clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

A SHOOTOUT IS A DANGEROUS PLACE TO BE

New, 1 comment

Today is one of those days, when progress is impossible. This is everyday, actually, for reasons real and imagined, or reasons so lucidly imagined that they become real mental obstacles. One popular incarnation (so to speak) of this phenomenon was once known as "writer's block," and may still be in some locales (not here, of course, not to me, because it should be obvious by now that I never let a lack of ideas, motivation of rational thought stand in my way). On some days, by the end, productivity is measured in the speed of acquisition and subsuquent deliciousness of a Chick-Fil-A sandwich to the sublimation of any other pursuit, and to readers who are confused by that, I extend my sympathy. And some days, the march of accomplishment is thrown out of step by messages like this:

OU Ticket..$100..Student section..Let me know if anyone is interested.
- - -

Let's call these days "good days."

Well, potentially - it's an open call. But at no point have I made any inquiries or effort toward acquiring a ticket to the Oklahoma-Texas game, or considered it, really. As this operation has grown it's become more important to hole up on Saturdays with as many games as possible. I'm not a fan of either team; I wouldn't make noise. From a purely football-first perspective, contrary to longheld and widespread implications to the contrary (sportswriters still dare not dream to write about a game they didn't attend) there is no gain in looking live, so to speak, while in all likelihood losing the ability to watch Florida-LSU, Tennessee-Georgia, even Wisconsin-Illinois, still fairly anonymous teams to me. It's a social event. This is only one ticket, anyway, so some party. Who am I, Jonathan Tu?

Of course, I still haven't stopped hitting `refresh,' waiting for some response (none yet). From the e-mail address, I have no idea who the sender even is, other than my favorite person on the planet. Until someone's willing to drop a ticket for one of the games of the year in my lap hours before kickoff for $75, at least.


The greatest pain is unfulfilled potential. Except for concussions.
- - -

There's still the matter of the game, though, and convincing myself if I did wrangle a ticket that Texas isn't going to be a waste of time in a blowout. I didn't think this a month ago, but UT has done such litte good in the interim - excluding a vertiable bye week against Rice (I'd like to pretend Rice doesn't exist at all), the `Horns have played one good half out of eight, against TCU, and merely hung on in every other case, until last week, when they fell off the wagon and rolled around scraped in the dust. Texas isn't doing anything particularly well; statistically, it looks like it's stopping the run, but that includes -11 yards attributed to the I-AA-ready Owls on 14 tackles behind the line of scrimmage, a significant bandage on the preceding C-USA patsy, Central Florida, which unleashed brusing Kevin Smith for just short of 200 in three-point loss the Knights led in the fourth quarter, mostly out of the zone read. UT was hurt by a strong ground game there, and Oklahoma has a stronger, deeper attack, and by a young quarterback making quick, decisive throws against the Texas zone, and OU has that, too - Sam Bradford is still the highest rated passer in the nation. Is Texas an appreciably better defensive team than Miami? Statistically, the only reason to believe it is probably has more to do with the fact the `Canes have already been burned by the Sooners, and the Longhorns' turn is yet to come. If Oklahoma is the team that showed up for UM a month ago, Texas is toast and everyone knows it.

Why would we get that Oklahoma and not the one that sleepwalk through three quarters agaist Colorado last week and gave away a game it had in hand? And not the dominant `Horns of the second half of the win over TCU? Every suggestion is that Oklahoma's loss last week is an aberration, a lapse in bad circumstances, and Texas' was the first heavy blow in a trend of sloppiness, because Texas has been sloppy before, against Arkansas State, against UCF, in the first half against TCU, and certainly last week, on special teams, in the secondary and on the offensive line, which created so much of the confusion by failing the Wildcats out of Colt McCoy's face. Oklahoma currently resides in the top five nationally in sacks and tackles for loss - thanks in large part to sophomores Ryan Reynolds and DeMarcus Granger, ex-blue chips who are paying off quickly - and in sacks allowed. Texas does not rate anywhere near the top five in anything and continues in its indecisive search for an identity on offense. Colt McCoy does not appear as battle-ready as expected to be the play-making field general without a substantial running game. Do his expectations and responsibilities need to be scaled back for a more run-oriented approach? Can Texas block for a more run-oriented approach? Can Texas block for any approach against a competent front seven?

I think we can be certain Texas has the players to do what it wants to do if it can identify exactly what that is and run it crisply. The Red River Shootout is the wrong time to still be asking these questions, and struggling in all phases of kick coverage on top of that. Unless last week was the beginning of a similar unravelling process for Sam Bradford and the Sooners (maybe especially if OU's problems persist), Dallas doesn't sound like the most promising destination of the weekend.

Obviously, if I get the ticket, I'm going.