Tag Archives: 2014

Pig Phooey

24 Feb

Arkansas 31, Texas 7

Dec. 29, 2014 • Texas Bowl • NRG Stadium, Houston
 

We could’ve been makin’ bacon out of those Hogs, but instead of taming the “Woo, Pig Sooie,” our team looked like chop suey. If I had to pick one photo to represent this outing, it’d be this:

31_sack

What an exercise in futility! You know it’s not your day when your QB goes 13 of 25 for 57 yards and your leading rusher racks up a measly 25. Our one moment of glory came late in the first half, when down 17-nothin’, Swoopes scrambled for a touchdown right in front of us.

24_td1 25_td2 26_td3Oh, it was glorious!

Katie and I were even on TV during the big celebration. See us?

110_tv

109_tv

How about now?

To be down by 10 at the half seemed not-so-insurmountable. But of course, we couldn’t even hang on until the intermission before Arky scored again.

That’s pretty much how the game went: a few precious good plays completely undone by major lapses on offense or defense. Blech. Even when we lose, though, if my Horns are on the field, there’s no place I’d rather be. From Eyes to Eyes.

Hook ’em, Horns!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Onward and Upward

10 Nov

Texas 33, West Virginia 16

Nov. 8, 2014 • DKR
 

Continuing last year’s mountain theme for the Mountaineers, this week we spelled Texas with Clif Bars. Thanks to my unfortunate lack of confidence, I thought the cliff-hanging climber on the package would be symbolic of this game: tough to watch and in danger of ending our season. But hey! We WON! And my tune changed from “We’re doomed” to “We never doubted!”

49_win

This game had it all: goal-line stands, a safety, long runs, nice passes. The first half was just flat-out FUN. But even with a 21-point lead, I still wondered we could really beat the 23rd-ranked Mountaineers.

Sure enough, the ’Neers nearly came back, cutting our lead to 10 with lots of time left. Our offense was stone cold, and it just felt like this one was slipping away. But thanks to some killer D (not to mention the well-timed, momentum-shifting safety), our guys held onto the lead and the Tower was orange once again.

They say it’s easier to address problems after a win than after a loss. I hope that’s true because we still have mucho problemos. The flat offense and lack of production in the second half is especially concerning. Too many dropped passes, seemingly wrong routes run, dumb penalties… We need one more win to be bowl eligible, and those kinds of mistakes ain’t gonna cut it.

In spite of those issues, though, I’ll take the W! “Ol’ ugly is better than ol’ nothin’,” and this “ol’ ugly” was a sight for sore eyes. I’m proud of the way this suspension-depleted and injury-decimated team held on to win, and I was so very happy for these kids (and coaches) who pulled off the upset. You have to smile when you see this:

 

Tailgate, pregame, game and halftime highlights:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Passing Mustard

18 Oct

ou 31, Texas 26

Oct. 11, 2014 • Cotton Bowl, State Fair of Texas
 

There’s nothing like Texas-ou. Nothing! On what other day can you eat Fletcher’s corny dogs for breakfast, chase them down with 8-ticket Shiner, all while basking in the presence of Big Tex? This year we combined two out of three of those for our Spell Texas pic.

Years ago we spelled Texas with corny dogs (Fletcher’s, of course–the ONLY State Fair corny dogs, truly),

texas-cornydogs

but this year, we went with the dog-as-canvas approach. One of those delightful mustard-ketchup stations with the red and yellow striped canopies provided the “paint.” After a little creative squirting, Texas was spelled.

For the first half of this game, it seemed like Texas had cast a spell on ou. Our D was solid as usual, giving up just 3 points. (Stupid kickoff return and pick-6 accounted for the other 14 the sooners scored.) Meanwhile, our sputtering offense came to life, scoring 13 in that first half. And the stats were oh-so-lopsided:

16_halftimestats

Then ou roared back in the second half, breaking the game open and taking a 31-13 lead. It looked like we were in for another spanking, but then it was the Horns’ turn to come to life. With just under 5 minutes to play, we pulled to within 5. Our tenacious D was all over the sooners’ offense, but they managed to convert two third-down plays on the way to running out the clock. In spite of all our mistakes, even though we killed ourselves with poor clock management and penalties, we were just one third-d0wn stop away from getting the ball with plenty of time for another TD.

Woulda, coulda, shoulda. None of the numbers matter except the score at the end, so here we are, encouraged by the team’s improvement but bummed with the results. With our 2-4 record, we’re off to our worst start in my lifetime. Funny thing, though: It doesn’t feel that bad. We all know we’re short-staffed thanks to Coach Strong’s newer, tougher standards for players. We all know that injuries have hit us pretty hard. We all know (oh, how we know) how much losing sucks. But we see improvement. Our defense has faced some powerhouse offenses and held its ground, and our new quarterback is coming into his own. And as we saw Saturday, these guys keep fighting, keep hustling.

That’s a big reason why so many of us cheered our losing team after the game. A spontaneous stadium yell (Texas! Fight!) broke out as soon as the team assembled in front of the band for “The Eyes.”

The atmosphere is always amped up for Texas-ou, but this felt different. Even though we lost, we were celebrating that Texas fight, that grit that brought us back from 18 down to within 5. That postgame ovation was our way of saying that we’re here for the losses because they’ll make the victories even sweeter. And we believe those victories are coming! I love that the team seems to have noticed our energy. Coaches Strong and Bedford both mentioned fan support in their Monday press conferences. They know we’ve got their backs. We believe!

We also know that win or lose, ou still sucks.

Some highlights:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Sidenote about the Big Tex corny dog photo at the top:

I posted that picture to Instagram and to the Fletcher’s Facebook page, and then something funny happened. Fletcher’s shared my picture with its fans, who seemed to dig the shot. More than 200 people liked the photo, and 36 of them shared it on their own FB timelines. Crazy! My little off-center, too-dark photo was making the rounds.

The University Co-op took notice, too. I tagged the photo with #CoopGameDay to enter the Co-op’s weekly photo contest and was delighted to find this on Monday:

24_winner

$300 to spend at the Co-op? As Tex would say, “Howdy, folks!” Now if I can just find $300 worth of merchandise there that I don’t already own… Thanks so much, Co-op!

Nauseating

6 Oct

Baylor 28, Texas 7

Oct. 4, 2014 • DKR
 

Czech Stop honey bears, Teddy Grahams, even Waco-born Dr Pepper have all helped us spell Texas for past Baylor games, but this year, we used Pepto Bismol. Why Pepto? To pay tribute to the Bears’ rallying cry, of course. Haven’t you heard of their (much lesser) version of Hook ’em, “Sic(k) ’em, Bears”?

Turns out the Pepto was a pretty good choice considering how many gut punches we took through the afternoon. Ouch. From the blocked FG returned for a Baylor TD (the only score in the first half) to the goal line fumble, from the over-the-top showboating that cost us a huge gain to the atrocious officiating that cost us precious momentum, this one was pretty tough to stomach.

But hey! Our defense made Baylor’s top-ranked offense punt! Multiple times! Our tenacious D did not give up any points in the first half! Except for those two lousy turnovers, our stats on both sides of the ball match up really well with the Bears, who were ranked #7 in the AP Top 25 coming into this game!

Yeah, yeah, yeah. That’s all true, but like UCLA three weeks ago, this was another one that got away. Our D was just worn down and worn out in that second half, and our offense, in spite of some bright spots, struggled to—oh, you know, what’s that word again?—SCORE. Yes, Baylor’s defense has been impressive all year. Yes, we did better than anyone who has tried to contain Baylor’s productive offense. Yes, we can see definite improvement in our Horns. But when can we see that orange Tower?

After the game Coach Strong talked about how our team needs to learn to close out these tough ones. And here I am again, saying I believe in Coach Strong. I just KNOW that big turn-around moment—a massive upset or a come-from-behind, unifying game—is right around the corner. I could feel it against UCLA, and I felt it versus Baylor, which makes those losses that much harder to take.

Maybe, just maybe that big moment will happen Saturday in the Cotton Bowl. Our defining, breakthrough victory is overdue. Surely someone has told Coach Strong how we tell time around here.

Pregame and game photos:

My niece and her daughter were our guests for the tailgate and game. It was fun to see the whole experience through my great-niece’s 9-year-old eyes!

10_trailer

One of our tailgate hosts got us a trailer to keep all our canopies and other supplies together.

He's been our starting quarterback for just four games, but I gotta say, I like Tyrone!

He’s been our starting quarterback for just four games, but I gotta say, I like this Tyrone fella!

Apparently, I'm not the only one with Swoopes Fever!

Apparently, I’m not the only one with Swoopes Fever!

Other shots:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Sunflower Shutout

27 Sep

Texas 23, Kansas 0

Sept. 27, 2014 • Lawrence, KS
 

Weird thing about sunflower seeds: They can be really tasty, but it takes a lot of effort to get to the actual food inside. Working your way through the shell can be messy, and before long, you have to deal with what’s essentially trash in your mouth. And that’s supposed to be appetizing? Somehow, though, sunflower seeds are addicting.

This week our TEXAS is spelled with these paradoxical pods in honor of Kansas, the sunflower state. Now that we play KU every year, sunflower seeds are starting to show up as often as Teddy Grahams (for Baylor) and Kit Kats (for any feline mascot).

But really, sunflower seeds are a pretty good metaphor for this season. Coach Strong has been working really hard to get to the good stuff at the heart of this team. In the meantime, though, he’s had to shed plenty of distasteful shells. And what a mess is left in his wake! Our O-line has been decimated, and injuries have further weakened our team. With so many new guys on the field, not to mention on the sideline calling the plays, it feels like everybody’s a true freshman. But regardless of the mess, we keep coming back for more.

Today’s win was not pretty. The Horns scored three TDs and a field goal, but all of those came after short drives set up by our studly defense or special teams. When we had the full length of the field to run, we struggled to get a good drive going. Our kicking game is going to bite us in the endzone before too long.

But thank goodness for that D! How many times did Kansas threaten to score, only to be stopped by an INT? Four, apparently! Nice to see our first road shut-out since that magical 2005 season. On the offensive side, Swoopes continues to show a lot of promise, and I can’t say it often enough: GOOD THINGS HAPPEN WHEN SHIPLEY TOUCHES THE BALL. That may have to be amended to include John Harris, too.

Now the October gauntlet begins: Baylor, ou, Iowa State, K State. Here’s hoping Strong & Co. can make the most of the good stuff in this program: pride, tradition, talent, and toughness. So hurry on home to DKR, guys. It’s been too long, and the Texas faithful are jonesing to see our guys in burnt orange.

And coach, while you’re at it, give ’em shell.

Crunch Time

14 Sep

UCLA 20, Texas 17

Sept. 13, 2014 • AT&T Stadium, Arlington
 

We’ve used bears and honey and even Keurig K-cups for the Bruins, but this time around, we went with the stereotypical LA snack: granola! Just like granola, this game was at times sweet, but in the end it was just messy, crummy (or at least crumb-y), and a little hard to digest.

After the predictable win over North Texas and that humiliating loss to BYU, we knew that this game would let us know if we were headed up or down. When the Bruins pulled off the win, I was so bummed. In fact, I posted this to Facebook: Screen Shot 2014-09-24 at 6.57.56 AM

But what a game! What an atmosphere! What promise we saw! Our last two possessions stunk, but our guys played so much better. We still have some tough opponents ahead of us, but I can’t help thinking we’re on our way UP.

P.S. – Pretty cool to see the Co-op folks repost my Instagram pic from the game! I didn’t win their $300 gift card for their gameday contest, but it was fun to see a ton of likes on this shot. (Next time, though? Keep the “likes” and show me the money!)

Screen Shot 2014-09-27 at 7.39.16 AM

Give Me a Break

12 Sep

BYU 41, Texas 7

Sept. 6, 2014 • DKR
 

Seriously? AGAIN?!

After last year’s shellacking, I had hoped our guys could turn the Cougars into mere kitty cats. Down 6-0 at the half, it looked like we could still get our sweet revenge. Then the third quarter happened.

I knew this would be a rough outing on the offensive side of the ball. With Ash out indefinitely, Espinosa out for the season, and two OTs gone for violating team rules, our line was comprised of a bunch of rooks. Our rushing yardage reflected that. Malcolm-with-an-L Brown and JGray fought to grind out the yards, but they never could get the big runs they’re known for. New starting QB Tyrone Swooooooopes added some highlights, but it seemed like the O never could find its gear.

What I didn’t know is that our new-and-improved D would struggle so. BYU QB Taysom Hill is a beast. Last year we made him look like a world-beater. This time around he wasn’t quite as other worldly, but he still gained 134 yards on us—and we’re talking 134 on the ground. Sheesh.

Yeah, it was pretty ugly. But even worse was the reaction of a certain “fan” who sits near us. Not only did he call for our new coach’s immediate removal, he threw in a comment that I interpreted as racist. Grrrrr. I tried to talk him down, but he was too frothy by the time he gave up on “this @#$)@%! junior high team” to listen. So here’s my open letter to the man in row 51:

Like I tried to tell you Saturday night, you’ve got to give Coach Strong time. This big ol’ ship of a football program can’t turn around overnight. You thought Mack was soft? You were sick of undisciplined players? Then get off Strong’s back and let the man work! We’re in the midst of a culture change here. If you’re not going to allow Coach more than two games to effect that change, who WOULD you want? We’d better have a stockpile of candidates if you’re planning to replace the head coach every other week. Good luck with that stockpile, by the way. Who would take a job that requires that kind of instant success?

Then there’s the matter of personnel. Strong is working with someone else’s recruits, so he has yet to bring in his own. Because of all the suspensions, we’ve lost a bunch of experienced players, too. You’re mad about that; you know, so am I. The difference? You’re mad that this coach won’t let a little pot-smoking slide. I’m mad that these kids weren’t willing to make the changes Coach demanded, that they chose their short-term satisfaction over their lifelong best interests.

Maybe it’s a good thing you’re so mad. Maybe you’ll watch the next home game from your couch where you can rant and rave all you want without some middle-aged woman glaring at you, rolling her eyes at your ridiculous comments. Your stay-at-home plan would work well for all of us in the stands, the ones who stuck around to support this tenacious group of young men who were still fighting through every play, long after the game’s outcome was decided and you had given up.

Yeah, you could say I’m firmly Team Strong. I like the direction he’s taking us. Yes, I hate losing, especially by such a wide margin, but just wait! It may get worse before it gets better, but it WILL get better.

Enough of that! Here are the photo highlights from the tailgate and game. (It’s never a good sign when you have more photos of Jetpack Guy than our D. But hey! JETPACK GUY! And this game was 100 percent drone-free.)