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November 30, 2009

LOOKING BEHIND

Colt McCoy and the Longhorns have done a pretty good job of not looking ahead this season ... and they've had 2 or 3 good opportunities to do so.

However, this will be the toughest week so far to try to avoid that very human response. A win and it's on to the Big Kahuna of all college games in Pasadena - the one for all those previously mentioned marbles.

I think Vince Young is even excited about it, judging by the way he's been playing lately.

But the Nebraska Cornhuskers are zeroed in squarely on this week. A national audience and an upset victory would do a world of good for recruitment and morale. I have pulled an old photo out of the archives and added Bo Pelini's face in honor of the occasion. Worked last time with Bill Callahan.

So, here's the weekly 20-second sermon: "Look Behind, not Ahead". Look at last year and the disappointment that came from some amount of looking ahead. Look behind even farther to get fired up. Remember, the last two meetings with the 'Huskers have been determined by 5 points total - 28-25 in 2007 and 22-20 the year before. This game will probably be tougher than the A&M game because of one final week of pressure before the big pay-off.

OK, that was more than 20 seconds, but I kept looking ahead.

(BTW: 17 photos from the Aggie game are in the slideshows now).

November 27, 2009

BEST FOR LAST

Well, maybe best for the next-to-the-last of the next-to-the last.

Still have Nebraska and Florida to play, of course.

I've seen Colt McCoy play in scores of games, and the one last night was his best on all the levels that measure a great quarterback.

Determination and unwillingness to lose were just as evident as 4 TD passes and 175 yards rushing (including that 65-yard TD scamper). And those are just as important.

It was the best Thanksgiving Day entertainment I think I've ever had, and that includes anything the Dallas Cowboys have dished up recently. And it gave me deja vu.

Think back to the victory over USC in the Rose Bowl that gave Vince Young and company the national championship not that long ago. That was an entertaining game.

The only downside to last night was I definitely saw too many Aggies kissing their girlfriends, but a small price to pay for victory.

November 24, 2009

TURKEY DAY DESSERT

The Austin American-Statesman thinks the rivalry with the Aggies has slipped over the years - and is now firmly behind OU and Texas Tech.

That's no doubt true from Colt McCoy and crew's perspective, but that's not the one that counts this week. It' the frame of mind of the farmers ... and brother, let me tell you - they'll never give up their belief that this game is the most heated rivalry in the history of college football.

However, you put that wild-eyed belief up against UT's desire to play in the National Championship game and I'm afraid Aggieland's motivation is trumped ... even at Kyle Field. Not to mention that Texas is a much better team.

Don't worry Marooners ... you're already bowl-eligible.

TEXAS vs. TEXAS A&M, 7 p.m. Thursday, ESPN

Line: Texas by 22½.

Series Record: Texas leads 74-36-5.

Last meeting: 2008, Texas 49-9.

_smallUTlogo.gif What's at Stake

Texas has already clinched a berth in the Big 12 title game and Thursday is all about staying on course for a national championship. It's also the stretch run for postseason awards. Another big game on national TV could be a big boost for quarterback Colt McCoy's renewed Heisman campaign. For the Aggies, it's all about getting the win to spoil any chance of Texas playing for the BCS title.

_smallUTlogo.gif Key Matchup

Texas QB McCoy vs. A&M pass rusher Von Miller. McCoy is on a torrid pace over the last five games with 1,487 yards and 12 touchdowns. He'll need to be able to spot Miller before the snap because Miller leads the nation with 15½ sacks.

_smallUTlogo.gif Players to Watch

Texas: TB Tre' Newton. The Longhorns' leading rusher is back in the starting lineup ahead of Cody Johnson. Texas has been able to throw deep the last few weeks because the running game has kept defenses honest. If Newton gets off to a good start, it opens up the field for McCoy.

A&M: QB Jerrod Johnson. The most athletic quarterback Texas has faced all season has more touchdowns (24) than McCoy, but also has been under fierce pressure behind a struggling offensive line that has allowed 24 sacks

_smallUTlogo.gif Facts & Figures

McCoy has 43 career victories but is 1-2 against A&M. The Aggies and Kansas State are the only teams with winning records against McCoy ... The Aggies' six wins were by an average of 27 points. Their five losses were by an average of 25.4 ... McCoy has more than 3,000 yards passing in three of his four seasons.

November 23, 2009

WINDING DOWN

You know it's almost Turkey Day when the "finalist" awards start rolling in. It's kind of a "holiday tradition" for Colt McCoy.

The Maxwell Award (best-all around player) and Davey O'Brien Award (best college quarterback) finalist lists were announced today. Our man was on both of them, of course.

Tim Tebow is also a finalist for both, while Alabama's running back Mark Ingram joins the two for the Maxwell and former Abilene Wylie superstar QB and current Houston Cougar field general Case Keenum is the third finalist for the O'Brien.

I expect both Tebow and Colt will also be Heisman finalists, which will be announced on Dec. 9. The winner will be named at 7 p.m. on ESPN on Dec. 12.

Nothing against Alabama, but I hope they lose to the Gators so we can see those two great quarterbacks lead their teams against one another in Pasadena.

November 22, 2009

THANK YOU and YOU'RE WELCOME!

What a way to finish a career at DKR!

Colt McCoy cemented his legacy at the University of Texas no matter what happens down the road - which hopefully includes a drubbing of Texas A&M, a nice solid defeat of Nebraska and a trip to Pasadena.

Speaking of cementing a legacy, the only quarterback EVER in the history of the NCAA with 43 victories is seen above sharing the victory over the Jayhawks with his fans.

Not wanting it all to end, Colt capped off the evening by firing the cannon and beating Big Bertha. Nice finish for a very nice guy.

(BTW: The Kansas slideshow with 16 photos is live now).

November 20, 2009

JAYS AND FROGS

I don't have any statistical research to back this up, but I think Colt McCoy's and the Longhorns' overall play is a little crisper in the morning games they've played over the past few seasons.

Always felt a team does better when they don't have to think all day about an upcoming game. Not that the Longhorns will be fretting too much over Kansas, given the dominance they've enjoyed over the Jayhawks recently.

One thing about playing late tomorrow, however, is that Texas will know what TCU did to Wyoming (they play at 1 p.m.). That's the only common opponent the Frogs and the Horns will have shared this season. As you recall, after a feisty start by the Cowboys, UT finally prevailed 41-10.

I mention this because the "gap" in a final score is a stat those evil spawn BCS computers will take into account when they tweak the rankings. I have a feeling the Froggies could win by more than 31 points since they are all about gaudy finishes these days - a smart move when you're trying to move up in the standings.

Mack Brown has a tough decision ahead of him if his team leads Kansas by 28 or so points at halftime. How much longer does he play his star quarterback? Mack has been gentlemanly about not running up scores this season, but that doesn't mean squat to computers, especially as we get closer to Dec. 6 and the final rankings.

But ... if Mack plays his starters too long and one of them gets hurt ... Yeah, tough decision.

TCU is 57 percentage points behind Texas in the BCS. If the Cowboys hang tough and keep the Horny Toads from reaching 40 points and the Longhorns beat the Jayhawks by more than 40 points, there should be no problem with the standings.

Not that I'm in favor of running up the score, but I'm just saying one slip-up (and that doesn't even mean a loss) and there are those waiting in the wings to catch the plane to Pasadena.

BTW: Keeping with our recent "golden oldie" theme of photographs, this one is an Associated Press file photo from Harry Cabluck. It was taken on Aug. 8, 2006 - just a few weeks before the Colt McCoy legacy started in Austin.

November 19, 2009

REMEMBER?

Before you look at the weekly game-at-glance from the Associated Press, you should check out the story about Colt McCoy by Jim Vertuno (click here). It talks about the early days when no one was on the Colt bandwagon (you know who you are). Great story.

The photo is from the press conference he held in Tuscola in 2005 talking about his decision to go to Texas.

This has been a great story for four years. All it needs now is a Hollywood ending in Pasadena early next year.

GAME AT-A-GLANCE

Line: Texas by 27½. ... Series Record: Texas leads 7-2. ... Last meeting: 2008, Texas 35-7.

_smallUTlogo.gif What's at Stake

The Longhorns can clinch their first Big 12 South title since 2005 and quarterback Colt McCoy can set an NCAA record with career victory No. 43. Kansas just needs something positive to salvage a season on the brink of disaster: five straight losses and coach Mark Mangino is facing an internal investigation by the school over an undisclosed personnel matter.

_smallUTlogo.gif Key Matchup

Texas secondary vs. Kansas WRs Kerry Meier and Dezmon Briscoe. Both Jayhawks players are closing in on 1,000 yards receiving. The Longhorns' improved secondary has 19 interceptions after just six in 2008. Texas had three last week against Baylor.

_smallUTlogo.gif Players to Watch

Texas: QB McCoy. The fifth-year senior can get the record win and get his team to the Big 12 title game. Texas hasn't played for the league title since Vince Young led them there in '05. It will also be the last home game for McCoy and 21 other seniors.

Kansas: QB Todd Reesing. The senior, who holds most Kansas passing records, grew up in the Austin area and was snubbed by Texas out of high school. It's his only college game back in front of hometown fans.

_smallUTlogo.gif Facts & Figures

McCoy is the only quarterback in NCAA history to lead his team to four consecutive 10-win seasons ... Texas is 7-0 against Kansas in Big 12 play. The last time Kansas played in Austin, Texas led 52-0 at halftime in a 66-14 win in 2005 ... Kansas had only five turnovers when the Jayhawks started 5-0. The five consecutive losses include 13 turnovers.

November 16, 2009

MARBLES

I thought Texas might replace Alabama again as No. 2 in the BCS this week.

After all, Central Florida beat Houston and Oklahoma beat Texas A&M and Oklahoma State beat Texas Tech.

Of those six teams mentioned above, Texas has played four of them and beaten all four. The Horns did make up a little ground on Alabama. The previous week they were 29 percentage points behind the Tide. This week only 26.

My wife is afraid Texas might be looking past Kansas to the Aggies, and my Burnt Orange buddy Herb in Tennessee has bad feelings about Thanksgiving in College Station.

Relax. There might be some looking forward - how can you help it with the short week - but Colt McCoy and company will take care of the Jayhawks, who won their first five and lost their next five.

KU is an opponent hungry for a win (meaning dangerous), but the Horns would have to stink up DKR big time for an upset to occur. The Jayhawks have a real cool logo, though.

And as for the Aggies ... I think there will be plenty of motivation. That one on Turkey Day will be for the South marbles, which is before the game for the Big 12 marbles, which would lead, of course, to ALL the marbles in Pasadena.

If that wasn't enough motivation (and forget Kellen Heard's cheap shot in 2006 - he isn't on the roster), I believe the Aggies are the only Big 12 team Colt has a losing record against.

A win would even it up and start things moving toward the aforementioned marble collection.

November 13, 2009

GIVE ME A 'W!'

I think the good money would be on the Longhorns making it to the national championship this year if they win the rest of their games, but I'm with Yogi Berra on this one.

Don't count your chickens till the BCS fat lady sings ... or something like that.

And, of course, we don't know who'll win the Heisman. Colt McCoy is back in that race at No. 4, and there's still a lot of time left for Alabama's Mark Ingram to lose his lead. Abilene Wylie's Case Keenum (Houston) is only one vote back. And there's Tim Tebow. It could be any one of those four.

But one thing we do know ... when this season ends, Colt is going to be the winningest quarterback in the history of college football. From four years after the Civil War ended when Rutgers and Princeton started this whole crazy mess until today, no quarterback has won 43 games.

When the Horns beat the Bears tomorrow, that will be Colt's 42nd victory, which will tie him with Georgia's David Greene for the current distinction of "winningest."

Here's what our man said about it all: "If I was in it to break records, I'd have quit a long time ago. I'm here to win."

And, if the BCS is willing and the cow don't die, Colt's final total could be 46. That mark would no doubt stand a long time.

One more thing: If Texas did win out, I know one more thing - that would be a 86.79245 winning percentage for the Longhorns with Colt under center. Not bad for a skinny kid from Tuscola who most fans didn't put much faith in.

November 12, 2009

STRANGER

Just wondering if you recognize this guy. What a difference five years makes, huh?

This was the cover for the Abilene Reporter-News special "Kickoff" football section in August 2004 - right before the start of Colt McCoy's senior year at Tuscola Jim Ned. (He announced he was going to Texas 3 months earlier). Sorry I couldn't fit it all in the scanner.

As you remember, he graduated from high school early, in time to make it to spring practice at Texas in 2005. Then it was a redshirt year of watching Vince Young lead the Longhorns to Pasadena and the national championship.

With almost four seasons of play for UT under his belt now, it could be deja vu all over again for the Texas faithful.

If someone tells you that Colt has matured a lot in the last five years, you can now say "I know, I saw the picture!"

If nothing else, at least he knows how to hold a football now. ;-)

November 11, 2009

BEAR WITH US

Before we get to the AP's game at-a-glance, here's a little note about this weekend's Oklahoma vs. Texas A&M game.

We know it's hard for Burnt Orange Nation to decide who to root against in that one. A victory would make either one bowl-eligible, so they'll both be motivated. Just hope the Sooners win. That will let the BCS computers know it meant something for the Horns to beat OU weeks ago.

GAME AT-A-GLANCE

No. 2 Texas (9-0, 5-0 Big 12) at Baylor (4-5, 1-4), Saturday, 11 a.m. CST (FSN)

Line: Texas by 24. .... Series record: Texas leads 72-22-4. .... Last meeting: 2008, Texas, 45-21.

_smallUTlogo.gif What's At Stake

Texas QB Colt McCoy can tie Georgia's David Greene for most career NCAA victories as a quarterback with 42. The Longhorns also could clinch Big 12 South with a victory and a Texas Tech win over Oklahoma State.

_smallUTlogo.gif Key Matchup

Texas TB Cody Johnson vs. Baylor LB Joe Pawelek. Johnson is the fourth Longhorn to start at tailback this season and leads the team with nine rushing TDs. Saturday will be the 43rd career start for Pawelek, the heart and soul of the Bears' respectable defense. His 392 career tackles rank No. 1 among active players in the nation.

_smallUTlogo.gif Players to watch

Texas: WR James Kirkendoll seems to be back in a groove with McCoy. After a hot start, Kirkendoll seemed to disappear from the passing game until catching a touchdown pass last week, his first in seven games.

Baylor: QB Nick Florence passed for a school record 427 yards last week to rally the Bears past Missouri. Florence is playing because Robert Griffin is out for the season with a knee injury.

_smallUTlogo.gif Facts & Figures

Texas' 12-year streak of nine or more wins is the longest in the nation. Baylor hasn't won nine games since 1986 and has only five nine-win seasons dating to 1899. ... Over the last three games, McCoy is completing 79.8 percent of his passes, ahead of his 76.7 last season (total season) that set an NCAA record. ... Baylor last beat Texas in 1997, when Bears fans tore down the goal posts and dumped them in the Brazos River.

November 10, 2009

SIMPLE AS BCS

What surprise does the BCS have in store for us in less than a month?

You know it's going to be something. Admit it, you know.

Even Mack Brown subconsciously wonders.

"Everybody has told me if we do what we need to do, we'll play in the last game." That's what he said Monday - meaning if the Horns win out, it's on to Pasadena for Colt McCoy and the Boys. But "everybody has told me" is a qualifier that registers doubt in his mind ... at least in my mind.

I'm thinking the BCS needs some help between now and the Big 12 and SEC championship games on Dec. 5.

As in ... Steve Spurrier's Gamecocks need to upset Florida on Nov. 14th or state rival Auburn needs to beat Alabama in the regular season finale. I think either one of those scenarios has a 40-60 shot of happening.

My fear is that undefeated Florida and Alabama will play a tight game that will be won by Alabama by a point in overtime. Then, the BCS computers will get a hot flash and swoon or something like that and rank 'Bama 1 and the Gators 2.

The fallout would be tremendous, and not just from Burnt Orange Nation. There has been controversy before, but nothing like what would ensue if that matchup for Pasadena was blessed by the BCS computers.

Right now Florida is 32 percentage points ahead of Alabama, which is 29 ahead of Texas, which is 61 ahead of TCU. Would Florida fall enough with a one-point loss to the Tide, while the Longhorns are beating a team with 4 losses for the Big 12 crown?

I tell you one thing, though, if Texas and TCU finish the regular season undefeated and TCU somehow finishes ahead of Texas in the final rankings, I'll be the one printing the "BCS is BS!" placards.

Not to leave on a sour note, here's another quote from Mack's press conference yesterday:

"I've called the computers. They haven't called me back. I've invited them to our games. I don't think any of them have shown up."

He's doing a great job of keeping his team loose in this pivotal stretch.

November 9, 2009

ALL ABOARD!

I like how the talking heads mention that it's just double-digit underdogs from now on for Texas and smooth sailing into Pasadena.

Let's forget for a moment that the BCS hasn't always been kind to the Longhorns, and remember long and hard that one of the toughtest things to do in college football is to go undefeated.

I don't believe Colt McCoy and his pals are going to be looking ahead of Baylor to Kansas, but we all know what looms on the not-too-distant horizon ... and it's not the Big 12 Championship game against some North Division foe with 2 or 3 losses, it's the collision at College Station.

So, that's the obstacle UT has to face now - not looking past what TV commentators would lead you to believe are double-digit patsies. Texas did a pretty good job of avoiding that against UCF, so I'm thinking they'll be focused enough to handle the Bears.

And guess who's hoping the Horns will also be undefeated going into their final regular season game? That's right, the Aggies themselves.

Those farmers want to be the ones who ruin a possible national championship for the Burnt Orange. That's always their big game, and for once, it will be Texas' big game as well.

But Baylor is next, and the Bears appear to have discovered an offense Saturday against Mizzou. The sailing may not be as smooth as some would like you to believe.

Luckily, Colt likes rough waters.

November 7, 2009

RECORD-BREAKING

Well, we all knew the Burnt Orange Longhorns were going to beat the Golden Knights, and we all knew the home team would start slow because Central Florida is still no push-over.

But who knew Colt McCoy would throw for almost 500 yards? But we all knew who the bulk of those yards would go to, right? Almost 300 yards for his bud Jordan Shipley. Record day for both those guys.

Colt was 33-of-42 (78.5%) for 470 yards, 2 TDs and only one pick that was thisclose to being another TD pass. Shipley caught 11 passes for 273 yards, including that 88-yarder early in the 4th quarter which sealed the deal.

For those of you counting, Colt's longest TD pass is still 91 yards - that one to Malcolm Williams in that infamous game in Lubbock's Jones Stadium last season.

Also, the record Colt broke today was his own personal best in burnt orange. Previously, his most yards passing were 414 against Ohio State last year in the Fiesta Bowl. He is 3 yards shy of Major Applewhite for the UT record. That "old" QB got 473 in the 2001 Holiday Bowl.

Man, that second half today was a nice warm-up for the Bears.

November 6, 2009

ROAD TRIP

While waiting for another prep Friday night to start - the one before the beginning of the "second season" - I was struck by the thought of Colt McCoy and company not having to leave the state for the rest of their games leading up to a possible trip to Pasadena.

Shoot, they don't even have to leave Interstate 35 except once - when they have to go battle the farmers.

Central Florida tomorrow in the friendly confines of DKR, followed by up the road to Waco and the Baylor Bears, then back down to Austin for Kansas, followed by that trip to Aggieland. Then, it's Dec. 5 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington for the Big 12 Championship.

There's a lot to be said for the absence of jet lag during a stretch run.

November 5, 2009

SERIOUSLY ...

Here's an interesting fact I just noticed by looking at the stats page: Colt McCoy has never won 9 games in a row for Texas in one season.

He has won 8 games in a row three times - this season, last season and 2006.

Just thought I'd mention that as the Horns try valiantly to take Central Florida seriously.

One other interesting fact you'll find buried in the "Game at a Glance" from the Associated Press below is that the Knights practice with jet noise to try to simulate big away crowds.

I don't think a jet engine and the noise of 100,000 people clad in burnt orange at DKR can be compared.

But, it brings up this point: the crowd will have to take the game seriously as well.

GAME AT-A-GLANCE

Line: Texas by 36. Series Record: Texas leads 1-0. Last meeting: 2007, Texas 35-32.

_smallUTlogo.gif What's at Stake

It's all about the BCS and poll position, and the Longhorns don't want to look sloppy after two dominant road wins. This game was supposed to be played in mid-September and Central Florida was supposed to be a tuneup for Big 12 play. The game got moved so Texas could play Texas Tech on national TV.

_smallUTlogo.gif Key Matchup

Texas safety Earl Thomas vs. Central Florida QB Brett Hodges. Thomas is on a tear with a team-high six interceptions, including two returned for touchdowns. Hodges has thrown seven picks to go with his 10 touchdowns and is completing less than 60 percent of his passes.

_smallUTlogo.gif Players to Watch

Texas: QB Colt McCoy. Seems obvious, but McCoy has done well since his rough outing against Oklahoma. He's got one month to keep it going to remain a Heisman favorite and will be up against a Central Florida defense that sacked Miami's Jacory Harris six times.

Central Florida: RB Brynn Harvey. UCF's leading rusher ran for 212 yards against Memphis but will butt heads Saturday with the nation's top-ranked rush defense. The Longhorns have allowed just two rushing TDs all season.

_smallUTlogo.gif Facts & Figures

Texas has scored nine non-offensive touchdowns this season with six on kick returns or blocks and three interception returns. ... McCoy is 40-7 as a starter, with a 21-3 mark at home. ... Central Florida practices with jet noise to simulate the sound of playing in front of large crowds. Texas has had more than 101,000 fans at each of its four previous home games this season.

November 4, 2009

LOOKING AHEAD

That photo is of UCF's Rocky Ross making the game-winning TD reception with a few seconds left against Marshall last Sunday night.

He's a good one, and so is the Knights' defense. I don't think either is good enough to give the Horns a run for their money like two years ago, though.

Remember, crossing time zones to play in an opponent's "house" is tough on anyone.

Here's what Colt McCoy in Monday's press conference had to say about the upcoming game :

_smallUTlogo.gif On the 2007 game at Central Florida: I remember there were some rain delays. They were a good football team, and I watched them play last night. They've got some really good players on defense. Their defensive line is really good. We've got to be prepared for them. I just remember we didn't finish it like we wanted to. We got up a little bit and never put it away. We just let them hang around and hang around. We had to make some plays at the end to actually win the game. We definitely will watch a little bit film with week, they still have some of the same coaches, and go back to work. That's key for us. All we talked about in our team meeting was staying focused, getting back to work and getting better.

_smallUTlogo.gif On focusing on Central Florida: I think there are a couple things. One, I think the seniors on our team this year are really focused and are really making sure that the younger guys and guys on the team play at a high level and get us to a Big 12 Championship. That's our goal. That's where we want to be. It's one at a time. Central Florida has nothing to do with the Big 12, but it's a big game for us. It's here. We're back home, and want to play the best that we can, and we want to get better. When you look at the (Oklahoma State) film, yeah, we played well, executed and did some good things, but there are still things that we can be better at. We can play better, move the ball better. We've got to get back to work and play better this week.

_smallUTlogo.gif On if it is hard not thinking ahead: I think it is hard for y'all not to think about it. For us, we understand that there is a lot of football left to play. We are through the first two parts of our season. I don't know if Coach Brown told you the first four and second four, and we have four more now, and it's the most important part now. We've got to finish, and it just one more step to that.

November 2, 2009

KNIGHTS KNEXT

I bet I know what Colt McCoy was doing last night.

Same thing I was - watching the University of Central Florida host Marshall on ESPN.
I wonder if he turned it off when I did, thinking Marshall had that game won with less than 2 minutes left.

The Knights rallied for a 21-20 victory. I can't believe it. Well, that's the good news for them.

The bad news is they probably didn't get in bed until 2 a.m. this morning and have to be on the field again at 11 a.m. in Austin on Saturday to play the No. 2 team in the nation.

UCF gave the Horns a bit of a tussle in Orlando back in 2007, before the Burnt Orange prevailed 35-32.

Colt threw 47 times that day, second most of his career (47 this year against Wyoming and 58 against Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl win last season).

Halloween may be over, but it's still time to don one more mask (even against UCF) - that all-important game day mask.