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October 10, 2013
"I'm just trying to plant seeds"
Bill Hicks once said that, may his soul rest in peace. That's all 99 percent of us are here to do, anyway. Plant little seeds and hope they take root. Here and there, sprinkled about and tended to while the one-percenters invent things like the internet and missiles that detect body heat.
I'm lucky I don't deliver refrigerators for a living, because neither my back nor my surgically-repaired limbs and joints would put up with it. The guy that delivered my new refrigerator today loves his job, though - even in the tough times. He says that with the "down economy," not as many people are buying appliances. For a while, there was a big "boom" when President Barack Obama gave tax credits to people upgrading to energy-efficient systems, but he said that gravy train has rolled out for the most part.
I knew I was going to have trouble getting the water line hooked up to the ice maker. It involved taking out a new dishwasher that had been installed directly between the water source and refrigerator - or so I thought. He told me not to worry about it. He'll hook up the water line. He does it for all his customers - plus ... "it's not like they have me out on a million routes lately, anyway."
When he left, I tried to pay him for hooking up the water line. He said it was against the rules. As I signed the papers, taking delivery of the unit, he said,
"One thing you could do ... if Home Depot calls and asks how I did, tell them I did a good job if you don't mind. That's how they choose how many routes we get each month."
Planting this little seed was the best 60 seconds of my week so far. (Click Here - Audio)
We have no idea
Case McCoy told the Texas media Monday that they have "no idea" what is going on inside the Texas locker room, and he's right. Outside the team, staff and a select few "family members," Texas operates behind notoriously closed doors. With the minimal access the media is given to the Texas Longhorn football team under Mack Brown, one thing can be gleaned, though.
There is no clear-cut leader. Not on offense and not on defense. I've asked and asked ...
seeds here, seeds there
The 2013 Texas Longhorn football team has not called a players-only meeting. Who cares about a players-only meeting? Well, I do.
Players-only meetings are some of the most effective. They light a fire under people, they create a sense of urgency and they establish real, concrete leaders within a group. LG Trey Hopkins is one of the many who call themselves "senior leaders" on the Texas football team, so I asked him why nobody had.
seeds here, seeds there
"We like everything to be on the table," Hopkins said. "We like players and coaches to be on the same page, instead of just player-run meetings where we feel like we're talking about something the coaches don't know about. We want them to know exactly what we're talking about and what we're feeling - so those things can be addressed for everyone. It doesn't make much sense for us to get together and talk about something and then the coaches have a completely different thought in their minds. We wanna make sure that if we have something to say, that the coaches are in there, too - and we're all talking about it as a family."
I believe Coach Brown would love to hear nothing more than one of his kids say they are having a players-only meeting addressing toughness and getting everyone on the same page about expectations of one another. Then he'd know he had a real leader on his hands.
Let's give a few numbers to chronicle OU FB/RB Trey Millard's 2012 performance against the Texas Longhorn defense.
Again, Where is the hate?
seeds here, seeds there
This is Oklahoma, after all. In recent years, it has come out and proven itself tougher, angrier and meaner than Texas. It utilizes players like Millard and QB Blake Bell against the Longhorns to establish dominance early, then preys on "turtled-up" play-calling and worry from the Texas sidelines as Mack Brown and his various assistants have notoriously reeled in the face of adversity on this stage.
I told Coach Brown on Monday at his press conference that it appears obvious that the Texas defense would be better off stacking the box against the "Belldozer," making him beat the Longhorns with his arm. The point-of-attack losses suffered to Bell in 2012 were as damaging to Texas' objectives as they were to its pride.
Coach Brown said, "The last two years, they've been more physical than us. We couldn't stop the run and the games were over before they got started. So we've got to do a better job against the run on Saturday."
And with that, I'm done planting seeds ... for now. As we arrive at our destination below, Mack Brown would have you believe there was no need to be spreading them around in the first place. Whatever Coach Brown is doing at Texas clearly has deep roots of its own.
The Deep Dig
The Texas offensive line will need to build upon an impressive two-game run versus Kansas State and Iowa State when facing the Sooners in the Cotton Bowl. In these two most recent games, the Texas line has graded out with its top scores as a unit since I began my study of the group through the 2012 season.
- Donald Hawkins comes in with the highest grade in the run game that any Texas lineman has logged through the 18 games the unit has been studied. I asked Hawkins on Monday about his progression, and if the fact that so many seemed to be writing him off as the team's left tackle for 2013 with the arrival of Desmond Harrison was used as motivation for this season's breakout.
"(The media) kinda threw me off the bus and had all this Desmond Harrison talk, I used that as motivation. My plans were, I was gonna have a big season, whether he came here or he didn't. It was just a real motivation for me - it still is - just being able to prove people wrong."
- I always say that consistent B-grades in this system mean that the skillsets being analyzed have NFL value. If Hawkins and Trey Hopkins keep trending in their current directions, I believe both will end up on NFL rosters as at least undrafted free agents.
- Dominic Espinosa had a quietly efficient game versus Iowa State just as he did against the Cyclones in 2012, allowing only one stuff and constantly getting good push in the run game as he typically shared a two-man combo assignment with Hopkins while Texas ran zone left with a greater-than-average frequency. Espinosa only hurts the Longhorns when he is the "foundation" of the run-blocking attack in the middle. When he is an ancillary "brace" of sorts, he's smart, quick and instinctive.
- Mason Walters is clearly hurt and/or checked out. I would be very surprised to see Sedrick Flowers play only three snaps at LG against Oklahoma. Although Flowers was not that great himself while on the field against Iowa State, keeping Walters fresh makes him a more effective player, and, as mentioned in last week's column, the shuffling in of reinforcements at the right guard position, for whatever reason, generally elevates the play of the entire line.
- Kennedy Estelle can look awful and can, on occasion, make fans want to throw their remote controls at the television set in anger. You'll see here that Estelle still has issues with body positioning and especially handling outside-in rush conversion moves. As things stand, Estelle is a better option at RT than Josh Cochran, however. I asked Coach Brown Monday if Josh Cochran's eventual return would come immediately back as the starting RT given how Estelle (and the line as a whole) has played without him in consecutive weeks. Coach Brown said that Cochran would not be given his job back, and that the starter would have to compete for that spot.
- Desmond Harrison and Sedrick Flowers both logged horrible plays in very minimal action.
- The offensive line was giving Case McCoy plenty of time on numerous instances to start, and getting him murdered in others. A real mixed bag.
- The exact play that Joe Bergeron came in on in the third quarter, the offensive line got its first man-power play assignment. This continues to give credence to the idea that the Texas staff loves using Bergeron in the man-power game and Johnathan Gray as the zone runner. However, I am sticking by what I said this summer after breaking down every rush snap in the Texas 2012 run-block game: Joe Bergeron is the best inside-zone runner Texas has on its roster, and his lack of use in this way is perplexing. Bergeron showed it on his second play, too, after a small gain on his first attempt. His second was a zone right where he burst into the secondary for a big red-zone gain before "dotting the i" with a TD on the next play.
This Week in Missed Tackles
Defensive disruption versus Iowa State
Jackson Jeffcoat - 1 sack, 1 hit, 2 hurries, 2 stuffs, 1 TFL
Malcom Brown - 1 sack, 2 hurries, 4 stuffs, 1 TFL, 1 batted pass
Cedric Reed - 1 pressure, 1 stuff, 1 TFL, 1 batted pass
Hassan Ridgeway - 2 hits, 1 stuff
Chris Whaley - 1 sack, 1 pressure, 2 stuffs
Dalton Santos - 1 pressure, 1 TFL, 1 fumble recovery
Quandre Diggs - 1 sack, 1 pressure
Tim Cole - 1 hit
Desmond Jackson - 1 TFL
Shiro Davis - 1 stuff
Parting Shot - Top 5 on the 2013 Texas State Fair Menu
5. Loaded Avocado Crispy Fries - Some genius decided to make french fries out of avocados. In a second stroke of genius, he covered them in sour cream, cheese, bacon and chives.
4. Deep Fried Chocolate Burrito - It sounds like some kind of "surprise" a roommate may have left you in the toilet during college, but no! This is a flour tortilla filled up with chocolate chip cookie dough and then deep fried.
3. "Scrumbscious" Pie Milkshakes - Half milk shake, half pie. I don't know how it works, but how could it not be awesome?
2. Deep Fried Kind Ranch Casserole - Texans love few things more than King Ranch casserole - a spicy, creamy, cousin of the chicken enchilada. How perfect an idea to fry the thing into a Texas-shaped, crispy finger food and serve it with ranch for dipping?
1. Fletcher's Corny Dogs - The original, of course.
Onward to the Red River Rivalry.