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.

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