Wednesday, September 16, 2009

From Bye Week To Buy Game?

"Have I got a deal for you!"

Well, the big showdown in Austin will be taking place in a few days. I wish I could sound more enthused, but it’s hard to. See, I have a sneaking suspicion bad things might happen. Believe me, I want to be wrong, I need to be wrong…Lord, let me be wrong. But I have this terrible sense of foreboding, and here’s why:

This week was, as we all know, originally supposed to be a bye week for Tech. It was only after some flummox occurred in UT’s schedule that DeLoss Dodds phoned up Gerald Myers and asked if Tech would be interested in moving the game up to September 19, rather than its original date in late October. Now, seeing as how I hate UT more than a Baptist preacher hates sin, I’d have told Dodds to pound sand, but that’s just me. Instead, the crafty (ahem) Myers then supposedly wrangled Tech a great deal, not only allowing Tech to take part in a nationally televised game at prime time with UT, but also securing television coverage of the U of H game thereafter. I’ve read that the rationale for agreeing to this was the television exposure, which would be good for recruiting. Effectively, UT filled up a week for one of its “buy games” with Tech’s bye week. Considering a few things, I wonder if this was such a good idea.

Most agree that Tech is a team that tends to start slow. As I watched Tech’s finely tuned machine literally dismantle Oklahoma State last November, I had a hard time reconciling that with the stumbling, sputtering Tech team I witnessed just two months prior scrape out an ugly win against Nevada. Because of its many moving parts, this is an offense that takes time to gel. I suspect practice can only go so far…true game conditions are needed to hone it to sharpness.

Consider the fact that Taylor Potts has had only two games, against opponents far inferior to UT, to experience running this offense. Having witnessed Potts against Rice, I can say he has a much stronger arm than Harrell, but is nowhere near as accurate. He seemed a little unsure at times (having to call a time out before the very first snap of the game is a bit of a “tell” I think), he didn’t check off to the run as I recall Harrell doing, and overall, he just seemed to be indecisive; all completely unstandable, given his level of experience. Don’t get me wrong; I think he has a great deal of talent, and provides weapons Harrell just didn’t have - this dude can chunk that ball a long way. I just think he would benefit from more time and experience before going up against the Number 2 team in the country, on enemy turf, no less. Tech also seemed to be playing musical chairs with its offensive linemen, indicating more fine tuning was needed. The defense looked pretty decent, allowing only one touchdown (heavily aided by flags at that), but come on, it was Rice for God’s sake. I mean, I wouldn’t want our guys to have to take them on in a slide rule contest, but face it, but this is football, and they ain’t UT. Thinking about all of this, well, I get a little squeamish.

I’ve had people who know football much better than I do tell me that Tech’s best chance of winning against UT is early in the season, rather than later. Moreover, I’ve even had UT fans tell me now is the most opportune time for a Tech win because their running game stinks, their defensive line is weak, etc. I just don’t find much solace in these beliefs. I don’t know what to say other than this arrangement just doesn’t feel right.

But, here’s the thing I have to keep in mind: how likely is it that Myers would have agreed to this deal without the countenance of Coach Leach? Not likely at all. Leach is too smart, and certainly is desirous of a win, to risk a loss for some of the exposure and extra scratch a prime time game might bring. This man has taken us a long way, so I’ll trust his judgment. I just hope Mike is as smart as I think he is…a nationally televised butt whipping sure won’t help recruiting much, at least not for Tech.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

4th and Long - Week 1

Okay ladies and gentlemen, it’s about time the most wonderful time of the year got here! After a long, hot summer that’s burned about half of Texas up, it’s time for some football!


#16 Oregon at #14 Boise State (-4) – ESPN – The college football season gets started off with a bang in this matchup. Expect Oregon to pick up right where they left off under new coach Chip Kelly, and Boise State should have their usual high flying attack. Expect a wild, high-scoring affair in this game.
Boise State….49-45


LA-Monroe at #2 Texas (-40.5) – FSN PPV – Colt McCoy and the Longhorns should have no problem with LA-Monroe, but ask Alabama how that turned out a couple of years ago.

#20 BYU vs. #3 Oklahoma (-22) (Arlington) – ESPN – The first college game in JerryWorld should be a decent matchu of two teams with very good offenses. Expect OU’s defense to slow down BYU’s passing attack quite a bit, and BYU’s defense shouldn’t pose too much of a challenge to OU’s offense.

#5 Alabama (-7) vs. #7 Virginia Tech (Atlanta) – ABC – The marquee game of Week 1 should be close, although I expect that Virginia Tech’s tailback depth (or lack thereof) will be the deciding factor in this one.

Navy @ #6 Ohio State (-21.5) – ESPN – The home opener for Captain Sweatervest and his team should be pretty uneventful (aren’t most games in the Big 11?), and Navy might scare them for a quarter, but that’s about it.
Ohio State….35-17

#13 Georgia @ #9 Oklahoma State (-5.5) – ABC – Ah, yes…it’s finally time to figure out if Okie Lite is for real. We’ll finally get the answer to the question of whether the Cowboys are pretenders or contenders, even though Georgia has a new starting quarterback and running backs. Expect Georgia’s defense to take away Dez Bryant with no solid #2 receiver on this team and no Brandon Pettigrew to keep them honest over the middle. And as we saw last year in the Holiday Bowl, no Dez Bryant means the Cowboys’ offense sputters.

#11 LSU (-17) @ Washington – ESPN – A new coach won’t save the Huskies in this one, even if Les Miles does make a couple of boneheaded coaching moves.

Maryland @ #12 Cal (-21.5) – ESPN2 – Cal has a lot of talent returning this year…expect Maryland to hang close for the first half, but they won’t have the horses to keep up with Cal down the stretch.

Nevada @ #23 Notre Dame (-14.5) – NBC – As much as I would like to see the Irish fall flat on their faces against the Pistol Offense, it won’t happen in this one…too bad Nevada isn’t playing at home, their thug fans would enjoy taunting the Notre Dame players and fans.
Notre Dame….35-21

Florida Atlantic @ #24 Nebraska (-21.5) – FSN PPV – Nebraska should have a fairly easy time in this one, even if they are breaking in Zac Lee at quarterback.

Northern Colorado @ #25 Kansas (NL) – FCS Central – Looks like Mark Mangino went back to the cupcake schedule philosophy that served them well in 2007.

Baylor @ Wake Forest (-2.5) – ABC/ESPN2 – Baylor gets the chance to show the country they are for real, and beating the Demon Deacons on their home field would give a tremendous boost to the Bears’ confidence early in the season.

Missouri vs. Illinois (-7) (St. Louis) – ESPN – While this game has been quite entertaining the last couple of years, expect this game to go in the Illini’s favor early and stay that way.

New Mexico @ Texas A&M (-14) – Although I don’t expect A&M to be very good again this year, the home crowd and the fact that they’re playing New Mexico should be enough to propel them to a season opening victory, unlike last year.
Texas A&M….24-17

North Dakota @ Texas Tech (NL) – Taylor Potts introduces himself to the Big 12 and the rest of the country with a huge first game performance against the hapless Fighting Sioux.
Texas Tech….66-14

UMass @ Kansas State (NL) – The return of Bill Snyder should be an easy W for the Wildcats.
Kansas State….45-14


#8 Ole Miss (-16.5) @ Memphis – ESPN – Ole Miss returns just about everybody from last year, and I don’t see any way that Memphis will hang with them in this one.
Ole Miss….48-17

Colorado State @ Colorado (-10.5) – FSN – Colorado is the enigma of the Big 12 North….who knows how good/bad they’ll be this year? Colorado State shouldn’t put up much of a fight in the first game since the schools decided to ditch playing in Denver and going back to home-and-home.


Miami @ #18 Florida State (-5.5) – ESPN – This game isn’t what it used to be, but Miami should be improved enough to hang with the Seminoles for at least a half.
Florida State….34-21