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November 29, 2009

McCOY SHOULD BRING HEISMAN BACK TO TEXAS

Since the Heisman Trophy was first given out in 1935, there has been one player from the state of Texas each decade (except the 60s) to win the award.

And in each decade, the award has come to the Lone Star State in the final three years of the decade.

1938: Davey O'Brien, TCU

1947: Doak Walker, SMU

1957: John David Crow, A&M

1977: Earl Campbell, Texas

1989: Andre Ware, Houston

1998: Ricky Williams, Texas

You see? Only years ending in 7, 8 or 9. Weird.

It's actually the reason I predicted Vince Young wouldn't win in 2005 since it didn't fit the trend.

Speaking of VY, let's talk about him.

He absolutely should have won the Heisman in 2005. At the time he was the only player in NCAA history to throw for 3,000 and rush for 1,000 in the same season. Central Michigan's Dan LeFevour did it in 2007 and Nevada's Colin Kaepernick came close last year (2,800 passing and 1,000+ rushing).

So why didn't VY win?

Because of his performance on the road against Texas A&M on November 25.

He had his worst game by far: 13-24, 162 yds passing, 1 TD, 1 INT. 11 rushes for 19 yards and no TDs.

Texas won 40-29 but was outplayed as A&M racked up more first downs, total yards and TOP minutes than Texas.

USC was off that week, but the last time anyone had seen Reggie Bush in action was a 23 carry, 294 yard, 2 TD, come-from-behind performance at home against an 8-1 Fresno State team.

The next time USC hit the field, Bush carried 24 times for 260 yards and two more scores in a route against cross-town rival and nationall ranked UCLA (9-1) in the Pac-10s version of a conference championship.

That week VY orchestrated a 70-3 victory over a terrible Colorado team in the Big 12 Championship game. The Buffs came in with 4 losses on the year. Nobody gave a hoot about that one.

Reggie Bush won the Heisman then preceded to lose to VY and the Longhorns in the Rose Bowl.

(And just a side note, VY led the Titans on an 18-play, 99 yard drive and threw a TD pass as time expired to beat Matt Leinart and the Cards today...ha. Leinart can't get away.)

All that being said...Colt McCoy's Heisman chances were on the line on Thursday night, and I think we all know what happened.

He beat an inspired Texas A&M team in College Station on a short week with a beat up secondary that gave up a lot of points, threw 4 TD passes while piling up 300+ yards, ran for a career-high 175 and a 65 yard TD straight up the gut that could very well be the highlight we all remember when looking back on Colt's Heisman year.

Colt's "Reggie Bush" this year is Mark Ingram, Alabama's RB who's rushed for 1,429 yards and 12 TDs while saving his best performances for the most critical moments against the best teams Bama has played...that's a Heisman recipe, and he was leading the pack before Saturday.

He laid an egg against in-state rival Auburn this weekend. 30 yards on the ground. No TDs and Bama could have very easily lost that game. They trailed in the fourth.

In the 2005 scenario, Colt is Reggie and Ingram is VY.

Unless Colt throws for 120 yards and 3 pick-sixes and fumbles four times in a Texas loss to Nebraska this weekend, the trophy should be his.

And I know the award is supposed to go to the best player in 2009, but much attention has been given to Colt passing the all-time wins record for a starting college QB.

How about this? A Texas QB has gone over 3,000 total yards six times in the history of the program.

Colt has done it THREE times. Nobody else did it more than once.

VY left Texas as, arguably, the best college football player of all-time.

But if Colt wins a National Championship and takes home the Heisman this year?

What's to say that the argument shouldn't be made for Tuscola-grown Colt McCoy, too?

I know there's been a lot of buzz around Stanford RB Toby Gerhart. I LOVE the guy and mentioned him in my "Players to Look out For" article before the season began, but Stanford won't even win it's conference and has lost four times.

The last time a player from a non-contender won the Heisman?

1989 Houston Cougars - and they only lost two games. 20 years ago, so I don't think it's going to happen this year.

The last time a 4-loss team had a Heisman Trophy winner was 1985...Auburn...Bo Jackson. Point is...Gerhart's great, but he won't win the Heisman. He don't know Bo.

Colt wrapped it up in College Station and continued the trend of a player from the state of Texas winning the award in one of the final three years of the decade.

Thanks, Colt, for holding together the equilibrium of my brain.

  • mark rogers
  • November 29, 2009 8:25 PM

EAGLES SHOCK STATE - ADVANCE TO ELITE 8

Wow.

Really the only word that came to mind when I heard the Abilene High/Cedar Hill score on Friday night.

_____.

The word that came to mind when I read the game story and saw Herschel Sims' stats.

That's right. Nothing. I could think of no words.

After a couple of days of reflection, I think I'll be able to try.

What the Abilene High Eagles were able to do on Friday against the #1 team in the state was nothing short of spectacular.

Not a surprise at all, I'm sure, to anyone directly linked to the team (players, coaches, family members, etc..)

But when the state-wide stigma is that the Eagles played in a "terrible" district, then defeated "average" teams to advance to the Third Round, and then they go out and beat...no, destroy #1 Cedar Hill?

Kind of like Abilene High saying, "you know what everybody? Shut up. We're better than you. Period. Don't believe us? Let's play and see what happens."

I love it.

I was in Georgetown, Texas for the holiday and the word around the Austin area is that if Sims wants a free ride to the University of Texas, he's got it. All he has to do is verbally commit.

I'll be honest, watching Sims as a sophomore, I thought he was maybe Oklahoma State, Nebraska, TCU material.

But after what he's done this year? Nearly 2,000 yards, 28 TDs and 9.8 yards every time he carries the football? Not to mention what he's done returning kicks. That boy will go wherever he wants to go. Just name the school.

Texas, Alabama, Florida, Ohio State...anywhere he wants.

It's playoff performances like he had on Friday that make it easy for scouts to make up their minds. Maybe a few were on the bubble...hadn't seem him play...think he's too short...whatever.

But when #23 takes a direct snap in the fourth quarter from his own 5 yard line in a ten point game against one of the best defenses in a state with the best high school football teams and outruns everybody 95 yards to the house? 95 yards??? Are you KIDDING me???

Forget about it.

The scouts that were there watching probably just got up and left with their cell phones to their ears.

Decision made.

Make that kid an offer and make it quick.

Let's not forget what an incredible job of blocking took place by the other 10 players on the offense on that 95 yarder...but this post-season is all about Herschel Sims.

There's just no other way around it.

The only problem this week is that Southlake Carroll lost.

Yes, that they lost.

If they'd won, it's "ok, we know what we're up against. Our nemesis. Let's get up and get ready. We own them now."

But now it could be something like, "Southlake lost? To who? Bowie? Sweet! Free ride to the Semis!"

And that's when you get beat.

I don't think Steve Warren will let that happen. But I think it's the only way the Eagles lose on Friday.

This is the Eagles' best shot at a State Championship in fifty years. The next few weeks should be an extremely fun ride.

Especially with Herschel Sims in the drivers' seat.


November 22, 2009

EAGLES ADVANCE...NOW THE TESTS BEGIN

This has typically been the story for the Abilene High Eagles over the last 7 years or so:

-Storm through the regular season
-Blast a couple of West Texas/Sub-par Dallas teams in the first two rounds
-Have to play the best team in the universe in Round 3

2003 ended against Irving at Texas Stadium in the 3rd round.

In 2004 and 2005, the Eagles first loss of the season was in the 3rd round against eventual champion Southlake Carroll.

The next year they lost to DeSoto in the 3rd.

2007 saw them break up the Southlake dynasty and make it to the State Semis.

Last year was a flukish 1st round outing.

And just a historical note: since 1999, AHS has made the playoffs every year. They've been ousted in the 1st round twice, 2nd round twice, 3rd round four times (four consecutive years), 4th round once and 5th round once. Not too shabby.

Anyway, it looks like that same 2003-2006 pattern is repeating itself this year.

The Eagles have had no problem with any team they've played this year.

Now it's the 3rd round, and who's up next? #1 Cedar Hill.

They're outscoring opponents by nearly four touchdowns per game, have posted two shutouts and are averaging 45.8 points per game.

At 12-0 and with a roster scattered with Division 1 prospects, they're the best Class 5A has to offer...on paper.

But they haven't blown out everyone they've faced. They have wins of 3, 8 and 9 points. Throwing that out there to say they're not unbeatable.

I think the Eagles have a very good chance of beating the Longhorns this week and continuing on to play the winner of the Arlington Bowie/Southlake Carroll game.

But after 11 games of not really being tested, they'll get all the tests they can get this week.
  • mark rogers
  • November 22, 2009 5:41 PM

COOPER PULLS OFF A JAW-DROPPER

I don't care who you are or who you're playing...coming back to win from a 24-0 deficit in the playoffs is absolutely unbelievable.

With 11 minutes to go in the 1st half, Del Valle had that lead on the Cougars. It looked like Cooper's season would end (for the first time ever) in the second round.

I did not realize that Cooper was 10-0 all-time in the second round of the post-season. Pretty remarkable.

The wheels had fallen off. Basketball season was swiftly rushing to the forefront of CougarNation's mind. No more pep-rallys. No more signs to run through. No more spirit fingers.

That's what just about everybody was thinking who was at the game or listening on the radio.

Everybody except the Cooper football team.

The scored 24 unanswered in the 2nd quarter to tie the game at half and outscored Del Valle 27-17 in the 2nd half.

You can't put into words what a performance like that says about a team's character, resolve and internal fortitude.

It's absolutely "unwordable." Just like the word "unwordable."

I know that Denton Guyer is a very highly touted team.


But they have to come here next week and play a team that could not possibly have a higher confidence level heading into this game.

If you can come down from a 24-0 deficit, you can do anything and beat anybody. Cooper realizes that now. And it should pay off this week and hopefully in the few weeks following.

And if you're Del Valle? What a terrible way to end your season...tough luck.


November 21, 2009

PRESTON'S BACK...AND SO ARE WYLIE'S CHAMPIONSHIP HOPES

Not to say that Wylie didn't have a chance to win a second State Championship with either Colin Harris or Eric Watts at the helm (both played admirably in Preston's absence), but when Preston's in there, things just seem to click.

After being out for a couple of weeks, it took the Bulldog offense about three minutes to get back in the groove. Their first drive ended in zero points.

But after that? The Wylie starters only gave Andrews a chance to touch the ball after they'd scored en route to a 42-0 win.

Next up for Wylie?

Burkburnett. A team that was blown out by Graham. And also lost to Bridgeport and Argyle. They also beat a down Sweetwater team by just 14 points in the first game of the season.

I hate using the logic of "Team A beat Team B so if Team C beats Team A they're better than Team B"...but here we go.

Here's a look at the common opponents for Wylie and Burkburnett this year:
Wylie - 47, Sweetwater - 7
Burkburnett - 14, Sweetwater - 0

Wylie - 37, Vernon - 14
Burkburnett - 48, Vernon - 14

Graham - 13, Wylie - 10
Graham - 41, Burkburnett - 7

It's hard to make a conclusion from those scores, but it's not hard to assume that Wylie is the better team.

They played a much tougher schedule.

So let's also assume that the return of Matt Preston is the spark Wylie needs to go on a State Championship run.

That would mean a win against Burkburnett next week.

So what's up after that? (Another thing I hate is looking too far ahead).

Not trying to jinx anyone, just interesting to look at.

If Wylie wins, they'll play the winner of the Prosper/Lovejoy game.

Prosper ended the season ranked #8 in 3A. Wylie was #9. I think it would be safe to predict a Prosper win in that one. They're only loss was to Argyle (a team that beat Burkburnett and hasn't lost all year), and they also beat Bridgeport and won big at Celina.

A Wylie win over Prosper would earn them a spot in the State Championship game. And looming in Regions 3 and 4 are Gilmer, Waco La Vega, Navasota, Cuero and Ingleside.

Gilmer and La Vega play today. Keep in mind Wylie beat La Vega 46-29 on the road in non-district.

The highest ranked team in that group is Gilmer (#1) then Cuero is next at #3.

So it's not an easy field. But also remember that unranked Wylie beat #1, #2 and #9 en route to the 2004 championship.

Didn't hurt that they were led by junior Case Keenum who is now leading the nation in passing yards by nearly 700 yards.

I don't want to look too far ahead, which I've already done, but I really like Wylie's chances with a healthy Matt Preston leading the charge.
  • mark rogers
  • November 21, 2009 9:27 AM

November 13, 2009

COWBOYS MIDTERM EVALUATION

I predicted at the beginning of the year that through eight games of the 2009 season the Cowboys would be 7-1.

I called for a 7-0 start followed by a road loss to Philly.

So where are we at the halfway point? Actually in a pretty good spot.

A 6-2 record with our two losses coming down to the last play of the game (don't get me wrong, we DO NOT deserve to be 8-0).

We have an up-and-coming receiver in Miles Austin who is becoming more and more of a household name with each passing week.

He's catapulted our offense into the #2 position behind New Orleans in total yards. At this point only the Saints and Vikings are scoring more points/game than us. And nobody in the entire NFL is gaining more yards/play than our 6.5. Surprising, I know.

Our defense has given up fewer points per game and total points than any other team in the NFC despite being ranked 11th in the conference in total defense.

And we're in first place.

After what happened the first four games of the season? I'll take it.

Not saying that I'm over the Sunday night loss to the Giants on national television (I may not ever get over that one), but it's starting to look like we may end the playoff-win drought this year.

Over the last few years, we've shot out of the gate only to falter when it matters...in December.

But maybe, just maybe, this year we stumbled out of the gate only to gain some momentum and rise to the occasion late in the year like good teams are supposed to do.

The other encouraging thing is that we have a lot...A LOT... of room for improvement.

Like I mentioned earlier, we're still giving up too many yards. I like the fact that we don't give up many points, but if you continually give up that many yards, teams are going to start scoring on you.

Only the Packers have been penalized more than us on offense. That must change.

Our turnover margin is dead even at 0. And that's an important stat. Of the teams in the negative (meaning they're turning it over more times than their opponents are) only the Steelers and Cardinals rank higher than third in their respective divisions.

We got off to a slow start in the turnover category but our defense is continuing to improve in that stat each week. 

Three of our next five games are at Cowboys Stadium. In that span we have road games against Green Bay and the New York Giants, and home games against Washington, Oakland and San Diego.

Then we go to New Orleans, to FedEx Field in Washington and finish off the year at home against the Eagles.

I'd say we win at least one of the two against the Redskins, beat Oakland and San Diego. Then if we can just win one against the Giants (who we should have beat the first time), Saints, Eagles and Washington...we'd be 10-6 and most likely headed to the playoffs.

To me, that's a worst case scenario.

Overall, I'd say we're in pretty good shape through the half way point.

But only time will tell if the December nightmare will haunt us yet again. Only 17 days to find out.


DAVON RIDDICK IS THE MAN

Davon Riddick, the junior RB at Cooper HS, didn't even start on the JV last year and is the Cougs leading rusher going into the first playoff game.

How does that happen?

Credit should go to something called "developing as an athlete." And it either happens to you...or it doesn't.

We all start out taking those first few awkward steps as babies.

We fall down. Bust our faces. Skin our knees.

Everybody's in the same boat at first.

Then nature starts to take its course to separate the athletes from the non-athletes.

Some blossom early. Like that 8-year old who had a six pack and could do 50-something pullups.

Some blossom late. Like Dara Torres. Who came back from a 2-year retirement after having a baby to set the 50m world record at plus-40 years old...suspicious much? That's another story.

OK, that's not a great example because she was already a great athlete before the retirement, but I just had to throw that in somewhere.

In my very distant opinion, meaning that I've never met the kid or seen him workout, it seems to me that Riddick blossomed as a great RB in the eight months following the 2008 football seaon.

If you don't know anything about him and just look at some film?

The guy is an absolute STUD.

His stride reminds me of someone like Terrell Owens, Alabama WR Julio Jones or Detroit Loins' WR Calvin Johnson. Long, lean, fast and powerful.

As I write that, I notice all the athletes he reminds me of are wide receivers...hmm... That's a pretty good trio to be lumped in with...I wonder if he'll end up being a receiver?

I'll bet he looks less and less like a wideout over the next eight months though when he puts on 20 pounds of muscle and drops the 40 time from a mid 4.5 to a low 4.4.

He has a chance to be really, really good.

It'll be interesting to see him start climbing recruiting boards. Or even if he doesn't, what a steal he will be for anyone to get a commitment from him.

It'll also be interesting watching him as Cooper tries to make a deep playoff run. He could be the "lightning in a bottle" type of player that just might propel the Cougs to something really special.

  • mark rogers
  • November 13, 2009 4:01 PM

November 4, 2009

IF YOU CAN'T WIN IT ALL, MIGHT AS WELL BE INTERESTING

Texas Tech will never be a national title contender, but at least they have a coach that can put them in the national headlines.

I guess that's better than not being a contender and not ever getting in the national spotlight.

Let's be real here. If the best season in your program's history ended with a 65-21 loss to OU (a legitimate perennial national power), a 7-point home win against Baylor (which led by 14 in the 2nd half) and a 47-34 bowl loss to a 9-4 Ole Miss team that had lost to Vanderbilt and Wake Forest earlier in the season...you're not a contender.

If that season is considered the "best in Tech history?" You get the idea...

That being said...and there's no disputing that fact...at least the Tech administrators know what they have in Mike Leach.

He's a quirky, interesting, genius who is a master of mind games, manipulation and the media.

His quotes and antics constantly make headlines and draw the attention of the national media.

Take his latest gem. The "fat little girlfriends" controversy.

Anyone with half a brain would know that Leach wasn't singling out any player's girlfriend. He wasn't making a statement about the obesity rate in America (right around 40% by the way). He wasn't starting a campaign against school lunches and the junk we're feeding our kids.

He was personifying the thing that distracts football players from playing to their potential: praise from family, friends, girlfriends, teachers, classmates, fans and the media.

That's what he was saying.

But why say, "Our players are distracted by the praise they're getting from their family and friends," when you can say, "As coaches we failed to make our coaching points more compelling than their fat little girlfriends."

Brilliant.

And we all know that if you play football at Tech, you don't have a "fat little girlfriend."

It caused ripples on a national stage and was a conversation piece at water coolers across the country.

Good publicity. And as some professional team owners believe, any publicity is good publicity.

He's also called out Browns coach Eric Mangini, A&M's "pretend" cadet corps and the Aggie coaches.

The point is, Mike Leach is a brilliant offensive football coach. He knows his stuff. He could and would probably be successful at any number of big programs in the FBS.

Any non-delusional Tech fan can agree that Leach is the best coach in school history. He wins more games every year than Spike Dykes did, plays a tougher schedule and is 5-4 in bowl games.

But having a brilliant coach doesn't mean you can be a national powerhouse.

I don't think you could bring anybody, any coach in the world to Lubbock that would make Tech a contender. Not Urban Meyer, not Nick Saban, not Mack Brown, not Pete Carroll, not anybody.

Why?

Location, location, location.

I'm not banging on Lubbock here. I happen to love the city. Met my wife there.

But Lubbock simply cannot compete with Gainesville, Austin, Los Angeles, Tuscaloosa, etc...in terms of weather, proximity to other "interesting" things or tradition.

I can hear the rebuttal now, "but look at Notre Dame, Michigan and Ohio State. They're national powers and are in 'bad' weather spots not close to anything great."

Yes, but back in the day, you used to have to go to those types of schools to get seen on TV. That was a big selling point.

Now 4- and 5-star high school seniors can go play football where the weather is warm (not dust storm desert-ish or cold) in great areas of the country - near mountains, hills, the beach, big cities - and be on national television nearly every Saturday (especially if your coach likes to play on Tuesday).

And it's those types of players that ultimately make a program a national title contender. You can have the best coach and scheme in the world, but in college football if you don't have the talent, you'll never win it all.

Plus, those other schools already have big-time tradition and momentum. It helps to tell a recruit you have 3 or 4-plus Heisman trophy winners or 5 national titles.

Tech can't show anything other than some SWC championships from the Stone Age and an 11-2 record in 2008 when they knocked off a #1 ranked team.

What I'm trying to say is that there are a lot of programs out there in the same boat as Tech - good teams with the ability to have a great year every now and then and to knock of some ranked teams - but don't have a Mike Leach to make them interesting and relevant.

I bet if Leach wasn't the type of coach he is, he wouldn't have half the talent on the roster that he does today....great talent brought to Lubbock because Tech is in the national spotlight every so often.

That helps in recruiting. It helps to get some very good players.

But the majority (the MAJORITY, not all) of the 4 and 5-star recruits (the type of players that lead to championships) will continue to go to Texas, Oklahoma, USC, Florida, Miami and LSU.

I'd rather have an interesting guy coaching my average football program than a completely boring guy coaching my average football program.

Wouldn't you?