October 11, 2012

FRIDAY NIGHT PREVIEW

Lots of great matchups and intrigue for tomorrow night's games...

Midland High at Cooper
At 4-2, Cooper should feel pretty good that's its 2 losses are both 1 possession games against the two remaining undefeated district teams (Lee and AHS).
MHS was thumped by Southlake and lost to a Central team that Abilene High beat soundly. I like the Cougs in this one.

Abilene High at Midland Lee
The district title can't be clinched tomorrow, but this game just may be the most important the Eagles have played so far. Lee started slow, but has scored nearly 100 points the last two weeks. Last week it was the AHS offense versus the Cooper defense. This week it's the AHS defense versus the Lee offense. Should be a great game.

Wylie at Big Spring
On paper this looks like a great game. Both teams 5-0 and coming off BYE weeks. But on the field, this one SHOULDN'T be close. Wylie is more experienced and has played a tougher schedule. Wylie's closest game was a 31-14 win in Week Zero. They're good and will beat Big Spring.

Brownwood at Burnet
This is fun. You have a Burnet alum coaching the Lions and a Brownwood alum coaching Burnet. Both teams are 2-3 but 0-0 in district. It will be important for the Lions to get off to a hot start in this district.


  • mark rogers
  • October 11, 2012 10:45 AM

October 3, 2012

THOUGHTS FROM A RAINY FRIDAY NIGHT

I was able to get out and see a high school football team for the first time this season last Friday (September 28). Wylie was hosting Lub. Estacado.

And that game was over before it even began. The rain is supposed to neutralize the passing game and turn the contest into a clashing of speed, rushing, and turnovers.

Wylie threw all that out the window and scored its first three TDs and 4th down plays...two of which were 4th and 10+ to go). And they were all passes.

They didn't turn the ball over while I was there (1st half)...and were basically flawless in every aspect.

When Garrett Martin went out to get a breather...Tye Calhoun would come in and pick up big yards.

Wylie is every bit as good as their top 5 ranking. It'll be another fun post season for them.

Other thoughts from Friday...

Stamford beating Cisco is the equivalent of a really good non-BCS team beating a really good BCS team...something like Louisiana-Monroe beating Oregon or USC. A huge win for Stamford, and to be honest...it surprised me that they one. Guess they showed me.

Baird hasn't scored a point since August 27. They've been shutout 44-0, 41-0, and 14-0. That'll hopefully change for the Bears on Friday against on 0-4 Roby team. Something to keep an eye on...

Abilene High and Cooper are good. This week's game should be a lot of fun. Defense and turnovers are going to be the difference on Friday.

Last year at this time, Big Spring was 0-5. This year they're 5-0. Amazing what returning 11 defensive starters will do for you.

Things I'm not used to seeing: Anson and Ballinger are 5-0. Brady is 0-5.

Halfway through the regular season with another great Friday coming up in a couple of days...whatever takes the focus off the stinkin' Cowboys.
  • mark rogers
  • October 3, 2012 12:33 PM

September 21, 2012

THOR LIVING UP TO HIS NAME

If your first name is Thor...you have no choice but to be a great football player.

And a quick look at ACU middle linebacker Thor Woerner's season stats would lead you to believe that he's doing his job well...but just looking at the numbers will give you no indication of what kind of performance Thor made last Saturday at the biggest NFL stadium on the planet.

Down 20-10 with time winding down in the 2nd quarter, Tarleton State was driving, and it didn't look like they were going to be stopped. A touchdown on that drive would have made it 27-10 at the half and the game would have practically been over.

But Thor came through and intercepted a pass. It turned the momentum of the game, and as many big plays just before the half do, it completely changed the dynamic of the entire second half.

That was big play #1...easy to see in the box score.

Big play #2 didn't show up in the stats.

It happened two series before the interception.

Tarleton kicks off after kicking a field goal which made it 20-7. The ball was a pooch kick and hung up in the air for a while. There was some confusion as to who was going to catch it. The ball bounced on the turf. The Texans were closing in. That's a live ball. Here comes Thor. He reached up with one hand while being hit on all sides and somehow, someway, brought the ball in and secured it. The drive resulted in a FG for ACU.

If Thor doesn't grab the ball there...TSU gets a short field. Let's say they score a TD...it would have been 27-7.

HUGE PLAY.

Big play #3 also didn't show up in the stats.

It was a recovered on-side kick with 1:02 left in the game with ACU holding a slim 3-point lead. Thor recovered it.

Three plays that a MLB doesn't usually make, but if he doesn't make those plays...ACU loses, period.

And he also had 10 tackles in the game and was a big reason ACU held Tarleton to 50 yards of total offense in the third quarter and allowed them to possess the ball for 4.5 minutes the entire 4th quarter.

Thor. That's all you need to know. Thor.........
  • mark rogers
  • September 21, 2012 10:36 AM

September 14, 2012

Brownwood and Sweetwater snapshots

Sweetwater ready for versatile Bucks

Lots to keep straight if you're going to the Sweetwater/Breckenridge game tonight in Breckenridge. The Mustangs first road game...

  • John Ward is the defensive coordinator in Sweetwater. He coached for nine years in Brownwood with current Bucks coach Steve Freeman.
  • Jake Freeman (Steve's nephew) is the Mustangs secondary coach.
  • Steve Freeman's defensive coordinator is Zane Guy who did his student teaching under Mustang coach Shane Mobley.
Got all that?

So it's not just a game between Sweetwater and Breckenridge...there are lots of connections to be considered which can make things much more interesting.

Aside from off the field connections, Sweetwater lost another key starter against Andrews in JD Davis, the right tackle. Alex Garcia (MLB) tore his ACL in Week 0.

If there is such a thing as a moral victory, Sweetwater got one last week nearly pulling off the win against a huge Andrews team. They had 4th and Goal from the 5 with a few ticks left and came up about a half yard short of winning that game.

Coach Mobley said there were lots of positive things they took away from the game last week.

Breckenridge is 0-2 but they're a versatile group and play hard.

They will try and play smash mouth football, then can bring in 5 wide receivers and try to spread it out. Sweetwater will have to be ready for anything the Bucks will throw at them.

Brownwood not panicking

If Brownwood beats Snyder tonight, they'll be 1-2 on the year...not good, right? Well, the last time the Lions started 1-2, they played four playoff games (2006) so no one is panicking just yet.

The Lions are currently 0-2 and haven't started that slow since 2005. These Lions are young and the defense is playing well which is a good sign for a young team. It all starts with defense.

Braxton Kilgo looked better last week than he did in Week 0 (coming off a shoulder and virus), and in my opinion, will only keep getting better as the season wears on.

Snyder gave up 70 points in Week 0 so you would think Brownwood would like to score lots of points and get the offense some momentum. But Snyder can score, too.

I think this one will be more of a "who has the ball last" type of game. But those games usually end up something like 3-0 so I'm not holding my breath for a barn burner.

Colton Guidery (backup RB for Brownwood) broke his femur last week and will obviously miss the rest of the year.

  • mark rogers
  • September 14, 2012 3:29 PM

September 7, 2012

Brownwood and Sweetwater snapshots

Sweetwater ready for Andrews

Sweetwater will look to go 2-0 tonight against a tough and very big Andrews Mustangs team. Andrews beat LakeView last week and has a couple of 300 pounders on the OL, which is humungous in 3A.

On a sour note, the Mustangs lost their starting middle linebacker in the 3rd quarter last week. He tore his ACL and will miss the rest of his senior year...feel terrible for the kid. Alex Garcia is his name I believe.

The key tonight for the Mustangs will be speed on defense. That's how you beat big ole behemoths up front - run circles around them. This will be a good test for Sweetwater.


Brownwood not worried


The Brownwood Lions aren't panicking after a tough loss to a very good All Saints team last week.

Braxton Kilgo didn't have the impact that he probably would have liked last week, but the kid was injured during 2-a-days and missed most of last week's practice with a sickness. He had a full week of work this week and should be full speed ahead tonight.

Graham beat Mineral Wells last week who basically handed the Steers the game after several miscues that Graham was able to capitalize on.
  • mark rogers
  • September 7, 2012 3:15 PM

The Culture is Changing

The most important play of the game.

It wasn't the 3rd and long conversion that kept the Giants from getting the ball back (what I will forever refer to as "The Conversion"). It wasn't Kevin Ogletree's first touchdown. It wasn't his second touchdown. It wasn't Miles Austin to the house on 1st and 30. It wasn't any one of Romo's 22 completions. It wasn't DeMarco Murray on 2nd and 3, hit in the backfield and somehow exploding for 48 yards down the sideline.

The play that changed the game for the Cowboys, that gave them the confidence they needed to win against the defending champs in New York, that could be a glimpse into a culture that finally seems to be changing for the better, wasn't talked about much in the post-game.

Why? Because it was right after a Tony Romo interception, made by a second year offensive lineman...and it was a personal foul.

Romo threw a pick before any of his three scores. And the Giants seemingly had a free route to the endzone. A huge momentum boost, in their stadium, in front of their fans. If Tyron Smith doesn't give it everything he has and lay out for an incredible tackle at the 2 yard line, I think the game ends differently. And sometimes you take a horse collar because the alternative is much, much worse.

In my opinion, a deflating play like that would have told the Cowboys that nothing had really changed. That they were still choke artists. That they couldn't beat their nemesis on the road (or anywhere for that matter). That Romo was still a big phony.

But they didn't score. They were stopped at the 2. And a relentless Cowboys rush defense pushed NY back 3 yards the next two plays and forced a field goal.

Yes - points for the Giants, but anytime you hold an opponent to a FG after 1st and Goal from inside the 3, you might as well give yourself 4 points. It's a negative play for the FG kicking team. They come off the field with their heads down. The defense that keeps their opponent out of the endzone comes off the field with a fire under them, pumped up, with all the momentum.

The next Giants possession was a 3 and out. The possession after that, Dallas took a lead it would never relinquish.

What's been wrong with the Cowboys the last two (ahem....17) years, hasn't been personnel or talent. It hasn't been scouting or injuries. It's been a culture of entitlement and complacency.

Here's an example - giving up not one, not two, not three, but four double-digit 4th quarter leads in one season. That's a culture problem.

But hopefully, what we saw last night was Coach Garrett's changes finally starting to have an impact.

Yeah, we saw Romo go for 300+ and 3 TDs. We saw Murray run for 100+. We had guys making plays on defense. But we've always had that.

What we HAVEN'T had in recent years are plays like the kind Smith made. The play that says, we don't deserve to win this game because we're the Dallas Cowboys, we will fight with everything we have to beat the stinkin' Giants in New York.

And coming in a close second to that play as the most important play was "The Conversion". There it was. 3rd and long (after a penalty offset a 1st down run). Plenty of time for the fourth quarter master Eli Manning. New York gets that ball back, and I believe they win that game.

It would have been another double digit fourth quarter loss. Another season opening heart breaker to the Giants.

It would have been the same story....on a different day.

But Garrett called an incredibly risky play in that situation putting the game in Romo's hands (where it belongs), and he came through.

I wrote an article last year about Romo not making a throw to Miles Austin that would have clinched a win against the Giants in Dallas and essentially would have gotten us into the playoffs (read it here).

But Wednesday night...Romo made the throw. We didn't choke in the 4th when everyone thought we would. We weren't just good (like we've always been), we were clutch (which is something that's been missing since 1995).

I'm not saying we're going to win the Super Bowl or that we're going 19-0. I'm saying that in order for us to have a chance to be the best, the culture HAD to change.

And after 24-17 last night in New York...it seems to have done just that.
  • mark rogers
  • September 7, 2012 3:10 PM

August 24, 2012

QUICK CLASS 3A PREVIEW

SWEETWATER

I chatted with new Sweetwater coach Shane Mobley (pronounced "MOB-lee") yesterday.
2 reasons I like Mobley in Sweetwater: 1) he's a Sweetwater guy-- coached there before, his wife is from there...and 2) the guy has been around championship teams -- Sonora in 2000 and Prosper in 2008.

He also played for Sam Harrell at Reagan County. The one thing that has really stood out to Mobley during this fall camp is the consistency of his players. From the seniors down to the younger guys...they're showing up to work. And do you know what the first step in getting better is? Showing up.

They're picked next to last in the district which they share with Big Spring, Wylie, Snyder, Monahans, and Midland Greenwood. But they have 9 of their defensive starters back which could translate into some early season wins which could translate into some early season confidence.

BROWNWOOD

I have several good friends in Brownwood, and I played at ACU with the current Lions OC, so I try to keep a good gauge on how things are going down there.

All sources are saying that this year's team has the biggest, strongest OL and DL of any Lion team since the late 90s...and that's saying something. Cody Skains is the headlining big man at 6-3, 295, and he's an athlete...pretty rare for a guy that big to be able to move around like he can.

The former Ballinger HC is now on Brownwood's staff and his son is a QB. And he won the job towards the end of 7-on-7. Chris Keesee is his name (pronounced "kuh-SEE").
Braxton Kilgo is a name you should remember. Running back. Fast. And should be able to take advantage of running behind the behemoths up front.
Kaimon Ontiveros is also a name to remembers. He's a safety and has been compared to the Vacarro boys.

SNYDER

Aubrey Sims takes over for city-legend Chad Rogers (no relation although I wish there were). Tough times for Snyder. They lose Coach, Keenan Ward at QB, and they're switching from the wishbone to the spread. The GOOD news is they have 19 letterman coming back and games aren't played on paper or who you lost in the off-season...

WYLIE

Of all the changes in Class 3A in our area, Hugh Sandifer is the constant. His 1,000th year at Wylie...well, maybe not that many, but he's a legend.

Wylie hasn't won district in 2 years which is unheard of for them. The seniors haven't won a championship since they were freshman - so before any of them were getting significant playing time. They want that to change.


Can't wait to see how the season unfolds....3...2.....1.....GO!
  • mark rogers
  • August 24, 2012 9:23 PM

August 20, 2012

OBSERVATIONS FROM FIRST WEEK OF ACU CAMP

I spent some time on the ACU practice field a little bit everyday last week. Here are some observations...keep in mind, just because they stand out to me doesn't mean there aren't other standouts or that they are actually doing better than anyone else (I have seen a small glimpse of the overall picture):

  • Noticed a rather large human being not practicing on Monday, standing with the OL. Turns out it was Will Latu. Kid from Florida who is supposed to be at Oklahoma right now but had some academic issues (not certain exactly what) and is in Abilene. He. Is. A. Beast. I'll put a pic of him at the end of this post. He can move, too. He'll be our starting left tackle. Everyone I've talked to says he's a super nice guy off the field, but based on what I'm seeing that changes once the ball is snapped. It'll be fun watching him play.
  • With Latu and Spears anchoring the OL, Logan Hoppenrath at guard (6-5, 310, but I think he's taller than that)...we should have one of the bigger OL's in the conference.
  • Taylor Gabriel wears black wind pants every day to practice. Must be incredibly hot, but it doesn't seem to be effecting his speed...guy can fly.
  • John Parker (TE/HB) is looking good. Soft hands, quick feet.
  • Chris Summers (LB) has also impressed me.
  • Lots of depth at LB with Summers, Justin Stephens, Cy Wilson, Thor Woerner, Jesse Harper, Chuck Oputa being the guys that have stood out to me.
  • LBs are also loaded with good leadership. During an individual drill, Coach Ribaudo had to go check on something and Stephens just kept the drill going immediately without being asked...stuff like that is critical...you need players like that on your team.
  • Freshmen Cameron Briscoe and Mason Thom have stood at out as well from an effort, attitude standpoint.
  • DL looks good, too with Rob Boyd, Ryan Smith and Brandon Dornak standing out at DE. Apparently Dornak has a mean streak...
  • George Woods is a big body at DT. He intercepted a pass and ran it back for a TD during team drills early in the week...everyone went crazy.
  • Zach Agnew (converted TE) has the softest hands on the team, in my opinion.
  • Cade Stone (WR) has been impressive. True freshman, he can really move and makes the most of his opportunities...been running with the 2s and 3s but could see significant time if he keeps doing what he's doing.
  • No major injuries in the first week...just a lot of hamstring tightness from several guys.
  • Practices are upbeat and high energy...good sign.

latu.jpg

  • mark rogers
  • August 20, 2012 8:53 AM

August 13, 2012

LOTS TO KEEP TRACK OF...

All you college football fans that THINK you know alot about college football? Well, with the exception of a rare few of you, I'll bet you couldn't name 10 of the 28 head coaching changes in the FBS this year. With 124 FBS schools, that makes...hmmm....23% of schools are entering the ever-critical FIRST YEAR. Basically 1 in 4...that's incredible.

So to help you impress your friends, girlfriends, wives, kids and neighbors...here they are:

  1. Penn State - Bill O'Brien: I think everyone is up to speed on why this change was made.
  2. Ohio State - Urban Meyer: yet another change cloaked in controversy
  3. Arkansas - John Smith: yet another change due to ill-advised actions from an adult
  4. Rich Rodriguez - Arizona: because the Michigan test didn't work.
  5. Mike Leach - Washington State: at least it'll make the Cougars be linked with some hilarious post-game press conferences.
  6. UMass - Charley Molnar: former ND assistant.
  7. Kansas - Charlie Weiss: they like 'em with plenty of girth up in Kansas.
  8. Akron - Terry Bowden: after 19 years out of coaching...intriguing.
  9. Texas A&M - Kevin Sumlin: did great things at UH but now has to face the SEC.
  10. Arkansas State - Gus Malzahn
  11. Paul Chryst - Pittsburgh: long-time Wisconsin assistant.
  12. Rutgers - Kyle Flood: Schiano says bye-bye for the NFL.
  13. Memphis - Justin Fuente: former TCU assistant.
  14. Toledo - Matt Campbell: assistant at ... Toledo.
  15. Illinois - Tim Beckman: left Toledo.
  16. North Carolina - Larry Fedora: former Southern Miss coach.
  17. UCLA - Jim Mora
  18. Arizona State - Todd Graham: who went to Pitt for just a year, where will he be next year?
  19. Ole Miss - Hugh Freeze: left Arakansas State where Malzahn ended up.
  20. Colorado State - Jim McElwain: former 'Bama OC.
  21. Florida Atlantic - Carl Pelini
  22. Fresno State - Tim DeRuyter
  23. Hawaii - Norm Chow: long-time USC assistant and Tennessee Titans OC
  24. Houston - Tony Levine
  25. New Mexico - Bob Davie: out of the studio, into the worst program in college football.
  26. Southern Miss - Ellis Johnson
  27. Tulane - Curtis Johnson
  28. UAB - Garrick McGee


And that makes 28. Memorize them. Dwell on them. Know them.

We're just days away from college football season.

  • mark rogers
  • August 13, 2012 3:47 PM

February 28, 2012

LOOK OUT FOR PERMIAN IN 2012

I had the privilege of chatting with Permian head coach Gary Gaines and running backs coach, Jerale Badon last week. Badon is a familiar name as one of the top high school receivers in the state as a wide receiver for Abilene High.

He also set just about every Lone Star Conference receiving record while at ACU. He joined the Permian staff from SA Lake View last July and was an integral part of why the Panthers went from 0-5 in district to a playoff berth.

It was Gaines' first year back, and the program was facing an extremely negative and hostile Permian fan base. OK, maybe hostile is a bit much, but those Permian fans want a winner, and 0-5 wasn't cutting it. These are the fans that used to charter jets to fly the team to Dallas.

During the off-season last year, Gaines lost about half of his coaching staff and retooled with some up and comers with no limit potential (including Badon).

They turned things around and, according to Gaines, everybody is "back on track in terms of upholding the tradition." Permian faithful would have it no other way.

Gaines is as comfortable as ever in his role as head coach at Permian. He is tradition, greatness, and history personified. But you'd never know he was an all-time great coach. His demeanor and humility matches that of the local grocery bag guy at HEB.

Badon is the same. Total, complete greatness sitting in front of you, and if he didn't look like some sort of marble statue, you'd think he was supposed to be taking your ticket at the movie theater...humble, unassuming, unpretentious.

That kind of demeanor and style breeds winners and championships. And those are the types of coaches and players Gaines has always surrounded himself with.

The Panthers have rebuilt from the ground up and now have a very positive outlook for 2012. Their QB and RB both return. They also get back two OL, a WR, the whole secondary, and a big DT.

Gaines thinks they can fill in the rest with backups from last year and a JV that has a handful of really good football players on the roster. He said they may even have a sophomore or two on varsity to gain some invaluable experience.

Spring pads begins on April 30. To Gaines and the rest of the coaching staff, spring training is a time to develop depth, figure out which kids need to play what positions, and - most importantly - not get anyone hurt.

Badon played one year for Gaines at ACU and is having a blast in Odessa. Coming from a tradition-rich program like Abilene High, Badon says that the Permian aura is different...that it grows on you.

You've got no choice to be inundated since the parents on the booster club know the parlance of the system and what a 3 technique shaded slightly inside is. They also "spare no expense" for the annual football banquet which Badon likened to the Grammy's.

Building on 0-5, to a playoff appearance to finally getting a squad back with some depth and experience, the Panthers aren't just looking to make the playoffs in 2012. They have six state championships in their history, and it's been a while since any new paint was added to the sign displaying all of them.

The goal isn't win a district game or even make the playoffs this year. The goal for Permian is to have some wet paint glistening on the big sign outside the school come this December.

And with coaches like Gaines and Badon, don't rule them out just yet.
  • mark rogers
  • February 28, 2012 3:47 PM

February 6, 2012

ACU SIGNING CLASS...QUALITY OVER QUANTITY.

Here's how it shakes down by the numbers:

Number of high school seniors signed last week selected LSC football teams -
Angelo State: 33
West Texas - 42
Midwestern State - 34
Tarleton State - 27
Kingsville - 35
ACU - 9

Wait...9? Is that a typo, you ask? No. 9 is the number single digits.

But before you let that concern you too much, let me explain why that 9 is a very good thing.

Here's the list of "The Nine" as we shall call them:
Cade Stone, QB/Ath, FW Christian
Parker McKenzie, QB, Smithson Valley
Christian Rodriguez, OL, Los Fresnos
Chad Quisenberry, TE/H, Frenship
Robbie Goldschmidt, LB/FB, Woodlands
Tyler Chapa, CB, SA Warren
Keith Barnett, CB, Converse Judson
Josh Bloom, DT, Kingwood Park
Chukwuma Oputa, LB, Woodrow Wilson

Let's start with the fact that ACU had four high quality mid-year signees (JUCO transfers) who are already on campus: a big O-lineman, two defensive linemen, and a corner back

Those guys will come in and be expected to make an instant impact so they most likely soaked up quite a few scholarship dollars from the freshman class.

When coaches finish their football seasons, one of the first things they do is to make a recruiting board with all the guys they want in the order they want them.

Under "RB" they will have 5 or 6 guys that they would give scholarship money to. The first guy on the list won't be a Johnathan Gray, but he'll be someone that could definitely play at a lower profile FBS school or an FCS school (got to keep it within reason).

Then all the guys under that will be rated just a bit lower each step down.

Getting all the top choices won't happen. That would be like emailing everything on your Christmas wishlist to your family including the most outlandish, most expensive stuff you could ever possibly dream of and getting every last bit of it.

You may get a handful of stuff from the list or even quite a bit of it if it's a good year. But you'll also get a pair of socks from Aunt May and a gift certificate for a weekend getaway to Noodle from Cousin Charlotte.

(side note: when I walked on at ACU, I was considered the "pink, bunny onesie" from A Christmas Story of the 1999 class)

That said, the ACU coaches were able to knock down their TOP 2 CHOICES at corner. That is unheard of. Tyler Chapa was 2nd Team All-State last year and Keith Barnett is another guy who could see significant playing time as a true freshman.

I can't say for sure, but I'd be willing to bet that no other LSC team nailed down their two most absolute, most highly touted corners.

They also nabbed Josh Bloom from Kingwood Park. Coach Collums told me he has never signed a defensive tackle like Bloom. He's 6-1, 300 pounds and can move. He turned down several FCS offers and had New Mexico State all over him right at the 11th hour. He's a playmaker that (barring injury or other unforeseen personal issues) will play early next year.

Another notable signee is Cade Stone, the QB/Ath from FW Christian. The guy apparently doesn't look like your everyday jaw-dropper, but he's dynamic and has some jets on him that may put him at the head of the pack when the team runs sprints next fall.

Stone will factor in next year in the return game and could possibly see some time at receiver. Collums told me that when you have an athlete like Stone who brings something completely unique to the table, you have to consider getting him on the field in some way.

The other five guys are quality football players as well.

So when you look at the comprehensive picture, ACU will bring in 14 new faces to the 2012 season.

That looks better than 9 especially considering that all of the wide receivers return and most of the other key offensive players are back as well.

The Wildcats also lost both RBs from a year ago and didn't work too hard to sign any. Why not? Because of how good they feel about their RB stable as it stands now and into the next few years.

So before you let the number 9 get you all crazy...remember that it's quality over quantity. ACU could have gone out and signed 50 guys, but how many of those 50 would be like those unwanted Christmas gifts that end up in a basket behind the customer service desk at Wal-Mart waiting to be put back on the shelf?
  • mark rogers
  • February 6, 2012 8:58 AM

January 5, 2012

WHAT'S WRONG WITH THE 'BOYS?

At an initial glance...not much.

Our QB completed 66% of his throws, threw for 4,100 yards, 31 TDs, only 10 INTs. Great numbers.
We had a rookie running back get injured with lots of games left who had nearly 900 rushing yards.
We have a tight end who amassed 942 receiving yards on 79 catches and 5 TDs.
We have two of the best young receivers in the game in Dez Bryant and Miles Austin. Laurent Robinson exploded onto the scene, too.
We have one of the brightest young defensive stars in the game in Sean Lee (105 tackles, 4 picks).
We have DeMarcus Ware. We have Jay Ratliff.
We have an up and coming coach in Jason Garrett...one of the "best" defensive minds in the game in Rob Ryan. An owner who spares no expense.

So what's the deal? How does that team go 8-8 and not make the playoffs?

......

.......

ummmmm......

I have no idea.

Could we credit it to the parity of the NFL? The free agency conundrum? Everything is so much more equal now. Games are closer. The difference between the bottom and top is much smaller.

Can we blame it on chemistry? Because you'd think a team with chemistry would be able to hold on to a double digit lead....no, wait...TWO double digit leads...no excuse me....THREE DOUBLE DIGIT FOURTH QUARTER LEADS!!!!!!!!!

Can we blame it on Garrett's inexperience? Anyone else ever seen a coach ice his own kicker?

Can we blame it on Rob Ryan's belly and hair and loud, un-backing-up-what-he says mouth?

Can we blame it on Terrence Newman? Silly I know...but you almost could blame the whole sorry season on Terrence "25 yard Cushion" Newman.

Can we blame it on Jerry Jones? I don't think so. Although he is the most consistent piece of the current 16 year run of obscurity...he was also a constant in a run of 4 pretty good years, too.

So what do they do now? Blow it up? Start all over? Give it a couple of more years with this core?

I like the latter considering how hard it is to rebuild in the NFL (see aforementioned sentence on parity).

So let's see...what do we need this offseason?
To put it more simple...what DON'T we need?

Quarterback. Receiver.

That's it.

That's the only thing we really don't need. And I know I slammed Romo for not completing that throw to Austin, but what' the alternative? Thad Lewis? No. Romo's the guy for now.

And that's it.

We need offensive lineman in a bad way. We need running backs to add depth to a stable full of career Injured Reserves.
We need defensive linemen. We need linebackers. We need corners (probably our biggest need by far).
We need safeties. We need another tight end (Bennett is outta here).

Oh yeah, I guess we're good on punter and kicker too, big whoop.
So does that just about cover it? Should make the off-season strategic meeting pretty easy.

Garrett: OK guys, here's the plan....uh....we need everything. Good luck.

Meeting adjourned.

I haven't read any of the Dallas Morning News articles or even looked at ESPN when they're talking about the Cowboys. I guess I will eventually. I'm still bitter.

It's almost a more bitter feeling than the end of the Rangers' season, because at least we can be proud of the Rangers...at least they won SOMETHING!

The Cowboys don't even do that. They just get your hopes all up like they've done just about every year since 1995, then go out and instead of singing the most stirring rendition of Das Lied von der Erde that Placido Domingo has ever heard...we walk out on to the stage, tap the mic a few times...look out in the audience....and burp up some of the liver and onions we had for breakfast. We can't even get BREAKFAST right.

Maybe next year guys...maybe next year we can get it all together and not end up as a bunch of huge embarrassing failures.

I know I'll still be tragically in love with the franchise, like I have been since I was 10. So I'm in it for the long haul...but can't we at least make the playoffs????

Now I'm ranting, I should have stopped after the Placido Domingo reference...

  • mark rogers
  • January 5, 2012 3:04 PM

PICS FROM STAMFORD/MASON GAME

You can't post pics to this site...so here's a link to where I did post them.

http://finisher52.blogspot.com/
  • mark rogers
  • January 5, 2012 3:02 PM

STAMFORD BULLDOGS' SHOT AT THE TITLE

The 2011 Stamford Bulldog football team won't be getting state championship rings. They won't be able to pass the State Championship trophy in the halls when they come home in future years to visit. They won't get to tell their grandkids they were state champs.

And that's going to hurt. I was one game away from the state championship game my senior year and it took years to get over that...in fact, when my friends and I get together, now 14 years later, we discover that we're STILL not over just how close we were.

And we were a GAME AWAY...not even IN THE GAME, which will hurt so much worse.

Despite the pain and the thoughts of what might have been, the Bulldogs have nothing to be sad or ashamed about.

I don't know the exact percentage, but it is a miniscule figure, the number of high school kids who were as good as Stamford was this year.

They went out there when nobody else thought they would, and played the very best the state had to offer down to the final 12 minutes of the entire season. An accomplishment none of those kids will soon forget.

An accomplishment those kid will share together for the rest of their lives.

Something they can be proud of.
Something they can dream about.
Something they can brag to their grandkids about...and it's not some made up grandpa brag (like the ones I'll be sharing)...this one will be for real.

I'm a little more in tune with the Stamford team this year thanks to a close personal friend and ex-Bulldog who has kept me in the loop.

He has shared some pictures with me which I've included above. He was at the game, cheering like he'd never cheered before...hoping like he'd never hoped...and at the end of the game, prouder than he'd ever been.

Thanks for a great run Bulldogs. The 2011 edition will never be forgotten.


  • mark rogers
  • January 5, 2012 2:27 PM

December 13, 2011

BULLDOGS ARE DEFINITELY THE "UNDER"DOGS AGAINST MASON

Dillon Cobb, a Stamford Bulldog in the late 90s and an elite wide receiver at ACU, still follows the Stamford Bulldogs regularly. His parents still live in Stamford. He has put together what may be the most comprehensive pregame analysis of this matchup anywhere in the region...I have added/changed little. These are Dillon's words:

 

First, let's start with a little about the Mason Cowpunchers. Mason's rushing attack is led predominantly by star running back David Mora, voted preseason Offensive Player of the Year by Dave Campbell's Texas Football Magazine.

Mora led the NATION in rushing last year with 3,573 yards on a Texas state-record 498 carries.  This year he has only managed around 2,250 yards on the ground, while his backfield mates, Sr QB Austin Trip & Jr RB Rio Schmidt, have combined for another 2,250 yards rushing.   

These gaudy rushing statistics are due to the "Fat Boys" up front (see San Angelo Standard Times Article). Mason returned all five starting offensive linemen, all seniors, who have now compiled a 26-2 record as starters.

Their only 2 losses (both in 2010) were to district foe and perennial powerhouse Goldthwaite. In 2011, the Punchers have scored 695 points (an average of just fewer than 50 per game), which is the second highest in Class 1A.

But it's not only their offense that has excelled. Through 14 games this season, Mason has allowed just 116 points (8 per game), including five shutouts, and limited the opposition to seven points or less on four other occasions. During their playoff run of 4 games against the best the state has to offer, they have still managed 43 ppg while allowing only 10. 

For the entire season, Mason has only played ONE game in which they won by less than 22 points. That game was three weeks ago against Ganado, who had been the #1 team in Class 1A all season. Mason shut out Ganado, 7-0, in a defensive slugfest. Every other game, including the playoffs, has ended in Mason's favor by at least three TDs, often times more. 

Needless to say, Mason has not struggled much in 2011. In fact, Mike Lee of the SA Standard Times wrote an article last week after Mason defeated Ganado saying they are now "the team to beat."

As Lee Corso would say, "Not so fast, my friend!"

I'm sure Mike Lee is only looking at rankings and win-loss records. After all, Stamford was only the 3rd place team in its district and barely squeaked by Olton in the first round. Almost all of their players are underclassmen. They can't possibly beat a senior-laden, battle tested Mason team, can they?

Yes they can!  Here's why:

  • District 4A - First, we must give credit to District 4A. Top-to-bottom, it may be the best in the State. However, when Stamford's QB Hagen Hutchison is healthy, this team is the best the district has to offer. In fact, Stamford avenged the back-to-back district losses against Albany and Seymour with back-to-back wins against those same teams on its way to the State Title game. Oh, and don't forget that Stamford opened the season with a lopsided victory against Munday, a team that can clinch the 1A Div.2 State Title immediately following the Stamford/Mason game Thursday in Arlington.  
  • Hutchison is healthy - Throughout much of the season, Hutchison was limited by a severe high-ankle sprain. If you pay enough attention, you can still see him limping on it at times during the games. However, he's as healthy as anyone else at this point in the season and healthier than he's been since about Week 2. 
  • Offensive Diversity -Mason hasn't played an offense as diverse as Stamford's this season. Sr Jesse Ramos is clearly the lead WR with 82 receptions, but Jr WR Dalton Mathis (35), Soph WR James Washington, and Jr RB Austin Alvarado (15) have provided depth. Also, Hutchison and Alvarado provide a nice 1-2 punch on the ground when the passing game needs a breather. 

So there you have it. Four reasons why Stamford can do the unthinkable.

The last bullet point is the key for Stamford. When looking at Mason's opponents, every single one is, or seems to be, a run-first offense. Almost every single opponent had many more rushing attempts and yards than passing attempts and yards.

What's more is that several of their opponents had fewer than 5 passing attempts, while very few attempted more than 10 (Shiner & Ganado).  Reread that last sentence and let that sink in...fewer than 5 passing attempts. This is all while their opponents are trailing by large margins.

Mason simply has not faced a balanced offensive attack like Stamford. Consider that Mason's opponents have only managed 75 passing yards/game for the year and only 62 ypg in the playoffs. There's good chance that the defending 1A state champ in the 200m (Ramos) will break a single play longer than that at some point Thursday.

Hutchison will attempt somewhere between 20-30 passes, and complete 15-20 of them, something the Cowpunchers have not seen all season. 

Let me be clear on one point, though. Mason will be, by far, the best team Stamford has played all year. Don't expect a track meet. Neither team is likely to reach the 40s, and there's a good chance this game ends 28-27 or somewhere close to that.

The Bulldogs have played several run-heavy offenses, and though none do it as well as Mason, Stamford has to feel somewhat prepared on defense heading into the final game of the year.

Where it gets tricky is on the other side. Mason's defense will be unlike any the Bulldogs have faced. I'm just betting that the style of play Stamford employs, and the level at which they do it, will be too much for Mason. Let's hope so.

December 12, 2011

ROMO TO BLAME? I'M AFRAID SO...

A quick analysis of the box score from last night's heart breaking, gut wrenching 37-34 loss to the Giants reveals that the secondary blew the game for Dallas.

The secondary has, once again, blown a late lead. They've moved the Cowboys from being in the driver's seat of the division race and a playoff berth, to a more likely scenario of missing the post season altogether.

Is that unreasonable to think? Not at all. Eli Manning threw for a gaudy 400 yards. The defense gave up more than 500 yards to the Giants. They allowed a 100 yard rusher AND receiver. The defense, as a unit, committed stupid penalties and made amateurish mental mistakes.

But, in my opinion, the defense does not get the blame for this loss.

Tony Romo does.

Wait!! What?? Romo completed 67% of his passes, threw for 300+ yards, 4 touchdowns and NO interceptions! What do you mean it's his fault?? He couldn't have played better!

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury...I give you...Exhibit A.

3rd and 5. 2:25 to go. Dallas up 34-29. Giants come with an all-out blitz. Miles Austin beats his man in man coverage...he's WIDE OPEN. Pass falls incomplete.

That's it.

That's all I need to see. Romo's stats might as well have said: 0-1, 0 yards, 0 TDs, because that was the play that mattered.

If that pass is completed, Dallas wins the game, has a two game lead on the Giants and, barring a Boston Redsox-type collapse (which isn't out of the question from this team), is going to the playoffs.

And I know all the arguments to this opinion:
"they wouldn't have been in that position without Romo"
"if the defense could stop someone, he wouldn't have to complete that pass"
"if our kicking game wasn't in the toilet all of a sudden, we would have forced OT"

I know the arguments. But none of them matter.

Here's what matters:
In the moment, all things leading to that one, single moment. Game on the line, Clutch time. Glory time. Prove yourself to the fans and critics time. Incomplete.

Joe Montana completes that pass. The Manning brothers complete that pass. Ben Roethlisberger completes that pass. Drew Brees completes that pass. Tom Brady completes that pass. Roger Staubach completes that pass. Troy Aikman completes that pass. Aaron Rodgers completes that pass. John Elway completes that pass. Tim Tebow completes that pass (OK..that was a joke).

You get the idea.

That list of QBs (less Tebow - who I hope wins 19 Super Bowls by the way), didn't use their defenses or their amazing stats as excuses. When they find/found themselves in a do or die situation...they do (or did)...they don't die.

And as much as I love what Tony Romo does on the field, and how good a QB he is...he dies in those situations (remember the botched snap at Seattle? Exhibit B).

I hope Romo proves me wrong about being clutch. I hope he can do what Bobby Bowden, Mack Brown, Dirk Nowitzki, and John Elway did. Those guys were able to shed the "can't win the big one" monkeys from their backs after years of carrying it. But those are rare instances.

For all intents and purposes...usually you are what you are this late into a career. Romo's not a burgeoning, young, influential QB. He is what he is.

And at this point, he's proven time and time again that he's a really, really good QB...he's just not a great one.

Not when it's 3rd and 5, with the game on the line, with 2 minutes left and your team desperately needing you to hit a wide open receiver.

I wanted so bad for Romo to blossom into a great QB and lead Dallas to a handful of Super Bowls. And he still could lead Dallas to the promised land.

But, if I was a betting man, I'd put my money on it never happening under his control. And that makes me sad.

Stereotypes are usually stereotypes for a reason...trends are analyzed as trends for a reason...because a pattern develops, and there's some truth to the pattern.

Romo's pattern or formula goes something like this.

Great early in season and in November + regular 300 yard passing games + mobility + gunslinger - chokes in December - 4th quarter turnovers = Tony Romo.

November 29, 2011

ABOUT 2 MINUTES OF NON-FOOTBALL WITH COACH WARREN

Abilene High Coach Steve Warren is around football a lot. He watches film, coaches players, coaches coaches (yes, that's coaches coaches), dreams football, eats football, worries football, it's all around him all the time.

In my opinion, he needs a 2 minute football break...so that's what I got him for Christmas.
Check it out...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4AhYMNgKx-k
  • mark rogers
  • November 29, 2011 11:40 AM

EAGLES VS. TIMBERVIEW

The Abilene High Eagles are back in the 4th round of the playoffs...a place they've been quite a bit the last few years.

They got here thanks to a close win against Mansfield HS on Saturday at Shotwell Stadium. Coach Steve Warren said he has never played a game in the kind of wind they experienced over the weekend. If he had a comb-over, it would have been blowing all over his headphones...luckily he shaves his head, which is the best look for any man (or so my wife would have me believe).

The wind was the reason he decided to give the ball to Mansfield in the second and fourth quarters...a seemingly crazy move...but guess what? Steve Warren is a lot smarter about football than most of us, and the move proved to be the difference in the game as the Eagles were able to create a 17 point lead in the first quarter when the wind was behind them. That lead ended up being enough for the win.

Next up for the Eagles? Mansfield Timberview. A relatively new school with a football team that has never been this deep in the playoffs...good sign for AHS on paper.

They lost two games this year: a non-district game against Cedar Hill and a district match up against the team the Eagles just defeated - Mansfield...good sign for AHS on paper.

But if good signs on paper were what decided games, the Eagles may not even be where they are now so we'll throw those out.

Timberview is an option team. They have an above average QB and RB who are extremely efficient at running their offense. About 60% of their starters are seniors, so they're a veteran-heavy club, but don't have this type of playoff experience.

I've said from the beginning of the playoffs that the only way to beat the Eagles is to keep the ball away from them. That means long, sustained drives of 6 or 7+ minutes and 9+ plays. Something passing teams aren't prone to doing.

But this isn't a passing team. Timberview is the type of team which could potentially go on long drives, keep the ball away from the Eagles and come out of Denton with a victory.

So the key, in my opinion, is for the Eagle defense to stop Timberview on third down and get the ball back in the hands of Abbe and Grayer.

Grayer, by the way, is going to be fine. He'll be limited in practice today, but will practice and the hip is making great progress.

Not to look ahead, but if the Eagles are able to pull out the Region 1 championship, they'll play the winner of the Spring Dekaney and Spring Westfield game which is in Humble at the same time the Eagles will be playing.

And that, my friends, would be another trip to the final four.

Just an FYI, the teams still alive on the other side of the bracket are Cibolo Steele, PA Memorial, La Porte, and SA Reagan.

The Eagles will be ready to play come Saturday at 2 PM. They're relatively healthy and hungry for another state champioship, gale force winds or not.
  • mark rogers
  • November 29, 2011 11:09 AM

November 28, 2011

UNLIKE LAST YEAR, DECEMBER WILL PROVE CRITICAL FOR COWBOYS

After a 2-3 start which saw two disgusting, double-digit leads disappear and a near victory over an 8-3 Patriots team, Dallas has reeled off four straight wins and, with a win over a struggling Arizona Cardinals team this Sunday, is poised to be 8-4 heading into the final quarter of the season.

I'm not saying the Cardinals will be a cake walk - they've won 3 out of 4 after a six game losing skid - but it's definitely a winnable game.And other than the Eagles debacle, Dallas has played rather well on the road this year. By the way, this "hot" streak the Cardinals are on? They beat the Eagles (4-7) and the Rams (2-9) twice...scary.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Dallas is 7-4 with five games left. Those games are against Arizona, NYG (2), Tampa Bay, and the Eagles. Three wins in that stretch would put Dallas at 10-6 and in a position to make the playoffs as the NFC East champs.

To break it down further, if Dallas splits the games against the Giants, beats the Cardinals and can either beat the Eagles or Bucs (4-7), there's your 10 wins.

Not out of the question.

A preliminary playoff scenario has the Packers and 49ers earning first round byes. Green Bay is 11-0 and playing ridiculously good football right now.

San Francisco's remaining five games are against St. Louis (2), Seattle, Arizona and Pittsburgh. Take the Steelers out of the equation, and the 49ers remaining opponents have a combined record of 10-23 (.303)...impressive.

So possible Wild Card opponents for Dallas could be New Orleans, Atlanta, Detroit, Chicago, or the Giants. Then it'd either be GB or SF in the Divisional.

Tonight's game between New Orleans and the Giants is important because if NO wins, they'll have a lone grasp of the 3 seed and Dallas would be out of that pesky tie with New York. But if the Giants win, the NFC would have a log jam with six teams sitting at 7-4. I don't like log jams...too much can happen...too many scenarios. Makes me nervous.

I do, however, like the looks of the Giants' remaining schedule: New Orleans (7-3) tonight, Green Bay (11-0), Dallas (7-4), Washington (4-7), NYJ (6-5), then Dallas again...that's a tough stretch.

All that to say, Dallas has five games left and of the remaining opponents, only the Giants have a winning record.

Should we win the division? Yes. If we don't could we still be in contention for a Wild Card spot? Absolutely. If we end up not making the playoffs, will the rest of my hair fall out? You betcha.

This should be an interesting December. At least it actually means something. Remember last year when December had turned into an extended Jason Garrett job interview? I've tried to forget...

  • mark rogers
  • November 28, 2011 9:44 AM

November 15, 2011

ABBE HAS MORE THAN ANSWERED PRE-SEASON QUESTION MARK

The Abilene High Eagles are in a familiar place: favored to win in the second round of the playoffs and expected to make another deep run towards an 8th state championship.

But rewind to just before the first game, and I'd have to say that if you would have told me then what we're expecting now, I would have been a little surprised.

The Sims brothers were gone, most of the guys from the 2009 state title team were gone, the defense had some question marks, and there was certainly a big question mark at the QB position.

AHS certainly knew what it had at running back: a super fast, dynamic runner who would have started for any school in the state a year ago - Paxton Grayer. But the question was whether or not a running game combined with a "so-so" passing game could take the Eagles back to the promised land.

Evin Abbe ended up getting the nod at QB and over the course of 11 weeks, completely erased any sense of the passing attack being "so-so".  His development coupled with an incredibly efficient and potent running game has made the Abilene Eagles a dark horse favorite to win another title...only this time, they're completely off the radar, which is right where they want to be.

Abbe took the reins with the confidence of a seasoned veteran and transformed every week right before our eyes. He aged about 18 months in about six weeks.

The Eagles lost three of their first five games and in two of those games Abbe's completion percentage was in the 50s. Two more games in the first five Abbe threw for less than 200 yards.

But every week he was learning, gaining experience, and turning into a great quarterback.

Steve Warren told me a few weeks ago that Abbe just might be the toughest QB he's ever coached. Abbe doesn't duck and run at the first sign of trouble. He doesn't care about getting hit. He goes through his progressions, takes all the time he has, delivers strikes, and on most occasions, gets hit right in the mouth.

But he always gets right back up to do it all over again.

That's a helpless feeling as an offensive lineman - to see you're QB picking himself up off the deck after more than a few plays.

But Abbe knows he's going to get hit, he just needs a little time. I don't care if you're Larry Allen, if you let a defensive lineman have an unlimited amount of time, he's going to get by you. Abbe knows that. But he doesn't care.

After that 2-3 start in which Abbe got better and better every week, they hit the district schedule.

His "worst" game was against OHS in game 1 of district. It was the only district game he failed to hit 70% of his passes (68%) or throw for more than 200. They blew out the Bronchos and Abbe wasn't called on to have a huge game. He threw 3 TDs and no picks.

After that game, Abbe's completion percentage the last four games was 71, 77, 72, and 70. Incredible. And it's not like the Eagles weren't throwing. In those four games, Abbe averaged 28 attempts per game.

He went over 300 yards against Lee, Midland High and Cooper (227 against Permian in a blowout) throwing 10 TDs against just 2 picks. He threw five interceptions all year.

This all from a guy who wasn't even sure he was going to be the QB right before the season...and a junior to boot.

Now we get to watch Abbe perform in the playoffs.

And Eagle fans can only hope his growth as a QB continues on the rapid pace it's been on for the last several weeks.

If that happens and the Eagles stay healthy, look for AHS to surprise a handful of teams and quite possibly contend for Steve Warren's second state championship and 8th in school history.

Now that Abbe has turned into what he is, the Eagles have the tools to make it happen.

  • mark rogers
  • November 15, 2011 8:07 PM

October 28, 2011

AHS - Cooper prediction

I wanted to get my prediction for tonight's game in writing to prove how smart I am (if I'm wrong, I"ll just delete it and no one will ever know I predicted such a ridiculous outcome).

All that being said...

Abilene High has been battle-tested against some of the best teams in the state. They've hung with each team they've played and could very well be undefeated headed into tonight's game.

Cooper is on a roll...a big, buttery, warm, melt in your mouth, roll that has seen them put up huge offensive numbers each week (not to mention their QB setting the new all-time passing yardage mark...a BIG DEAL at Cooper HS).

Both offenses are great. We know that. The defenses are better than anyone knows because they're so overshadowed by the "glamorous" backs and receivers.

Here's my prediction...

The offenses will cancel each other out. Everyone expects a high-scoring game. I even said on FFN the other night that this game might be 103-101 or something like that.

I've changed my mind.

Defense will rule the field tonight. Points will be hard to come by.

Final score...

Abilene High - 21
Cooper - 17
  • mark rogers
  • October 28, 2011 4:36 PM

October 19, 2011

COMMENT FROM READER ABOUT ROMO

This comment was too good to let sit in obscurity...props to chayes:

Mark,

Enjoyed reading this article.  All Cowboys fans accross the country have been infuriated with Romo's inconsistencies throughout his career, and the media has undoubtedly enjoyed ripping him apart.  They point to the catastrophic turnovers in crunch time, his December record, his A+ laundry list of girlfriends, the way he wears his hat ,... you get the point (FYI - Stafford was wearing his hat backwards on the sideline last Sunday and not one person mentioned it). 

All of this is well documented.  Some relevent, others not so much.   Romo will be Romo, and Jerry Jones has accepted to live with that. 

But does Romo really HAVE to be Romo?  Surely, if everyone in the country knows Romo's short-comings, don't you think his own head coach/offensive coordinator would as well? 

Bill Parcells used to talk about how he had to reel Romo in at times.  How he wouldn't put him in situations where he had a reasonable chance to fail.  How he didn't want Romo to be, well, Romo.

There is not a doubt in my mind that Jason Garrett is a highly educated, well-mannered, likeable personality.  There is also absolutely zero doubt in my mind that he IS what the Cowboys need right now as a head coach. 

But this guy is a TERRIBLE play-caller.  He is predicatable, takes unreasonable risks, has never developed any sort of respectable running game, and lets Tony be Tony.  Which is exactly why we are 2-2 instead of 4-0. 

Whatever happened to calling a good ol' halfback dive and letting the play clock wind down to 1 before snapping the ball?  Why can't our o-line be mean and nasty when it matters most?  A couple first downs, a punt, some decent defense, repeat...  The formula for any coach from pee-wee to professional in preserving a 24 point lead.

IF you must insist on calling a pass play, a simple play action - roll out, high percentage pass out of a 2 or 3 tight end formation will do. 

But not with Garrett. 

Jerry, please make this guy go out and hire an offensive coordinator who doesn't make football too hard.  A guy who can develop a decent running game, a guy who will pull back on Tony's reigns a little, but most of all, a guy that won't let Romo be Romo. 

  • mark rogers
  • October 19, 2011 1:49 PM

SCHEDULE ANALYSIS SHEDS HOPE ON COWBOYS

The Dallas Cowboys, in all their frustrating and aggravating glory, are 2-3 with 11 games to go before the regular season ends.

They're frustrating because Dallas has lost by four points twice and three points once. Dallas could very easily be 5-0. They could very easily be 0-5 (because we've won two close games). I don't like playing the coulda, woulda, shoulda game. I like the Bill Parcells' saying, "you are what your record says you are." Right now? Dallas is a 2-3 team.

Let's take an analytic and statistical look at what that 2-3 means compared with the rest of the league. From an outside perspective, it means that we're third in the NFC East and tied for 10th out of 16 teams in the NFC.

But let's take a closer look...

The five teams we've played are a combined 21-8, that's a 72.41 opponents' winning percentage (OWP). That's the equivalent of a 12-4 team.

Only one team in the league has played teams with a better overall winning percentage - the Denver Broncos (21-7 or 75% OWP), and they're 1-4.

11 teams in the league have an OWP greater than 55%. Of those 11 teams, two have winning records: San Francisco (55.88% OWP) at 5-1 (a team the Cowboys beat on the road), and the Buffalo Bills (60% OWP) at 4-2.

The top four OWPs so far belong to Denver, Dallas, St. Louis, and Miami...the Rams and Dolphins have yet to win.

When breaking all this down, it's easy to see the early "really good teams" and early "really bad teams" based on who's winning and losing against good and bad competition.

In other words, teams with a low OWP and a losing record are bad, while teams with a high OWP and a winning record are good.

This is about to get really complicated...

Three teams (New Orleans, Tampa Bay and Detroit) have OWPs right at 50%...we'll toss them out.

That leaves 13 teams with OWPs below .500. A losing record vs. a below .500 OWP is a bad sign.

Three teams fall into this category: Kansas City, Cleveland, and Arizona (the Cardinals are 1-4 with a 39% OWP...that's terrible).

16 teams have OWPs greater than .500. Teams with winning records in this echelon are pretty good.

Four teams fall into this category: New England (52% OWP), Oakland (53% OWP), San Francisco (56% OWP), and Buffalo (60% OWP). This leads me to believe that the Bills are much better than I thought they were.

All that being said, here's the NFC East breakdown of future OWP (the current winning percentage of each team's remaining schedule):

1.      Giants - 59%

2.      Philly - 47%

3.      Washington - 46%

4.      Dallas - 41%

Yet another good sign. It makes a lot of sense that the top two teams in the division (NYG and WAS) have played the easiest and fourth-easiest schedules so far (based on OWP). The Cowboys have the second toughest OWP, while Philly has the 9th toughest.

Other interesting things to note from my exhaustive schedule breakdown:

Green Bay's OWP is 35% which is the 30th out of 32 (really easy)...they're 6-0 as they should be.

Pittsburgh, San Diego, Cincinnati, and Baltimore have all played relatively easy records and they're all either leading their divisions or a game back of the lead.

I know I'm breaking this down a little too much but all these numbers tell me 2-3 might not be so bad considering who we've played and who those teams have defeated.

It also tells me that we have a decent chance of winning the division since we have the weakest remaining strength of schedule.

Down...but not out.....yet.

If we lose to a winless St. Louis team on Sunday, then I'm going to take all this data and flush it down the toilet.

  • mark rogers
  • October 19, 2011 1:43 PM

October 18, 2011

COUGS AND EAGLES ARE HEAD OF THE CLASS

At least through the first two games of district...and I don't expect that to change any time soon either.

Both Abilene schools sit 2-0, tied for first in league play and setting up another marquis match-up between the two powers in 10 days.

Midland Lee is the first 3-5A squad to run the Abilene gauntlet...and they didn't fare so well.
A team that was averaging just 8 points allowed per game, the Rebels surrendered the most they had all year (24) to Cooper, only to see that new mark doubled a week later against Abilene High (49).

The Eagles racked up an impressive 471 total yards against Lee including 308 through the air. Evan Abbe averaged a gaudy 14.6 yards per attempt. Anything more than 10 yards per attempt is pretty stinkin' good.

So the Rebels, after staring 5-0 and feeling pretty good, are now at the bottom of the district standings with a tough Odessa Permian team coming to town on Friday. A loss there would have Lee at 0-3, still not mathematically eliminated, but certainly shocked and awed nonetheless.

Three teams in the district have actually won more total games than the Warbirds at this point, but it just goes to show that the caliber of teams you play in non-district may have a bigger role to play than whether or not you actually beat those teams.

On paper, I would have to say that the Eagles are the close favorite to win the district outright (played a tougher non-district, beat Lee worse, and Lee is the only mutual opponent so far this year). But that's just on paper.

And we all know that being good on paper means jack squat (see Philadelphia Eagles).

Expect Abilene High and Cooper to both take care of business this week to set up an outright district championship on the 28th.

Leave it to the media to already be talking about 10/28. I guarantee you that neither Warren nor Moebes have even mentioned that date.

Moebes is worried about Odessa High. Warren is focused on Midland High. Period.

See you Friday night!!
  • mark rogers
  • October 18, 2011 3:47 PM

October 4, 2011

DIFFERENT DAY, SAME OLE TONY

It's taken a few days for me to settle down after the Cowboys latest huge embarrassing failure. Blowing a 14-point 4th quarter lead is frustrating. Blowing a 24 point 3rd quarter lead is downright horrendous and might lead a Cowboys fanatic to go do something crazy like hold a bunch of people hostage at a bank or drive their car into oncoming traffic.

 

Tony Romo was 34 for 47 for 331 yards and 3 touchdowns. That's really good, it's better than good. We rushed for 113 yards and held the Lions to just 63 rushing yards. Again...better than good. We gained 43% more total yards than Detriot...a HUGE advantage.

 

We only had 33 yards in penalties (a drastic change from a Wade Phillips' coached team). We held the ball for 13 more minutes than the Lions. A quick look at Sunday's box score would lead an educated box-score reader to believe that Dallas won the game quite soundly.

 

But there's one small number that causes the whole fa├žade of victory to come crashing down in a huge heap of embarrassment, frustration and anger: 3.

 

3 interceptions - two of which were returned for scores. THAT. CAN'T. HAPPEN.

 

But it did. And was anyone surprise? No. Frustrated, mad, stupefied, outraged, betrayed? Yes. Surprised? No.

 

So here's a rough outlook for the rest of the season: the Cowboys have a bye week, then play a beatable Patriots team. Actually, the combined record for Dallas' remaining opponents is 21-26, which is good.

 

The Cowboys still have a great shot at winning the division or getting into the playoffs via a wild card berth. But here's where it gets tricky.

 

In any other year, I would say that a trip to the playoffs would be meaningless because the Dallas Cowboys are not a championship team. A championship team doesn't blow 2nd half leads...ESPECIALLY A 24 POINT LEAD AT HOME AGAINST AN UNDEFEATED TEAM!!!!!!

 

 But this year? I'm not ready to say that. Why?

 

Because I'm not convinced there are enough super dominant teams that are the outright favorites to win the title. Sure, the Packers are good, and Detroit is turning some heads (those are the last two undefeated teams by the way). But unless you have five or six teams in that championship caliber group, a "non-championship caliber team", like our insanely maddening Cowboys, can get through one or two games en route to the top.

 

And that's where we stand.

 

Look at the Eagles...the Dream Team is 1-3. The Patriots don't have a defense. The Steelers are 2-2. And on and on.

 

So while I'm ready to give up on the Cowboys because of how frustrating they are. I'm not ready to say that we have no shot at the championship. Is it likely? No. But I'm not giving up yet.

 

If we can somehow squeeze into the playoffs and get the Saints or 49ers in the wild-card, I like our chances. Then we get a rematch with the Lions, a team we KNOW we can beat. And the next thing you know, we're playing Green Bay in the NFC Championship.

 

And, yeah, Green Bay is good. But it's not out of the question to think the Cowboys have a shot at winning a single game at Lambeau. Likely? No. But I'm not ruling it out completely.

 

Then we get into the Super Bowl and beat some lowly team like the Texans or Bills and we've got ourselves a title with a sub-championship caliber team.

 

Likely? No. Completely out of the question? No.

 

So before you put all your lofty expectation-eggs in the Rangers basket, don't give up on Dallas yet. While it's true that our QB is, at the same time, the best and worst QB in NFL history, he is still surrounded by players and coaches that can get the job done. They just couldn't overcome 2 pick-sixes on Sunday.

 

It's almost as if Romo dares his team to win despite his huge mistakes. Like, I don't have to do this, but I'm going to just to see if you can still win. He's like Andy Kauffman or something. I can't figure it out, so I'm going to stop trying, enjoy not having to have a near heart attack this weekend, and prepare my brain for a 3-2 start through five after we beat the Patriots.


September 20, 2011

ROMO'S INJURY...A TURNING POINT

Week 1 could not have gone worse.

I sat texting a few friends during that horrific 4th quarter against the NYJ on opening night and sent this over cyberspace:

"This drive will make or break the rest of Romo's career"

That was with exactly 5 minutes to go in the game. That all-important (to me anyway) drive consisted of a 12 yard pass, then three plays and a punt.

So I was off one drive. It was actually the NEXT drive that ended up being the crucial, Romo-defining moment.

And we all know what happened.

59 seconds left. 1st and 10. Tied at 24. Ball on our own 41. Just need about 35 yards for a chance to win. Romo back to pass. Looks right. Sees double coverage on a limping receiver. Flips the ball out towards the sideline like a little girly-man who thinks that a football is stinky and smelly and wants nothing to do with it.

Interception.

Game over.

Romo is the goat. Again.

I was ready to fire him that night. Glad that's not (nor will it ever be) my job.

The next day, after a night of reflection and meditation, I wasn't ready to jump off the Romo bandwagon just yet.

After all, Dirk Nowitzki is soft and will never win the big one. Mack Brown and Tommy Bowden also had the "can't-win-the-big-one" stigma for many years. So why can't Romo shake the monkey off his back and do something great?

The other thing I thought was..."it's the first game". Still lots of football left to be played.

That brings us to Sunday afternoon. On the road in San Fran. Down 10 in the 4th quarter. And not only does Romo bring Dallas back to win in OT. But he does it with a broken rib.

And not only is it a broken rib. It's PUNCTURING HIS LUNG.

While it's not heroic in the same sense of the word we use to describe our brave men and women in uniform serving our country today and in years past, in a game where a very minor grazing of the top of a defender's helmet on a QB's jersey will get you a 15-yard penalty and probably a fine...you bet it's heroic.

It was just what Dallas needed. Seeing their leader frantically looking for his helmet in the third quarter after the sideline reporter said he was done for the day, seemed to galvanize the team and propel them to the come-from-behind victory.

And how fitting...that Romo would lose Canseco-style 27-24, then come back one week later and be just the opposite in a 27-24 win.

I'm still calling Dallas to go 11-5, which is contingent on us beating Washington on Monday night and then a very good Lions team (yes, they're very good) at home the next week before the BYE.

Here's what's not helping...the players on our injury report (and this isn't even the whole thing):
Tony Romo
Jason Witten
Dez Bryant
Miles Austin
Orlando Scandrick
Mike Jenkins
Felix Jones
Terrence Newman
Phil Costa
Bill Nagy

There are 7 potential Pro-Bowlers on that list. But here's the good news. Nobody's done for the year. In fact, the longest any of those 10 is expected to be out is through the BYE week.

Those are the types of injuries you can bounce back from (see Green Bay in 2010).

The kind you can't are the ACL's, broken bones, torn muscles, etc. Look at KC. They've lost their best offensive and defensive players and are, for all intents and purposes, done for the year.

That hasn't happened to us yet.

Our most terrifying injury is to our most important player. And he fought through the pain, fought through all his critics, put all the parody posters and viral texts making fun of him in the past, and led his team to victory. Don Meredith style.

That drive at the end of the NYC game may turn out not to be Romo's defining moment. It may turn out to be an everyday hit he took in the 1st quarter against San Fran.

The injury that saved the season...we can only hope.
  • mark rogers
  • September 20, 2011 10:46 AM

September 17, 2011

ACU GAME STORY COMING

I'm headed to ACU game this afternoon...an article will be written tomorrow or Monday about thee goings-on at Cowboy Stadium...stand by...
  • mark rogers
  • September 17, 2011 8:43 AM

LUBBOCK JUST WHAT COOPER NEEDED

With one more game to go before a juggernaut district starts, Cooper was 1-2 with the one win a game that could have very easily gone the other way. Basically, the Cougs were a play away from being 0-3 heading into their game against Lubbock High last night.

And the Westerners were exactly what Cooper needed to gain some confidence and momentum at a key point in the season. Let's say the Cougs had played someone else, like a Trinity or an Allen, someone like that, and was now 1-3. Even a win against Coronado next week would have put them at 2-3 heading into district.

But now, with a win (and not just any win, but a huge, dominating, blow-out win), the Cougs not only have a chance to be 3-2 heading into league play, but they have some huge confidence as well.

I said this last night on KTXS Football Friday Night, but I have been utterly impressed with Cooper's special teams so far this year. If you can get one special teams score per game (which is pretty uncommon), it takes a great deal of pressure of your offense. 

If you can just consistently make big returns and put your offense in good field position, THAT takes a big load off, too.

All this to say, Cooper is in a good position. They've worked some kinks out, put a full game together, start to finish, and are looking like they're ready to make a run at the district title.
  • mark rogers
  • September 17, 2011 8:31 AM

September 10, 2011

STAND OUT PERFORMANCE - WYLIE'S BLOOMER

In any other case, showing off your bloomer is not a great thing to do in front of thousands of people.

But last night, the Wylie Bulldogs did just that in a key 21-7 road win over Graham. Richard Bloomer, the 6'5", 205 lb senior, was on display in a huge way. His performance on offense was enough to gain some eyebrow raises across the region - 141 yards and a TD. 

His defense was a performance for the ages - 3, yes 3, interceptions to help the Bulldog defense hold the Steers to just 233 total yards and one score all night.

I don't know much, but I do know that in order to keep winning, Wylie needs to keep showing its Bloomer to as many people as they possibly can.
  • mark rogers
  • September 10, 2011 10:37 AM

September 7, 2011

PAC-16 GOOD FOR ANYONE?

I say...yes.

Those not in favor of the impending creation of "Super" conferences in college football cite the fact that schools in the same region should play each other every year based on tradition, proximity, a natural rivalry. I get that. It's a compelling argument.

Wisconsin-Ohio State is intriguing.

Texas-Texas A&M has been happening since Grover Cleveland was president (for the second time).

Michigan-Notre Dame just makes sense.

But there's one thing to keep in mind when debating and discussing the current state of college football in America - globalization.

Back in the good old days of telegraphs and train stations, teams played teams right around the corner. Rivalries were established, traditions were born, legends were made.

But today, the sense of "neighborhood" that used to exist within each conference is disappearing - if it hasn't disappeared already.

Moms and dads from Boston whose kids went to USC to play 40 years, 30 years, even 20 years ago could only watch them play in person. And unless mom and dad made millions of bucks every year, that was hard to do. So kids in the "olden" days stayed put. You're from Boston? You play at BC. Kids from the Northwest played at Oregon or Washington State.

The only far away school you could send your kid to and watch them on TV was Notre Dame. That's why ND has such a big national following (or should I say...had?). But that advantage is over. ND has its own channel...UT has its own NETWORK.

You can watch Buffalo, Akron, East Carolina, or Wyoming as easily as you can watch anybody else.

Now, those same moms and dads can watch their kids play on a handheld device from anywhere in the world. I watched the Texas-Rice game in a hotel room in Boston over the weekend on my father-in-law's HTC. It was great.

So what does all this mean?

It means that a Pac-16 Super conference wouldn't be bad for college football. The dominos would/will fall and the Big 10 may expand so you may not see Wisconsin-Ohio State for a few years, but it's pittance for all the other great match-ups fans will be treated to every year.

And of all the other long-time rivalries in jeopardy? Let it go...people who hang on to things too long end up on the show Hoarders with strangers rummaging through their house wearing protective suits in search of decaying cats and fruit that is so rotten it literally tries to run away when discovered under a 20 year old mattress filled with clown dolls and ceramic butterflies.

Instead of two divisions in the Pac-16, we could have four divisions. The winners of the four divisions play a two-round playoff for a conference champion to determine the BCS berth.

If this happens, all the other conferences will have to expand and some teams will get left out in the cold and you'll have people picketing in the streets demanding no taxation without representation...

But you know what? It's interesting. And if college football keeps that characteristic about it, I'll keep watching forever. No matter how ardently I disagree with the way it's set up.

That's what has always set college football apart - the fact that it's so unfair that nobody can stop talking about it. Mission. Accomplished.
  • mark rogers
  • September 7, 2011 10:36 AM