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Seeds of Hope

25 Nov

TEXAS_kansas15

Texas 59, Kansas 20

Nov. 7, 2015 • DKR

We spelled Texas with sunflower seeds for the sunflower state, but this game was anything but seedy. Our Horns did exactly what we expected them to do: ran all over the “But We’re a Basketball School” Jayhawks.

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Coming just six days before the official premiere of My All American19_freddie, this game featured a tribute to Freddie Steinmark, the Texas legend whose memory lives on years after he died of cancer. Earlier in the day, UT rededicated the scoreboard to Freddie’s memory.

Back in 2013 when I toured DKR with Katie and her friend, we got to see that scoreboard base up close. Even though it’s now topped with the giant Godzillatron and concealed by endzone bleachers, the scoreboard is still an important part of Texas football. Players touch Freddie’s picture before taking the field.

Other photo highlights:14_stadium14b_flags

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LHB tribute to our armed forces for Veterans Day

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Always a thrill to share the game with my babies!

 

We didn’t do much tailgating this time because we met some friends for a Capitol tour and late lunch before heading to campus. It was great to hang out with our friends from California, and getting to wander around the Capitol with the state’s preeminent historian was a big bonus!

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Last Leg

30 Nov

TCU 48, Texas 10

Nov. 27, 2014 • DKR
 

One would think that THIS:

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would be the grossest thing I’d see this week. While shopping for frog legs, I came across these poor popsicles (or would that be HOPsicles?) in our local Asian market. I’ve spelled Texas with lots of things, but I draw the line at frozen whole frog. Ew.

I did summon the courage to take home these babies, though.

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I even cooked these frog legs myself (as opposed to watching friends grill them or buying them pre-cooked). The slimy guys were pretty nasty (and vein-y), but nothing prepared me for the really icky things we were to see Thursday night in DKR.

What an awful game.

It was just one gut-punch after another: dropped passes, bad play-calling, wrong routes, turnovers (holy COW, the turnovers!), rotten officiating, even a few defensive miscues. Yes, our D was again stellar for most of the game, and Swoopes (bless his heart), when he held onto the ball, managed a few really good plays. But even our good plays were followed by momentum-busting officials’ reviews or injuries. Ugh. The lowest moment came with 10 minutes to go when we faced 4th down at midfield. Losing by 17, it seemed like a given we’d go for it. But no. We punted—punted away any chance for getting back in this thing. Certainly, it would’ve been a long shot, but it was better than—oh, I don’t know—quitting with so much time left on the clock! Our coaches gave up, but TCU didn’t. The Frogs went on to score THREE MORE TOUCHDOWNS. Whadyaknow, it IS possible to score three times in 10 minutes. Hmmm…

Last year, I referenced Coach Royal’s famous “cockroach” quote when I spelled Texas. After this year’s game, I posted this to Facebook:

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My friend and I also took a postgame selfie to show how we felt about the outcome:

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Full disclosure: We had way too much fun trying to look mad for this photo! We laughed until we cried and our sides hurt. Delirium had definitely set in.

What a lame way to end this crazy, mixed bag of a season. We started with high hopes, settled in for a rebuilding year, then found ourselves on a three-game winning streak and bowl eligible. We went from “We’re going to be bad so let’s just ride it out” to “These guys are really starting to get it together.” I knew TCU was good this year, but I let myself believe that our guys could pull the upset.

Sure enough, here we are. Upset.

I’d hate for this roller coaster of a season to end this way. Here’s hoping that we can send off these seniors with a bowl win and spend the long, hot off-season relishing a victory instead of trying to forget another bitter defeat.

Scenes from the big tailgate, pregame, game and halftime:

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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!

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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:

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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.)

Not-so-Mean Green

1 Sep

TEXAS_unt14

Texas 38, North Texas 7

Aug. 30, 2014 • DKR
 

We’re back! In honor of the Mean Green, green M&Ms were this week’s spelling medium. The rather warm tailgate threatened to debunk the whole “melts in your mouth, not in your hands” thing, as our mushy candy turned soft and took on a slight sheen. Fortunately for us Texas fans, our team was much tougher in the heat.

After attending 225 Texas games, I thought I’d seen it all. But this long-awaited season opener was full of firsts.

The most obvious: This was head coach Charlie Strong’s first game on the Texas sideline. For the first time since 1998, Mack Brown wasn’t there. I’m sure he was clapping somewhere air-conditioned.

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Instead, there was Coach Strong in his long-sleeved white shirt, glistening in that muggy August heat.

Another first: Jetpack Guy! 

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He took off and landed from the North Endzone. Cool but weird! We could’ve used that jetpack to get past all the construction traffic on I-35, but this? Just strange and a little scary.

Then there was the drone.

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During the third quarter, we noticed this thing come from our right and hover over us before flying directly over the field. With its flashing green and red lights, it obviously wasn’t trying to sneak up on us, but it was odd to know this device was watching the 93,000 of us gathered there. After plenty of speculation (Spy plane? Commercial photographer? Amazon delivery?), KXAN solved this mystery.

And the football? Plenty of firsts there, too. Our first look at our new defense was exciting. They looked tough and played tough, too, giving up only eight first downs and 94 yards, getting four INTs. After years of hearing my friend yell, “WHERE ARE THE LINEBACKERS,” it was nice to see one get a pick 6. Good on ya, Demarco Cobbs. And hello, Mr. Ridgeway! Hassan’s two sacks were mighty pretty. Our D gave up 0 points. ZERO! How refreshing is that? Darn that fumbled snap in our own endzone that cost us the shut-out. 

Our offense was really clicking, too, and if it hadn’t been for some right-on-the-numbers dropped passes, QB David Ash’s stats, not to mention the final score, could’ve been much better. RBs Malcolm Brown and Johnathan Gray were solid, and in his first game as a Horn, D’Onta Foreman had a 34-yard burst that makes us thankful he got his academic issues squared away and could join the team. 

22_rush-buyersThroughout the game I kept my eye on North Texas’ #31, Kenny Buyers. An L.D. Bell grad, Buyers had 7 solo tackles, including one for a 6-yard loss. Even though he was wearing the “wrong” color, I was proud to see one of “our kids” on the field.

Overall this first game was a Strong (heh heh) one. Sure, there were some lapses, but I have to be encouraged to see a harder running O and tighter D. The worst part of this one wasn’t play-calling or personnel choices but an injury: Dom Espinosa left the game in the third quarter with an ankle injury. The O-line is already young, and we need our experienced anchor at center. If he misses the rest of the season (which it sounds like he will), we could be in trouble (see aforementioned fumbled snap). 

In spite of that, I’m encouraged and excited. Next week, we get another shot at BYU, the team that put the final nail in Mack Brown’s coffin last year. Even a win over ou couldn’t undo the damage from that 40-21 shellacking. Our D gave up 550 rushing yards, the most in five decades, and our #15 ranking was gone just as quickly as you can say “Taysom Hill.” Will this D let a QB rush for 259 yards? Let’s see: QBs rushed for 209 total yards over Strong’s last three SEASONS at Louisville (via @max_olson), so I can’t help but be optimistic. Strong gets it: He knows were were embarrassed last year and says he’s “looking forward to this one.” 

So are we, Coach. So are we.

Tailgate, pregame, game, and postgame pix from this great first football weekend:

 

For ISU and DKR

10 Nov

Texas 33, Iowa State 7

Nov. 10, 2012 • DKR

First there were the “rib-I’s” on the grill. Then we had “Eye-owa State.” But this year, it was time to use ISU’s mascot to spell Texas!

What’s that? They’re the Cyclones? Maybe so, but this guy is their on-field mascot:

It’s a bird! With a maniacal grin! And teeth! If I were a crazy grinning cardinal with teeth who’s supposed to represent a weather phenomenon, I’d be pretty angry.

Voila! It’s ANGRY BIRDS!

For this early game, Ryan and I didn’t make it to our tailgate spot, so we spelled Texas at another fitting locale:

Beneath the giant star at the Bullock Texas State History Museum.

Speaking of stars and history, we lost a true Texas icon earlier in the week. Darrell K Royal IS Texas football. Not only did he guide the Horns to three national championships, but he did much to establish the traditions we enjoy today. After Texas jerseys had varied from brighter to darker oranges, it was DKR who decided once and for all that burnt orange would be OURS. Even our familiar Longhorn logo owes its design to Coach Royal. So on this special Saturday, when 100,000+ people would remember Coach in the stadium that bears his name, I felt compelled to spell this:

Yes, it’s silly and trivial, but my motives were sincere. So much of what I love about my Horns I owe to Coach Royal’s influence.

In the first quarter, Coach Mack Brown honored DKR by using Royal’s much-loved wishbone formation on our first offensive play.

Royal was famous for his many sayings, including this one: “I’ve always felt that three things can happen when you throw the football, and two of them are bad.” Well, our play callers decided to double our chances of success by calling a double pass on this opening play!

Here’s video a fan (with much better seats that ours) shot:

Later, the Longhorn Band presented its traditional Veterans Day recognition before honoring Royal in the halftime show:

(Another video I didn’t shoot! Thank you, aramarie1!)

The game was filled with tributes to our legendary coach. Another example: Before the LHB played “Wabash Cannonball” (as it does at the beginning of every fourth quarter), it was explained that DKR loved this song! That’s why the band started playing it all those years ago.

Of course, the greatest tribute was that big ol’ W.

Other highlights:

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