Tag Archives: national championship

All My Exes Live in Texas

Well, at least more of them do now – and, of course, I’m referring to Texas Longhorn football coaches. With this week’s announcement that at least three, maybe four, coaches would be resigning from the Texas Longhorns football staff, there is quite a bit of work to be done to fill the void.

That said, there is one coach in particular that Texas fans can agree they’ll be glad to see go – offensive coordinator Greg Davis. While he did bring some success to Texas during his tenure (including a 2005 National Championship and the Frank Broyles award for the Top Assistant Coach), it’s been hard to assess whether his impact on his players and the program was good or bad. Now, he’s been reduced to fixing classic cars, ballroom dancing, and illeagl gun running, according to some sources.

Either way, after 13 years, Texas fans owe Greg Davis a “thank you” for all that he’s given the university, so on your behalf, EyesOfTX has taken a stab at a proper send-off, below.

Dearest Greg Davis:

It’s been quite a run you’ve had at the University of Texas and with the Longhorns football program. In your 13 years, you’ve given us many memories, and we couldn’t let you shrek off in to obscurity without highlighting out some of the moments to which we owe you thanks.

Thank you for convincing Ricky Williams to stay for one more year.

Thank you for benching Chris Simms in place of Major Applewhite in the 2000 Big 12 Championship game; one quarter sooner and we would’ve played for another national title.

Thank you for recruiting Vince Young, Colt McCoy, Garrett Gilbert, and Cedric Benson to Texas, but not for recruiting Chris Simms.

Thank you for starting Major Applewhite in the 2001 Holiday Bowl against #21 Washington.

Thank you for the bubble screen.

Thank you for allowing Vince Young to utilize his skills in the zone read offense.

Thank you for never getting the offense off to a fast start.

Thank you for figuring out a way to beat oklahoma 6 times (but not for losing to them 7 times).

Thank you for the play call to Quan Cosby on the final play of the game in the 2009 Fiesta Bowl.

Thank you for the quarterback option call on the fifth play of the 2009 National Championship game against #1 Alabama.

Thank you for boosting Colt McCoy’s sense of self-worth by limiting our running backs enough that he was the leading rusher 9 out of 10 games.

Advising Mack Brown on various weight loss schemes that took him from…in the words of “Can’t Buy Me Love,” geek status, to king status, to no status.

Thank you for resigning.

We appreciate your time in Austin, but are ready for and in need of an offensive change that doesn’t take three years to implement. We will try to forget your ignorance around teaching the quarterbacks how to read the blitz, for not figuring out how to run a successful screen pass to the talented running backs, for throwing for one yard wide receiver bubble screens on 3rd and long, for running a set type of offense with the wrong kind of player personnel, for never getting the most out of the talent on the field, and for thinking you were better than you were and never understanding where you made mistakes and fixing them.

We hope you enjoy your time away from football and the University of Texas, we will.

Best,
Fans of the University of Texas football team

What’s missing, ‘Horns fans? What would you like to “thank” Greg Davis for after all of these years?

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Who Needs A Reason To Love The Bible?

As in, Taylor Bible, that is. The ‘Horns incoming defensive tackle recruit from Denton Guyer is a flat-out stud, and he knows it. But, not in an arrogant kind of way. He’s got a quiet confidence that says, “I’ll just get it done on the field.” And, you’ve got to respect that when it’s coming from a 6’3″ 300-pounder – whether you’re a years-long season ticket holder, or oklahoma’s future offensive line.

Speaking of oklahoma, and Big 12 conference dominance, Bible isn’t even enrolled at UT yet (he’ll graduate high school in June, and enroll this summer) and he’s already giving the blog boards plenty to talk about. Just last week, he was quoted in a HS Game Time article saying Texas will win the next four Red River Rivalry games, not to mention the next four national championships, while he’s got three fingers down in the stance on the 40 Acres. That’s a bold prediction, and one that ‘Horns fans will drool over. Will it happen? Only time will tell, but what’s most intriguing is why Bible believes it to be true:

“The teamwork, the chemistry, the trust, the coaches and the talent we possess, the fact that we know we’re high caliber enough to win four.”Taylor Bible, Denton Guyer DT and 2010 Texas Longhorn recruit

Excuse me while Eyes Of TX wipes up the puddle on my desk. Yeah, this kid’s legit, and every fan in burnt orange is clamoring for him to come in and make rag dolls out of Stoops’ o-line. Freshman, yes. Leader, yes. Check out some high school highlight video of his defensive line dominance below:

If you want to read up more on Texas’ 2010 football recruiting class, check out Eyes Of TX’s post here.

Hook ’em!

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Game Preview: BCS National Championship – #2 Texas Longhorns v. #1 Alabama Crimson Tide

Thursday, January 7
7:00 p.m. Central
ABC

In early August, before the beginning of the 2009 season, the Texas Longhorn faithful couldn’t contain their excitement and anticipation for an undefeated season and a potential trip to the BCS National Championship at the famed Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA.

After all, even the casual observer would note 2008 Heisman Trophy runner-up quarterback Colt McCoy was back, as was a stout defense that returned a plethora of young players who continued to improve each day. Yes, the running game continued to have question marks, but then again, every team has questions coming out of spring drills and in to fall two-a-days…it was all fixable, right? Fear not, ‘Horns fans, the day of reckoning has come – a day to redeem a one-second loss to Texas Tech in 2008, and to rejoice and enjoy the spotlight of playing for the Longhorns second national championship in five years.

Let’s breakdown what should be one of the best bowl games of 2009-2010 – the national championship between #1 Alabama and #2 Texas.

This Week
Eyes Of TX’s Prediction
Texas 24, Alabama 20

#1 Alabama Crimson Tide (13-0)
After suffering for years in the SEC and under a revolving door of coaches, always with the “potential” to compete for the conference title, the Crimson Tide have finally found their niche and achieved their goal of being in the hunt for the national championship. With head coach Nick Saban corralling his troops, ‘Bama’s defense has shot to the top of the national rankings and the offense is playing well enough to beat fellow SEC run-heavy conference foes. They bring six All-Americans between both sides of the ball to Pasadena, and yes, they have this year’s Heisman Trophy winner in sophomore running back Mark Ingram. How on earth can they lose?

Ironically, Bama’s games are managed by a fellow Texan in junior Greg McElroy, who has grown out of his Southlake Carroll HS size to be a legitimate 6’3” 200-pound gun slinger for the Tide. I saw managed, because that’s typically what he does – controlling the clock, handing the ball off to the stable of ‘Bama running back, and making timely throws when asked to do so. On the year, he’s completing 60 percent of his passes for just over 2,200 yards, 16 TDs and only four INTs. the focus of ‘Bama’s offense is obviously their running game, but McElroy is more than capable of delivering accurate passes to his underrated wide receiver targets. For those who watched the SEC Championship game against Florida, you saw exactly how McElroy picked apart the man-to-man coverage that a pretty darn good secondary presented the Tide offense all day long. In our opinion, with Texas focused on stopping Ingram and ‘Bama’s running attack, McElroy might have to win this game with his arm – and, it remains to be seen whether or not he’s capable of doing that consistently.

Criss-crossing the field for the offense, McElroy has several targets who are largely underrated on the national landscape. The headliner is sophomore wide receiver Julio Jones, who at 6’4” 210-pounds, has accounted for 545 yards and four TDs (13.6 yards per catch) and has excellent speed and even better hands. He will, by far, be the best WR the ‘Horns will face this season, and he must be accounted for on every play. The benefit of a Jones double-team is none other than Marquise Maze, a 5’10” 179-pound sophomore who is an absolute bullet getting downfield. Maze, who has catches totaling 423 yards and two TDs, is the true deep threat and ‘Bama’s fastest player. While Alabama will run some three- and four-wide receiver sets, their next passing threat is also one of their best run blockers in senior tight end Colin Peek. Peek is big – weighing in at 6’6” and 225 pounds – and is capable of holding his own when ‘Bama runs downfield, and also releasing off chip blocks to be a key outlet for McElroy. With 274 yards receiving and two scores, Peek can make yards after the catch (and after contact) as he’s averaging over 11 yards per reception, and can be trouble for smaller defensive backs and linebackers.

Now, the meat of the Alabama offense – the running game and the boys up front creating the holes. The running game is led by Ingram – the Heisman crier, if you remember – as the sophomore tallied 1,429 yards rushing and 12 TDs (a 6.5 yards per carry average). While he is slightly undersized at 5’10” 215-pounds, he is capable of using his numerous skills to find success running between the tackles or getting to the sidelines and turning the corner. He’s also the team’s second-leading receiver, having caught 28 balls for another 246 yards and three TDs. While Ingram is the workhorse who gets the most recognition, his back-ups are equally qualified to give opposing defenses fits. Trent Richardson, who most often spells Ingram, is a true freshman that is a little bit bigger and faster. That in and of itself is a scary thought, and he might already be better than Ingram. Richardson has accounted for six scores on the year, and is averaging 4.9 yards per carry. Finally, senior Roy Upchurch will anchor the running back corps as a likely third down back that is capable of picking up the blitz and giving McElroy more time to throw on obvious passing downs. The real work, though – and the biggest reason for Ingram and Richardson’s current and future success – is done by the Alabama offensive line. These big boys, led by first-team All-American senior guard Mike Johnson, have made life easy for the running game, paving the way for more than 2,555 yards team rushing and more than 5,000 yards of offense in 2009. While their offensive line is sized well enough to compete with opposing defensive tackles on the outside, the question remark remains their ability to pass protect. They’ve given up 14 sacks on the season, but they haven’t seen a pass rush like Texas’ so far this season, and when it’s not your bread and butter…well…

On defense, Alabama is all they are cracked up to be. If the Texas defense is good, Alabama’s is great – and defense is Saban’s specialty. Given Texas’ own coach-in-waiting defensive coordinator Will Muschamp learned from the best, expect to see some similar wrinkles on the defensive side of the ball. The Tide are ranked #2 nationally in total defense, giving up only 241 yards per game (77 yards rushing for #2 nationally behind Texas; 163 yards passing for #7 nationally), while they are #1 in scoring defense (11 points per game), and getting almost three turnovers per game. In other words, they don’t have a weakness.

The defensive line is stout, they typically run a 3-3-5 base defense, and although they don’t have a lot of sacks from the front three, they plug holes and create opportunities for the linebackers to clean up the mess. Their interior is held down by nose guard Terrence Cody who is an absolute beast at 6’5” 365-pounds and creates double- and triple-team needs by opposing offensive lines. Cody tallied 65 tackles on the season, and six of those were for a loss – not great stat lines, but he creates enough of a distraction for his teammates to make plays. You’ve probably heard about Cody based on his two blocked field goals in the Tennessee game, which allowed ‘Bama to sneak out with a win and maintain their national championship hopes. The teammates on the line who support Cody are defensive ends Brandon Deaderick and Lorenzo Washington, both are 6’5” and nearly 290 pounds each, and both are stout on rush defense and decent pass rushers. The sack master of the line is the smaller Marcell Dareus, who has accounted for 6.5 sacks on the season. All told, the defensive line doesn’t create the stats you would expect, but they do their jobs well.

The linebackers and secondary are the guys who create pressure on opposing offenses and lead the team in tackles. All-American linebacker Rolando McClain – who has been sick with a “stomach virus” this week – is the team’s leading tackler with 101 on the season, and has had 12.5 tackles for a loss including four sacks, two INTs, eight passes defended, a forced fumble and 14 quarterback pressures. If you printed out his stat line, your printer would run out of ink – he’s that good. From his middle linebacker position, he’s able to hit the gaps and make tackles in the backfield, but he’s also solid from sideline to sideline. The other linebackers do their jobs well, and although they aren’t Mr. Clean like McClain, they have accounted for 90 tackles, 11.5 tackles for loss and four sacks.

The secondary is the best Texas will face all season, and is led by All-American Javier Arenas. Arenas has three INTs, seven passes defended with four more break-ups, his second on the team with five sacks, has 66 tackles and tied for the team-lead in 12.5 tackles for a loss. On the other side of the field, Kareem Jackson has 12 passes defended, and combined with the safeties Eryk Anders, Mark Barron, and Justin Woodall are all big and physical. When ‘Bama plays zone defense, Barron is the ballhawk of the bunch, with seven INTs, and the secondary as a whole plays physical defense and can use it’s size and quickness to makes plays while the ball is in the air.

#2 Texas Longhorns (13-0)
So, what’s it going to take for the ‘Horns to win? First and foremost, the offensive line has to play better than in the Big 12 Championship when they gave up nine sacks to the Cornhuskers. Every unit has a bad day, and with a month to prepare, offensive line coach Mac McWhorter will have his big boys drooling with the opportunity to redeem themselves against one of the best defenses in the country.

Second, Muschamp’s defense has to be prepared to stop the run. You can expect ‘Bama to come out firing the same way they did against Florida – leading with the passing game to get the Texas secondary to back off the line of scrimmage and then finishing the game with Ingram running wild. Can they do it? It remains to be seen – Muschamp is a master of making in-game adjustments to address problem areas, and that could help the ‘Horns on Thursday night.

On offense, McCoy needs to use his legs and be smart with dumping the ball off on screens and using shovel passes to try to alleviate the ‘Bama pass rush. Texas doesn’t win if McCoy can’t use his legs to stretch plays out and give him a chance to find his receivers on broken plays. The ‘Horns have the playmakers at wide receiver to take advantage of the Tide’s secondary, but McCoy needs time to find them. While Texas doesn’t need the running game to have huge stats, they need to use the running game to make ‘Bama think twice about their pass rush. Anything special from the running backs is an added bonus, and one that will help keep the Alabama defense honest.

The real difference in this game could be special teams, and Texas has a slight advantage in kick and punt returns, so long as they can contain Arenas when Texas does have to punt. While I wouldn’t expect Saban to have any trick plays in the kicking game – especially considering they are a defensive-focused and ball-control team – if Boise State is any example, you might see some fireworks to try to keep drives alive.

Pre-game Resources
2009 Texas Longhorns Roster
2009 Alabama Crimson Tide Roster
University Co-op Gameday Newsletter / Pod casts:
Issue #110: Alabama Offense & Special Teams v. Texas Defense & Special Teams
Issue #111: Texas Offense v. Alabama Defense

Texas-focused Media Coverage of the BCS National Championship
One of Eyes Of TX’s favorite media outlets (unless they’re talking about USC), ESPN, has been posting various Texas and Alabama pre-game coverage all week. Some of our favorite Texas-focused reads this week below:

Articles
ESPN: UT’s O-line Aims To Improve (1/6/2010)
ESPN: SEC On Verge Of Total Domination (1/6/2010)
ESPN: Brown Finally Finds Everything In Place (1/5/2010)
ESPN: Muschamp Takes On Friends For Title (1/5/2010)
ESPN: Thomas Is A Man Of Many Talents (1/4/2010)
ESPN: Horns Relish The Challenge of Ingram (1/4/2010)
ESPN: McCoy Focused On Final Texas Test (1/1/2010)

Videos
ESPN: Houston Prepares To Lead Texas’ Defense (1/5/2010)
ESPN: BCS Coaching Conflicts (1/5/2010)
ESPN: Team Talk – Texas (1/5/2010)
ESPN: A Tale Of Two Quarterbacks (1/4/2010)
ESPN: Sunday Conversation – Brown and Saban (1/4/2010)
ESPN: Brown, Longhorns Draw From Experience (1/2/2010)
ESPN: Sergio Kindle’s Inspiration (1/2/2010)

Hook ‘em!

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Texas’ Volleyball Fight Comes Up Short

Coming off a straight-set defeat (25-19, 25-20, 25-15) of the #11-ranked Minnesota Golden Gophers in their semifinal match on Thursday night, the #2-ranked Texas Longhorns (29-1) volleyball team prepared to take on the #1-ranked and back-to-back national champion Penn State Nittany Lions (37-0) on Saturday night. The championship match appearance was the first for the ‘Horns since 1995, winning once in 1988, although the squad made the semifinals last year before a heart-breaking three games to two loss against Stanford. The ‘Horns faced their toughest test of the year, by far, in the Nittany Lions – with teams that have won a NCAA record 101 consecutive matches – but the match pitted the teams who held the top two spots in the national rankings all season.

Off to a hot start, the ‘Horns surprised the Nittany Lions in the first two games, winning both (25-22, 25-20), on strong play from senior All-American outside hitter Destinee Hooker and the defensive presence of senior libero Heather Kisner. From there, the ‘Horns struggled while staying in contention, but Penn State won the next two games (25-23, 25-21) behind strong play from AVCA National Player of the Year Megan Hodge to even the score going in to the final game. Texas led early in the game to 15 (win by two), but as any national championship team does, the Nittany Lions rallied and won the final game (15-13), the match and their third straight national championship. The Nittany Lions finish their season 38-0, and have now won 102 consecutive matches.

Hooker, who led the ‘Horns with 34 kills in the match, was named the NCAA Championship’s most outstanding player, and joined senior Ashley Engle and junior Juliann Fauscette on the all-tournament team. A full recap of the game can be found here.

It was a great season for the ‘Horns, and although they lose some of their key seniors heading in to the 2010 season, they have built the foundation for a superb team for years to come.

Hook ‘em!

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Saturday in Arlington: What went right, wrong?

With a national title berth on the line, Saturday night’s contest for the Big 12 Championship between the Texas Longhorns and Nebraska Cornhuskers was a game for the ages. While Texas QB Colt McCoy probably lost the Heisman Trophy with his performance, McCoy got his team’s wish of delivering on the chance to play for the national championship in Pasadena leading the ‘Horns to a 13-12 victory. Let’s take a look at what went right and what went wrong for both squads on Saturday night in Arlington.

Texas Longhorns
What went right?
Well, not much, really. While the Nebraska defense was superb, Texas defensive coordinator Will Muschamp and his squad’s effort should not be overshadowed. In a game where the Texas offense couldn’t stay on the field, the defense was asked to step up and keep the game within reach and they did. The defense gave up only 106 yards offensively to Nebraska – 39 passing and 67 rushing – and yielded only five first downs the entire game while tallying three turnovers.

The kicking game – and we’re talking the field goal unit only – was the star of the night. Senior kicker Hunter Lawrence was the epitomy of calm on Saturday night, as he was 2-for-2, including his game-winning 46-yard field goal as time expired.

What went wrong?
The Texas offense was absolutely pathetic. In large part, Nebraska’s defense is to blame – they played fantastic across the front four and in to the secondary – as they pressured McCoy all night, and locked down every receiver Texas threw at them. If Texas was going to play Alabama for the national title, the Nebraska defense gave them the best preparation they could ask for, and Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban will bring a similar defensive attack in Pasadena. As mentioned, with only 184 yards passing on 20-of-36 attempts and three INTs, McCoy did everything he could to potentially lose the Heisman Trophy race. As expected, the running game was also dominated by the Nebraska front four, gaining only 18 total yards (keeping in mind McCoy’s sacks contribute to that total). All told, the Texas offense gained only 202 yards of offense and 17 first downs on the night. Pure and simple, the offensive line played like a pee-wee team against one of the best defensive tackles in college football. Period.

Special teams continues to be a concern for the Longhorns as well. While there were no game-changing plays in the kicking game, they were far from perfect, as they gave up a big return late in the game that if not for Nebraska’s anemic offense, could have spelled trouble. Combine that with the partially blocked punt, and this group needs to get their edge back. Saturday’s game marks three games in a row where the specials have looked anything but, and it will need to get fixed before the national championship.

Nebraska Cornhuskers
What went right?
Obviously, the defense was phenomenal. The unit racked up nine sacks on the night, with 4.5 from defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh alone, and they held Texas to well under their season average in points and yards. More impressive, perhaps, was the effort from their secondary, which covered everything underneath and gave McCoy no where to throw when he was under pressure. They also kept Texas off the field with three key INTs, two of which were more on the receivers than McCoy, but eliminated Texas from getting any rhythm on offense. Despite the loss, the defense earned back the “Blackshirts” mantra of Cornhusker lore on Saturday night.

What went wrong?
The offense. If Texas’ offense was pathetic, the only word to describe the Nebraska offense is inept. Here again, the Texas defense played a large role in inhibiting the Cornhuskers to put up any points, but when your offense is geared to the run, and that is the Texas defense’s strength, you’ve got to try some different things offensively. The Cornhuskers’ offense managed only 1.93 yards per snap, and their stout running game had no back carry the ball more than seven yards on a single carry. Yikes. Early on, the Huskers tried to use play-action to tee up the long pass, but the Texas defensive backs came up with two big INTs when QB Zac Lee looked downfield. Lee can play better, but his Saturday night should leave all Big Red fans wondering his future at the position.

Moving Forward
In the end, a highly-desired BCS controversy was averted, and TCU and Cincinnati can sit back and think back to just how close they came to making their run for a national championship. Early BCS projections (although the final announcements will come 5:00p PT on Sunday) have Cincinnati in the Sugar Bowl facing Florida, while TCU and Boise State would match-up in the Fiesta Bowl, the first time a BCS bowl outside of the national championship game would host two undefeated teams. To round it out, Iowa (most likely) or Penn State would play Georgia Tech (ACC champ) in the Orange Bowl, and Oregon (Pac-10 champ) and Ohio State (Big 10 champ) will play for the Roses in Pasadena.

In the coming weeks, post-season awards will be won and lost, and bowl games will decide the fate of many schools 2009-2010 seasons. Come late Saturday night, however, McCoy and his team won the best post-season award of all – the Big 12 Championship and a chance to play for the national title.

Hook ‘em!

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