The next step for Mack Brown and Co. will be the most difficult.
In the aftermath of a fairly thrilling Alamo Bowl win this weekend, the attention to the 2013 season becomes the focus, as everyone understands how much is at stake going into the next season. After three straight seasons of disappointment, every man, woman, child, player and coach in the state of Texas understands the hard truths about 2013.
9-4 won't be good enough. The Alamo Bowl won't be good enough. Anything less than a win over Oklahoma won't be good enough. Failing to win Mack Brown's third conference championship will represent failure.
If there is one thing that must be established from the beginning when talking about 2013, it's this … the conference championship is the first and only initial goal that matters.
Not 10 wins. Not a BCS bowl (a watered down achievement). The Big 12 championship is the goal and it shouldn't be asking too much to expect one of those once every presidential term.
A lot of the pieces are present for this 2013 team. The skill positions return almost 100 percent intact. The entire starting offensive line will be back. The defensive line returns nine of its top 10 players. The areas of needed improvement are obvious.
The offensive line must get better across the board and three seasons should be enough for Stacy Searels. David Ash can't be a roller coaster next season or this team will fall short of the mission. The nuances of his game have to grow, but he made improvement and has showed flashes of what you want. The middle of the defense must stop wearing prom dresses.
After three seasons of mostly disappointing results, it's time for Mack Brown to give this school the best year of coaching that he has left in his life. It's time for him to remind us what it looks like when we view his contract as a good deal. It's time for this program to run itself like an elite outfit and not something you'd find in the post-holiday shopping bins.
Bottom line… Saturday night was a reminder that this program can flash moments of greatness. The 2013 season needs to be the moment when the flashes simply becomes the light staying on.
Anything less is asking for the standard to remain changed for one person and one person alone.
No. 2 - The Grades Are In … The Alamo Bowl Report Card
Marquise Goodwin: The single most-explosive and dynamic player on either offense in this game was the senior, who the team couldn't get touches against Oklahoma and Kansas State. Goodwin turned a lot of NFL heads on Saturday night.
Alex Okafor: What else is there to say? It was probably the most dominant individual performance by a Longhorn defensive lineman that I've seen in my near 20-year career of covering UT athletics. He. Could. Not. Be. Blocked.
David Ash: It was one half of shame and one half for the Hall of Fame. Although he received little help from his teammates or coaches for most of the first half, Ash had a number of issues in his own right, such as time management issues, a feel for pressure in the pocket and the inability to make more advanced decision-making in the passing game, but right when you started to wonder if he could handle the assignment given to him, the kid Hulked up and took over the ball game in the second half. Frankly, the second-half performance was the stuff of championship dreams, as he showed the best of his game when it mattered most in a huge game/situation.
Carrington Byndom: The East Texas product reminded us all of why we loved him a year ago. Oregon State was afraid of him.
Desmond Jackson: The sophomore played the best game of his college career thus far, as he was all over the field, constantly giving every ounce of energy he had in him. The stat sheet didn't do him justice at all.
Cedric Reed: From start to finish, Reed was an impact player. This easily registered as his best career performance to date.
Jaxon Shipley: Before Ash totally caught fire in the third quarter, Shipley put the Texas passing game on his back in the early stages of the third quarter. If the ball was in his area, he went and got it and that was exactly what a shaky quarterback needed… a best friend on the field.
Others that receive this grade: Quandre Diggs, Alex King and Kenny Vaccaro
Solid game, Winning play
Donald Hawkins: The right side of the Texas offensive line was a mess all night, but I thought Hawkins had a very solid game, especially in pass protection. While he can't have those false starts on third down, I'm going to cut him a little slack because he was pretty good against the Beavers.
Mykkele Thompson: Outside of a missed tackle early in the game and a pad PI call on him in the first half, Thompson played a rock solid brand of football, recording a team-high 10 tackles and a tackle for loss. There's something there to build on.
Others that receive this grade: Malcom Brown, Peter Jinkens, Tevin Jackson, Nick Jordan, Adrian Phillips, Kendall Thompson, Chris Whaley and Reggie Wilson
Johnathan Gray: This kid has a lot of talent, but he had nowhere to run and nowhere to hide with that offensive line in front of him. It was pretty much a wasted night for Gray, with the exception of the biggest play David Ash has ever made as a collegiate player. Gray didn't have a single of his seven carries go for more than five yards.
Others that receive this grade: Joe Bergeron, Malcolm Brown, Josh Cochran, Mike Davis, DJ Grant, MC McFarland, DJ Monroe and Daje Johnson
Steve Edmond: When Edmond was a star at Daingerfield, his instincts were part of the package that you salivated over, but the game has not slowed down for him and he isn't flashing the type of physical tools needed to compensate for missteps and poor initial reads. In my mind, he's at a career crossroads and needs to consider a position change or committing himself to streamlining his body because he was an ineffective tweener on Saturday night.
Dominic Espinosa: Dom had a rough game. I love the kid and I think he has a lot of upside, but he just had one of those nights when it just wasn't coming together consistently. Although he's a two-year starter, I think there's pressure for him to improve more than anyone on the line because Searels wants more beef and raw strength, which is an area that Espinosa has to take to the next level to secure his future as a starter. I fully expect the Longhorns to give him more competition in the spring.
Brandon Moore: The junior starting defensive tackle just didn't make any plays while he was in the game, which was evidenced by the fact he didn't pop up in the stat sheet at all.
Mason Walters: As a guy that's heading into his fifth year in the program, it's very surprising to see Walters play at an uninspiring level like he did against the Beavers. He really needs to challenge himself in the off-season.
Others that receive this grade: Greg Daniels, Sedric Flowers, Luke Poehlmann, Ryan Roberson and Dalton Santos
No. 3 - Scattershooting on the Alamo Bowl …
… Oregon State was ready for the jet sweep and end around game that the Longhorns liked to feature, which is what made Marquise Goodwin's touchdown run on the reverse so impressive. In sensing that the Beavers were completely on to the pre-snap motion of the jet-sweep end around, major just conceded the pre-snap movement and was able to create the kind of play he wanted without the Beavers over-pursuing to the right read before the snap. Sometimes there's no accounting for elite speed, and Oregon State couldn't on that play when they weren't sniffing it out pre-snap.
… It cannot be stressed enough how badly Cody Vaz played at quarterback for Oregon State or how idiotic it was for the Oregon State coaches to abandon the running game in favor of pass plays that kept leading to disaster.
… Most underrated play in the first half? On 3rd and 8 from inside the Texas 15-yard line, the Beavers set up a delicious little pick play across the middle of the field on Carrington Byndom that allowed for a free middle of the field and a possible touchdown reception, but the combo pressure created by Alex Okafor and Cedric Reed forced Vaz to throw a rushed ball that landed incomplete. If he throws a better ball, it's probably a touchdown, or at the very least it would have been first and goal inside the five-yard line. Instead, the Beavers were forced to settle for three points.
… The Longhorns have not been great at the point of attack all season, but what the line has given up in terms of mass has sometimes (not all the times, obviously) been made up with athleticism. Yet, I didn't see any of the Longhorn linemen have success in space early in the game when the Longhorns were trying to get their running and screen games going. There was a lot of stiff play and standing around straight up.
… Texas needs an upgrade at fullback. Lost in the sea of complaints about the offensive line was the fact that the fullback play on Sunday was not strong. Ryan Roberson had moments of effectiveness this season, but there weren't many of those moments against Oregon State. It's time to move Joe Bergeron to the position and make that area a plus. It's the kid's NFL position if he's going to have one and in moving him there, it would give the Longhorns so much more versatility as an offense.
… It doesn't do any good to have a big banger at middle linebacker if he can't find the ball and doesn't have the quick-twitch explosiveness that allows for him to compensate for any misstep. I don't know what to do with Edmond, but he can't be a starting linebacker until he overhauls himself and his game. He looked completely stuck in quicksand at times.
… In retrospect, how big was the neutral zone penalty on Oregon State on fourth down on the opening play of the second quarter. The Longhorns had nothing going for them at all on offense and the penalty gave them their first chain-moving moment of the entire game, and before you knew it Marquise Goodwin was in the end zone and the game was tied. Oregon State is going to have nightmares about this game.
… The best defensive tackle on the field tonight was Desmond Jackson. He looked like a young Roy Miller out there.
… If there's any teaching that Manny Diaz must do…and I mean MUST do in the next nine months, it starts and ends with the ability to get the hell off a block. The whole bunch suffers from the inability to do so.
… The Beavers got a few nickel and dimes on Quandre Diggs in the first half, but it was only a matter of time before he made Cody Vaz pay for targeting him over Carrington Byndom. Diggs is simply too good of a player to have an average dude like Vaz try to work on him.
… Underrated little play of the game: Standing in his end zone, Alex King flipped field position for the Longhorns with a 51-yard punt. Texas is going to miss that dude.
… Underrated little play of the game II: Down 20-10 and facing a 3rd and 13 play in the third quarter, Ash hit Jaxon Shipley with the best throw of the game he had made up until that point in very tight coverage. From that moment on, he just seemed to pull it all together. If he doesn't stick that throw, the Longhorns are likely trying a 50-yard field goal on fourth down. Instead, they walked away with seven on the drive. It was almost like he Hulked up after that play.
No. 4 - Random thoughts from the college bowl scene… …
… I don't know what to make of West Virginia heading into next season. All of the very best parts of a very average team are gone. Yikes. They could be one of the two or three worst teams in the league if Dana doesn't turn up the coaching meter.
… Good for Seth Doege and Texas Tech. That was a game that they probably should have one decisively, but sometime a little drama makes things taste better and that was probably the case on Friday night. Now it's time to see what Kliff Kingsbury is made of …
… If only Michigan State had a defense…
… TCU has a chance to be very, very good in 2013. There's a lot of talent on that team.
.. The state of Texas was 5-0 in bowl games until TCU's loss knocked the state from the undefeated ranks.
No. 5 - I hate being a Cowboys fan
Even though I saw the impending doom coming from a mile away, I'm still channeling my inner Kurt Cobain as a Cowboys fan right now.
For weeks I've been calling for this night to go exactly the way that it did, but even though I was prepared for it, I still feel completely demoralized and depressed.
Of course, Tony Romo melted down with everything on the line. Of course, there was a harsh penalty that kept the Cowboys from having a chance to get the ball back. Of course, I let Lucy pull the ball away from me yet again.
Part of me is just glad this season is over. I can't take it anymore and I'm pretty sure I don't want to.
Hell, I can't even tell you where half the guys on the team even came from, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Who the F is Eric Frampton?
I don't care. I just want the disappointment to end and I know it's not going anywhere. 2013 will be much of the same… just good enough to be relevant until the last week of the season, in which case everything will fall apart.
It's like I'm Phil Connors and I just stepped into the water-filled pothole… for the 137th time.
No. 6 - The bleeding has to stop in Houston …
Oh man, it happened.
For weeks we've been talking about the worst-case for these Houston Texas with the idea that the worst-case might have existed, but was unlikely, yet after the final Sunday of the season, the worst-case unfolded.
Gone is the No. 1 seed. Gone is a bye week. Gone is a two-game schedule to the Super Bowl.
Hello, three games to pay-dirt. Hello, a trip to New England if you survive Cincinnati. Hello, a trip to Denver if you survive the Patriots … a team that destroyed you within the last month.
Ugh. Double ugh.
Worse than all of that might be the fact that Matt Schaub feels a lot like David Ash, a guy that has a lot of tools and all the upside of a guy that can take you to the top, but Schaub's not there yet and he didn't look close on the road against Indianapolis. Who knows? Maybe he can flip the switch starting this weekend, but his level of play seems to be going in the wrong direction.
But, Sunday felt important. For a team that aspires to win it all, they practically wasted every bit of good, hard work that has put in.
As a Cowboys fan, I feel your frustration today.
No. 7 - 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…
… Color me very disappointed that Adrian Peterson didn't break Eric Dickerson's record. Those of us on this site have been watching one of the all-time greats from start to finish.
… The rest of the AFC pretty much hates the Texans right now.
… Peyton vs. Brady for the right to go to the Super Bowl? That might be the best part of what the Texans pulled off on Sunday. The generic NFL fan is going to eat that potential match-up like a starving man.
… In the end, the call by the scab refs in the Green Bay/Seattle looms pretty large, as it cost the Packers a a first-round bye.
… I think the Packers beat the Vikings by 10+ next weekend.
… Am I crazy for thinking Calvin Johnson's inability to reach 2,000 yards watered down the record he took from Jerry Rice? It's weird, I know.
… Jamaal Charles finished with 1,509 rushing yards this season on a awful team. Amazing.
… The Awesome Giants replaced the Evil Giants on the final weekend, but it just didn't matter (hehe).
… The 49ers would be smart to make a move for Phil Dawson in the off-season.
… Michael Crabtree is fulfilling his destiny … finally.
… Jacksonville is barely an NFL football team.
… Sunday might have been former Longhorn Quentin Jammer's final game as a San Diego Charger and if it is so, only Dan Fouts and Junior Seau rank among position players who have played more than the 172 games Jammer has played in the powder-blues. Here's hoping he can latch on with a team with serious Super Bowl aspirations.
No.8 - Five quick UFC things before we go…
1. How good was Cain Velasquez on Saturday night? What he did against Junior dos Santos was brutal and emphatic, with the pace that he did it in making it all the more remarkable. Good luck to the next guy that gets in the ring with that dude. That was Tyson in his prime stuff right there, even if he didn't finish dos Santos, who deserves a lot of credit for hanging in there and taking a savage ass-kicking with a lot of pride.
2. At some point, these two dudes need to fight again, but not for a while. Dos Santos needs to get healthy and eat some Wheaties.
3. Jim Miller is a bad dude, love watching him fight.
4. Joe Lauzon has my respect.
5. My Top 5 all-around UFC fighters: 1. Jon Jones 2. Anderson Silva 3. Cain Velasquez 4. Benson Henderson 5. George St-Pierre
No. 9 - Pop goes the culture because the culture goes pop.…
… Hottie of the Week: Jennifer Aniston stays amazing
… Sign that the Apocalypse is Upon Us: Drake wants royalties for a phrase he didn't invent. LOL. YOLO!
… Hey Batgeeks: Christopher Nolan talks in-depth about his trilogy
… Big picture thinking: Lady Gaga's Tour Will Offer Free Counseling
… 100 Years Ago: The perfect woman was shaped like a pear .
… Shakin' the Haters Off : Yoko Ono On Beatles' 'Divorce': 'They Were Getting To Be Like Paul's Band, Which They Didn't Like'
… The QT Trilogy: Tarantino's Django Unchained might be the second installment of an unofficial trilogy.
… Well duh: Apparently, the dude from T3 didn't know that you can't go into an adult movie store and use the private rooms as…uh…. Private rooms
… 100-words or less movie review: Django Unchained (B)
Although I really liked the movie, I can't say that I loved it after the first watch, although there's a lot of redeeming pieces of this puzzle. The acting is top-shelf, as Christoph Waltz and Samuel L. Jackson swallow the screen at every turn, while Leo and Jaime Foxx have plenty of moments in their own right. There's a KKK/hood scene is an all-timer, but quite frankly there's more very good than great from start to a somewhat loooong finish. Honestly, there's nothing else like it. Bottom line… it's very good and I'd recommend it, but it's no Inglorious Basterds.
… If I had a vote that mattered (Oscar-style)…
(These are my updated Academy Award picks based on movies I have actually seen in 2012.)
Top 5 Movies on see: Silver Linings Playbook, Zero-Dark Thirty, Les Miserables, Life of Pi and Amour
3. Moonrise Kingdom
5. The Master
1. Steven Spielberg (Lincoln)
2. Ben Affleck (Argo)
3. Wes Anderson (Moonrise Kingdom)
4. Paul Thomas Anderson (The Master)
1. Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln)
2. Denzel Washington (Flight)
3. Joaquin Phoenix (The Master)
4. Matthew McConaughey (Killer Joe)
1. Quvenzhane Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild)
Best supporting actor
1. Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained)
2. Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master)
3. Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln)
4. Samuel L. Jackson (Django Unchained)
5. James Spader (Lincoln)
Best supporting actress
1. Sally Field (Lincoln)
2. Amy Adams (The Master)
3. Kerry Washington (Django Unchained)
2. Shirley MacLaine (Bernie)
3. Kara Hayward (Moonrise Kingdom)
No. 10 - The List: Marvin
Talk about pressure. This was like putting together a list for the Beatles of R&B.
Two things you might not know about Marvin Gaye if you haven't listened to his career from start to finish.
a. The sound of his records evolved as much as any person in the genre… ever. Starting with standards and the traditional Mo-Town sound, the final 15 years of his career before his death saw him weave in and out of transitional periods in almost every type of sound possible.
b. The level of artistry in his music and the places he was willing to take it are still unsurpassed.
The man could literally sing about anything and make it the smoothest, cleanest, meanest, emotion-filled song you've ever heard. It didn't matter if he was singing about love, politically-charged issues, drug addiction or his divorce, the man was and remains different from the rest of the pack.
It's a near-impossible task, but I gave it ago. Let's get on with the list ( subscribe to The Marvin list via Spotify )…
Song that were seriously considered: After the Dance, Ain't Nothing Like The Real Thing, Got to give it up, How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You), Night Life, It takes Two, Pride and Joy, Right On, Some Kind of Wonderful, That's the Way Love Is, Too Busy Thinking About My Baby, Yesterday, You're All I need to Get By,
The last five out: If I Should Die Tonight, Your Precious Love, I met a Little Girl, You're The One For Me, Inner City Blues
Ok, here we go…
There have been a million national anthem performances over the years, but there's only one Marvin, who pretty much proves that when you are the baddest dude in the world with a mic in his hand.
This is probably my own personal surprise selection for the list because I just love this song and it was a look into the raw passion he was on the verge of bringing to his music in the coming decade-plus. In the final minute of the song, he just turns it loose.
Flat out… an all-time classic. Had to be on the list somewhere.
7. Trouble Man
It's basically Marvin's theme song and in it he deals one of the best falsettos of all-time.
I'm not sure there's a song that has ever been performed live that can make women lose their sexual shield quite like this one. I mean you could practically hear thousands of women given themselves to him all at once. You can't fake that.
Let me let you in on a little secret… Tammi Terrell is a goddess of R&B and every time she was on a record with Marvin, it was pure magic. You can make a case that this is the best duet pair of all-time in terms of chemistry and greatness that was created. It just doesn't get better than these two together and I'll throw this out there as the greatest duet of all-time.
There are probably four songs that you can argue for the top spot and this one would be in the No. 1 spot for mere mortals, but when you're Marvin, even one of the greatest songs of all-time can land at No. 4. It was one of the top drop the mic moment in the 80s.
One of the greatest Mo-town and R&B songs of them all. When you can show up Gladys Knight on a song, not much else needs to be said.
This song represents the moment when Marvin transcended from singer of great songs to producer of all-time art. Although he was singing about the era he frustratingly lived in, it has become timeless.
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