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September 29, 2009

ROMO NOT OFF THE HOOK YET

First of all, let me say that I'm very happy the Cowboys are 2-1 instead of 1-2. After last week's loss to the Giants I had a stretch of time when I was hoping we'd go 1-15. I was a little disgruntled.

So I'll admit that I'm happy we're 2-1, but I won't admit that I've jumped back on the Tony Romo bandwagon. In fact, I'm still running wildly in the opposite direction.

He didn't throw an interception. He didn't throw a touchdown. He didn't fumble. He was accurate. He made good decisions. He won.

As I said last week? Big deal.

So he played pretty good in prime time, but he wasn't on network television.

He beat the Panthers, but they're not a division rival.

He made good decisions with the football, but it wasn't the first ever regular season game at Jerry World.

There were 15,000 less people on hand to watch.

You get my drift.

All that being said, my jury is still in deliberation on Romo. The jury made up of all the voices that speak to me during Cowboy games.

And he'll have to have a winning record in December and win a playoff game before they return to the court room with happy news.

An interesting note - Romo and Jake Delhomme had identical completion to attempt numbers (22-33) and threw for about the same number of yards. Delhomme even threw for a touchdown, one more than Romo. But he threw two picks and may not end the year as the Panthers QB. Just goes to show what making poor decisions gets you.

But enough about Romo...let's look at last night's game.

The first half was vanilla and boring. The first time since 2006 that we've gone scoreless in the opening two quarters.

We were average. Carolina was average.

But then something happened...the third quarter.

It was one of the most dominating third quarters I've ever seen from a Cowboys team, current or past.

We scored on three consecutive possessions. Had we scored touchdowns instead of field goals on two of the drives, it would have been 21 points instead of 13.

We did not allow a first down. Three "three-and-outs" is all Carolina managed.

We recorded our first sack of the season. It was Jay Ratliff by the way...have I mentioned that I think he's the best defensive player in the NFL?

It was a great third quarter and the reason we won the game.

Other things that stood out to me - good and bad:

  • We had the ball 18 of the first 25 minutes of the 2ND half
  • We dominated field position allowing Carolina to start just one possession outside of their 20.
  • Mat McBriar had five punts. They were all downed inside the Panther 20.
  • We allowed one 3RD down conversion the whole game.
  • We allowed less than 200 yards passing and 100 yards rushing.
  • We had a receiver catch more than one pass...in fact, we had TWO receivers catch more than one pass...oh happy day!!!
  • Our rushing attack gained more than 200 yards in the second consecutive game for the first time since Tony Dorsett was our running back.
  • Despite getting injured, Felix Jones averaged 11.8 yards/carry. He's having an MRI on his knee today and will hopefully be just fine.
  • We had nine penalties for 80 yards (Flozell Fat-ams had a few, but I'll let them slide since he completely silenced Julius Peppers the entire game).
  • We were 1-4 in the red zone...unacceptable. We will not win games against good teams if we can't punch it into the endzone when we get close. Two passes from the one yard line?? C'mon.
  • We finally recorded a sack. Jay Ratliff had the first. Rookie OLB Victor Butler had the other two - and forced a fumble.
  • Our secondary finally picked off a pass. Mike Jenkins had the first (we were the last team in the league to force a turnover this year). Terrence Newman put the game away in the fourth when he returned his pick for a TD.

Overall, I guess I was happy that we won although I'm still disgruntled about the loss to the Giants.

We play the Broncos on Sunday afternoon in Denver. That will be a bigger test than the Panthers.

And yes, I know how many times I use the word "We" when talking about the Cowboys. Leave me alone about it. It makes me feel important.

12-4 is still possible, however I don't feel as confident as I did before what will forever be known in my memory as "The Opening Day Disaster."


September 21, 2009

POTTS WAS THE BEST PLAYER ON THE FIELD

Texas Tech QB Taylor Potts was not able to pull off the upset win at Texas on Saturday night.

He probably had a rough time sleeping over the weekend thinking about Tech's missed opportunities and what could have been.

But I have never been more impressed with a QB's performance than I was on Saturday watching Potts operate.

On the road in front of 105+ thousand screaming UT fans. Against the #2 ranked team in the country led by a Heisman front runner.

He was poised. He was efficient. He was accurate. He was passionate. He was sensational.

And, oh my goodness, did he ever get obliterated by one of the biggest, baddest defenders in the country.

Not only did Potts get back up after Sergio Kindle nearly decapitated him...he led the Raiders on a scoring drive the next time he touched the ball.

Not many of us will ever know what it feels like to get hit like that...ever. Maybe if you've been involved in a head-on collision on the interstate. Other than that, nothing comes close.

Needless to say, Potts is a tough kid.

There were a lot of things out of Taylor's control that led to the Tech loss. But the things he could control were handled professionally and remarkably.

He was the best player on the field and has a huge career in front of him.
  • mark rogers
  • September 21, 2009 8:21 PM

COWBOYS WIN HOME OPENER IN BLOW-OUT FASHION...OR NOT

At least that's what the headline should have said.

A quick glance at the box score reveals a similar number in the total yards column. Both teams had 13 possessions. Return yards were virtually identical.

Weighing heavily in the Cowboys' favor was a 154 yard advantage in the rushing category. Take away a 31 yard Brandon Jacobs run in the second half and he was held to 27 yards...no touchdowns.

The Giants were 0-for-5 in the red zone and were held to five field goal attempts.

Marion Barber rushed for 124 yards on 18 carries. Felix Jones was four yards away from the century mark.

On paper, the Cowboys completely dominated.

There was just one minor detail that derailed the Cowboys in their bid for a win in front of the biggest crowd in NFL history:

Tony Romo.

Three interceptions. 13-for-29 through the air. Passer rating?? N/A.

He wasn't sacked one time and had time to throw. And throw he did. To the other team. Three times.

One was returned for a TD. One should have been. And the last one looked like Romo was playing 500 Toss-Up with the Giants secondary.

You know how many Cowboy receivers had more than one catch?? Like to take a guess??

Zero.

Yes. Zero. Kenny Phillips had more catches from Romo than any of our receivers.

If you add 10 points to the Cowboys total, 10 points that we would have scored if we had three more possessions, and take away 17 of the 24 points New York scored off of our turnovers, the score would have been 41-16.

And if that game had been played at the same venue in Week 7 against that same Giants team with the same result? Big deal. We play the next week.

But when you put it into context...new 1.15 billion dollar stadium, division rival, all the Cowboy greats on hand, national TV, Sunday night, biggest crowd in the history of the NFL? A championship team would have won that game. Period.

I've defended Romo at great lengths over the last few years. But I can't do it now.

Even when the Dallas papers are saying he's taken the blame and earned the trust of his teammates.

Big deal. He should have already earned the trust of his teammates.

He should be winning those kinds of games now. Not earning the trust of his teammates by taking the blame for the most embarrassing loss in recent Cowboy history.

And this is how I feel 24 hours later. You can imagine the things I was thinking last night. It wasn't pretty.

I'll keep my hopes up and pull for the Cowboys. I'll hope they win a playoff game and contend for a championship. I'll watch the rest of the games.

But until Romo proves to me that he can play great (or even average for crying out loud) in a big game, I won't hold my breath.

There is one thing that could have been different last night to ensure a Dallas win. One small thing: If Romo had chosen to become an investment banker...then we would have won.
  • mark rogers
  • September 21, 2009 7:58 PM

September 20, 2009

COWBOYS HAVE CUT ME DEEP

More to come on this catastrophe of a game tomorrow...after I've calmed down. I have never been more angry at the Cowboys.

I'm on the verge of adopting the Detroit Lions as my new team...that's why I must sleep on this loss and write my thoughts tomorrow.

As much as I hate to think about it...I'll probably watch the horror again tomorrow.

Unbelievable. Simply unbelievable.

We go out of Texas Stadium completely embarrassed with our tails between our legs...we open up Jerry World the same way.

Have we no pride???

I must stop...I can feel the flood of pessimism and anger about to break forth and take over.

Sleep - rescue me from this quagmire of pity and hyperbolic anger.

September 13, 2009

COWBOYS OFFENSE: A...COWBOYS DEFENSE: D-

At the end of the day I'm just happy the Cowboys beat the Buccaneers and are coming home next week 1-0.

It was a dominant performance by our offense. Well-balanced, efficient, few penalties, powerful and explosive.

But if we want to win the division and contend for a Super Bowl, our defense better get a lot better.

Now, the D didn't play terrible, we eventually wore down the Bucs offensive line and beat up Byron Leftwich pretty good...but we also gave up 450 yards, 21 points and nearly 30 first downs.

Those numbers are all way too big.

The bright spots were Jay Ratliff and Demarcus Ware (the fact that he wasn't seriously injured early in the game).

But Tampa Bay ended up with one more sack than us and they had one on the day. That's not good for a defense that thrives on big plays like sacks and tackles-for-loss.

Our second string line was in for a few of the big running plays which tells me that we better not have any serious injuries to our line. If Ratliff gets hurt, things could get ugly.

When he's blocked one-on-one and the play is anywhere around him? He makes the tackle. Actually, on the first play of the game, Ratliff was double-teamed and still made the play for no gain.

I guess I'm glad there was something major we need to improve after the first game. Normally we look unstoppable in the first month and completely collapse late in the year.

But maybe this year we'll peak at the right time: December and January.

Overall I was pleased. Romo set a career high in passing yards, we didn't turn it over, three different receivers scored TDs, and we were able to dominate the line of scrimmage in the fourth quarter.

But we won't beat the Giants next week with that kind of defensive performance because I don't think the Giants will give up as many big plays as Tampa did. In fact, we won't beat a lot of teams unless the defense tightens up a bit.

Like I said, I'm pretty pleased that at least there's something to improve

A good start to the year. 1-0 en route to 12-4. And remember, I predicted a 7-0 start.

Can't wait for next week.
  • mark rogers
  • September 13, 2009 11:11 PM

KEENUM VALIDATES HEISMAN HYPE

The first thing I must mention about the Houston/Oklahoma State game is that (although I was really pulling for Keenam and the Cougars) I really didn't think they would win that game.

I even argued about it with a friend of mine named Shaun. I thought that it was too early in the year for the Cowboys to get caught off guard. I was wrong.

Shaun? You were right. And I'm happy.

But what a game that was.

Houston scored the first TD of the game off an OSU fumble deep in its own territory. They added a FG a few possessions later, and it was a pretty close game for most of the half. In fact, the time of possession was nearly identical.

Then UH went on a 96 yard drive with 5 minutes left in the 2nd quarter. On the ensuing kickoff ( I think the UH kicker was just trying to squib kick it), the ball caromed off a Cowboy and the Cougars recovered.

They scored another TD right before the half. 14 points in five minutes. A pivotal stretch in the game.

But the really impressive thing was what Houston was able to do in the second half.

Oklahoma State came out of the locker room with their grease hot, down 24-7, and scored three touchdowns. 21-0 was the third quarter score including an electrifying punt return by Dez Bryant.

Normally, a team ranked in the top 5, at home, that goes on a run like that, will end up running away with the game.

But that didn't happen.

So what was the turning point? How did Houston get the momentum back in its favor?

Special teams.

Oklahoma State was finally stopped late in the third and had to punt. They were deep in their own territory and had the Cougars placed at their own 35 yard line after a fair catch.

But there was a penalty, and they had to kick it again.

On the ensuing punt, Houston got a great return back to the Cowboys' 30 yard line. A swing of 35 yards.

The third quarter ended during the next drive, and Houston ended up scoring the first points of the fourth quarter on a fourth and goal plunge from the one yard line to retake the lead, 31-28.

The momentum OSU gained in the third quarter wouldn't have been stopped so quick had they not given up 14 points in the final 5 minutes of the half.

If that hadn't happened, the score could have been 28-10, a Houston TD in the fourth would have made it 28-17...not enough to get them back into Momentum's good graces.

But when that TD gives you the lead? Momentum here we come.

OSU answered with a 60 yard scoring drive, but what happened next will live in Houston lore forevermore.

OSU should have put the Cougars away early in the game, but when you let a good team hang around (even if you're at home) crazy things can happen.

And Houston needed crazy things to happen to win the game.

They'd already scored a TD on fourth and goal, so why not try it again on the next drive?

A fourth and goal that was tipped by an OSU defender...right into the hands of Houston. Mere inches away from falling incomplete and keeping the Cowboys in front. During the play, Keenum dodged and darted around Cowboy defenders until he could make a throw. They nearly had him more than once.

Instead, they're down three points needing a scoring drive to tie or take the lead.

So what happens? Another costly fumble. And although the Cougars didn't turn it into points, it was a lost opportunity for OSU to score. They started that drive inside UH territory.

OSU gets the ball back with 3:24 to go, down three. Plenty of time.

But then yet another crazy thing happened. A tipped ball, picked off by UH and returned for a TD. Game over.

Wow.

Keenum played a magnificent game and has truly validated himself as a legitimate Heisman contender.

But if I'm on the OSU coaching staff? All I can do is shake my head at the dozens (seemed like hundreds) of missed tackles, costly penalties and untimely fumbles that led to the loss.

It just goes to prove that even really good teams can get beat at home if they don't wrap up, play disciplined defense and let good teams hang around for too long.

A great win for Houston. If they beat Texas Tech and win the conference? Case Keenum will get a free trip to NYC at the end of the year.

He is must-see-TV.

And once again, Shaun? Good call...maybe I'll start listening to you more often...about anything but the Dallas Cowboys. You hater.

OBSERVATIONS FROM SATURDAY

Wow. What a college football Saturday. I'll get to the UH/Oklahoma State game in a separate post.

Things I noticed:

Texas took a while to get rolling, but when they got rolling, it was fun to watch. Former Southlake Carroll Tre Newton may end up having a great redshirt freshman season. He looked really good when Vondrell McGee went out.

Colt McCoy seemed to have a little trouble getting used to the thin air - had a lot of balls sail on him - but he ended up with good numbers (3 TDs passing, 1 rushing) and is in the thick of the Heisman race.

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I'm really mad at myself because I missed the end of the Central Michigan/Michigan State game. After Central Michigan missed the 2-point conversion, it was 2:30 PM so I switched it to the Texas game. I only noticed the score on the bottom of the screen later in the evening and read about what happened.

Cent Michigan QB Dan LeFevour is a player I told you all to look out for before the season. What a huge win for that program. And how about the player who was offsides on the first game-winning FG attempt? Wow. Wonder how he slept last night?

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Two games were decided by missed extra points: South Carolina/Georgia and Purdue/Oregon.

The Gamecocks had one blocked earlier in the game, so instead of being able to kick a tying FG in the final seconds, they had to go for the TD...didn't make it and lost.

Purdue missed a PAT and ended up losing to Oregon because of it. My argument on PATs is that if the game comes down to an extra point, then you didn't do the job in other aspects of the game. If you want to win the game, win the game. Don't let it come down to one point.

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UNC beat Connecticut on a bad snap that resulted in a safety. 12-10 was the final. UNC didn't look as good as I thought they would.

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Ohio State REALLY surprised me. USC was favored by 7, and I thought they'd have covered that two or three times over.

Instead they needed true freshman Matt Barkley to go 90-plus yards in the final seconds...AT Ohio State.

That was really impressive - and he did it on a banged up shoulder. I think he's going to end up being something very special.

And although USC didn't dominate like they did last year, a win's a win, and they'll keep their #3 ranking.

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And how's this for a crazy string of games: Wyoming beat Weber State, Weber State beat Colorado State, Colorado State beat Colorado, which got mutilated by Toledo, which got mutilated by Purdue which lost to Oregon, which lost to Boise State...wonder if that will ever come back around to Wyoming. I'll keep track of it.
  • mark rogers
  • September 13, 2009 10:35 PM

EAGLES' ADJUSTMENTS WERE THE DIFFERENCE

The Abilene High/Cooper game was once again a memorable and entertaining game.

A 21-21 tie at the half, Cooper had run 47 plays. Abilene High? Just 17.

Cooper had the ball 18 minutes. Abilene High had it six. Six minutes, and they scored 21 points.

Normally when an offense scores that quickly, the defense is sucking wind and doesn't play very well. Any drive over nine plays begins to take a toll on the defenders. Cooper had three drives more than 13 plays on Friday. It was a great first half.

And I don't know the specific adjustments that were made (perhaps I could determine that if I could watch the game film again), but Abilene High stopped the Cougars on the first drive in the third quarter...held them to a FG...and that was the difference.

The momentum began to swing in the Eagles favor, and Cooper was never able to tilt it back their way.

Controlling the clock like that only works if you can stop the other team from scoring.

If that happens, the team that only scores quick will eventually run out of time.

It happened to the 2002 Abilene High Eagles. That was the year Marcus Johnson (QB) and Jerale Badon (WR) were seniors.

They had an unbelievable season and many thought they had a chance to play for the state title.

They lost in the first round to Lub. Monterey (a team they whipped early in the year) because Monterey kept the ball for so long. The Eagles simply didn't have enough time to score. It was an upset for the ages.

It looked like Cooper was on its way to that kind of win on Friday, they just couldn't come up with that big stop they needed.

Got to hand it to the Cooper offense for doing their part in keeping the ball out of the Sims boys' hands.

But you have to give more credit to the Sims boys. They were simply unstoppable.

Guess that week off didn't effect them all that much.

I wish that one had playoff implications instead of not having one ounce of importance in the standings...oh well.
  • mark rogers
  • September 13, 2009 10:27 PM

LESSON IN COACHING

That's what Clemson coach Dabo Swinney got from Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson on Thursday night.

The Yellowjackets won the game but were completely outplayed by the Tigers. Georgia Tech started out good but faded late.

I don't know if they're in bad condition or just got lazy, but the Tigers won the game on the field. It was a couple of major coaching mistakes early in the game that cost Clemson.

Lining up for a field goal in the first half, the Yellowjackets put a return man deep in case Clemson tried to quick-kick.

Once they put the man deep, Swinney should have called timeout and put his punt team on the field.

Instead, they went ahead and kicked it to the deep man with nothing but big, slow lineman on the field to try and stop him. They didn't, and he went for a TD.

Later in the half, Georgia Tech appeared to be thinking about going for it on fourth down, but with about 20 seconds left on the play clock, the offense ran off the field and the field goal team ran on and lined up.

One of the Georgia Tech receivers stayed on the field, and only 10 men ran on from the FG team.

The Clemson defense didn't pick it up, the kicker threw the ball to an uncovered receiver, and they scored.

Take away those two huge mistakes and Clemson wins that game easily.

Tough way to lose in your 2009 national television debut.

And by the way, if you haven't heard the name Derrick Morgan? Pay attention. He is a DE for Georgia Tech, and he's a freak of nature.

He was the best football player on the field on Thursday.

Derrick Morgan. Number 91.
  • mark rogers
  • September 13, 2009 10:19 PM

September 11, 2009

OBSERVATIONS FROM 1ST WEEKEND OF CFB

If you just look at current year performances (which in this case is one game), there are two Heisman Trophy candidates leading the way. BYU QB Max Hall and Alabama RB Mark Ingram.

BYU and Bama were the only two teams that defeated top 10 teams over the weekend, and those two guys were the main reasons each team won.

If they keep performing like they did and their teams keep winning, it's theirs to fight over. Not saying that other guys won't be in the mix, but they should be leading in everyone's brain-ballots right now.

And Terelle Pryor proved why he won't win: he just won't have the flashy numbers the other guys will. Great athlete, but he won't win it throwing 170 yards and one TD per game.

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I thought Navy was going to beat OSU after watching the first quarter of that game. They were absolutely dominating the Buckeye defensive line, gaining huge chunks of yards at a time.

I don't understand why Navy lined up in a passing formation on the 2-point conversion though. I can see maybe passing on that play on a play-action, but to just line up in a formation you haven't used all day? Crazy.

Bad call coach. They should have just run it in or faked the run before they passed.

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Alabama might be the best team in the country. Their two inside LBs are both 6-4 and closer to 260 than 250. And they can MOVE. They are unbelievable to watch.

The defense looks like an NFL defense at every position.

They have one of the best RB stables in the country and arguably the best WR in Julio Jones. Is it wrong to say I have a man-crush on him?

They should have beat Virginia Tech 42-6, and Tech is good. They outgained the Hokies by about 400 yards. The score was much closer than the game actually was. Alabama absolutely crushed them.

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Oklahoma State really surprised me. I knew they were going to be good, but I didn't know they were going to be good enough to beat Georgia by two TDs.

The jury is still out on Georgia. They may end up having a down year which would show that OSU isn't that dominant. Tough to tell at this point.

One thing I do know: Dez Bryant is ridiculously good.

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I don't know if Rutgers is just that bad or if Cincinnati is actually pretty good...??? Cincinnati is precise on offense and has some talent on defense. They completely dominated a Rutgers team that a lot of people thought would win that game. Cincy QB Tony Pike will be an NFL QB.

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Miami is MUCH better than I thought they'd be. Jacory Harris looks like a spaghetti noodle, but his poise and maturity at the position is very impressive.

Miami is fast. Very fast. They may just beat OU.

Their first four games are Florida State (which they won), Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech and OU (not in that order). The experts were saying that if they went 2-2 through that stretch it would be great. They may go 3-1 or 4-0.

After watching all five teams? I don't see any reason why Miami couldn't beat all of them.

Of course, doing it in a month is going to be tough.

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Notre Dame looked really good. Nevada is not a terrible team. I've said for the last two years that I think Jimmy Clausen would be in the Heisman race. He may validate me this year.

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USC QB Matt Barkley is a real talent. I think his confidence and the fact that I don't think he really understands the magnitude of the position he's in will factor in to him having a fantastic year.

USC is really solid...again.

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Nothing else really stood out to me from the first weekend. Second weekend started last night...will comment on the Georgia Tech/Clemson game soon.

  • mark rogers
  • September 11, 2009 9:05 AM

BYU PROVES ME RIGHT

If you'll look down a few posts on this blog, you may notice that I made an entry during the first few minutes of the BYU/OU game last Saturday night.

I mentioned that with the way BYU was playing early, they had a great chance to not only make it close, but win. They were controlling the line of scrimmage and looked crisp and efficient on offense.

After Sam Bradford went down with a shoulder injury, their chances increased greatly, and the Cougars left Arlington with a huge win.

Sooner fans have been saying all week that if Bradford hadn't gotten hurt, that wouldn't have happened.

Well you know what? Bradford got hurt because OU's offensive line is inexperienced and was getting beat up by the BYU front seven. That's how you win games.

Plus, Bradford was having a hard time finding receivers - they're young and inexperienced, too.

And if you'll remember, I wrote an article a few months ago about why I thought Texas would win the Big 12 South over Oklahoma. Two things: OU's offensive line and WR inexperience.

The same two reasons they lost the season opener.

OU is a good program and will bounce back and probably win their bowl game, but every now and then the stars align just right (or wrong depending on your perspective) and it's just not your year.

Bradford should be making millions in the NFL right now.

  • mark rogers
  • September 11, 2009 8:59 AM

September 5, 2009

POTENTIAL OKLAHOMA LOSS

I think there's a great shot that BYU will beat OU. Nothing really crazy has happened today, and we're due.

If Navy had upset Ohio State (which they came extremely close to doing), I wouldn't give BYU a shot.

But since we've been treated to some sort of jaw-dropping Appalachian State over Michigan moment the last few years, I'm still waiting for the impossible to happen.

Go Cougars!!!!

Great...they just missed a field goal.

TEXAS ONESIE

My wife dressed my daughter in her pink University of Texas onesie this morning.

She looks very cute, but it's too bad there's no way I'm spending 40 bones to watch the game on Pay Per View.
  • mark rogers
  • September 5, 2009 6:15 PM

OKLAHOMA STATE SHOCKER

I am completely blown away by the fact Oklahoma State beat Georgia.

The Bulldogs went 80 yards on their first possession, and it looked like they were headed towards a blowout win.

But the Cowboys adjusted and allowed Georgia just three more points the rest of the game while scoring 24 themselves.

Dez Bryant was shut out in the early part of the game but ended up with a couple of big touchdown catches proving why he may be the best receiver in college football.

We'll see his main competition (Alabama sophomore Julio Jones) in about 45 minutes.

I didn't think the OSU defense was going to be able to stop Georgia.

The Bulldogs are bigger and more experienced up front and used to playing against SEC defenses every week.

Anyway, the Cowboys validated their top 10 preseason ranking and just made the Big 12 South that much more interesting.
  • mark rogers
  • September 5, 2009 6:10 PM

FRIDAY NIGHT MAYHEM

I've been closely involved (as a spectator, player or reporter) in about 17 football season.

I've never seen anything in North or West Texas like I saw on Friday.

Lots of times games are delayed or played on Saturday, but it was crazy to see how many games were straight up canceled.

It will be interesting to see how the extra "off" week helps or hurts area teams.

I think Abilene High is going to beat Cooper next week, but it may be closer since the Cougs have had an extra game to gel and gain some momentum.

Hopefully we won't have another Friday night like that.

It's never good when the weather is the top story at 10:30 PM on a Friday night in the fall.
  • mark rogers
  • September 5, 2009 6:07 PM

GUESS I WAS RIGHT ABOUT OREGON

A few weeks ago I got into a rather lengthy debate about the state of Oregon football. I mentioned on this blog that I thought Oregon would lose to Utah on September 19.

Oregon fans came out of the woodwork calling me an idiot.

Looks like it doesn't matter if they lose to Utah, because they were absolutely dominated by Boise State on Thursday night.

Boise State is a good football team with a great quarterback. They will probably go undefeated and get an at-large BCS bid, but they're not THAT good.

The score was actually closer than it really was. Boise State should have won that game 35-6.

The Boise State offensive and defensive lineman beat the tar out of Oregon for 60 minutes.

Can't say I'm surprised.

Of course, I'll never point out when a prediction is wrong...just when I'm right.
  • mark rogers
  • September 5, 2009 6:03 PM

September 1, 2009

COWBOYS AS READY AS THEY'RE GOING TO GET

Let the 2009 NFL regular season officially begin.

I wouldn't expect the starters to play much on Friday night in Minnesota, but they really don't need to. This team is ready to play for real.

The next two weeks should be about two things: getting Roy Williams' shoulder better and game-planning for Tampa Bay (the regular season opener is in Tampa on September 13.

On Saturday night, the starters once again dominated their opponent. A 10-3 half-time lead doesn't look that dominant, but we had the ball for about 20 of the 30 minutes in the opening half, Tony Romo threw for 195 yards, the Marion Barber-Felix Jones man-machine rushed for 70 yards and a TD, and four different receivers touched the ball.

Plus, we had another 90+ yard scoring drive. That's big.

That's how you win games in the NFL: by controlling the clock, keeping your defense fresh and staying balanced. Our pass:run ratio in the first half was nearly 1:1...that's great news.

And anyone that's sick of me singing Jay Ratliff's praises every time I post about the Cowboys? Do me a favor...just watch him on every play he's in there. He rarely doesn't make you shake your head in amazement.

He completely obliterated the 49ers' center on the first play from scrimmage on Friday and made a tackle for a one-yard loss. And if he does get beat? He comes back the next play with a vengeance. Just watch him.

And don't get all worked up about Romo's INT. It really wasn't his fault. Our fullback whiffed on his block forcing Romo to throw into pressure. He didn't get anything behind what would have been a probable TD and left it short. Those things are going to happen.

Overall, we look like a team that's ready to compete for a Super Bowl. We're not there yet, but it's a great starting point.

Here's a snapshot of my takeaway from Saturday's game: Romo looked poised and efficient. Miles Austin FINALLY did something in a game. Kevin Ogletree followed up a brilliant game against Tennessee with another good showing (this time against a starting NFL defense). Our running backs look great. The offensive line has looked quick and dominant. Anthony Spencer continues to look good. Mike Jenkins made a couple of fantastic open field tackles. Isaiah Stanback will probably not make the 53-man roster. Jay Ratliff does things in traffic that the majority of DEs and OLBs can't do in open space. He's amazing. Our defense has been ridiculously vanilla so far (which is just fine) and has been able to make big plays, but I can't wait to see when they start throwing some curve balls in there. 

And I still like my prediction that we'll start the season 7-0 before losing November 8 at Philadelphia.

12-4 here we come.
  • mark rogers
  • September 1, 2009 4:16 PM

DEFENSE AND SPECIAL TEAMS JUMP-START SEASONS

Abilene High, Cooper and Wylie all came away with dominant wins over the weekend. The teams averaged 50 points, but it wasn't the offenses that got things fired up.

It was defense and special teams.

In real time, the Wylie Bulldogs were the first team to shake off the early season jitters and start to really play. It happened in the first quarter against Vernon on Friday night in their renovated stadium.

The Lions had a 1st and Goal inside the Wylie 5-yard line. And came away with zero points failing to score on 4th and Goal (from the one-inch line).

A play like that is absolutely huge. Especially in the first game.

Failing to score on 4th and Goal from the 1 is one of the worst things that can happen to an offense. You've just driven down the field on a good opponent. Things are clicking. The field is disappearing chunks at a time. You're feeling good about yourself. Then it all comes crashing down.

And a defense that may have been on the verge of losing some very important early-season confidence puts a jolt into the rest of the team and the crowd.

And that jolt proved to be too much for the Vernon Lions. The game was over after that play. Huge.

Cooper was next. In the second quarter of their 56-7 win over Wyatt on Friday, it was Tommy Bowman's electrifying 66-yard punt return that gave the Coogers the swagger they'll carry for the rest of the season.

The game was getting out of hand at that point, but a play like that can get a team going for a while. It's all about confidence. It's 10% physical and 90% mental.

Abilene High went into Saturday's game against Dunbar picked to lose by some credible media sources. They won 56-13.

It just goes to show what a big special teams play can do for you. Herschel Sims fielded the season's opening kick on the 3-yard line...and didn't stop running until he crossed the Wildcat goal line.

Game over.

The confidence was reinforced on the Eagle sideline, the crowd was into it, and they cruised to victory.

All about confidence.

And by the way, Sims averaged 11 yards/carry and had 77 cards receiving. Just another great RB in a long line of great AHS running backs.

Just goes to show that although offense gets all the glory, games are often won and lost with big plays on defense and special teams.

You ask any coach...they'll tell you the same thing.
  • mark rogers
  • September 1, 2009 4:12 PM

TALE OF TWO LOSING STREAKS

I have to hand it to the Roby Lions for breaking a 16-game winning streak on Friday night. They hadn't won since the middle of the 2007 season. Nearly 700 days ago.

That must have been a great feeling for those kids.

And I'll tell you what is NOT a great feeling...what happened to WF Hirschi.

A team riding a 17-game losing streak ties the game up against a resurgent Clyde team with 33 seconds left on the clock. Well, the game will be tied after the extra point anyway. Then it's off to OT on a huge wave of momentum.

The crowd goes wild. The players go crazy. A little too crazy? The ref throws a flag.

A flag that turned the extra point into a 35-yard FG, which the poor kicker hit just a little short and Clyde escaped 21-20. The streak is now 18 games.

I wasn't there, but I sure hope the Hirschi players lit black cats, threw them onto the Clyde bench then ran up into the stands and punched all the fans in the mouth.

Not to say that I'm not thrilled Clyde came away with the win, but that'll be a tough one to get over.

The same thing happened to Washington early last season. Jake Locker scored a TD late in a game against nationally ranked BYU. He threw the ball up into the air and was flagged for excessive celebration.

They missed the extra point, lost the game and went onto lose every game the rest of the year.

Keep an eye out for WF Hirschi. That same fate wouldn't surprise me.
  • mark rogers
  • September 1, 2009 4:11 PM

BATTLE OF THE MUSTACHES

This will be quick (having some URL issues that we're trying to iron out), but I wanted to comment on the huge publicity Colt McCoy's mustache got on a national stage a few weeks ago.

He grew it out with the Offensive Line and said he was going to cut if off very soon. Several shows on ESPN commented on it.

I would like to point out that Taylor Potts has had a handle-bar mustache for many weeks now...and his mustache has not gotten one single mention.

Guess that's because he didn't set a national record for completion percentage last year and win the Fiesta Bowl.

I bet Taylor's mustache is going to get some big-time attention this week...when the world sees it for the first time.

I haven't seen it yet, but apparently it makes him look very mean. Something his mother doesn't like.

  • mark rogers
  • September 1, 2009 9:55 AM