David Ash was Texas' Twitter hero on Saturday night. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
I live in the Eastern time zone. A 9:30 PM kickoff for a football game turns out to be a very difficult thing. I am not yet in the Murder She Wrote demographic, but I am not a 20 year old kid, either. So a football game that ends at around 1 AM is tough on me.
It is also tough on the staff at the bar where I watched the game with a group of Texas Exes. The bar was clearly only open because we were still there. This game ran so late that the bar staff actually started vacuuming up in the third quarter. Now, I will admit that this particular establishment was not the hippest place in Cincinnati -- which is OK by me, as football, beer, and pretzels trump hipness every time. Also, I imagine the sports bars around here get more business when a Big Ten team is playing.
For many, this was probably their first good look at the Texas Longhorns, as the game was not buried on the Longhorn Network -- the sports world's equivalent to the speakeasy. (You know, because you need to get a password from a friend.) This, combined with the game being against an SEC opponent, created a bit more traffic on Twitter. I have about twice as many tweets this week to slice and dice. Over the roughly six and a half hour period that I studied, I ended up with just under 17000 tweets this week. This still doesn't come close to my sampling limits, so traffic can grow significantly in the coming weeks without overwhelming me.
This week, I track how Longhorn fans on Twitter feel about David Ash and the Texas defense. Also, I consider the best Texas coaches to name a dog after.
At the start of the game, ESPN was still finishing the broadcast of the Florida-Tennessee game. There were a number of tweets complaining about this. Apparently the authors of these tweets didn't notice the scroll at the bottom of the screen telling them that the Texas game was on ESPN News. I did, and asked the bar manager to change the channel. I won't highlight any of the complaining tweets, but I will point out a different one from this time period, which I thought was funny.
As of yet, I have not named a dog after a Texas coach; that would require some skillful negotiation with my wife. Major, Manny, and Mack would all make outstanding dog names. Straying outside of football, everyone should start naming their dogs Augie.
The ups and downs of David Ash
The most interesting story of the night was the evolution of Texas fans' opinions on David Ash. The graph below depicts tweets that I sampled with the word Ash as a function of time.
The first small bump in Ash related tweets occurred around 9 PM central time, when Ash missed Jaxon Shipley with a pass in the end zone. A small cluster of negative tweets popped up. Here is one sample:
Ash doesn't trust what he sees yet, takes too long to get the ball out, should have been an easy TD. #longhorns— Scott Specht (@ScottASpecht) September 15, 2012
But after that, Twitter started singing the praises of the Longhorn quarterback, as everything David Ash touched turned to gold. Austin-American Statesman writer Cedric Golden was one of the handful of Twitter users to point out that Ash's pass to Goodwin was underthrown. Golden's tweet also elicited a sensible reply from one of his followers.
@cedgolden who WOULDN’T underthrow Marquise??— Bryan Myers (@ThatBryanMyers) September 15, 2012
The tweets became progressively more positive as the night went on. One Ash pass to Mike Davis generated many happy tweets.
Easily my favorite tweet of the night was from Mike Finger, which came in the middle of Ash's run of success.
David Ash is 18-for-21 for 271 yards, and I thought I'd tweet about eating monkey meat at the opera before I ever tweeted that.— Mike Finger (@mikefinger) September 15, 2012
The story of the Longhorn defense
The Longhorn defense's night was almost the complete opposite of David Ash's. The defense started out very strong, with a huge play from Steve Edmond. The first half also saw some excellent play by the defensive line.
In the wake of the Edmond interception, the following tweet was retweeted 80 times. It was retweeted throughout the evening; I am not sure if some of these retweets were intended to be sarcastic.
Defense definitely came to play today! #hookem— ChrisYoungMusic (@ChrisYoungMusic) September 15, 2012
As the game went on, tweeters became more negative.
Looks like Texas has a big-play defense, both for and against. Could be a problem when we step up from SEC offenses. #hookem— Wes McKinzie (@WesMcKinzie) September 15, 2012
The responses to the Texas defense ranged from mild jabs like this one:
...to ones comparing the Longhorn defense to children playing soccer:
My girls soccer team displayed better defense than #Longhorns - seriously, Manny, what's up?— Nikhil Kumar (@nikhilvkumar) September 15, 2012
But in the end, the best advice of the night came from Doug Fullerton, who decided to stop and smell the roses.
Ok I'll just enjoy this and quit my griping about the defense... #hookem— Doug Fullerton (@dougfullerton) September 15, 2012
Next week is an off week for the Longhorns. However, I am happy to point my Twitter efforts at another game. Feel free to recommend ones in the comments section. (And bonus points if you can recommend a reasonable Twitter search string! Finding hash tags popular with the fan bases is a good starting point.) Also, feel free to share your favorite tweets from or about the game in the comments below.