Archive for On Sports

My Team(s)

Anyone reading this knows, I’m a big fan of the Texas Longhorns when it comes to college football. However, Thursday night made me realize something: I am not an “exclusive” fan.

You see, over the last few years, I’ve watched more and more and more college football. I’m at the point where I watch every single televised game. I’m no longer just a Texas fan, I’m a fan of college football. And as a fan of college football as a whole, I’m a fan of more than one team.

Over the course of the last few years, I’ve adopted a few different teams for various reasons. I either find a player or a coach that I like, and I pull for them from week to week. Usually I gravitate towards particulary exciting teams, players, coaches. Sometimes I just end up pulling for the underdog. Either way, this means that on nights like Thursday night (When Texas lost to TCU), I’m not heartbroken, because I know that another one of my teams can pull through later in the weekend. Here are just a few of the teams that I’ve pulled for the last few years.

Michigan, because I like Denard Robinson
Boise State, because I like Chris Petersen
Oregon, despite the fact that Chip Kelly is a dick
Florida, because of Coach BOOM
Washington State, because of the pirate
And plenty more

So today, instead of worrying about what’s happening at Texas, who’s going to replace Mack Brown when he inevitably retires at the end of the season, what will happen in 2013, etc, I’m going to pull for Ohio State and Urban Meyer, Florida and Coach BOOM, Oklahoma State and Mike Gundy, Texas A&M and Johnny HeisManziel, and Notre Dame and Brian Kelly.

As a fan of college football, I can’t lose!

Texas Fans, We Need To Talk

This is going to be the longest, most football-heavy post I have ever written. However, in light of recent events, it is necessary.

As of about 3:00PM CST on Saturday, it seems as though everyone wants Mack Brown’s head on a platter. Heck, even Scipio Tex, a writer for Barking Carnival who I respect, wrote as much. Would that solve all the “problems” at Texas? Would that have helped us avoid what I believe was an expected result at OU? Lets take a look…

The main problem, which has been evident since the Oklahoma State game, is that the defense isn’t nearly as strong as we expected when the season started. Sure, they played lights-out in the first two games, and pretty well against Ole Miss, but then what happened? Well, THIS did.

Anyone who has talked to me about Longhorn football the last three weeks knows that I’ve been harping on the fact that losing Hicks was the downfall of this defense. I’m convinced that no one else is able to see what I see. Hicks was your only returning starter at linebacker. He made all the calls, and told everyone where to go. He was the only one with experience in Manny Diaz’s complicated scheme. He was also the most athletic of your LBs, playing the weak side, but still ending up involved in tackles when the play went to the strong side. Too many people have underestimated Hicks’ role in the Texas defense.

With Hicks out, we weren’t able to run a standard 4-3, and had to resort to a 4-2-5 w/ Vaccaro playing as a de-facto LB/nickel, because he’s the next-best at reading the backfield and reacting. That left Edmond and revolving door of other young guys at LB (And Demarco Cobbs, who proved last year that he can’t take a good angle to save his life). None of them are great at reading and making calls (yet?) and teams exploited that. By putting two backs in the backfield, Oklahoma State made reads more complicated on the young LBs (Who is the ball going to? Power or misdirect? Maybe he’ll throw? What if the FB releases for a screen? What if the FB AND RB release? Etc) and they looked BAD. Even if they got the correct read, whichever one was at the point of attack was getting locked up by the FB, and then the second one couldn’t get over to tackle the ball carrier. That left our secondary to try to make plays on a 6-1 200lb running back going full-steam ahead. That generally (as we saw) doesn’t work out well. Even if it does, the tackle is being made 7-10 yards downfield. When he was available (IE: Not covering the WR in the slot), Vaccaro could run down the guy and make a play, but this was not sustainable.

Jump forward to West Virginia. What did they do? They ran the ball. Often times with the SAME FORMATION that Oklahoma State used. So, repeat all of what I just said above, except take Vacarro out of the equation because he was having to cover the more-dangerous WVU WRs in the slot. Tavon Austin was used by Holgo to take Vaccaro away from the play either by lining up on the other side, or going in motion away from the play. There was no way for Diaz to scheme around this, because he simply didn’t have the personnel.

Now we have Saturday against OU. Guess what? They ran the ball. Often times with the SAME FORMATION that Oklahoma State and WVU used. So, repeat all of what I just said above, except add in a better offensive line (So we couldn’t get good pressure on Jones), and an opposing defense far superior to what Texas had seen thus far. Sounds like the perfect recipe for a blowout, doesn’t it? Without Hicks, we had little to no chance of stopping OU. We had to commit Vaccaro to either run support or pass support, and OU was able to hurt us with the opposite one.

Expected result. 

“But what about the offense! They were GREAT against everyone else! Surely we should’ve been able to keep up with OU!” Oh dear. Someone’s been drinking too much Kool-Aid. Before the season started, we knew exactly three things about our offense:

1. We have pretty good running backs that should be able to carry the load. Brown has great vision and quickness, while Bergeron has more power and brute force. Gray is an unknown.
2. Our offensive line is young and weak, and may be a problem. We’ll hide their problems with lots of misdirection, motion, and counters off of our base plays.
3. We have two decent quarterbacks, but one of them is going to have to step up and play really well.

Guess what? Our running backs have been pretty good (When healthy), and have carried the load. Our offensive line has been okay, but only against overmatched opponents. And Ash has played pretty damn well. So why couldn’t we keep up with OU? Simply because they are the first quality defense we’ve played. The yards and points we put up against inferior defenses were a red herring. This offense is still a work-in-progress, and it showed in a big way on Saturday. To beat OU we were going to need to be able to get a few successful base plays in, and then use misdirection to use their defensive speed against them. Unfortunately, with Malcolm Brown on the sidelines, we weren’t able to get our base plays going (Bergeron doesn’t have the vision or quickness to make things happen when there are tiny/non-existent holes, and Gray doesn’t have the strength to be effective after contact) and therefore weren’t able to move to counters and misdirection. As far as the passing game goes, without the run threat, the passing game never opened up. Sounds like the perfect recipe for a blowout, doesn’t it?

Expected result.

All things considered, we had a solid gameplan against OU on both sides of the ball, but without some key players we were going to be in a world of hurt. The margin between “competitive game” and “blowout” was razor thin for Saturday, and it all hinged upon Malcolm Brown and Jordan Hicks being healthy.

Now, dear reader, tell me how firing Mack Brown would make up for Brown and Hicks being hurt. Please, I’m begging you.

Better yet, tell me how firing any of the current coaches could help. Would a different defensive coordinator be able to magically conjure a replacement for Hicks? Or somehow age all of our players overnight so they can make reads like returning starters? Would a different offensive coordinator have a stronger and more experienced offensive line? Or maybe he’d lay his hands on Malcolm Brown’s ankle and make it all better.

None of those things would help. The issue is that this team is young and inexperienced, and we have an entitled fanbase. “But Mack Brown said on the Longhorn Network that this team was good and close to being great!” Holy shit. Have you ever heard of motivation? OF COURSE he’s going to say that! He’s trying to motivate his young team by telling them if they give all they have they can be great. Unfortunately, they gave all they had against WVU, and came up short. And then they came out flat against OU, because they knew they weren’t great.

Don’t tell me we should fire Diaz because the defense isn’t great. Don’t tell me we should fire Mack because the team isn’t great. Texas has lost two games to two pretty good teams. This season started with just about everyone saying that we’d lose 2-3 games. Guess what? That is still possible. You don’t go out and buy a new car just because you got a flat tire.

If we continue losing games (Baylor, Kansas, and Iowa State are up next), then you can come back and say “I TOLD YOU SO!” But for now, be reasonable. Firing a coach doesn’t magically make players older or stronger or healthier. Unlike in 2010, this Texas team has tangible physical issues, not mental ones. If we lose games that we shouldn’t, though, perhaps the physical has become mental. Then it’d be time to panic and ask for heads to roll.

To sum up: Everything that has happened to Texas football this year has been expected. Nothing should be a surprise to anyone who has closely watched this team without burnt orange glasses on. Keep calm and carry on.


Saturday Shenanigans

As much as I’d like to (and should) write a recap of PAX last weekend, I’m going to skip it. There was just too much awesome to condense into a blog post. Instead, I’ll just recap THIS weekend.

This weekend was my first run of Command Central 2012. I started cleaning and building in preparation for Saturday when I got home from work Friday evening. It was no trivial task, as my living room hadn’t been cleaned in two weeks or so. Not only did I have to get things cleaned up, I also had to make sure everything was set up and wired for Saturday morning…

State of my Living Room – 9/7/2012 5:30PM CST

The task seemed pretty daunting, but I love a challenge. I also love football, and what could motivate me more than that?

SomLR – 9/7/2012 7:30PM CST

Before long, things began to take shape. With most of the clutter moved away, I was able to configure the left side of my setup. The cabling, at this point, is pretty messy, and I actually figured out ways to improve it last night during tear-down. I also had to make some minor adjustments in the placement of some screens, to ensure that all were visible from every seat in the room.

SomLR – 9/7/2012 8:00PM CST

Finally, after only two and a half hours, I’m ready. Computers a

re all in place, monitors and TVs are wired up, and I’m all set for Saturday. I settled in for the rest of Utah-Utah State, played a bit of Rock Band Blitz, double-checked the schedule and all my tech, and then headed off to bed.

Saturday was coming.



My phone alarm begins playing a familiar tune, signaling that Saturday has begun. I’m out of bed, dressed in early game-day attire, and in position just in time to see/hear “Coming to Your City”.


Good Morning Game Day!

At this point, I’ve got three hours to double-check my fantasy/pick’em selections, get/make something for breakfast (Settled on breakfast tacos because, well, who wouldn’t?), and then power everything up for the 11am block of games.

I have to hand it to the Aggies, they put on a pretty good show for Game Day. It was a good crowd, though not the best I’ve seen. Corso’s antics were hilarious as always. I took the opportunity during Game Day to tidy up a bit more and make a quick run to HEB for some supplies for the day. Upon my return, it was time to start the show.


Beep Bop Boop Beep

“…why did all the lights just dim a little bit?” – Everyone else in my apartment complex


Football on 7 screens. The day’s schedule on the 8th.

Ready for kickoff! Six of the seven main screens are set to show a single game. The seventh screen is split for 3 games and ESPN Goal Line. The eighth screen serves as my schedule, tweet machine, and fantasy/pick’em tracker.

The early games were relatively uneventful. I kept a close eye on Kansas State as they mudholed Miami, but Ohio State and South Carolina didn’t go unnoticed. The only other interesting game was Penn State and Virginia, but that didn’t become entertaining until the very end, and then it was just a really sad spectacle.

During the early games, my cousin, aunt, and a few friends arrived (bearing gifts of homemade pizza rolls(!!!), avocado fries (!!!), queso, chips, and some dessert bars (!!!!!)) to join in the fun. We also learned that my uncle would soon be on his way with some deliciousness from Franklin Barbecue.


Family, friends, food, and football. Fantastic!

As the early games began to wind down, the barbecue arrived and we had lunch. Not too shabby, though I’ll admit I’m a bit biased.

Covering the Spread

Everything was incredible. I hope every Saturday this season tastes as good!


Time for the afternoon games! This slate was headlined by Florida and Texas A&M entertaining us with all manner of shenanigans. Laughter abounds. USC was impressive after they got going, Notre Dame played a decent game, and the Fightin’ Greg Davises played Iowa State in the most Big Ten game imaginable. Oh, and we finally found a food that could defeat Charlie Weis (Rice!).


I’ll never be able to explain the difference between the walk to the stadium and the walk to work I make every single day. They’re physically identical for the first half, but feel completely different. The excitement of game day is directly opposite my unenthusiastic approach to work each morning. And sure, it may take a bit more work and the seat may be more uncomfortable, but if I could sit here every day instead of in my office I’d do it in a heartbeat.

Feels like home

I could try to describe how much I love sitting in that stadium, but I’d never do it justice. So instead I’ll just insert two more pictures and smile.


It’s only logical to follow a great day and night of football with more games, right? That’s exactly what we did! After the Texas game wrapped up, I hosted game night for some friends (With the late-night football of Oklahoma State-Arizona, Duke-Stanford, and Illinois-Arizona State on in the background, of course). We played Cards Against Humanity (a lot of first-timers!) with the new expansion, which meant we were either thinking or laughing the entire night (oh, or eating. We had even MORE delicious food!). I wish I could remember some of the awesome card combinations, but unfortunately they just didn’t stick in my head. As expected when I first bought the game, CAH has become a group favorite, and will be featured at many game nights to come.

After a while of CAH, a good chunk of the group had to head home, but those that stayed were treated with the first game of “We Didn’t Playtest This At All” for our group. That game is… interesting. Looking back, it was a lot of fun, but it didn’t feel fun at the time. The game is supposed to feel very chaotic and unpredictable, and that isn’t my style at all. Hopefully I’ll enjoy it more after playing a few more times.


Power off. Shower. Bed. Zzzzzz…


And that’s that! Next week will be more of the same, minus actually attending the Texas game, since they’ll be at Ole Miss. And maybe minus the game night, but I’m undecided. But if you’re in Austin and want to join in the football watching, just let me know!