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September 29, 2010

OCTOBER 2 PREDICTIONS

Haven't done this yet this year...predictions for Saturday:

Texas vs. Oklahoma (Dallas):
I think Texas will rebound and win this one. If they had beaten UCLA, I would call for an OU win. But that defeat has focused the Horns and they'll be playing with a chip on their shoulder. OU hasn't lost but hasn't looked dominating either. They've kind of reminded me of Texas, just sort of scraping by on talent alone. Haven't seen anything really impressive from them yet, and I've watched the OU games.

Wisconsin at Michigan State: Wisconsin is a decent team but State is rolling and they'll have the "inspired" edge as their head coach will be calling the shots from the press box after having a heart attack and heart surgery hours after the OT win at Notre Dame.

Florida at Alabama: If you had asked me about this game after the first few weeks, I would have said UF, no doubt. But after watching Mark Ingram against Arkansas, my favor is back in Bama's court. He is more than just a good running back benefiting from a good offensive line, balanced passing attack and good defense. He is a GREAT running back. The kid is special and if he stays out of trouble will be one of the all-time greats when it's all said and done.

Stanford at Oregon: I know Oregon is good and has been blowing teams out. But I love what Stanford has put together and think they have a great shot at a Pac-10 title and a Rose Bowl berth. Andrew Luck is the man. Lot of native Texans will be playing in this one.

And finally, Penn State will beat Iowa on the road and things won't get any easier for Brian Kelly at ND - they lost at Boston College...for the Irish's FOURTH loss. Wow.

  • mark rogers
  • September 29, 2010 11:08 PM

HOW DID UCLA STEAMROLL TEXAS? EASY...

I've heard a lot of talk this week about how UCLA was able to beat Texas in Austin. Reasons ranging from the ineptness of the Texas' offense to Mack Brown's coaching skill. While those things may have played a role in the outcome of the game, in my opinion (and keep in mind that it is an EXPERT opinion) there was really only one reason for the upset.

They did it by completely changing the identity of their offense. Let me explain (for those of you who hadn't figured this out already).

UCLA started the season 0-2 with a loss at Kansas State and a blowout home loss against Stanford. In those games the Bruins' rush to pass ratio (run:pass) was fairly balanced. Offensive Coordinator Norm Chow had his unit running the ball about 1.5 times as often as they passed. A 1.5:1 rush to pass ratio.

They lost the time of possession battle badly in both losses.

Now, let's look at the first win for the Bruins, at home against a floundering Houston team. The run:pass ratio increased dramatically to 3:1 (three rushes for every pass attempted). They led in the game 31-3 in the second half and easily won the TOP battle (Time Of Possession).

Against Texas? That ratio doubled yet again to a staggering 6.2 rushes for every pass thrown (6.2:1). An absolute and complete turnaround from their first two games, which were the games the Texas Longhorns coaching staff probably watched in preparation for what would become the most embarrassing home loss in the Mack Brown era.

The Texas defense is loaded with talent and future NFL stars. Add to that talent pool a great deal of experience, speed, and intelligence and you get one of the best defenses in the country...against spread offenses.

The Texas coaching staff has done an amazing job at building a defense that will dominate the Big 12, which is a conference loaded with pass-happy, spread-it-out offenses (see: OU, OSU, Tech, A&M, Kansas, etc.)

But what the Texas defense is absolutely not built to do is stop a line-it-up-and-run-it-straight-down-your-throat offense, which is what UCLA brought to the table on Saturday.

A genius move by Chow since they had not done that all year. At least if the Longhorns had expected that kind of offensive scheme they could have made some pre-game adjustments and prepared for it.

But when you take an offensive line that averages 317 pounds and come straight ahead against defensive lineman averaging 50 pounds a man less than that, you come up with an inferior team wearing down its more talented opponents late in the game for a big, job-saving win (Neuheisel's job to be exact).

Of course there were many other factors in the game like turnovers, TOP, play-calling, intensity and endurance, but if UCLA had come with the expected balanced offensive attack, the Longhorns would have been able to overcome all the mistakes.

It was exactly the right call and execution by the UCLA coaches and players. Does it mean that Texas is out of the Big 12 race? No, that will happen with a loss on Saturday in Dallas.

Remember, Texas is built to win against Big 12 teams so look for them to win this Saturday and play Nebraska again for the Big 12 crown (a game I think Nebraska would win at this point of the season...but that's another story).

So that's what happened. UCLA's coaching staff and offensive execution won the game for the Bruins on Saturday, but it sure didn't help that Texas showed up to the game thinking that just by showing up, they had already won.

That's what happens when you get cocky...and that's why they play the games.

Please blame my excessive use of ratios in this post to the Financial Accounting class I'm currently taking...I see them in my sleep.

 

 

  • mark rogers
  • September 29, 2010 10:42 PM

September 19, 2010

QUICK HITS FROM WEEKEND OF FOOTBALL

Abilene High LB Anthony Carriola is a monster.

Texas defense is really, really good.

Nebraska is an excellent football team and has a great shot at winning the conference. What a way to go out...

Steve Sarkisian is on the hottest seat of any coach right now.

Mark Dantonio made the call of his life against Notre Dame and then was fighting for his life having heart surgery just a few hours later. Don't think college football is a high-stress job? See Urban Meyer...

Auburn has huge potential but has yet to put together a complete game. These close games are eventually going to ruin their SEC chances.

Heisman front-runners right now are Ryan Mallett, Tyrelle Pryor, Taylor Martinez (Neb QB), Denard Robinson, Kellen Moore, and Cam Newton.

West Orange Stark QB Reggie Garrett collapsed and died during his game on Friday night. That story hit me a little bit differently as a parent. It absolutely ruined my Saturday...thoughts and prayers going out to his friends and family.

  • mark rogers
  • September 19, 2010 11:10 PM

COWBOYS LIVING UP TO EXPECTATIONS

...well from me anyway.

Not from the million sportswriters and broadcasters who picked us to go the Super Bowl.

We're a team made up of great players. But we're nowhere near being a great team.

I have a hard time believing we'll win against Houston next week which means we'll be 0-3.

My advice to the coaching staff and management is to contact the league office and find out for sure when the pre-season ends and the regular season begins. Once they find out that the season started TWO WEEKS AGO, they should pass that along to the players so they can start playing LIKE THEY ACTUALLY CARE ABOUT WINNING FOOTBALL GAMES!!!!!!

Anyway, it was great to see Knox and Manning out there doing there thing.

Other than that, let's now list out all the positives we can take away from today's performance against Chicago:










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  • mark rogers
  • September 19, 2010 11:03 PM

A LOGICAL LOOK AT TEXAS//TEXAS TECH

I predicted a 38-24 Texas win based on the fact that the Texas defense might be the most talented in the country.

I wrote the following last Monday (9/13):

To me, it's all about Tech's offense versus Texas' defense. And if we boil it down that simply...bet on a Texas win.

The Longhorns defense has played down to its below-average opponents so far this year and has only given up three TDs. Their rush defense is allowing around 2 yards per carry. Names like Sam Acho, Keenan Robinson, Gideon, Aaron Williams, Kenny Vaccaro, Christian Scott, Dravannti Johnson, Kheeston Randall, and Jackson Jeffcoat will become household names (or close to it) before the end of the year.

The Texas defense is ridiculously talented.

Well, when I predict something accurately, I like to bask in it for a few minutes before my next huge embarrassing incorrect prediction.

So I said we were going to look at this logically. Let's do it...and bare with me here.

An average defensive backfield can be "rescued" by a great defensive line. If four members of the line can get constant and tenacious pressure, the defensive backs don't have to cover their guys for as long and the QB loses confidence early. Not to mention that the backfield can keep seven players to defend against the pass.

On the other hand, a great secondary can be made to look awful with poor defensive line performance. Linebackers and safeties have to blitz, receivers have longer to get open, and the QB has all day to throw. It doesn't take a Charles Woodson to keep a receiver covered for two seconds. But the longer the receiver has to run around, it doesn't matter if Usain Bolt is on the job, the receiver will eventually get open.

That's why when the pocket breaks down and a QB can buy a few extra seconds with his feet, he can usually find an open man downfield.

Now, if you combine a great defensive line with a great defensive backfield, you get a defense that allows 144 total yards on the road against a Texas Tech team that is loaded with offensive talent (granted, they're in year 1 of a new system, but they're still overloaded on offensive talent).

It doesn't matter who you're playing. When a defense can get steady pressure from four guys and allow seven talented, fast, muscular athletes to cover receivers for no more than 2.5 seconds, you get an ugly, slow-paced, boo-filled game...just like we had last night in Lubbock.

And it's those kinds of defenses that lead teams to the Promised Land.

The same is true for an offensive line. A great line can make average backs and receivers look great, while an average line can make great backs and receivers look mediocre.

It's the most fundamental law in the football law book.

Many teams nowadays have been able to hide their weak lines with blitzing, stunts, twists, quick slants, screens, draws, and trick plays, but championships are won by teams who can dominate in the trenches on both sides of the ball...period.

Texas Tech fans ("fans" being short for fanatic, or a person with "an extreme and uncritical enthusiasm or zeal") have unfortunately been permanently blinded by the flashiness that was Mike Leach's offense. An objective, reasonable football observer could clearly see last night that Tech was simply overmatched from a talent perspective.

Texas has better athletes. They may have the most athletic team (defense anyway) in the country.

Some Tech fans may say that the Mike Leach system could have scored more than 24 points last night and won that game.

However, if that is reasonable to assume, then it should also be reasonable to assume that if Leach was still in power, the Tech defense would not have played so well and would have given up more points...so the Leach hypothetical is a wash.

Tech's defense played a heck of a game last night. One of the best defensive games I've seen from Tech in a while. But it does little good and receives little attention when you're getting worked over in the trenches. And that's exactly what the Texas defensive line was doing to the Tech O-line...working them over.

To football purists, that game was pure art.

To more contemporary fans who like to see points scored at a rate of one per minute, last night was an ugly spectacle to behold.

Texas may not be the offense it was under Colt McCoy, but many believe (not just me) that this is the best defense Mack Brown has had. And it's the defense that matters most. A great offense can win you a lot of games, but won't win many championships.

However, a great defense combined with an average offense can get you a ring (see Super Bowl 40, Pittsburgh Steelers...just to name one of about 100 examples I can think of).

I'm not predicting a Texas national championship, but if the UT offense can continue to improve and that defense keeps doing what it's doing, Texas is going to be tough to beat.

  • mark rogers
  • September 19, 2010 11:00 PM

September 13, 2010

TEXAS // TEXAS TECH PREVIEW

OK...here we go.

The Longhorns and Red Raiders both have a couple of tune-ups under their belts. SMU, New Mexico, Rice and Wyoming have all suffered losses to UT and Tech. Four pretty average teams, but it gives us enough to make an early week prediction about Saturday night's game in Lubbock.

First of all, let's all remember what happened the last time Tech and Texas played in Lubbock.

UT/Tech 2008 recap

An unbelievable game that ruined Texas' national championship hopes and will remain Texas Tech fan ammunition until the end of time.

Two years later it's two completely different teams. Gone are Jordan Shipley, Michael Crabtree, Graham Harrell, Colt McCoy and Mike Leach.

New characters in the drama from two years ago are Taylor Potts, Garrett Gilbert, Tre Newton, Lyle Leong and Mike Davis.

One notable constant? Blake Gideon. The monumental GOAT of the game who dropped a freebie INT right in his hands that would have ended the game. Gideon was a true freshman at the time and has had a remarkable career at UT. Too bad he'll be remembered for that one mistake no matter what he does.

Anyway, enough about 2008. What are the main factors heading into 2010?

To me, it's all about Tech's offense versus Texas' defense. And if we boil it down that simply...bet on a Texas win.

The Longhorns defense has played down to its below-average opponents so far this year and has only given up three TDs. Their rush defense is allowing around 2 yards per carry. Names like Sam Acho, Keenan Robinson, Gideon, Aaron Williams, Kenny Vaccaro, Christian Scott, Dravannti Johnson, Kheeston Randall, and Jackson Jeffcoat will become household names (or close to it) before the end of the year.

The Texas defense is ridiculously talented.

Tech's offense is stacked with names like Potts, Baron Batch, Eric Stephens, Leong, Detron Lewis and Jacoby Franks.

Does Texas have better athletes than Tech? Yes.

Has that ever stopped Tech from beating the Longhorns in Lubbock? Not one bit.

But the real question is: what do each team's weaknesses have to go up against?

The fireworks and attention will surround the times that Tech has the ball. But what about when Texas has the ball?

The UT offense will go against a Tech defense which has allowed about 380 yards per game and given up a total of 44 points to below-average teams. And those aren't trash yards allowed at the end of the game. SMU and New Mexico each played the Raiders close early in the game and SMU nearly pulled off the upset.

I just don't think the Raiders will be able to slow down the Texas offense enough to win. Tech will score points, they just won't be able to score enough.

All that being said let's boil it down to a simple formula I've come up with:

(Rivals.com five star recruits + number of career wins for head coach + points scored + TDs allowed - size of stadium / location of game's latitude and longitude) + (national championships - head-to-head wins * the square root of pages in the media guide) / (first downs allowed + sacks) =

Texas 38.
Tech 24.
  • mark rogers
  • September 13, 2010 1:29 PM

HAS A DAUGHTER TURNED ME IN TO A BIG SOFTIE?

Last year the Cowboys opened up JerryWorld against the New York Giants and lost a heart-breaking game that they shouldn't have lost. I was crushed. Check out the post I published seconds after the clock hit 00:00.

Cowboys have cut me Deep

But when the clock hit zero last night, I wasn't angry or even surprised.

Could this new found mellowness be credited to my 14-month old daughter? Has a little girl toddling around the house caused me to have a little perspective on life and realize that a Cowboys loss does not have to cause a sleepless night or heart palpitations?

Or is it the fact that what transpired last night is COMPLETELY expected under the current Cowboys regime?

In this era of parity and balance, it would be tough to say who has the most talented roster in the NFL...but Dallas would be in the conversation. There were flashed of brilliance from Miles Austin, Tony Romo, DeMarcus Ware and Mike Jenkins. Dallas has a good football team.

Yet we give up a defensive TD with no time left on the 1st half clock and commit a holding penalty that negates a thrilling and dramatic game-winning TD...a game the Cowboys had absolutely no business winning.

Maybe being a dad has had a small role to play. When Tashard Choice fumbled and helplessly watched DeAngelo Hall give Washington a 10-zip lead, my first gut feeling was one of pity for Choice.

Was it the most astute football play?

No.

But the kid was just doing what he's been trained to do: fight for yardage no matter what. Should he have just fallen down? Yes.
Should Romo have slid and escaped into the break with a 3-nothing lead? Yes.
Should Wade Phillips have called off the "Hail Mary" after a penalty (one of 12 on the night for Dallas) and just kneeled the ball ON THE ROAD? Yes.

But had any of those things happened, it would not have been characteristic of a Wade Phillips-led football team.

The kinds of mistakes Dallas made last night weren't the kind that can be fixed overnight. The mistakes that cost the Cowboys the game weren't missed blocking assignments, miscommunications, or dropped passes.

The mistakes that cost Dallas the game are culture problems. And you don't fix those in the film room...you fix those in the Human Resources department.

Dallas is 0-1 with a game against the Chicago Bears on Sunday afternoon. At this point, it doesn't really matter if Dallas goes 0-16 or 14-2, they're not a championship team because of the destructive culture and mentality that has infected the Cowboys' locker room over the last few years (since Parcells left to be exact).

I don't know...go get Bill Cowher or something. It may not make me quite so angry anymore, but if something doesn't change soon, Jerry could find himself without a fan base.

September 7, 2010

SORRY...BOISE STATE AND TCU SHOULD NOT BE CONTENDERS

I may get stoned for this one...but I think an undefeated TCU or Boise State should not be considered at the end of the year to play in (or for) the BCS Championship.

Let me explain.

I watched both teams over the weekend. TCU looked solid against Oregon State in a 9-point win. Boise State was phenomenal in a tough environment against a good Virginia Tech team. I think either of those teams could beat anyone in the nation on any given night.

I think Boise State could beat Texas, Alabama, Ohio State, Florida, Oklahoma...anyone.
I think TCU has the athletes to beat any of those schools and anymore that you can think of.

BUT!!!!!! Ah, yes the "but"...

Boise State will play two teams this year...two. Virginia Tech and Oregon State. Technically neither on the road. V-tech was in Washington DC. Oregon State will travel to Idaho.

The rest of their schedule? At Wyoming; at New Mexico State; Toledo; at San Jose State; Louisiana Tech; Hawaii; at Idaho, Fresno State; at Nevada, and Utah State.

Give me a break.

TCU will play three teams: Oregon State (neutral field), BYU (in FW), and at Utah.

Florida plays four road games and THREE of them will be tougher than the three toughest games for TCU (only one of which is on the road).

UF travels to Florida State, Tennessee and Alabama. They're tough home games include bouts against LSU, Georgia, South Carolina, and Mississippi State.

Texas plays at Tech, hosts UCLA, then will play Oklahoma (Dallas), at Nebraska, Oklahoma State, and Texas A&M.

Oklahoma plays at Cincinnati and hosts Florida State this week. They pull both Mizzou and Colorado from the north and play the Big 12 South.

I'm sorry. But a 1-loss Alabama, Florida, Texas or Oklahoma deserves to play for a title more than an undefeated Boise or TCU.

Boise plays its 2 tough games the first three weeks of the year...then they get NINE weeks of playing the equivalent of Iowa State or Duke. Think they'll be fresh come bowl season?

In 2008, Utah beat Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. From November 8 until the end of the season, Alabama had played at LSU, Mississippi State, Auburn, and Florida. During that same span Utah had played only two games: San Diego State and BYU (3 losses in 2008). Who do you think was more fresh and less physically and mentally beat down for the Sugar Bowl? That's what I thought...and I'm not even a 'Bama fan. Just a realist.

If Alabama makes it to the end of this year unscathed, they'll have just played Auburn and the winner of the SEC East.

TCU's tough games are a little more spread out, but they just don't play the level of competition and therefor should not be considered contenders.

Is that fair to Boise State?? Absolutely not.
Is it fair to TCU?? No way.

But that's the way the system is set up and teams that play more tough games should be rewarded over teams that play lackluster competition.

Even if it's just a matter of what conference said team is in, something the players have no control over.

I don't think players for TCU or Boise State should be rewarded for that fact any more than players at Bama or Texas should be punished for it.

That's just the way it is, and until it's changed, the undefeated Boise States and TCUs of the world should be relegated to the Fiesta, Sugar, Orange or Rose Bowls...not the BCS Championship game.
  • mark rogers
  • September 7, 2010 8:39 PM

POTTS SHINES AS TECH NEARLY FAULTERS

Taylor Potts has a lot of doubters out there in Red Raider land...but his performance against SMU on Sunday should keep them quiet for the time being.

Potts connected on 34 of 53 passes (64%), 359 yards and four touchdowns. He would have had a higher completion percentage if his receivers didn't drop four or five passes right in their hands.

Tech came much closer to losing than anyone probably thought they would (save for SMU nation), but Potts' performance had absolutely nothing to do with the precariousness.

The reason SMU kept it close late in the game was questionable play-calling, dropped passes, and poor defense.

Potts and Lyle Leong picked up where they left off last year. They've been doing the ole "throw it up in the corner of the endzone and let Lyle go get it" for years. That hook-up happened twice in the second half of the playoff game between AHS and Southlake Carroll Potts' junior year and got the Eagles back in it late in the game.

Hopefully that connection will win some big games on a national level in the next few weeks.

All that to say, Potts looked comfortable, made all the throws he was asked to make, made smart decisions with the football (0 interceptions), and led the Red Raiders to a big win over an up-and-coming program. On a side note, the absence of turnovers snapped a streak of 9 straight games in which Potts committed a turnover.

Good win for Tech. The Longhorns come to town in 11 days.
  • mark rogers
  • September 7, 2010 8:29 PM