The officiating this weekend was ATROCIOUS. For example:
TCU/Tech. The punt return penalty (the officials said the TCU returner raised his hand to signal a fair catch, negating a touchdown) was debatable, as was the late Tech fumble, but not debatable was the kick-catch-interference penalty called on TCU. Tech, leading by 7 late in the game, fumbled at midfield when the return man and a blocker collided, setting TCU up with a game-tying touchdown opportunity. Except a flag was thrown and TCU was penalized for kick-catch-interference. HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE? ARE YOU WATCHING THE GAME? Of course a penalty is not reviewable, so they didn’t get that chance. Instead Tech drove down and kicked a field goal to ice the game. It wasn’t even close. Anyone have a video of that? Amazingly awful.
Then there was the targeting call in the A&M/Alabama game. Bama db breaks up a pass with his shoulder to the face of A&M receiver as tries to intercept it and is called for targeting. After review (they review targeting to see if the player should be ejected) they decide it wasn’t targeting… But the penalty still stands? The same thing happened to Adrian Phillips for Texas Saturday night. I understand that the officials are trying to protect the players and enforce the rules, but if they can review if there actually was targeting, they should review if the flag was even necessary. It didn’t affect the Bama game, but it surely did affect the Texas game.
On Friday I said “that kick-catch-interference was the worst call I’ve seen,” but that was quickly replaced by this utterly ridiculous nonsense.
I am in the wrong business. I want to own the Polo/Topsiders/Bass Shoes outlet in Oxford, Mississippi because every Ole Miss male I saw was dressed the same. All of them. From the 9-year olds to the 70-year olds, everyone looked they were on their way to brunch in Dallas. And man where they cocky, singing their dumb songs (sorry, they are dumb. I know they’re your songs and you don’t care, but they aren’t even words, they’re just noises and sound effects) and chanting “SEC!” at every opportunity. I get it, though. They are on the rise and feeling good about beating Texas, who is A-list in name only at this point, and there must have been 15,000 of them at the game Saturday night. It’s hard to watch your team get beat at home on your very own network and have the visiting team’s cheering drown out your school song. But it’s where we are right now. Congrats to you, Ole Miss, and good luck against the SEC West. I’ll be rooting for you. Let’s break it down and move to the next one, shall we?
No.25 Ole Miss Rebels 44 TEXAS 23
I have a couple of thoughts on the Horns: If your backup quarterback can’t run the offense you have installed and practice every day, why is he your backup quarterback? It’s not so much a knock on Case McCoy as it is a question as to why Case McCoy is the backup if he struggles with the deeper throws that are vital to the offense’s success? It was the one thing I kept thinking in the second half of the game. Anthony Fera is the MVP of the team right now. Let that wind through the pipes for a bit- the punter is the MVP of the team. Why was Mike Davis in at the end of the game? The guy couldn’t even walk. Where is Tyrone Swoopes, our superstar-freshman-qb-in-the-making? All the struggles on offense in the second half and not thought to a change up? Joe Bergeron was returning kicks? Joe Bergeron? David Ash wasn’t at the game? Is there an injury that the staff wants to keep off the TV? That was weird. On to the grades. As my geology professor told me my freshman year “You did poorly.” Let’s do this. Here’s what I saw on Saturday night.
Quarterbacks: I thought Case McCoy showed himself well on Saturday night. He finished 24-36 for 196 yards and a touchdown as he dinked and dunked all over the Rebels in the first half. With solid first-half protection, McCoy managed the game well and avoided the big mistakes he’s prone to at times. McCoy definitely has the mind of a great quarterback. He sees things well, anticipates well and the guys on the field seem to follow him; however, he doesn’t have the arm strength to make some of the gunslinger throws he tries at times. The good news is he didn’t make any of those gunslinger throws. The bad news is it didn’t matter.
I have no complaints with McCoy’s effort or production, but I don’t understand why we didn’t see Tyrone Swoopes for even a single play. Or Jalen Overstreet. They were the two that were here all summer working out and getting reps with the wide outs and running backs and I don’t understand why they didn’t get snaps. Spare me the “burning his redshirt” logic on Swoopes, please. It’s the third game of the year and the starter is out indefinitely, things have gone off-track.
Running Backs: I was impressed with Jonathan Gray Saturday night. I thought he ran hard, rushing for 91 yards and a score, picking his feet up and making plays. More of that please, because if the push is there the entire game like it was in the first half of the Ole Miss game, he’s going to have some Sportscenter moments. Joe B.- please, please, PLEASE stop trying to bounce outside. Yes, I know it worked at Oklahoma State last year, but it can’t and won’t work every time. Your money is made being physical and running over people, not trying to run around them. Get inside and hammer away. A forgettable day production-wise for Malcolm Brown.
In the second half when Ole Miss played so close to the line of scrimmage and brought everyone constantly, why was there no screen pass to back? Not a single one. Why not try at least one? The scheme and lack of help up front in the second half totally negated a nice first half from Gray.
Wide Outs/Tight Ends: Texas has found their No.3 receiver in Kendall Sanders. The sophomore had seven catches for 55 yards and produced the only electricity of the second half when he was THIS close to returning a kickoff for a touchdown. With Mike Davis (seven catches, 46 yard, 1 td) and Jaxon Shipley (six catches, 83 yards) going to work, Sanders is a terrific third option. Unfortunately, none of the three could find any real room to make a big play in the game. Again, if your qb can’t throw open your three best wideouts to make big plays, maybe it’s time to look at another qb. All in all, a solid night from those three even though Davis turned his ankle.
Offensive Line: I’ve heard ad nauseam that it was the third largest crowd in school history. Whatever the real crowd was, the announced attendance of 101, 474 didn’t include the teams on the field. So factor in 100 or so for Texas and 60 for Ole Miss and the support staff, trainers, coaches, press box, concessions, etc. and we are looking at ~ 102,000 people at the game. Of those 102,000 at the game, only one person decides when a play starts: the center. If he doesn’t know the snap count and doesn’t snap the ball, it means multiple false starts on the offense because the play didn’t start. If he snaps it early, it could mean a fumble or jammed/broken fingers for the quarterback and 10 other guys wondering what just happened. In either extreme, he decides. No one else. Just him. So when that center gets a FALSE START it is not only maddening, it is damn-near impossible to do. Yet Texas somehow did it, taking a 1st & Goal at the 2 to 1st & Goal at the 17 (when a tight end jumped on the next play) and a field goal. What are you doing? How do you move and not snap the ball? If it was me I’d need an explanation before my center got to play again. It’s bad enough to do it, worse yet at the 2-yard line and simply stunning that the ONE PERSON IN THE ENTIRE STADIUM THAT HAS THE AUTHORITY TO START A PLAY GOT PENALIZED FOR A FALSE START.
The solid first half up front led to a terrible second half where there was no push and little protection for the quarterback as Ole Miss adjusted and made Texas try and throw down field to win, which they would not/could not do. Where is Desmond Harrison? I saw seniors get benched (or at the very best too injured to return) and I think a new order is now in place up front.
Who wants to win? Who wants to play? The starting five were average-to-bad on Saturday night and that’s two weeks in a row they have been a liability. This must stop. Now.
Defensive Line: In order to defend the outside run/zone read play, the edge must be set. What “setting the edge” means is the defensive end (or linebacker, depending on who the last person on the “edge” of the line of scrimmage is) has to hold the man blocking him off and maintain his presence on the edge of the line of scrimmage, forcing the ball carrier to go around him to the sideline. This allows the secondary and other defenders more time to chase him down and the farther he has to run to get to the edge (often the defender will try and fight through that blocker to the outside, towards the sideline) the less likely it is he has a big play, because eventually he’ll hit the sideline. Ideally the defender sets the edge so well he pushes the blocker back into the backfield and the ball carrier cuts back into the middle of the field, not wanting to go backwards to go around the edge, and into the teeth of the defense. When that blocker successfully gets his block on the edge, he often turns that edge defender inside, back towards the middle of the field, and that’s called “sealing the edge.” Ole Miss continually sealed the edge on Texas Saturday night. Sometimes it was defensive ends rushing up field and running themselves out of the play, allowing the blocker to simply redirect them, other times they got whipped. Whatever the specifics, Texas failed to maintain the edge for most of the game. Speedy running back Jeff Scott seemed to have wide open lanes on the edge and that was due in large part to the inability of the de/lb units to set the edge. That has to get better or the same will happen every single week. Every. Single. Week.
I thought inside the defense was better as the tackles seemed solid against the interior run. It wasn’t great, but it was better than last week and better than the ends.
Linebackers: Who watches Sons of Anarchy? The season premier was INSANE. My wife won’t watch it because she thinks it’s too violent. But she loves Breaking Bad. That doesn’t make any sense to me. The Texas linebacker’s pursuit angles make more sense than that.
Secondary: More props for Ole Miss; the key to running the zone read/outside run is controlling the edge, but the key to long, game-changing runs is the ability of the wideouts to block down field and allow the backs to get big yards. I thought Ole Miss did an excellent job of blocking downfield. They had a massive size advantage with Moncrief and the monster freshman Treadwell and they showed they can and will do the little things to make plays work. Well done, fellas. Still, Texas has to find a way to counter that blocking and make plays. It looks bad on them when they seemingly have bad angles on so many tackles, especially from the safety spot, but they weren’t getting any help up front and they were trying to make up for a lot of mistakes. Still, no big plays, except a suspect targeting penalty.
Special Teams: Anthony Fera is awesome and looks every bit the part of the All Big Ten kicker he was in 2011. Kendall Sanders showed some juice on his kickoff return and the points team was terrific; but the back-breaking punt return for a touchdown was allowed. That cannot happen, especially to the same guy that burned them a year ago in Oxford on a kickoff return.
KANSAS STATE (2-1) @ TEXAS (1-2)
Saturday, September 21st
So here we are, 1-2 and listing vs. 2-1 that lost to a I-AA team at home. AND we are on national TV with the A-team on the broadcast. Yay? I guess there’s lots of Texas fans and lots of Texas haters that all will tune in to see what happens.
This K-State team has some issues of their own. They lost the most starters in the nation going into this year, including Optimus Klein, and the result in week one was a loss to I-AA powerhouse and two-time defending national champion North Dakota State. They’ve rallied to beat Louisiana-Lafayette and UMass, who North Dakota State would destroy. Their 2-1 record looks better than it is and they are very young and inexperienced; but remember this is Bill Snyder’s merry band of Jucos and they positively own Texas, just ask them. They are going to bring a ton of people to Austin, just like Ole Miss, but they will dressed more informally in football game attire rather than for high tea with the Queen. And all of them expect to win. They won when Texas was trying defend their Big 12 and national titles in 2006, hammered Colt McCoy and Texas in 2007, broke Garrett Gilbert and found Collin Klein simultaneously in 2010 and somehow won a game despite themselves in Austin in 2011. Oh, and they sealed up the Big 12 on Senior Night last year against the Longhorns. Nothing about this Texas team has their fan base the least bit concerned, and if you are wondering, their team is just as confident as their fans. Linebacker Tre Walker, one of the few returning starters from last year, said at Big 12 media days this summer that Texas …”kind of laid down a little bit. That’s nothing to say about their character. That’s just what they do.” And remember, this was BEFORE the BYU game. That’s a guy saying Texas quit last year and he didn’t back up from it a bit. He’s not scared, intimidated or nervous about coming down here and you can believe no one else on the team is. Texas will have to take this from them, and Kansas State has no intention going away quietly.
Lots of pieces return on the offensive side of the ball, but not the quarterback. Junior College transfer Jake Waters has taken over and he certainly looks the part at 6-foot-2, 215 pounds, but he’s struggled early on in the Snyder system. So far he’s 48-70 for 673 yards with four touchdowns and five interceptions. A true dual threat quarterback, he also has 113 yards rushing and a score on the ground in the first three games. He looks like a guy trying to get the game to slow down for him and it’s a known fact that Snyder puts a lot on his quarterbacks early in their careers and they all struggle at times. Waters seems to be there right now and while Texas hasn’t played very well, AT ALL, the upgrade in athleticism and talent from the first three opponents to this one will be significant. He’s going to need to be tighter with his passes and make better decisions.
He’s got a really talented group of wideouts to throw it to who are the polar opposite of Ole Miss. There aren’t any 6-foot-4 wrs here, but there are plenty of 5-foot-8, 5-foot-10 and 5-foot-11 speedsters that can kill Texas on bubble screens, deep posts and fly routes. Led by Tyler Lockett, the starting three wideouts have 36 of the team’s 60 total receptions. At 5-foot-11, 175 pounds, Locket is the big man in the starting unit. He leads the team with 16 receptions for 232 yards and a score and has the ability to score from anywhere. A lethal return man as well, K-State likes to get Lockett into space and make defenses tackle him in the open field, and in case you haven’t noticed, Texas has struggled with that this year. Tramaine Thompson and Curry Sexton join him with Sexton being about the same size as Lockett and Thompson smaller at 5-foot-8, 167 pounds. All three have return-man skills in the open field, but they are not the fierce blockers that Ole Miss had in the running game. These guys will block, but they are out there to make plays. Keep an eye on Lockett, an All-Big 12 return man/wideout in 2012 and if he gets a crease, he can give you his best impression of Tavon-in-Austin last year. The other two have similar skills, but are not as polished or proven as Lockett.
Also proven is tailback John Hubert. The senior is built like Emmitt Smith at 5-foot-7, 191 pounds and had some terrific games last year. So far this year he’s hasn’t really gotten loose, averaging just 65 yards per game with two touchdowns. He’s got great speed and is surprisingly powerful for such a small back, but as defenses load the box and force the Wildcats to throw to win, he’s had some less productive games. Other backs are on the roster, but it’s Hubert’s show at this point.
They have experience up front, but they just can’t get anything opened up consistently for the running game. They have been decent in pass protection, allowing four sacks in three games, but when you consider their competition that’s not really that impressive. They have all Big 12 players at both tackle and center, but so far this year they have been underwhelming… Yeah, I remember saying similar things about BYU’s o-line two weeks ago. That was ONLY two weeks ago? Yikes.
Watching the success Ole Miss had sealing the edge, you can bet that’s what K-State is going to try and do. They will run the zone read with Waters, Hubert and backup quarterback Daniel Sams, who they use like the Belldozer last year for ou, and they are going to make Texas stop them from running the ball. The Horns showed last week that even when they knew something was coming, they couldn’t stop it and said as much in the post-game of Ole Miss. Expect bubble screens and jet sweeps to get their smallish wideouts on the edge as well, forcing Texas to defend it and focus on it. If they can do that, then you’ll see play action to the fullback and tight end and draws from the quarterback to keep Texas guessing. But it starts with the running game. If they can get that established, it means good things for them.
I realize how ridiculous this sounds coming from a Texas fan, but this K-Sta9te defense has some suspect numbers considering who they have played: 80th in rush defense (171 ypg), 50th in total defense (353 ypg), 27th in pass defense (181.3 ypg), 99th in turnover margin (-.7 pg). Again, I am well aware of Texas’ issues, but the opponents were not North Dakota State, Louisiana-Lafayette and UMass. The one thing they do well is pick off the ball, totaling four picks on the season. I see lots of issues with this defense.
Defensive end Ryan Mueller aside, they don’t do a very good job of controlling the line of scrimmage with their defensive line. The 6-foot-2, 245-pound Mueller is solid with two sacks and 4.5 for loss, but the others haven’t picked up the slack as well, meaning less room for the lbs to make plays.
Led by Tre Walker, the linebackers have done a good job with the opportunities they get, at least statistically speaking. Mike lb Blake Slaughter and will Jonathan Truman are Nos.1 and 2 in tackles with 27 and 25 respectively. Slaughter does a nice job on the blitz as well, totaling two sacks so far. These two are not big at all with Slaughter going 5-foot-11, 227 and Truman at 5-foot-11, 219 and they use their speed and quickness to make plays, avoiding blocks to make tackles. At sam is the aforementioned Tre Walker, one of the two returning starters on the defense. He’s the biggest of the group at 6-foot-3, 225 pounds and will do a bit of everything from the slb spot, blitzing and dropping into coverage. He’s a big hybrid-type player that they will move around and find ways to get in the backfield. They haven’t gotten a ton of help from the front four, but this is a solid and active unit, although undersized.
Back is All Big 12 safety Ty Zimmerman and is a proven commodity that can run, hit and pick off the occasional pass. Last year he excelled as the primary run support. Joining him is Dante Barnett, who has had a solid start to the year with a interception, three passes defended, two broken up and 18 tackles. Both are big at 6-foot-1, but Zimmeran is about 20 pounds heavier and more suited for run defense and so far it’s worked out. But still, thinking of the competition and the rush defense, it should be better. There are corners, but no starters are set in stone. No one has really been able to test their secondary like Texas will this weekend, so we’ll see if their number are a true barometer.
They are going to watch the Ole Miss film and do the same thing: stack the line of scrimmage, play very tight coverage in the short and intermediate passing game and ask their safeties to patrol the mid-to-intermediate middle and dare Texas to go deep. They’ve seen this offensive line struggle and they have to confident they can control the line of scrimmage and force Case McCoy into some bad throws, which he didn’t do last week but did quite a few times at K-State last year.
Tyler Lockett is even better returning kicks that Jeff Scott, and Jeff Scott made Texas look silly last week. Oh yeah, Tramaine Thompson leads the nation in punt returns with a 31.7 ypr average. These guys are NFL-ready kick returners. Believe it. Jack Cantele is solid on points, making all but one P.A.T. and three field goals with a long of 42 and has six touchbacks on 19 kickoffs. Their coverage is frightening, allowing a single punt return for 49 yards (Punter Mark Krauss has punted nine times with five fair catches and one touchback) and they have given up a 100-yard kickoff return this season.
These two kick returners are terrifying. Thompson is AVERAGING 56 yards per kickoff return. Insane.
So what does all this mean for Texas? Let’s take a look.
First of all, I don’t expect to see David Ash this weekend. I think it’s more than a concussion and they are taking things slowly to make sure he’s fully healed. That means Case McCoy is your starter again and I expect you’ll see more Case-friendly plays called: screens over the middle, jet sweeps to get the edge and quick hitches outside. You’ll also see Texas running the ball. Maybe.
Like I said, K-State is going to stack the line and the Horns will need to control the line of scrimmage, protect Case McCoy and allow him to find his receivers open. If he can hit some outside passes and get some success in the screen game, it will loosen up the defense and allow more running opportunities. If they can’t it’s going to look like the second half of Ole Miss. McCoy must be accurate and make good decisions and he absolutely must have an A-effort from the boys up front.
I have no idea if that will happen, but that’s what needs to happen.
Set the edge. Make K-State throw to win and use their own defensive game plan on them. Shed blocks and tackle and get the ball carrier on the ground. They will counter with a similar approach of screens and stuff in space to see if Texas can tackle and they have to prove they can.
Partly due to the opposition and partly due to the new man calling the shots, I think you see a much better defensive effort this week from start to finish. I also expect to see a different middle linebacker this week. Tevin Jackson, please. Give him a shot.
Stay away from their return game. Keep on keepin’ on, Anthony Fera. I think it’s Texas’ turn to make a big play on special teams. Kendall Sanders takes one back to the house, that’s my call.
Seriously, stay away from Lockett and Thompson. No good can come of it. I still see Texas kicking to David Allen in 1999 against K-State and him running untouched for about two miles. No more.
I don’t know what’s going on with the staff. I have my suspicions and have heard some things, but that’s not my thing. Others do it very well and much better than me and are far more connected, so I’ll leave that to them. I am focused on what can happen now to change things and, regardless what does or does not happen with this staff, things can change and absolutely need to change right now.
Offensively, it’s time to give the kid a shot. Tyrone Swoopes brings a different game to the field and an entirely new set of problems for a defense. Spotting him a few series can change the game completely. I remember an anemic offense at Kansas State starting a little known beast of an option quarterback against Texas in 2010 and soon after everyone would know the name Collin Klein. I don’t care who it is, but it’s time for the boys up front to answer the criticism and the call. It’s pride and it’s anger, emotion and energy. It’s time to show why you all got recruited and that you care and are tired of the maligning and complaining about your unit. Enough already. Show me.
Defensively I saw some better things last week. It wasn’t enough, but I liked the better pursuit and form in tackling. It needs drastic improvement, but you don’t understand Shakespeare three days after you learned to read, so I expect it to better this week. How much better? Let’s see.
Set the edge. Establish the line of scrimmage and dictate tempo to the K-State offense. They have their own issues and are starting a new quarterback. Make them think about it and what could wrong and GET AFTER them. Set the edge and force them to throw with their new qb at two NFL cornerbacks.
Attitude, energy and pride, fellas. Let’s get one this weekend. I’ll be there to see it.
Last Week in the Big 12
No. 24 BAYLOR (2-0) BYE
Thursday, September 12th
No.24 TCU 10 Texas Tech 20
No one should have won this game. The two combined for 23 penalties for about a million yards and neither team looked very good, but in the end Texas Tech and their puppet regime of an officiating crew got by Southwest Purple. I don’t know how Gary Patterson can ever communicate with anyone. He was so hoarse at halftime he couldn’t even talk to the sideline reporter. I imagine by the end of the game he had a small dry erase board, magic marker and paper towel in his hand to talk to the defense. I’ll tell you what I do like- Tech’s quarterback names: Baker Mayfield and Davis Webb. Mayfield sounds like a guy that got SMU in trouble back in the late 80’s and Webb sounds like a guy that should be leading Tiger and Lefty by three strokes after the first two rounds of the U.S. Open. Both sound like the names of the Polo-clad Rebel students sitting in front of me at the Ole Miss game screaming “where’s David Ash?” to their own amusement. I could do this for hours… Webb replaced and injured Mayfield and threw a beautiful touchdown pass. Kingsbury has something going out there on The Plains with Mayfield, Webb & Associates.
Saturday, September 14th
Iowa Hawkeyes 27 IOWA STATE 20
Who watched this game? Anyone? Seriously. With Bama and A&M on who watched? You can provide the recap if you did and I’ll include your name and said recap.
Tulsa Golden Hurricanes 20 No.14 oklahoma 51
College Football High 5 missed the CyHawk game, too. Check out this week.
Massachusetts Minutemen 7 KANSAS STATE 37
K-State trailed 7-6 at home. To UMass. This is the same team that lost to North Dakota State. Come on, Horns. This one CANNOT get away.
KANSAS 14 Rice Owls 23
Big 12 football at it’s finest! Kansas and Rice, Iowa and Iowa State and the outlet malls that WVA and OSU played. Well done, schedulers! I apologize for the outlet mall reference, but come on, man. UMass likes money and is I-A, as is Buffalo and a dozen other schools you can bring in to get their heads kicked in.
Georgia State (I-AA team) 7 WEST VIRGINIA 41
Lamar (I-AA team) 3 No.12 OKLAHOMA STATE 59
This Week in the Big 12
No.11 OKLAHOMA STATE (3-0) BYE
No.12 oklahoma (3-0/1-0) BYE
IOWA STATE (0-2) BYE
Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (1-2) @ KANSAS (1-1) 11am Fox Sports 1
Rock Chalk Jay… I can’t do that. I enjoy it, but its really weird during football season and doesn’t make any sense. KU gets the win here and dozens in attendance cheer. Stop calling your team names, coach.
WEST VIRGINIA (2-1/0-1) vs. Maryland Terrapins (3-0) 2:30pm ABC/ESPN
West Virginia played well in a loss to ou, but they’ve looked average against their two I-AA opponents. Meanwhile Maryland has crazy uniforms. Did you see them opening weekend? Oh my gosh. I think the Neers pull it together this weekend and give the Big 12 a nice out-of-conference win. And everyone be careful in Baltimore. I’ve seen The Wire. Nothing good happens at night there.
Louisiana Monroe Warhawks (2-1) @ No.20 BAYLOR(2-0) 3pm Fox Sports 1
Duck Dynasty comes calling on Waco this weekend for a rematch of a shootout by Phil and Kay’s house last year. Baylor has gotten fat on some bad teams and while ULM isn’t Wofford, they aren’t going to be a big problem for the Bears. Expect Baylor to try and score 100 because that’s what they do. Can they stop the Warhawk offense? This is the best one they’ve seen so far, but their offense does enough to route ULM.
Texas State Bobcats (2-0) @ No.25 TEXAS TECH (3-0/1-0) 6pm Fox Sports Network
Last year, fresh off the big win at Houston, the Bobcats hosted Tech in a game that was the biggest home game ever. After a solid start, the Cats were absolutely destroyed by Tortillas and now they head to Lubbock for a date with the guys from The Firm at quarterback. The Franciones are going to get air-raided to death early and then Tech runs late to put them away. It’s close for a while, but Tech moves to 4-0.
That’s it for this week. You can reach me at FromTheStands@gmail.com or on Twitter @TreyMcLean.