Archive | October, 2012

Happy Halloween!

30 Oct

Spelling Texas is not limited to football games. In fact, at our annual pumpkin carving party, I felt compelled to create my own “Script Texas.”

True to my obsessive self, I even kept the parts I cut out.

Our hosts think of everything. In addition to the over-the-top decorations and delectable Halloween treats, they even provided a tribute to our dearly departed Big Tex:

Happy Halloween, y’all!

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Far from Flowery

27 Oct

Texas 21, Kansas 17

Oct. 27, 2012 • Lawrence, Kansas

Since Kansas is the “sunflower state,” we spelled Texas using sunflower seeds last year. I figured we’d stick with the theme this year but up the ante with the flowers themselves. Besides, sunflowers are so pretty and fall-y, you know? And since this game was going to be easy-peasy, why go for a tougher, more manly medium?

Ugh.

Our Horns were 12 seconds away from losing to Kansas. Kansas, the team that has never beaten us in conference play. Kansas, the team that came into this one having lost its last 16 Big 12 games. For most of this game, it looked like the Jayhawks were going to break that streak. Against TEXAS!

Our Horns again showed flashes of greatness here and there, but our team mostly looked hapless. For the second time in recent weeks, our QB was surprised to find the football in his face. Shouldn’t he be one of the two people in the whole stadium who know when the ball’s going to be snapped? We couldn’t wrap up tackles (STILL!). We couldn’t hang on to passes. When your tacklers don’t tackle and your receivers don’t receive, bad things happen.

A loss to Kansas would’ve been a very bad thing.

It’s funny how such a poor performance can surprise me. It really shouldn’t. We saw it against ou, and even though we beat Baylor, we saw many of these same problems against the Bears last week, too. Still, after our first defensive possession ended in a punt and we scored soon after that, I thought maybe we’d rediscovered our swagger. (Of course, I thought the same thing after last week’s quick score, too. I’ll never learn!)

When the bottom fell out, the tweets started flying. Of course, whenever our team’s struggling, the Texas beat writers flood the Twitterverse with critiques, but this time, national sportswriters were taking notice, too. Many were speculating which coaches would be fired Monday. A loss to Kansas could NOT go without some kind of retribution, a consequence that would not wait for season’s end.

Enter Case McCoy.

McCoy (the Sequel) replaced David Ash in the fourth quarter, and in his first possession, the coaches called for several running plays. Genius! I thought maybe the coaches had finally figured out a way to get the ball to our powerful backs. But no. After the game Case said he was cold (literally), so those hand-offs were intended to help him warm up!

I shouldn’t complain, though, because McCoy did get warmed up. The McCoy-helmed Horns scored to tie the game 14-14 in the fourth, and after a Jayhawk field goal made it 17-14 Kansas, Case led the Horns down the field for the winning TD. Along the way, we faced a 4th and 6 situation that was way too similar to that 4th and 18 in the nearly disastrous 2004 game. This time we didn’t have VY to bail us out, but we did have the tried-and-true “McCoy to Shipley.” Jaxon made the reception for an 18-yard gain, and just a few plays later, Case hit D.J. Grant in the endzone for the game-winner.

Where do we go from here? Who knows? I know we’re heading Lubbock to take on Tech next Saturday, but I don’t know who will start at quarterback. I know who our coaches are now, but I don’t know how much longer they’ll be at UT.

I don’t know if we’ll win another game this year, but I know I’ll be rooting for my Horns—and spelling Texas!

How Sweet It Is

20 Oct

Texas 56, Baylor 50

Oct. 29, 2012 • DKR

After two consecutive losses, this win was particularly tasty, but nothing could be as sweet as these “Honey Bears” from the Czech Stop in West. For past games against Baylor, UCLA and Cal, we’ve spelled Texas with honey, gummy bears and plenty of Teddy Grahams. This time, though, it was time to pay homage to that United Nations of college football fans, the little Czech bakery at exit 353 on I-35, where Texas, BU, Texas State and aggy fans all seem to converge on football weekends. 

From the outset we knew this game would not be a repeat of last week’s loss shellacking debacle. On our first play from scrimmage, Joe Bergeron exploded off the line, running 84 yards for a touchdown. That would be his first of five TDs for the night.

A defensive stop on Baylor’s first possession made us think that maybe our defense had turned the corner, too. But no. Of course, our special teams play didn’t help matters. On our next possession, we had to punt, but when the ball sailed over the punter’s head, Baylor got the ball on our 8. One play later, and the game was tied.

That’s pretty much how the evening proceeded: good defensive play followed by stupid misread; great run followed by unwise pass. For every gem (such as Johnathan Gray’s first of what should be many, many touchdowns) there was a D’OH (like QB Ash running for 6 yards before throwing the ball away).

With five games left in the season, it’s easy to see that that will be our lot: explosive moments on offense, total meltdowns on defense, and smart plays mixed with bonehead moves all around.

So Longhorn Nation begs for change, calling for new schemes, new coaches, a new direction for this program. Something or someone has got to get us back to our standard, but for today, I’m thankful for this sweet W.

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Far from a Fair-y Tale

13 Oct

ou 63, Texas 21

Oct. 13, 2012 • Cotton Bowl, State Fair of Texas

As the kids would say, “Oh. Em. Gee.”

What else can you say about a game that’s over in the first quarter, a catastrophe that results in not just a loss but also complete exposure of ineptitude? We were outcoached, outmanned, outplayed. (If I were a headline writer, I’d oh-so-cleverly capitalize the “ou” in each of those words, but I don’t capitalize “ou.” So there.) To add insult to injury—make that INJURY to injury—our star quarterback broke his left wrist before all was said and done. He’s out for at least one game.

This was not the game we thought we’d see when we pulled into the State Fair parking lot bright and early Saturday morning, our stomachs ready for corny dogs and our minds set on VICTORY. Although I was concerned our D would give up lots of points, I really thought our offense would be able to more than make up the difference. I thought our stud running backs would open up the passing game so we could amass yardage on the ground and in the air.

That’s what I get for thinking.

Speaking of “stinkin’ thinkin’,” I had a vision for how this week’s “Spell Texas” would go: I would find items around the fair that looked like the letters in Texas and put them together, all artistic-like. Riiiiiight. The result wasn’t quite what I’d hoped, but hey, you’ve got to try something new now and then, right? (Certainly would’ve been nice to try something new in our offensive plays, that’s for sure. Sideline passes and 5-yard routes on 3rd and 9? What, was this Iowa’s bye week? I would’ve sworn Greg Davis was back in that press box.)

For a more thorough review of what this loss means for us Horns, check out this great commentary from Barking Carnival. (Well, I hate to use the word “great” for anything related to this game, but anyway…)

It certainly seems like it’s time for a massive culture change at Texas. It may be time to give up my role as a Mack Brown apologist. I love Mack, but for goodness’ sake, I can’t stomach seeing so much talent wasted year after year. As the BC writer said, that second national championship is never going to happen if we stay the course. The ship is sinking. (Or should I be punny and say ’ship?)

I don’t have the answers, but this I know:

  • David Ash is a stud. Even in this loss, it’s easy to see he’s a great QB in spite of poor play-calling and a weak O-line. But what really got to me Saturday was when he left the field with a fractured wrist. Before I even knew he was injured, I heard the boos, a loud chorus from the ou side of the stadium. Then I noticed one of our guys walking past those fans with his Horns held high. The whole way to the tunnel, he hooked ’em. Only after he turned to go up the tunnel ramp did I realize that was Ash. Again, what a stud.
  • There’s nothing like seeing a player carted off the field to put things into perspective. We couldn’t see what was going on with our DT Brandon Moore, but the texts and tweets said he was motionless on the field before the trainers got him on a backboard and into an ambulance.  Scary stuff. By the time the game was over, we got word that he was moving his arms.
  • Fletcher’s corny dogs rock.
  • Shiner rocks, too. Especially when it comes in a wax cup.
  • I know he’s a steer, but Bevo is the man. Our mascot is just a thing of beauty. When the ou players first entered the field and took a knee in our endzone, Bevo promptly turned his back. Good call, dude.
  • I love my Longhorns, and I will support my team forever and ever. Several have asked if I stayed for the whole game. Well, DUH. The only way I’m leaving before “The Eyes” are sung at game’s end is on a stretcher.

I also know the answer to this question: Does ou still suck?

Even though there’s much about this game I’d like to forget, here are a few images from the day, including butter statues, a Lego Dirk Nowitzki and Yoda, the breakfast of champions, and more:

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Mountaineers Just Dew It

6 Oct

West Virginia 48, Texas 45

Oct. 6, 2012 • DKR

In honor of our inaugural Big 12 game versus the Mountaineers, we rolled out the Mountain Dew. (Yes, those bottles rolled all over the place at our tailgate site! That sidewalk ain’t flat, y’all.) While we’ve used State Fair wax cups to spell Texas, this is just the second time we’ve used a soft drink. The first was the Waco-born Dr Pepper for the Baylor game back in 2010, and we lost that one, too. Now that we’re 0-2 with the soda spellings, we may be avoiding this medium in the future.

Making this week’s Spell Texas extra-special: My daughter, Katie, took all the photos Saturday, which just so happened to be her 15th birthday!

Just like the hyper-caffeinated Mountain Dew, West Virginia hit Texas with tons of energy. Considering the ’Neers’ quarterback, Geno Smith, is a Heisman contender, that was no surprise. Our defense hasn’t exactly been a brick wall lately, either. Add to that our lackluster kickoff coverage, and we could’ve been blown out of the stadium.

Instead, the Horns put up a good fight. Give me any one of three plays back, and we win this one. Things didn’t look so great when WV went up by 14 early in the second quarter, but a quick, three-play scoring drive followed by a huge defensive TD gave us a brand-new ballgame. Suddenly, Smith looked more human than Heisman. The tide had turned.

And man, were we feeling it! The 101,851 in the stands, DKR’s largest crowd ever, was jumping—literally! And everyone (well, almost everyone) stayed for the whole she-bang. The close game, the great crowd, the perfect, low 60s football weather: all of it added up to an electric atmosphere.

Too bad it also didn’t add up to a win.

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