The sweet sound of fall football. It's 8:15 in the morning and I can hear the drum cadence from the McCallum High School marching band practicing across the way. I'm sure some of my neighbors find it annoying. I couldn't be happier.
Special sounds about right. They don't get discussed as much as they should, but is anyone else really excited about our special teams this year? Mack Brown has always done a great job with special teams, and this year has the potential to be the most exciting yet. A few notes:
- Justin Tucker apparently had a strong fall camp place kicking. He's got plenty of leg, so it's mostly a question of accuracy and consistency. As a high school place kicker at Austin Westlake, Tucker connected on 30 of 44 field goals and 155 of 162 PATs, was ranked by ESPN as the No. 3 kicker in the nation, and followed Hunter Lawrence as just the second scholarship kicker recruited by Mack Brown. Freshman William Russ was the third, and will back up Tucker on both place kicks and kick offs.
- John Gold will be the team's primary punter, with Tucker listed behind him on the depth chart. Though Russ isn't listed on the two deep, should something happen to Gold the coaches might give the freshman a look if they decide they prefer high-and-long to Tucker's rugby-style punting. Kudos to John Gold, who was rewarded with a scholarship this summer.
- Okay now the fun stuff: Texas is set to feature Marquise Goodwin and D.J. Monroe as kick off returners this year. Who knows how many opportunities Muschamp's defense will actually give them, but it's pick your poison when they do.
- Punt returns will be handled primarily by Curtis Brown, who could thrive much as did Aaron Ross.
- The coaches say that Malcolm Williams' reps at receiver are going to be cut slightly because he's such a fantastic special teams player. Which is true. Whatever comes of his junior campaign at wideout, expect to see him flying down the field making tackles again this fall.
Oh, William. You fool. After Texas A&M athletics director Bill Byrne whooped about wrapping trash bags around his legs to ward off mosquitoes, I thought there wasn't anything he could say that would surprise me. I should have known better. Courtesy of IATTM, I was directed to Byrne's remarks with Dave South on this week's Aggie Hour radio program, during which the topic of realignment was discussed.
"I was concerned with changing conferences that we may not be ready for the level of competition if we decided to leave. I was very concerned about trying to take things slowly, and not rush... My big concern was that when Texas A&M made the move from the Southwest Conference to the Big 12 conference (in '96), they were not ready for the level of competition that was out there."
Oh, William. You fool.
Setting aside Byrne's questionable reasoning, how dense and out of touch do you have to be not to know better than to say that to the Aggie fan base? At a time when Byrne desperately needs enthusiasm and financial support, Byrne instead essentially characterizes the football program as adolescent, not ready to play with the big boys.
Unsurprisingly, Aggie fans are disgusted:
I don't see how this man still has a job in our athletic department. This goes beyond his usual habit of saying exactly the wrong thing, and putting his foot in his mouth. Byrne has admitted he is a coward who is afraid of competition, and doesn't want to take a chance on competing when all of the odds (athletic budget) aren't stacked in his favor. Why the hell are we letting this man lead our athletic department? He isn't a leader, and he sure as hell doesn't represent Texas A&M. Fire him, and fire him now.
The cycle begins anew. Speaking of things that surprise me but shouldn't, it's a shock to my system every year when high school football returns and recruiting reports start to feature high school sophomores. I'm barely up to speed on the class of 2011, let alone candidates for 2012, and talk is already turning to kids who could sign for the class of 2013. If you get a chance to watch Tyler Lee play this season, sophomore RB LaQuintas Wallace apparently is the player to watch.
Pick 'em league has formed. As just announced in a Fan Shot, our annual pick 'em league has formed over at Fun Office Pools. Just go to the join page, select College Football Pick 'Em from the drop down menu and enter league name (Burnt Orange Nation Pick 'Em) and password (longhorns). Both the league name and password are case sensitive.