Texas Longhorns vs West Virginia Mountaineers 2021

Texas Longhorns vs. West Virginia Mountaineers

Texas and West Virginia meet for the 11th time in Morgantown at Milan Puskar Stadium on Saturday, a 12:00 noon kickoff there, which means another 11:00 a.m. Central Time game.  On ESPN2.  Anish Shroff, Mike Golic Jr., and Taylor McGregor have the call for the World Wide Leader.  Craig Way will have the call for Texas on the Longhorn IMG Radio Network.  I believe that Keith Moreland will be with him in the booth instead of Roger Wallace, as Roger will stay in Austin to call the men’s basketball game that afternoon with Eddie Oran.  And then Craig will get in his rental car and drive all the way to Knoxville to call the women’s game Sunday with the Lady Vols.  God bless him.  He is a workhorse.

West Virginia and Texas have identical records, 4-6 overall and 2-5 in conference.  Mountaineer head coach Neal Brown is in his third year and is 15-17 overall.

The series with the Mountaineers is tied at 5-5.  Texas has won the last two meetings, and the Longhorns are 3-1 in Morgantown.

The Mountaineers have one good win, maybe two.  They beat Iowa State 38-31 a couple of weeks ago in Morgantown.  They beat then No. 15 Virginia Tech 27-21 the third game of the season.  The Hokies are now 5-5.  I guess the 29-17 win over Texas Christian was good – and at least as measuring stick with the Longhorns it is of note, as Texas also beat the Frogs (32-27).  WVU beat the Long Island Sharks 66-0.

The West Virginia losses:  30-24 to Maryland; 16-13 to the Land Thieves; 23-20 to Tech; 45-20 to Baylor; 24-3 to Oklahoma State; and 34-17 last week to K State.

Jarret Doege is back at Quarterback for the Mountaineers.  There is something ironic about a kid from Lubbock playing for Mountaineers.  Doege is ranked first in the Big 12 with 244.8 yards per game.  His 2,448 yards are also first in the conference.  Completing 65.5% of his passes, he has 12 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.  He has a 136.5 rating.  By comparison, Casey Thompson, who will be starting for Texas, has 23 touchdowns and 7 picks and a 163.7 rating.

Leddie Brown is the leading Mountaineer running back, and he has had a hot and cold season.  He’s got 751 yards and 11 scores on the ground, but he’s had these games:  21 yards against Long Island, 56 yards against Oklahoma, 57 against Tech, 44 against Baylor, and 24 yards against Oklahoma State.

Winston Wright has 51 catches for 576 yards and 2 TDs.  Bryce Ford-Wheaton has 37 catches for 502 yards and 3 TDs.  Sam Jones has 32 catches for 389 yards and 3 TDs.  Leddie Brown has 30 catches for 198 yards and a score.  The latter worries me given our linebacker play.

Kicker Casey Legg is 16-18 on field goals.

Six times this season West Virginia has rushed for under 100 yards, and they lost all six.  That’s a good stat for Texas, if the Longhorns can find a run defense on Saturday.

The Statistics
Offense
Statistic
Texas
West Virginia
Rushing Offense #28 – 197.9 ypg #113 – 112.2 ypg
Passing Offense #61 – 238.1 ypg #39 – 260.7 ypg
Total Offense #40 – 436.0 ypg #90 – 372.9 ypg
Scoring Offense #13 – 37.8 ppg #85 – 25.7 ppg
First Downs #73 – 20.8/game #65 – 21.2/game
Sacks Allowed #86 – 25, 159 yards #105 – 28, 219 yards
Tackles for Loss Allowed #38 – 51, 205 yards #67 – 58, 292 yards
Third Down Conversions #30 – 45.1% #75 – 38.9%
Fourth Down Conversions #69 – 50% #24 – 66.7%
Red Zone Offense #13 – 93% / 76% #22 – 90% / 63%
Long Run Plays #68 – 50/10, 17/20, 9/30, 5/40 #103 – 39/10, 8/20, 2/30, 2/40
Long Pass Plays #56 – 92/10, 34/20, 16/30, 7/40 #28 – 107/10, 39/20, 14/30, 6/40
Long Scrimmage Plays #69 – 142/10, 51/20, 25/30, 12/40 #58 – 146/10, 47/20, 16/30, 8/40
Defense
Statistic
Texas
West Virginia
Rushing Defense #116  – 203.3 ypg #31 – 126.5 ypg
Passing Defense #70 – 232.2 ypg #53 – 224.0 ypg
Total Defense #105 – 435.5 ypg #42 – 350.5 ypg
Scoring Defense #107 – 32.5 ppg #54 – 24.1 ppg
Sacks #104 – 16, 97 yards #65 – 22, 135 yards
Tackles for Loss #68 – 58, 172 yards #29 – 71, 267 yards
First Downs Allowed #91 – 22.0/game #23 – 17.7/game
Third Down Conversions #96 – 41.8% #36 – 36%
Fourth Down Conversions #112 – 66.7% #54 – 50%
Red Zone Defense* #87 – 87% / 53% #28 – 76% / 42%
Long Run Plays Allowed #99 – 58/10, 23/20, 11/30, 4/40 #13 – 30/10, 13/20, 6/30, 3/40
Long Pass Plays Allowed #70 – 90/10, 31/20, 9/30, 8/40 #51 – 83/10, 26/20, 14/30, 9/40
Long Scrim. Plays Allowed #90 – 148/10, 54/20, 20/30, 12/40 #22 – 113/10, 39/20, 20/30, 12/40

*WVU best in Big 12

Other
Statistic
Texas
West Virginia
Turnovers #75  – 7F, 8I #91 – 7F, 10I
Turnover Margin #75 – 14:15, -0.1 #122 – 8:17, -0.90
Penalties #65 – 63, 523 yards #40 – 55, 472 yards

*Based on total number of penalties.

Match-up Comparison
Texas Offense
West Virginia Defense
Rushing Offense – 197.9 ypg 126.5 ypg – Rushing Defense
Passing Offense – 238.1 ypg 224.0 ypg – Passing Defense
Total Offense – 436.0 ypg 350.5 ypg – Total Defense
Scoring Offense – 37.8 ppg 24.1 ppg – Scoring Defense
First Downs – 20.8/game 17.7/game – First Downs Allowed
3rd Down Offense – 45.1% 36% – 3rd Down Defense
4th Down Offense – 50% 50% – 4th Down Defense
Red Zone Offense – 93% / 76% 76% / 42% – Red Zone Defense
LRP – 50/10, 17/20, 9/30, 5/40 30/10, 13/20, 6/30, 3/40 – LRP Allowed
LPP – 92/10, 34/20, 16/30, 7/40 83/10, 26/20, 14/30, 9/40 – LPP Allowed
LSP – 142/10, 51/20, 25/30, 12/40  113/10, 39/20, 20/30, 12/40 – LSP Allowed

 

Texas Defense
West Virginia Offense
Rushing Defense – 203.3 ypg 112.2 ypg – Rushing Offense
Passing Defense – 232.2 ypg 260.7 ypg – Passing Offense
Total Defense – 435.5 ypg 372.9 ypg – Total Offense
Scoring Defense – 32.5 ppg 25.7 ppg – Scoring Offense
First Downs Allowed – 22.0/game 21.2/game – First Downs
3rd Down Defense – 41.8% 38.9% – 3rd Down Offense
4th Down Defense – 66.7% 66.7% – 4th Down Offense
Red Zone Defense – 87% / 53% 90% / 63% – Red Zone Offense
LRP Allowed – 58/10, 23/20, 11/30, 4/40 39/10, 8/20, 2/30, 2/40 – LRP
LPP Allowed – 90/10, 31/20, 9/30, 8/40 107/10, 39/20, 14/30, 6/40 – LPP
LSP Allowed – 148/10, 54/20, 20/30, 12/40 146/10, 47/20, 16/30, 8/40  – LSP

 A very interesting match-up, especially with the Texas injury situation at running back.  But given that the Mountaineer D is pretty good against the run, and given our strengths now are at wide receiver and hopefully a healthy Casey Thompson, maybe Texas finds a way to pass block and we see Thompson put up some good numbers.  And we should still be able to run the ball okay, but not having Bijan is a blow.  Having Jordan Whittington back doesn’t make up for losing Bijan, but he will be a huge help.  We haven’t won without him.

My biggest concern is the Texas defense.  Need some guys to tackle.

Official Preview:

https://texassports.com/news/2021/11/15/football-preview-at-west-virginia.aspx

Texas Game Notes:

https://texassports.com/documents/2021/11/15/11_West_Virginia.pdf

The West Virginia preview is really good:

https://wvusports.com/news/2021/11/17/football-united-bank-playbook-texas-preview.aspx

This from that WVU preview.  The author, John Antonik, is talking about the Phil Steele College Football Preview, and he notes that the preview ranked the college teams from most experienced to least.  Out of 130 teams, West Virginia was ranked 103 and Texas was ranked 109.  Antonik writes:

Here is what 4-6 West Virginia and 4-6 Texas have had to face during the last two months of conference play:

  • A nine-win Oklahoma State team with 10 fourth-, fifth- and sixth-year seniors on its defensive two-deep

  • A nine-win Oklahoma team with 20 fourth-, fifth- and sixth-year seniors on its two-deep

  • An eight-win Baylor team with 24 fourth-, fifth- and sixth-year seniors on its two-deep

  • A seven-win Kansas State team with 20 fourth-, fifth- and sixth-year seniors on its two-deep

  • A six-win Iowa State team with 21 fourth-, fifth- and sixth-year seniors on its two-deep

That is some pretty good perspective on the season for both teams.

All things considered, I think Texas has a good shot to win in Morgantown.

Texas 41, West Virginia 35

The Week That Will Be:  Til Gabriel Blows His Horn.

https://www.barkingcarnival.com/2021/11/18/22788670/the-week-that-will-be-til-gabriel-blows-his-horn

West Virginia University

Founded in 1867 as the Agricultural College of West Virginia.  But they quickly changed the name to West Virginia University in 1868.  They used to have a nice history on their website, but it is gone.

Their mission statement:  “As a land-grant institution, the faculty, staff and students at West Virginia University commit to creating a diverse and inclusive culture that advances education, healthcare and prosperity for all by providing access and opportunity; by advancing high-impact research; and by leading transformation in West Virginia and the world through local, state and global engagement.”  Noticeably lacking the Oxford comma, despite their proper inclusion of the second semi-colon prior to the conjunction.  Nothing wrong with the mission statement, just seems pretty canned and generic.  Their Vision statement is better (but still with the lack of an Oxford comma).  “As one West Virginia University, we are purposeful in our studies and our work so that we can partner with our communities – both near and far – to bring needed and valued solutions to real-life problems within the pillars of education, healthcare and prosperity.”  That’s what a Land Grant school’s vision should be.  (Why the Oxford comma?  Are healthcare and prosperity the pillars of education?)

Population of Morgantown is 30,712.  Enrollment at WVU in Morgantown is 26,269.  That’s what I call a college town.  The two largest employers in the area:  WVU with over 7,600, and WVU Medicine with over 6,000.

West Virginia is a Land Grant School.  I borrowed this from the WVU website a couple of years ago.  In 1862, the U.S. Congress passed and President Lincoln signed the first Land-Grant Act (also known as the Morrill Act for its sponsor, Rep. Justin Morrill of Vermont).  The purpose of the Land-Grant Act was “the endowment, support, and maintenance of at least one college where the leading object shall be, without excluding other scientific and classical studies and including military tactics, to teach such branches of learning as are related to agriculture and the mechanic arts, in such manner as the legislatures of the States may respectively prescribe, in order to promote the liberal and practical education of the industrial classes in the several pursuits and professions in life”.  In 1890, the second Morrill Land-Grant Act led to the creation of many of America’s historically black colleges and universities. Today, there are 76 land-grant universities that trace their beginnings back to the 1862 or 1890 Land-Grant Acts.  We often jokingly call them Cow Colleges, but the truth is, the Morrill Acts led to the establishment of some of the most important state universities in our country, and that system of public higher education has a lot to do with our economic success and power two centuries later.

Gordon Gee is still President of WVU. Gee has supposedly held more university presidencies than any other American. He was president of West Virginia University from 1981 to 1985, president of the University of Colorado from 1985 to 1990, of The Ohio State University from 1990 to 1997, then president of Brown University from 1998 to 2000.  He was chancellor of Vanderbilt University from 2000 to 2007, then president again of The Ohio State University from 2007 to 2013.  He became president of WVU again on March 3, 2014.  He is an Eagle Scout.  Gee is also the co-author of over a dozen books, including Land-Grant Universities for the Future.

Some very famous alumni, perhaps most notably the Logo, Jerry West, and one of the great thespians in American history, Don Knotts.  Other athletic alumni include Chuck Howley, Adam “Pacman” Jones, and Geno Smith.  And TV salesman Billy Mays.

Best tradition is singing Take Me Home Country Roads at football games.

Oddest tradition is burning couches after football games (and big basketball games and probably intramural kickball).  Got so bad that in 2015 the City of Morgantown passed an ordinance making it illegal to keep sofas outside.  WVU Student Government made a video discouraging couch burning.

 

Texas Longhorns Men’s Basketball

A tough road trip to Spokane for Coach Beard and his men facing the No. 1 team in the country.  Drew Timme of Gonzaga lived up to the hype with a 37 point game in the 86-74 win for the Zags.  Kudos to the Longhorns though for a strong second half, outscoring Gonzaga 47-39.  Timmy Allen (Senior transfer from Utah) led the Horns with 18 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists.  He is a solid player.

Wednesday night, Texas was back in the Erwin Center playing Northern Colorado.  Horns won 62-49.  Tre Mitchell, the transfer from UMass, had a big game with 16 points and 7 rebounds.  Timmy Allen led the Horns with 8 rebounds

Texas plays again Saturday afternoon, a 5:00 p.m. match with San Jose State at the Erwin Center.

Texas Longhorns Women’s Basketball

The Texas women went to Palo Alto on Sunday and beat defending National Champion and No. 3 Stanford 61-56.  A huge road win for Vic Schaefer’s team, which had opened the season with a 131-36 win over the University of New Orleans.  After the win over the Cardinal, the Horns jumped to No. 12.  They had a morning game against Southeast Missouri State on Wednesday, and thrashed the Redhawks 88-47.  Texas plays the Tennessee Lady Volunteers at 12:00 noon on Sunday, ESPN.

Kenneth Sims

Kenneth Sims (1978-81) will be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame on December 7.  The Groesbeck native was a Lombardi Award winner and No. 1 pick in the 1982 NFL Draft. Sims is the 24th Longhorn inducted into the Hall of Fame.  One of the best to ever play defensive tackle at Texas, Sims career included 322 tackles, 29 sacks, 50 tackles for loss, 15 forced fumbles, seven fumble recoveries and three blocked kicks.  Sims joins Longhorns like Earl Campbell, Ricky Williams, Roosevelt Leaks, Bob McKay, James Saxton, Hub Bechtol, Jerry Gray, Doug English, Bobby Layne, and Jerry Sisemore.  The Texas coaches:  Dana X. Bible, Darrell K Royal, and Mack Brown.

Kansas Jayhawks 57, Texas Longhorns 56

Some positives from the game.  Casey Thompson had 7 touchdowns – 6 passing and 1 running.  Xavier Worthy put up historic numbers with 14 receptions, just one short of the Texas single game record.  152 yards and three touchdowns.  Marcus Washington had a breakout game, with 5 catches for 100 yards and 2 scores.

Texas suffered a disappointing overtime loss to Kansas Saturday night.  As disappointing as it was for fans, I am sure it is harder for the players and coaches and staff.  A brutal loss. Bijan getting injured and missing the rest of the year is a huge blow.  He has been one of the true highlights of the season and a joy to watch play football.  Regardless of the loss or the reasons for the loss, Texas has two more regular season games to play, and hopefully a bowl game.  So Horns Up!

I think we also need to recognize that other than a few – very few – schools, there is a lot more parity in college football these days, and certain in the Big 12.  Look at this season in the conference:

  • Texas beat Texas Tech 70-35
  • Texas Tech beat Iowa State 41-38
  • Iowa State beat Oklahoma State 24-21
  • Oklahoma State beat Kansas State 31-20
  • Kansas State beat West Virginia 24-3
  • West Virginia beat Texas Christian 29-17
  • Texas Christian beat Baylor 30-28
  • Baylor beat Oklahoma 27-14
  • Oklahoma beat Kansas 35-23
  • Kansas beat Texas 57-56.

There are also a lot more up and downs.  Baylor won 2 games last year.  Right now they are 8-2 and ranked No. 11 in the country.  I think Michigan State only won a couple of games last year too.  Spartans are 9-1 and ranked No. 7.  The game has changed.

Kansas scored 57 points against the Texas defense in four quarters and one overtime period.  On October 7, 2021, Kansas lost to Iowa State 7-59.  Over the next four games, the Jayhawks would amass another 50 points, the high mark being 23 against the Land Thieves.  So 57 points in 5 games before Saturday.  According to ESPN Stats, Kansas was 0-100 since 1978 in games where the Jayhawks were underdogs of 24 points or more.  They were 31 point underdogs Saturday night.

College football can be crazy, as can all sports.  Think about the 2018 NCAA Tournament.  The No. 1 seed Virginia Cavaliers were upset 74-54 by the No. 16 seed UMBC Retrievers.  The Wahoos were 21.5 point favorites, and that was one of only 3 losses on the season for Virginia.

It has long been said that for most teams we play, Texas is the biggest game or one of the biggest games on their schedule.  I am sure after hanging with Oklahoma for most of a game, Kansas players and coaches realized that their team had some strengths and could compete.  While their record didn’t reflect that, their will and desire to compete and win was obviously there.  And they came to play.  Combine that with a depleted and banged up defense and perhaps the craziest 90 seconds of football you will ever see (or listen to Craig Way call), when Kansas scored 21 points.

Texas had rallied from the slow start and 14 point first quarter deficit to tie at 14.  Kansas got the ball with nearly 9 minutes to play in the half.  The Jayhawks drove 75 yards to go back up, 21-14, and burning over 6 minutes.  Card at QB, and he got sacked on third and 8, fumbled, and KU got the ball at the Texas 23 with 1:35 to play.  KU quickly scored to go up 28-14.  After the kick, Texas got the ball with 1:09 to play.  On first down, Card was intercepted and the pick returned for 6.  35-14.  That’s where we were at halftime.  An astounding turn of events and bad luck for the Longhorns turned a close game into a huge halftime deficit.

Credit the Horns for not giving up.  Texas got the ball to start the second half and drove for a score.  Unfortunately on the next KU series, Devin Neal busted a big 58 yard run, and KU answered to go back up 42-21.  After trading punts, Texas got another score thanks to a good Thompson to Bijan Robinson pass, getting it back to a 2 score game.

Texas held Kansas on the next series, and blocked the punt setting the Horns up at the Kansas 17.  That led to a Xavier Worthy touchdown catch, and the Jayhawk lead was cut to 7.

42-35 Kansas to start the fourth quarter.  The teams traded punts again, but then KU got another long drive that put them up 49-35.  The next Texas series was solid, as Brooks (who came in for the injured Bijan) got involved with a good run and then a good catch, then Thompson got a big completion to Marcus Washington and finished the scoring drive with a touchdown pass to Xavier Worthy to get the Horns back within 7.  Texas held KU on downs, after the Jayhawks went for it on fourth and 1 from their own 34.  Unfortunately an unsportsmanlike penalty on Texas (second of the game) pushed the ball back to midfield.  Thompson was picked off in the endzone with just over a minute to play.

Thanks to good clock management and defense and a 25 yard D’Shawn Jamison punt return, Texas got the ball back at the Kansas 34 with 44 seconds to play.  Thompson connected with Cade Brewer and Texas tied the game. Forcing overtime.

Texas got the ball first and a Roschon Run, then a Worthy catch, then a Thompson to Washington touchdown and Texas had the 56-49 lead.  Really thought we had it then.  But then the unsportsmanlike penalty gave KU the ball at the 12 yard line instead of 25, and KU got the score.  Credit KU coach Lance Leipold.  Down 1 in overtime on the road with a chance to pull off one of the biggest upsets in college football in a long time, and he did it – went for two.  And the pass play was to a walk-on freshman fullback from Plainville, Kansas, Jared Casey, playing his first snap of the season.  And he caught it.

As sad as I am about the loss, I have to be happy for Jared Casey.

Coming into the game, Devin Neal had 505 yards on 120 carries with 4 touchdowns.  Saturday night he carried 24 times, gained 143 yards, and scored 3 touchdowns.  He also caught a touchdown pass.

I was not at the game.  I listened to the end of the first half and then watched the overtime.  Pretty painful.  But, my goddaughter, Elizabeth Crowley, married Connor Davis Saturday night, and the wedding and reception were fantastic.  A really beautiful and fun wedding and an evening full of joy.  Thank you Carol and Tim.  Y’all knocked it out of park.  The Fletcher’s State Fair of Texas Corny Dogs were a particularly nice touch.  And I didn’t get mustard on my tux shirt. That’s a win.

I have not been including the link to the coach’s press conference for a while.  I have figured that those who are interested know where to find it and watch it.  But after the Kansas loss, I think it is important for anyone who does not watch the Monday presser needs to watch this one.  I have summarized some of Sark’s more important points below.

To summarize a few important factors mentioned by Coach Sarkisian and put them in context.  First, attrition.  A lot of folks were making hay with the fact that Texas had top 5 recruiting class in 2018 and in 2019.  Coach Sarkisian pointed out that about half those players are no longer on the roster.  Championship teams and winning teams are almost always teams with lots of juniors and seniors who have been playing together.  Texas lacks a large cadre of experienced upperclassmen starters who can lead and bind the team together.  I think of all the points Coach made, that is the most important.  It was picked up by many in the media, including Joe Cook on Inside Texas.  His article goes through both classes and lists those who are still in the program.  Fortunately they include Overshown, Jamison, Thompson, Cook, Ojomo, and Dicker from the 2018 class and Whittington, Roschon Johnson, Marcus Washington, Sweat, and Wiley.

Texas was also hit with a wave of transfers and guys going to the NFL after last season.

Equally challenging, the coaching turnover has to be a huge factor.  The defense has their third coordinator in three years.  So those guys that are juniors and seniors, they aren’t playing together in the same system from their arrival on the Forty Acres.  To the contrary, they are playing in a different system every year.  In any sport, the players have to develop and learn within a system and with each other.  Great basketball players don’t make remarkable no-look passes to a cutting teammate because they are guessing or have eyes in the back of their heads.  They make the passes because they have practiced and played hundreds of hours with their teammates and developed rhythms and reflexes that complement each other’s strength and offset each other’s weaknesses.

I think Sark’s comments starting around the 5 minute mark are important.  He is talking about how hard this has been and how tough the losses are, but he points out that losing helps see the issues on a team with more clarity, and winning sometimes masks over issues.  The issues on a team that are masked over and “cured” with a win get swept under a rug.  Sarkisian says one of his mentors said: “playing bad and winning is sometimes the worst thing that can happen because you don’t address the issues that you have on your team”.  I think Coach’s observation on this point give me the most hope and help me see just how good a coach he is and how big the upside is for Texas with Sark as head coach.  He is seeing the issues, and he understands them and is looking for a way to address them.  And we fans need to realize these are not issues with one-season fixes.  The transfer portal will help.  More coaching changes won’t solve it, but only make it worse.  Building a system and process for practicing and playing and being teammates will.  Instilling a shared value system and developing senior leaders will make a difference.  It will at Texas, because when the underlying systemic issues get fixed, we will get the recruits and transfers and win games in the fourth quarter instead of losing them.  And I think one of those systemic problems is too much “win now” pressure which leads to too many and too quick coaching changes and an inability to build some consistency.

Couple with that are his well-made points on his coaching staff, which was rightfully lauded as one of the best in the country.

“These guys didn’t forget how to coach overnight.  They have been doing it for a long time at a very high level.  They are championship caliber coaches.  They’ve developed NFL players, they’ve developed All-American, all-conference players.  They’ve competed for championships, they’ve won championships, whether is at the college ranks or the NFL.”

He’s right.  Kyle Flood’s offensive line at Alabama last year won the Joe Moore Award.  He knows what he is doing.

Coach Sarkisian also said that he expected to have as many as 33 new players on the roster for 2022.

“I could easily see us with 33 new scholarship players next fall–more than a third of our roster will be new. We have to find the right balance into how much we interact in the portal, with the dive into recruiting to build the talent we need.”

That’s a huge infusion of new talent.  Perhaps it will be because there are some kids at the University who don’t really want to be here anymore.  One of the best things I heard this week was attributed to Rod Babers:  There is a big difference in “playing at Texas” and “playing for Texas”.  I think that there will be good that comes from this loss and this tough stretch.  From what I hear, almost all of the players love Sark and want to play for him and for Texas.  That group of players, which I am betting includes a big core group of some of our best, will stay and form the nucleus of a new Texas Longhorns football program.  Sark and his great staff will recruit both freshmen and transfers, and Texas will be on its way back to the top.  I believe we will look back at 2021 and realize it was not just a rebuild, but a reboot – and a reboot with the right coaches and leadership and some players who want to be part of something special.

So we are back to patience.  Patience and hope and trust.  Chris Del Conte and his team and Coach Sarkisian and his staff know what they are doing.  Our (the fans’) expectations when the season began were of course high, probably too high, because that is what we fans do.

The reality is that the Texas Longhorns football program needs to a rebuild, Sarkisian has now seen all of our defects and issues unmasked, and that reboot and rebuild is underway.  What I have come to think is that some of these unmasked defects and issues were covered up or overcome by a few great players the last few years, Sam Ehlinger being the leader on that list.  No telling how many games we won with Sam at quarterback which would have otherwise been ugly losses.  Other players contributed too of course, but I think Ehlinger was a difference maker.  I believe with the issues identified, Steve Sarkisian can fix them, recruit talent to replace and fix holes, and then build a new Texas football program.  Sarkisian is a smart football coach, and I am still all in.

56 and Baseball

 I always find it interesting when there is a number or a word that seems to be an integral part of a story or which constantly shows up when I am researching a topic.  This week’s number is 56.

Texas scored 56 points against Kansas.  And lost.

The last time Texas lost five games in a row was 1956.

Kansas had lost 56 Big XII Conference road games – in a row.

One of the most important records in American sports:  Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak in 1941.

What does Joe DiMaggio have to do with this?  Well, I have been thinking about baseball a lot the last few weeks, and not just because of the fun post-season and playoffs and World Series.

I have been thinking about baseball because it is, as we say, a cruel sport.

Most of the players at the collegiate level are considered really good batters if they only fail 65% of the time.

But also, in baseball, especially MLB, you get used to losing games.  In 2021, only three teams had a winning percentage above .600:  Tampa Bay at .617, and they were the only AL team.  San Francisco (.660) and LA (0.654) in the NL West.  Everyone else lost more than 40% of the regular season games they played.  Houston, who made it to the World Series, was 95-67, at .586.  The World Champion Braves had the lowest of all the Division winners, at .547 with a 88-73 record.

The better college teams will have higher winning percentages, and really good teams will win most of their weekend and conference series.  Arkansas won all of their SEC series in 2021, and they didn’t make it to Omaha.

Every Saturday, half the college football teams who play lose.  That may sound simplistic, but it is all part of my many hours of thinking about the Kansas loss, processing it, and working from being upset and really bummed on Sunday, to be more sanguine about it by Wednesday, and regaining my optimism for the future by Thursday.

Juan Heisman Tailgate

By all reports, a nice tailgate with great food.  Can’t go wrong with tamales and Frito Pie.  We will be out there early Friday morning after Thanksgiving.  Beers and bloodies.  Then go watch Texas beat K State on Senior Day.

Washington & Lee Generals

W&L lost its regular season finale to the Shenandoah Hornets 6-14.  The Generals took a 6-0 lead after a 92 yard drive, but failed to convert the 2-point conversion.  The Hornets scored a couple of series later to go up 7-6.  A W&L fumble ended another promising drive.  Thanks to a goal line stand and fourth down stop as the second quarter ended, that was the margin at halftime.  The Hornets scored on the first possession of the third quarter, and W&L couldn’t find the end zone in the second half.  A late fourth quarter march by the Generals ended with an interception in the end zone with 37 seconds left.  So, another loss attributable to turnovers.

The Generals are in the Division III playoffs, and they got about as tough of a draw as one can get.  W&L plays the No. 4 and 10-0 Mount Union Purple Raiders at 11:00 a.m. Saturday morning at Mount Union Stadium in Alliance, Ohio.  Built in 1913, it is the oldest college football stadium in Ohio.

Mount Union’s season:

  • 48-7 over Westminster (PA_
  • 31-7 over Baldwin Wallace
  • 28-14 over John Carroll
  • 55-0 over Otterbein
  • 63-0 over Wilmington
  • 63-0 over Capital
  • 49-14 over Heidelberg
  • 42-35 over Ohio Northern
  • 73-7 over Muskingum
  • 37-7 over Marietta

Mount Union is the Alabama of Division III football, at least for the last half century.  Actually, more like Alabama is the Mount Union of FBS.  Mount Union’s last losing season was 1978.  In 1985, they made the D3 playoffs for the first time.  Since then, the Purple Raiders have won 14 National Championships.  They have played in the Stagg Bowl 21 times in 30 playoffs.  104-18 in the NCAA DIII tournament.  They last won it all in 2017, beating Mary Hardin-Baylor 12-0, and losing to the Cru in 2018 16-24.

The Generals have an 0-5 record in the NCAA Playoffs, and our last appearance was a first round game at Mount Union Stadium in 2017, which the Purple Raiders won 21-0.

The Purple Raiders QB Braxton Plunk is ranked 6th in passing yards with 3,195 yards, good for No. 7 in yards per game with 319.5.  He has 31 TD passes and 7 interceptions.

W&L remains a rushing team, finishing fourth in Division III with 324 yards per game.

Mount Union averages 188.9 yards rushing per game, and have held opponents to a 61.9 yards per game average.  That’s 619 rushing yards allowed in a 10 game season, about what W&L gets every two games.

Good luck Generals!

The Polls

CFP:  Georgia, Alabama, Oregon, and Ohio State are the top 4.  Then Cincinnati, Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Oklahoma State, and Wake Forest.  Baylor is 11, Ole Miss 12, and the Land Thieves are 13.  Brigham Young at 14.  UTSA is No. 22 and still undefeated.

AP Top 25:  Georgia, Alabama, Cincinnati, and Oregon.  5 through 10:  The Ohio State University TM., Notre Dame, Michigan State, Michigan, Oklahoma State, and Ole Miss.  Then Baylor, the Land Thieves at 11 & 12.  UTSA at No. 15.  Texas Agricultural & Mechanical is 16.

Coaches Poll:  UGA, Roll Tide, Cinci, The Ohio State University TM, Ducks, L’Université de Notre Dame du Lac, Big Blue, Sparties, Okie A&M, and the Ole Miss Rebels.  Land Thieves at No. 11, ahead of the Brazos Baptists at No. 13.  Texas Agricultural & Mechanical at No. 16.  UTSA at No. 18

Week 12
Big 12

Iowa State and No. 13 Oklahoma play at 11:00 a.m. on FOX.  This summer, this game looked to be the game which would decide the regular season champs. Not so much now, although the Land Thieves still have a chance.  Sooners favored by 3.5 and the over/under is 59.5.  I think the Land Thieves cruise to a big win.

Kansas at Texas Christian, 3:00 p.m. on Big 12 ESPN+.  Frogs favored by 21, over/under is 64.5.  Who knows.  I will say Kansas covers.

No. 11 Baylor at K State, 4:30 p.m. on FS1.  Bears are one point underdogs.  Go figure.  Over/under is 50.  I am betting on Baylor.

No. 9 Oklahoma State at Texas Tech, 7:00 p.m. on FOX.  Might turn into a good game, or the Cowboys might blow them out.  Betting the latter.  OSU favored by 10, over/under is 56.5.

Top 25

Friday Night

Memphis at No. 24 Houston.   Cougars are 9-1 and undefeated in the American.  Holgo turned that around quick.  8:00 p.m. on ESPN2.  Houston favored by 8.5, over/under is 60.5.

No. 19 San Diego State at UNLV.  10:30 p.m. on CBSSN.  Aztecs are 10.5 point road favorites at Allegiant Stadium.  Over/under is *41.

Saturday

Six 11:00 a.m. games.  I was listening to ESPNU a couple of weeks ago, I think Off Campus with Mark Packer, which is a good show.  He had one of the West Coast sportswriters on, can’t recall who.  Anyway he was talking about getting up and watching College Gameday at 7:00 in the morning and then the “nine o’clock games”.  Don’t know how those guys do it.

Great game from the Horseshoe.  No. 7 Michigan State at No. 4 Ohio State.  11:00 a.m. on ABC.  The Spartans are a good team, 9-1 and 6-1, and they are 19 point underdogs to the Buckeyes. Hmmm.  Over/under is 68.5

The Charleston Southern Buccaneers have the privilege to go to Athens, Georgia Saturday and play the No. 1 Georgia Bulldogs.  Yes, it is play for pay weekend in the $EC.  How bad is this game going to be?  The highest rank team in the country is not available except on pay per view – ESPN+ or SECN+.  I find that absurd.  No line in Vegas

No. 10 Wake Forest at Clemson.  11:00 a.m. on ESPN.  Tigers are 4.5 point home favorites, over/under is 59.5.  Interested to see how the Deacs do against Clemson.

Prairie View A&M at No. 16 Texas Agricultural & Mechanical.  11:00 a.m. ESPN+ or SECN+, and no Vegas line.

Tennessee State at No. 25 Mississippi State (6-4, and top 25).  11:00 a.m. on ESPN+ or SECN+.

Illinois at No. 17 Iowa, 1:00 p.m. on FS1.  Iowa favored by 12.5 and the over/under is 38.5.

Georgia Tech at No. 8 Notre Dame.  1:30 p.m. on NBC.  Irish favored by 17, and the over/under is 58.5.  Irish to win and cover.

No. 2 Alabama hosts No. 21 Arkansas in one of the few games with ranked teams and the only decent SEC game.  2:30 p.m. on CBS.  Saban has some crazy streak against Arkansas, which will continue.  Bama favored by 20.5, and the over/under is 58.5.  Roll Tide.

Southern Methodist at No. 5 Cincinnati, 2:30 p.m. on ESPN.  A few weeks ago, this was looking to be a huge game.  Since then, the Ponies have stumbled and Cinci has kept rolling.  Bearcats favored by 11 and the over/under is 65.

No. 6 Michigan at Maryland, 2:30 p.m. on BTN.  Wolverines favored by 16 and the over/under is 57.5.  Terps are sneaky.  Could be a tough game for Harbaugh.

Nebraska at No. 15 Wisconsin.  2:30 p.m. on ABC.  Badges favored by 9 at home at Camp Randall Stadium.  Huskies have just one conference win.  Over/under is 43.  Badgers to win and cover.

Virginia at No. 18 Pitt.  2:30 p.m. on ESPN2.  The Wahoos are 14.5 point road dogs, but I think they cover.  Over/under is 66.

No. 22 UTSA at home with UAB.  Blazers are actually pretty good.  7-3 overall and 5-1 in C-USA.  Roadrunners are favored by 4.5, over/under is 53.5.

No. 14 Brigham Young at Georgia Southern.  Cougars are favored by 20, over/under is 57.

Syracuse at No. 20 NC State.  3:00 p.m. on ACCN.   Wolfpack favored by 11.5, over/under is 50.5.  NC State to win, but Orange might cover that.

No. 3 Oregon at No. 23 Utah.  6:30 p.m. on ABC.  The Utes are tough at Rice-Eccles, and they are 3 point favorites against the 9-1 Ducks.  Over/under is 59.  I would still bet on Oregon.

Vanderbilt at No. 12 Ole Miss.  6:30 p.m. on SECN.  Should be a splendid day in Oxford and a great day in the Grove.  Rebels favored by 36.5, over/under is 64.5.  Hotty Toddy!

Other Games of Interest this Week

Air Force at Nevada, 8:00 p.m. Friday on FS1.

Saturday

Wofford at North Carolina, 11:00 a.m. on ESPN3.  No line.

UMass at Army, 11:00 a.m. on CBSSN.  Black Knights favored by 37, over under is 56.  UMass is 1-9.  At least they are still called the Minutemen.

East Carolina at Navy, 2:30 p.m. on CBSSN.  Navy 4 point underdogs at home, over/under is 46.5.  Go Navy.

Rice at UTEP, 3:00 p.m. on ESPN+.  Miners favored by 9 in the Sun Bowl.  Over/under is 47.

One of my favorite games to watch every year, UC Los Angeles and Southern Cal.  3:00 p.m. on FOX.  Bruins favored by 3.5, over/under is 65.5.

Cal at Stanford, 6:00 p.m. on Pac12 network.  Golden Bears favored by 1.5 at the Farm.

Cool & Interesting Stuff

This week’s rankings:

 

Dick Vitale talking about Andrew Jones

 

Ironic Stuff

Lincoln Riley complaining about sportsmanship.

Big 12 fining the Tech radio announcers for criticizing Big 12 officials.

Last Week’s Games
Week 11
Big 12

Congrats to Baylor on the 27-14 win over the Land Thieves.

I thought the Cowboys would win and cover in Fort Worth, but 63-17?  Wow.

K State beat West Virginia 34-17.  Wildcats covered.

It seems every year Texas Tech gets an upset win in Lubbock.  But 41-38 over Iowa State?  Love the score of course, but dang.  As I said last week “we know weird stuff happens in Lubbock”.

Top 25

Ole Miss 29-19 over Texas Agricultural & Mechanical.  Hotty Toddy.

Notre Dame 28-3 over Virginia.

UTSA Roadrunners 27-17 over Southern Miss.

Texas Volleyball

The No. 2 Longhorn volleyball team continues to win, sweeping K State in Austin Thursday night.  Now 21-1.  The play the Wildcats again Friday night at Gregory Gym, 7:00 p.m.

PECOS Outdoors

This table is an amazing product.  The accessories are really cool.  Check it out.  I have already ordered mine.

https://pecosoutdoor.com/

Music

Louis Armstrong & the Dukes of Dixieland playing the Washington & Lee Swing:

Jim Nicar

1956: An overhead shot of the U.T. Tower and Main Mall, before the construction of today’s Flawn Center. That’s the old Woman’s Building (UT’s first women’s dorm, opened 1903) standing next to the Texas Union.

 

God Bless Texas

God Bless America

Tim Taylor
Tailgating before Home Football Games
The Juan Heisman Tailgate
Lot 38, East of Sid Richardson Hall.

HOOK EM HORNS!!

© Timothy C. Taylor, Sr. 2021.  All Rights Reserved (as to original material).

www.jw.com/ttaylor

On Twitter:  @tctayloratx

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You can contact me by mail:

Tim Taylor
P.O. Box 5371
Austin, Texas  78763-5371

 

 

 

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