorns thrashed Texas Tech 52-20. Freshman running back Joe Bergeron ran for 191 yards and three touchdowns as Texas manhandled the Red Raiders up front to the tune of 439 yards. On the defensive side of the ball, the Longhorns athletic front four was able to disrupt a Tech offense that put 41 points on Oklahoma just two short weeks ago. This victory was impressive as even though Texas was playing without its top running back Malcolm Brown, their running game didn’t miss a beat as the offensive line gashed an opponent for a 2nd straight game. The Longhorns power rushing attack is also serving as protection for freshman Quarterback David Ash as he continues his development.
Having attended college at a small public university in upstate New York, I missed out on the opportunity of being a student at a school with a big-time football program. Visiting my brother in Austin further illustrated the athletic viewing experiences I lost out on. My brother has been an enthusiastic supporter of the Burnt Orange since he moved to Austin and enrolled at the University of Texas, and I am kicking myself for not going to out to see a game with him sooner. He was there for a majority of the Colt McCoy era, which I can only imagine was a memorable time to be around the school and football program as they enjoyed a period of considerable success.
Although the Longhorns had an uncharacteristic 5-7 season in 2010, Mack Brown’s team has rebounded nicely in 2011 and seems poised for great things in the coming years. The defense is formidable, and the team seems to have really taken to offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin’s play calling and power running scheme. Between Brown, Bergeron, and Johnathan Gray (the nation’s top high school running back that is joining the backfield next fall), Texas should have one of the most dynamic backfields in all of college football in 2012. Sustained success in college football is all about recruiting, and the Longhorns currently have 2012’s top recruiting class as ranked by Rivals.com. With the new “Longhorn Network” in place the appeal of playing for Texas should only increase in the coming years. Positioned well for the future, the team could make the jump back into national contention as soon as next year if David Ash continues to improve.
The football program is one rich in tradition, and I got to take in many of rituals associated with the Longhorns on this day. Everything from seeing Bevo, the signing of “The Eyes of Texas” and the firing of Smokey the Cannon each time Texas scored. The Hook ‘em Horns hand signal was used prominently by the faithful throughout the game during kickoffs, defensive stands, and whenever a Longhorn player was down on the field with an injury. The program celebrates its many great football players of the past, as the likes of Kenneth Sims, Ricky Williams, Vince Young (sidebar: I have to plug the Vince Young Steakhouse. While his NFL career has faltered the restaurant containing his likeness is amazing. If ever in Austin I highly recommend), and Colt McCoy all received huge ovations when they were shown on the Stadium's big screen monitor.
Personally, my initial University of Texas game day experience was an awesome one. Sitting virtually eye level with the field in the student section you come to truly appreciate the speed and power of the players. I’ve never seen an NFL game in person but envision it takes the pace and physicality to an even greater degree. The environment in and around Memorial Stadium is second to none; plenty of tailgating, passionate fans of all ages decked out in orange and cowboy boots, F-14 jets doing flyby’s, and the pristine “Longhorn Network” media platform setup in one of the corners of the Stadium. It took me years to get Austin to see a game in person, but I am hooked and can’t wait to get back there for another.
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