Following up from my mid-August conversation with an equally Texas-obsessed friend in Austin, we had a long chat about Texas football. Here in Part 1: Blake Gideon’s surprising role as the secondary’s anchor… My Guys are slow out of the gates… and a reminder that Mack Brown should be focused on titles and titles alone.
SEE? I TOLD YOU SO. (SORT OF.) ((NOT REALLY.))
PB: Looking back at our earlier conversation, do you know what stands out as funny?
TS: Blake Gideon?
PB: Exactly! We both said, essentially, "I doubt he plays much this year, but, you know, I really kinda like him."
TS: Earl Thomas got all the hype, but Gideon's been the freshman godsend back there.
PB: Nothing flashy, but he clearly gets what's going on and what he's supposed to do. I can see why Muschamp went with him as a starter.
TS: I wonder if Muschamp sees some of himself in Blake.
PB: Maybe, but I'd wager Gideon's a significantly better athlete than Muschamp was when he walked on at UGA.
ALL I TOUCH TURNS TO... WELL, NOT GOLD.
TS: Probably true. Now… I'd be neglecting duty if I didn't point out that Your Guys aren't setting the world on fire yet..
PB: Ugh. You’re not kidding. I feel like I'm cursing people left and right lately. Watching the Kansas State mess tonight, I jumped in the BOTC game thread to post a quick comment that Freeman looked pretty good in the first quarter; on the next play Freeman throws a pick and the Wildcats subsequently collapse. I'm like the opposite of King Midas. Everything I tout as gold turns to crap.
TS: If you predicted a breakthrough year for VY, then this curse is official.
PB: I said nothing about VY on the record. But I did pump up Malcolm Williams, who apparently was recruited to run 3-yard routes. That may not be his fault, but when he does get the ball, he looks tentative, and that’s on him.
TS: You also built a shrine to Lamarr Houston, who's been… jailed?
PB: I did. But I stand by him, both as a young man and football player. On the former, he seems genuinely remorseful, and on the latter, well... his presence was noticeably missed in El Paso.
TS: The lack of depth at DT is the least talked about potential sinkhole of this '08 team.
PB: You’re right. I wrote in EOT 2008 that the D-Line would be a team strength up until the point when Miller or Houston was lost for any stretch of time—after which noticeably inferior players would be taking over and dragging the whole unit down.
TS: Okay, one more: your boy Huey has that starter job you were insisting he'd seize at some point. Still think it's permanent after UTEP?
PB: Now you're just being an ass. Huey's fine, UTEP gaffe aside. And in any case, we're better off with him out there making occasional mistakes now, so he can be a bull down the stretch and into '09.
WHAT SPORTS BLOGGING DOES TO YOUR BRAIN
TS: Right, right—look to ’09. Your battle call.
PB: My narrative. Big difference.
TS: I thought you wrote a great article, but where my head nods, my heart is somewhere else. There’s no way I can bury an entire season of a team with as much talent as the Longhorns have.
PB: Go read it again. The argument breaks into three parts and doesn’t require any premature throwing in of this fall’s towel:
First, the Big 12 is loaded in 2008, but should soften considerably in ’09 as a wave of stars anchoring teams peaking this season graduate or head pro (e.g. Texas Tech: Harrell and Crabtree; Missouri: Daniel and Maclin; Oklahoma: entire offensive line).
Second, Texas is in the opposite situation, with a roster that looks like it will be stronger in ’09 than this fall.
Third, given the extreme challenge of winning the Big 12 this season, doing things that will help the ’09 team makes sense, except for when: (1) Texas is still undefeated and/or has a realistic chance at a conference or national title, and (2) the action that would develop for 2009 would clearly hurt the ’08 team’s chances of staying undefeated and/or winning a title.
TS: That makes sense, though it’s too calculated for this fan.
PB: See, I don’t get that. Where Mack Brown has this program right now, the only things that matter are titles—conference and national. The difference between an 8- and 10-win season is, what?
TS: Money, a little exposure (if we’re talking a BCS Bowl), perhaps some boost with recruits.
PB: Texas certainly doesn’t need the money. Our current situation recruiting is pretty stable and not likely to change because we had a ‘down’ year at 8-4. That just leaves the exposure. To begin with, Lord knows we’re all aware that a 10-win season doesn’t guarantee a BCS Bowl berth.
TS: Well, assume that it is a BCS Bowl Texas is right in the mix for. You’re saying it’s not worth the payout and exposure?
PB: Definitely not. Don’t need the money and we’re not a program trying to get and stay on the national map. Mack Brown would be foolish to pass on chances to groom the ’09 team for a title run if that’s all we’re playing for—money and exposure from a BCS Bowl.
If Texas finds itself in very strong shape to get an at-large BCS berth, I think the best argument for sacrificing ’09 development so the ’08 team can have its best shot at a BCS bowl is actually that such a game may in fact… help the ’09 team on its title quest. Titles, TS. Titles-titles-titles. Because 10 wins and a loss to OU too often just means another San Diego vacation.
TS: Tell me you don’t watch our games like some robot calculating coldly every move as relates to this drive, this game, this season, next season, next season in a leap year…
PB: No. I’m a lunatic, bargaining with the devil for a win.
TS: Ok good. Your ’09 argument is too... analytical for football Saturday.
PB: A hazard of sports blogging: the inevitable need to create content.
TS: I forget that sometimes.
PB: You don’t blog.
TS: I’d suck at it.
PB: You really would.
TS: I will stab you.
Part 2 to follow.