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August 20, 2012College football is a funny little game.
Two years ago, almost everyone across the country gave the Longhorns the benefit of the doubt going into the 2010 season, all but penciling them in for 10 wins at a minimum because it just seemed like that's what they did every year. When the bottom came out in a 5-7 season, all that most could do was sift through the wreckage for clues they might have missed.
Two seasons later, and I'm finding myself having a hard time giving the Longhorn program the benefit of the doubt that came so easily for so many years. I know the Longhorns might be the most talented team in the Big 12 across the board. I know they might have the best collection of running backs, offensive linemen, defensive tackles, defensive ends, defensive backs and special teams players in the Big 12. On paper, this team seems pretty loaded.
Yet, I can't find myself to budge just yet on a season prediction. Hell, I can't even tell you exactly who they will lose to this season, but I feel like they are out there somewhere.
All the improvement that has been made ? I need to see it with my own eyes.
The memories of the last two seasons are still too vivid, especially the sight of the Longhorns not beating a single team last year that had anything more than a strong pulse. The Kansas State, Missouri and Baylor games all happened. The last time Texas won a game against a true quality opponent, most of the players making plays for this team weren't on the field and many weren't even in college.
So, I'm going to wait and sit tight on 9-3 and see if my eyes tell me there's an upside out there beyond that mark that can/will be realized.
A list of other things in college football that I would love to believe, but just can't until my eyes see the proof.
1. I want to believe someone other than an SEC team is going to win the national title, but if you made me bet the house tonight and it was SEC or the field, go ahead and give me Alabama, LSU and the rest of the lot.
2. I want to believe that Lane Kiffin and USC are ready to really challenge at a national level, but then I remember that it's Lane Kiffin and I just don't know.
3. I want to believe that Landry Jones is on the level with Jason White and Sam Bradford, but I just have never seen that from him.
4. I want to believe Baylor can be an eight- or nine-win team without RGIII, but it only reached that level with the arguably the two greatest players in the program's last 20 years.
5. I want to believe Will Muschamp won't be on the hot seat after this season ends, but they have bigger quarterback issues than just about anyone.
6. I want to believe that Georgia ? yeah ? I can't even finish the sentence.
No. 2 - Scattershooting on the Longhorns ?
? The Longhorns debuted at No. 15 in the Associated Press Top 25 and that seems like a perfect slot for the team to begin the season. Assuming that the Longhorns handle their business in the first few weeks of the season, they'll hover near the top 10 by the time they head to Stillwater for the real meat of the schedule. Just like the 2008 team, if this group handles its business, it will be in a prime position to do everything it wants to.
? If there's one thing that hasn't happened in this Longhorn training camp that you hoped would be behind the program, it's the uncertain play at the tight end position. Really and truly, it's a missing offensive weapon that would make both quarterbacks better, especially a guy like David Ash because you'd love to have a blanket on which he could to rely in tough down and distance situations. It just doesn't seem like guys have stepped up yet.
? I mentioned this in the TicketCity Locker Room, but it warrants another mention ? when we speak of Jaxon Shipley and his ceiling as a player, just know that he recorded more receptions and yards as a true freshman than his legendary brother accumulated in his fourth-year sophomore season. Truth be told, Shipley had one of the best freshman seasons of just about any receiver in school history, even though injuries set him back for much of the year.
? The decision by DeSean Hales to pass up his senior season on the field signals yet another disappointing end to a member of the Class of 2008. Back in the day, he seemed like such a crucial recruit for the program and things just never came together for him. It just isn't a good thing when the most productive skill player from an entire class of prospects is Dan Buckner, a player who transferred after his sophomore season. Yikes.
? This will put a smile on your face. On paper, the Longhorns have the strongest offensive and defensive lines in the Big 12 going into 2012, but they should be really good in 2013 because so much of the beef is scheduled to return. Consider that the entire offensive line will return in 2013. I'm talking left tackle, right tackle, left guard, right guard and center. The news is just as good on the defensive side of the ball, as the Longhorns lose Alex Okafor, but return three of their top four ends and all five of their very talented defensive tackles. That's a total of 13 returning linemen that could be back next year for a real championship run.
? Has there ever been a great college defense that had only two seniors on the entire two-deep? That's what the Longhorns are trying to pull off this year.
? The Longhorns are almost within the 85-man scholarship limit for 2013 before the start of the 2012 season. Texas currently has 81 players on scholarship. They have nine scholarship seniors on the team and 14 commitments (if you include Naashon Hughes). 81-9= 72. 72+14 = 86. The Longhorns could go up to 20 scholarships in the 2013 class pretty easily if they wanted.
No. 3 - As far as pre-season football is concerned ?
No, I'm not ready to move the Cowboys into the playoffs or anything like that (yes, they have a playoff ceiling), but I came away pretty pleased with what they did in the first-half of pre-season game No. 2 against a San Diego Chargers team that played its starters until halftime.
The offense moved the ball and scored a touchdown with the starters. The defense stopped the Chargers cold and forced a couple of turnovers. Even the special teams provided a moment Matt Nordgren would be proud of.
It was exactly the kind of complete performance among the front-line players that will make you feel excited about the start of the season.
As for the second half? Since none of the players on the field will be counted on very much when the season starts, I'm ignoring the 27-0 shutout against the back-ups. It never happened as far as I'm concerned.
Other things that crossed my mind during the game?
1. The defense pitched a shutout for the first six quarters of the pre-season. I want to see Rex Ryan's defense do it when it counts before I get boisterous with my rhetoric about the group, but that's getting it done.
2. Brandon Carr looks like a dude that's worth his money.
3. Morris Claiborne survived his first game action without much damage done outside of a short little reception in the second quarter. Consider his first test against a very good quarterback a passing effort.
4. Kevin Olgetree looked like a dude that might be ready for a larger role within the offense, maybe even a No. 3 receiver. We'll see if it holds up.
5. I haven't been as excited about a young safety with a star on his helmet as I am with Barry Church after two pre-season games since Roy Williams was a young player. He looks like a completely different player than he did as a rookie
6. I don't know where Jamize Olawale came from, but I'm saving a roster spot for the guy. Let's not get cute and try to sneak him onto the practice squad.
7. Speaking of guys I'm making a spot for, say hello to second-year cornerback Mario Butler. That guy was all over the field, both against the pass and especially against the run. Of course, as soon as I typed the sentence, he misses a tackle that helped allow a touchdown. SMH.
8. I'm ready the Stephen McGee Era to end.
9. The team has been penalized 21 times for 177 yards in two games. That's on you, Jason Garrett. I'm tired of this franchise being a sloppy team on the field.
No. 4 - As far as pre-season football is concerned (Part II)?
If you're a Texans football fan, you've got to feel pretty good about Saturday's 20-9 win over the 49ers for a lot of the same reasons that Cowboys fans had to feel good.
The starters on offense moved the football in the first half against one of the league's best defenses, scoring 10 points along the way, including a touchdown pass from Matt Schaub. Meanwhile, the Houston defense didn't allow a touchdown and the special teams created one.
Check, check and triple-check. It was probably B-level stuff on the whole, but there was a lot to like. Here's a few thoughts I had while watching the game ?
1. Andre Johnson is so dangerous when he's healthy and he was healthy Saturday night, which means that he was pretty much unstoppable when they went to him. I can't decide if I'd take the over if I set the number of healthy games he plays at 12.5.
2. All things considered, Matt Schaub is underrated as an NFL quarterback.
3. LeStar Jean has a little something about him that definitely stands out.
4. Trindon Holliday would be in the Pro Bowl as a return man if pre-season games mattered. I won't be going to the bathroom this season when teams are kicking to the Texans.
No. 5 - It's the sport of kings, better than diamond rings, That's why we're here to sing, football Sunday in the snow, referee's whistle blows, We've been warriors toe-to-toe?
? Can we go ahead and chalk up Arizona's trade for Kevin Kolb as one of the worst in the history of the NFL, especially when you consider the money that was paid to him before he did anything. Things went so poorly on Friday that he nearly crashed Twitter and after the game one of the Raiders put him on full blast .
"He is skittish," Tommy Kelly said. "He is scared back there. Anytime anybody gets close to him, he starts looking at the refs. As a defensive lineman you love a quarterback like that. He ain't even trying to look at the routes no more. He is playing attention to us and you ain't going to get nothing done like that."
? I've got a top five fantasy pick coming up this week and I've been focused on a couple of running backs and quarterbacks, but Calvin Johnson gave me something to think about on Friday night in his pre-season game vs. the Ravens.
? The Browns are going to be awful. Unless Trent Richardson is God in Cleats when he arrives from his knee issues, I just don't know who this team is beating. Yes, I know they are 2-0 in the pre-season. It doesn't matter.
? Lots of buzz circling Matt Ryan's name right now, but I just don't know if I can buy it without seeing it when it counts. Weren't we hearing this last year?
? Holy cow, the 2012 Chris Johnson looks nothing like the 2011 Chris Johnson and a hell of a lot like the 2010 Chris Johnson.
? Ryan Tannehill is going to have some long, hard days this season.
? Justin Tucker and Billy Cundiff are in a hell of a battle for the place-kicking job in Baltimore. Both went 2 for 2 on Friday night, with Tucker easily nailing a kick from 50 yards, while Cundiff made one from 44 yards. Tucker will be kicking somewhere this season after the camp he's had in Baltimore.
? I believe we had a 2007-version of Vince Young on display this weekend in Minnesota, as VY went 8 of 14 for 123 yards, including a 64-yard bomb. That's exactly what he needed.
? THE REAL NFL OFFICIALS CAN'T GET HERE SOON ENOUGH.
No. 6 - If the MLB season ended today ?
1. Mike Trout (Angels)
2. Miguel Cabrera (Tigers)
3. Robinson Cano (Yankees)
AL Cy Young
1. Justin Verlander (Tigers)
2. David Price (Rays)
3. Felix Hernandez (Mariners)
AL Rookie of the Year
1. Mike Trout (Angels)
2. Yoenis Cespedes (A's)
3. Yu Darvish (Rangers)
1. Andrew McCutchen (Pirates)
2. Ryan Bruan (Brewers)
3. Buster Posey (Giants)
NL Cy Young
1. Johnny Cueto (Reds)
2. Cole Hamels (Phillies)
3. Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers)
NL Rookie of the Year
1. Wade Miley (Diamondbacks)
2. Todd Frazier (Reds)
3. Bryce Harper (Nats)
No. 7 - Tweet tweet: The best on my timeline this week ?
9. " Don't rob Peter to pay Paul. Just kill them both and leave no witnesses. #EvilTimTebow_ "
8. " (903): We have a pile of chopped wood here that suggests we may have chopped down a tree of some sort. "
7. " Attendees at Notre Dame Media Day are reminded that photographs are only permitted if you use that giant flash that puffs out tons of smoke."
5. "Yes time travel is possible. Will explain later."
4. "Gonna start a new reality show called If You Talk To Me On This Airplane I'll F*cking Stab You."
3. "Breaking: Miley Cyrus marries Sansa and sits on the Iron Throne."
2. "BREAKING: Hundreds of fans hospitalized after Carson Palmer and Kevin Kolb decide to play catch on the sidelines"
1. " Today at the Louvre we witnessed a girl kicking a pornographic pose in front of the Mona Lisa. For her Facebook profile pic. Foolish. "
No. 8 - Pop goes the culture because the culture goes pop.?
? Movie Trailer of the week: I feel a whole lotta cow bell potential in this bad boy .
? WTF Headline of the weekend: Jackmeoff Mudd Arrested In Fort Lauderdale. Seriously.
? Sign that the apocalypse is upon us: Batman, Maybe
? Hottie of the Week: More of Michael Phelps' latest gold medal
? Big Butt of the Week: Who else?
No. 9 - The List: Pink Floyd
You asked and you shall receive. However, before we get to The List, a have a few random thoughts from a week's worth of PF.
1. Not enough drugs in the world can convince me that some of their early work was anything more than a bunch of dudes playing their instruments while they were f'd up.
2. How did this group keep a following through their first four or five albums? There's just not a lot of good, let alone great, in their early work. All part of the evolution though, I know but I just couldn't listen to a lot of it twice this week.
3. Go big or go home. I laughed my ass off the first time I really listened to Jugband Blues for the first time and heard the Salvation Army band mixed in.
4. I know the band isn't a huge fan of Atom Heart Mother after all of these years, but I think the album is the first one that I kind of liked. Meddle was another step forward for me.
5. There's no doubt in my mind that The Wall is a better album than Dark Side of the Moon. Same with Wish You Were Here.
6. In fact, Wish You Were Here is my favorite album of them all. It's essentially flawless.
Ok, enough of my random thoughts. Let's get on with the list.
Just missed the cut: Young Lust , Lucifer Sam , Fearless, Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun, The Gold It's In The and Sheep
10. Childhood's End
Curiously enough, it was the last song written entirely by David Gilmour for quite a while and he delivered a beast of a song. Anything with a great Gilmour solo is going to catch my ear.
Some are born some men die, beneath one infinite sky
There'll be war and there'll be peace, but everything one day will cease
All the iron turned to rust, all the proud men turned to dust
9. Atom Heart Mother
This was the moment for me when listening to their albums in order when you could see the band evolving into what they would eventually become. It's weird. It's contrived at times. But, there's also a lot inside of this song that I really dig and it's as if there's a clash between styles throughout this entire piece.
It's the quintessential Pink Floyd song, If you were to walk into a bar or hear them on the radio, this is probably the song playing. The saxophone solo by Dick Parry is pretty sick, only to set up and get blown away by one of the great all-time solos on a guitar by Gilmour.
7. Have a Cigar
I don't know if it's sacrilege or not to list a song in the top 10 with lead vocals coming from someone outside the group, but this song is just so t-o-u-g-h. Roy Harper provides just the right amount of grime to one of their grimiest songs and David Gilmour does his thing in absolute sublime fashion. This feels like a rock star's rock song.
Another one of the group's lengthy compositions, this song is as spacey and trippy as just about anything that they put together. Oh, they've done spacey and trippy on larger scales, but this song comes together in cleaner and more ear-pleasing manner. You can feel the band really finding their vision for what they are going to become in this piece. Also, this might have been one of favorite drum pieces in their catalog.
Roger Waters at his lyrically best, along with Gilmour doing his thing in one of their funkier jams.
And then one day you find ten years have got behind you.
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun.
4. Shine On You Crazy Diamond
Pink Floyd did a number of multi-chaptered songs, but none of them quite pack to the wallop that this nine-part opus to former band leader Syd Barrett. There's so much going on in this near half-hour piece of music, but the solos by David Gilmour in parts II and III is just masterful stuff and the infusion of several styles of music throughout the piece makes for quite a musical journey.
3. Wish You Were Here
Perhaps the most stripped down and emotionally raw song in the entire Pink Floyd catalog. It's just hauntingly beautiful.
2. Comfortably Numb
You can make a strong case that this song should rank one spot higher because there's a lot of really dynamic stuff going on in this song, starting with the lyrics about our protagonist Pink essentially losing his mind and ending with one of the best guitar solos of all-time. Seriously, go to the 4:30 mark of this song and let David Gilmour blow your mind. It's hard not to listen to Gilmour at his best several times in a row when the song ends.
1. Another Brick in the Wall (Part II)
I can't help it, I love this song and it's probably the one that I remember the most when I was a kid growing up listening to Pink Floyd for the first time. It's an anthem song and one of the best ever made. There's a little of Pink inside all of us.
Previous Lists: 2-Pac, Beastie Boys, Beethoven, Biggie Smalls, Boyz II Men, Chuck Brown, Jeff Buckley, Cartoon themes, Eva Cassidy,Phil Collins, Sam Cooke, Joe Ely, Al Green, Guns N' Roses, Hall and Oats, HBO Shows, Jimi Hendrix, Whitney Houston, Kool and the Gang, Metallica, George Michael, Mo-Town, Bill Murray, Willie Nelson, Stevie Nicks,Prince, Outkast, Queen, Otis Redding, The Rolling Stones, Scarface, Sexiest Women of All-Time, Snoop Dogg . Gary Stewart , George Strait, TV Themes, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Hank Williams Sr.
Previous Lists on Spotify: 2-Pac, Beastie Boys, Beethoven, Biggie Smalls, Boyz II Men, Jeff Buckley, Phil Collins, Sam Cooke, Joe Ely, Al Green, Guns N' Roses, Hall and Oats, Jimi Hendrix, Whitney Houston, Metallica, George Michael, Mo-Town, Willie Nelson, Stevie Nicks,Prince, Prince (After Hours), Outkast, Queen, Otis Redding, The Rolling Stones, Scarface, Snoop Dogg . Gary Stewart , George Strait, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Hank Williams Sr.
No. 10 - And finally ?
After a month or so off from the radio world, I should have news later this week on my immediate plans for this season.
Stay tuned, but I'm excited about a schedule that will allow me to do everything this fall I want to.