Tag Archives: tailgate

Miner Problem

27 Jun

texas_utep16Texas 41, UTEP 7

Sept. 10, 2016 • DKR
 

In June 2016 I spent a week on the UT El Paso campus for a humanities institute. The school’s use of the Miner motif was everywhere, from the miner hat pendant lights in the food court to the giant pick at the campus entrance. When the Miners arrived on MY turf, their rallying cry, “pick ’em,” came to mind. That’s why this week we spelled Texas with toothpicks!

Coming off the Horns’ huge win over Notre Dame in our opener, we were on top of the world. Texas football was BACK, baby! Early in the first quarter of this one, though, which was supposed to be a gimme, we got that sinking feeling. Uh-oh.

Leading by “only” 20-7 at halftime, the Horns went on to outscore the Miners 21-0 in the second half. But even then, we knew: In spite of the previous week’s high, this season was on its way to some lows.

 DKR highlights:

  • Skydivers!
  • Tribute to the “Precursors,” the first group of African-American undergrads at UT 60 years ago
  • Young Texas Exes honorees, including NBA superstar Kevin Durant

Magically Delicious

30 Sep

Texas 50, Notre Dame 47 (2OT)

Sept. 4, 2016 • DKR
 

02_texasA year ago, the Lucky Charms we used to spell Texas were decidedly UNlucky. The Irish clobbered our Horns 48-3, and it was UGLY.

Welcome to 2016! It’s a brand new year with a new quarterback, new OC, new Bevo, new Bertha, and yes, a new attitude. This time around, WE’RE the “cereal killers” knocking off the 10th-ranked team.

The day started with a hot time at the ol’ tailgate—literally. The heat and humidity, capped by a sudden rainshower, made for a sweaty afternoon. But the ATX barbecue sampler feast more than made up for it. As I said on FB, when you don’t know whether to serve Franklin, Southside, Kreuz, or Black’s, you serve ’em all! Thanks to Dub, our thinks-of-everything food guy, we got to do just that. Unbelievably yummy.

Of course, Notre Dame fans travel well, so we were treated to a parade of ND fans all afternoon. Good thing the Horns showed up, too! The I-35 traffic, along with the hordes of people along the sidewalks, let us know this was a Big Game.

Inside the stadium, the game lived up to the hype. From the introduction of Bevo XV to the long bombs from our freshman QB, Shane Buechele, we could tell this was a brand new year. But then the Irish managed to erase a 17-point deficit, and we began to think maybe this season would not be that different after all. We thought we’d be up by 3 when D’Onta Foreman scored with 3 1/2 minutes left, but a returned blocked PAT tied the game at 37. On to OT.

It took two overtimes, but SWOOOOOPES, there it is! Tyrone’s goal-line plunge ushered in a new era in Texas football.

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Yellow Fever

3 Oct

Oklahoma State 30, Texas 27 

Sept. 26, 2015 • DKR
 

True story: The day after this Texas-OSU debacle, I was watching the Dallas Cowboys game. I missed the first part of the game, but soon after I finally sat down to watch, Dallas scored. My first reaction was not to celebrate but to check the screen to see if there were any yellow flags.

How else would I respond after spending Saturday afternoon watching every great play called back, feeling every bit of momentum taken away by those stupid yellow flags?

I picked Slo-Pokes for this week’s game, hoping, praying that the RIGHT orange could slow down these OSU Pokes. Little did I know that this candy’s color would be foreshadowing what really beat us.

Our D was at times lackluster, giving up too many yards on the ground. But when we had a huge play against the Pokes’ offense, invariably it was called back.

Our offense sputtered plenty (and apparently Jerrod was coming off a stomach bug), but our explosive, big-gain runs and pass completions were too often followed by those frickin’ yellow flags.

Of course, the fumbled snap on that last punt was Terrible with a capital T, as were the pointless plays run that series that led to the punt. Yes to all of that. But when you’ve just seen the refs literally hand your opponent 25 yards to kick the tying field goal, it’s hard to swallow defeat. The bogus “defensive holding” ON A RUN PLAY followed by the unsportsmanlike call on Charlie Strong (WHEN THE REF INITIATED CONTACT) are indefensible. This was NBA-level bad. Even if he HAD been too aggressive when arguing that call, who throws that flag late in a game? Have you EVER seen that? Seriously.

Check out the 11:09 mark:


The Texas fumble recovery that was ruled to be OSU’s ball is right before that, too. Texas had the ball before the big dogpile and after, but apparently the Okie State guy who NEVER EVEN PUT HIS RIGHT ARM IN THE PILE got possession.

I know, I know: It’s never good to blame a loss on officiating, and because of my love for my dear friend who was a ref, I typically bite my tongue and give the benefit of the doubt. But for this struggling team to lose this way? Unacceptable.

So now my guys are sitting at 1-3 heading into the DFW gauntlet of TCU and ou. But from what I’ve seen the last two weeks, I think we pull the upset in at least one of those games. We’ve got the right coach, and our young players are getting their feet under them. If we can just catch a few breaks, who knows? This team is HUNGRY and may have just enough Texas Fight in them to overcome not just their own mistakes but those damn yellow flags.

 

 

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In Queso Emergency

25 Sep

Cal 45, Texas 44 

Sept. 19, 2015 • DKR
 

I don’t want to talk about it.

That was my Facebook post after this gut-punch of a game. With barely more than a minute to go, we were just 1-point away from closing a 21-point gap. Thanks to the legs and arms of Jerrod Heard, our Horns had come storming back, scoring 20 points that promised comeuppance to those lame fans who left DKR early. The loyal ones of us who remained were ecstatic but still anxious. When Heard scored that third TD in the fourth quarter, my mind was already fast-forwarding to how many yards Cal could gain on us in a minute. Could our D hold ’em? Others were trying to forecast how we’d do in OT.

And then that ball veered right.

Ugh.

As a superstitious, ritual-obsessed fan, I have to shoulder my part of the blame. Even though I had planned ahead for this week’s TEXAS spelling and bought the Golden (gummy) Bears a full six days before the game, I managed to leave them in my car way too many blocks away from the tailgate. Enter the “golden” queso. It was messy and not at all pretty, but it got the job done.

That could’ve been the story of this game. The defense once again gave up far too many yards, but when it mattered, our offense came to life. For the comeback to end with a missed XP left us all with an extreme case of lactose intolerance.

Double ugh.

In spite of the bitter disappointment, I’m encouraged. Here’s what I know:

  • Heard was a beast, racking up 527 yards in total offense, the most in school history, overtaking Colt and VY.
  • If his numbers didn’t do it, his off-field behavior certainly showed me he’s our guy. After the game he told reporters that he stands behind Nick Rose (our kicker), and he knows he’ll make the big ones down the road. How’s that for a leader? Gotta admire a kid (he’s just a redshirt freshman, after all) who’s got your back when the whole world wants to kick you off the team.
  • Strong may lack the charisma of a Mack Brown, but that doesn’t mean he’s a heartless robot. He stayed in the locker room until 1 a.m. with Nick to make sure he’d be all right. Not only is that the compassionate thing to do, it’s smart, too. Nick needs every bit of confidence he can muster for the rest of the season.
  • Cal fans are not the nicest. They’re not battery-throwing, cuss-in-your-face nasty like some fans, but their chanting and theatrics after the game left a bad impression on the Texas fans who had welcomed them to our tailgates and campus. Maybe they’re still bitter about that 2004 BCS Rose Bowl bid.
  • Alumni Band day is still my favorite halftime.
  • I’ll never leave my TEXAS spelling medium in the car again.

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Owl Be Hooked

19 Sep

Texas 42, Rice 28 

Sept. 12, 2015 • DKR
 

It’s an old question. JFK even asked it.

“Why does Rice play Texas?”

The answer is money, of course (along with tradition, history, blah, blah, blah), but you’ve got to think that a secondary reason is the Owls’ status as a respectable but not-so-formidable opponent.

And yet, as our 21-0 lead dwindled to 7, the underdogs looked more formidable than ever.

Of course, the guys in burnt orange came through. Heard really stated his case to be The Guy, providing the “juice” our offense needed. Malik Jefferson continues to be a beast, and I can’t help but hope his toughness and spirit are contagious.

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Last Leg

30 Nov

TCU 48, Texas 10

Nov. 27, 2014 • DKR
 

One would think that THIS:

05aa_wholefrog

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.

05a_rawlegs

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:

Screen Shot 2014-11-30 at 9.01.15 PM

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

35_postgame

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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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:

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It’s a Twister

19 Oct

Texas 48, Iowa State 45

Oct. 18, 2014 • DKR
 

The twisty red candy that spelled TEXAS this week paid tribute to the weather phenomenon that represents Iowa State. And twisters were appropriate for this game: Our stomachs were all tied up and twisted until that last field goal sailed through the uprights.

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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!

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:

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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.)