Saturday, September 17, 2011

McCoy Starting, Ash Helping, Gilbert Sitting

Disclaimer: I agree with the quarterback switch.

This week Mack Brown announced what most fans wanted, Garrett Gilbert will not be starting for Texas against UCLA. The fans hammered, and rightfully so, Gilbert with boos last Saturday against BYU, and added insult to Gilbert's demotion when they cheered Ash & McCoy. Obviously, Mack Brown and the coaching staff aren't going to let the fans decide things because that would be just bad. Gilbert won the quarterback battle and I'm sure Brown wanted to show enough confidence in him to let him ride out the bad times and hoped he succeeded. However, Brown, Harsin & Applewhite knew they had Ash & McCoy in their back pocket. With those 2 playing, it allows the Longhorns to open up the playbook and execute the trickery everyone loves.

Gilbert has been through 3 different offenses in his 3 years in Austin. He's had no running game, wide receivers have been hit or miss and the offensive line is shaky. I heard a stat on ESPN Austin radio that surprised me. They charted the offensive plays against BYU and found that Gilbert had 1 play with Malcom Brown in the backfield while the Ash/McCoy combo had 10+. The reason Malcom Brown is starting today against UCLA is because he is the best running back on the team. If you don't give your quarterback the best players on the field, it will be hard to win. Gilbert isn't Tom Brady, who just plugs in random guys into the offense and still wins. For all the talent UT recruits, the wide receivers haven't really showed for it. Jaxon Shipley has played just like his brother and that was expected and surprising. Marquise Goodwin didn't plan on playing this season so he could focus track and field but he's returned and made his way to the top of the depth chart. I'm not discounting Goodwin & Shipley's contributions, but what does it say about the other WRs? How have they been surpassed by the freshman Shipley, and Goodwin, who hasn't had time to learn the new offense and wasn't even expected to play?

So today against UCLA, the new quarterback duo will start and fans expect everything to be peachy. We are talking about sophomore and freshman quarterbacks starting on the road, at the massive Rose Bowl, against a BCS school, against a team that beat Texas on the road last year. What happens if the combo begins to fail? Does Brown go back to Gilbert and if so, how long does it take? How does Gilbert perform in his 2nd life? Remember, it was the national championship game at the Rose Bowl where Gilbert wow'd the national audience when Colt McCoy went out with an injury. It would be a weird full circle if he were to replace Case McCoy. How do the fans react if Gilbert succeeds? With an awkward acceptance.

Things will not be easy for the young duo but let's not hype up UCLA to be better than they are. They have their own quarterback issues and have talent elsewhere that really hasn't played as well as they should. If UCLA isn't good then that Rose Bowl doesn't look as intimidating when there are empty seats in the stadium. Texas' defense is very legit this year and that linebacker crew is beastly. Beastly enough to stop the UCLA's running game that gashed the Longhorns last year. I predict an easy and exciting Texas win (don't hold me to it though). \m/

Monday, September 12, 2011

Like a Snapback, Football is Back!

I have many thoughts from the first NFL weekend of the year but here are my quick hits on some of the games...

Packers-Saints: That lockout clearly slowed down nobody. Offensively, everyone looked like they were in mid-season form, except for Saints' coach Sean Payton. He called a play action in the 3rd quarter resulting in a turnover on downs. The better call would of been to run it up the middle which was the call made at the end of the game to potentially force OT. The last play of the game should of been a play action. Oh well, it's game 1 and there is plenty of room to make up for that loss. Side note, Green Bay rookie, Randall Cobb, is the first person born in the 90s to play, and eventually score, in a NFL game!!

Eagles-Rams: The so called "dream team" has work to do on the offensive line. They can't count on Vick to mask the line's issues all season long. Towards the end of the season, his body will begin to wear down and the lack of offensive execution will be noticed. Good thing they signed Vince Young to replicate his abilities.

Colts-Texans: For the Texans, just look at this game as a 5th preseason game. Take nothing away from this game. For the Colts, I understand not having Manning can affect the play-calling on both offense and defense. His presence apparently resonates optimism, no matter the score. It changes the way some players play or how coaches coach BUT he isn't physically on the field playing defense or special teams. The defense was man handled by the Texans. The Colts have been playing relatively the same Houston offense for the last 4 or so years. There is no real reason to allow 34 points in the first half.

Check back later this week for my post on the Manning situation.

Bills-Chiefs: Ryan! Fitzpatrick! I told a few people to watch out for the Harvard QB. This is his offense (not to extent of Manning though) and he will make plays with the "weapons" he has. The Bills' offensive line finally showed up to play a NFL game for the first time in a decade. The unit looked cohesive and actually protected their QB. They played surprisingly well against Kansas City's decent front 7 - Derrick Johnson, Tyson Jackson, Glenn Dorsey and others. Running back Fred Jackson even had 100+ rushing yards.

Lions-Bucs: For all those years of watching the terrible Lions play on Thanksgiving Day, football fans will finally be rewarded this year provided the Lions are healthy. On November 24th, in Detroit, the Lions host the Packers. Sure the Lions lack the depth and talent of the Packer but, somehow, it will be a hell of game.

Panthers-Cardinals: Cam Newton will be a star in this league and he will have games like Sunday during his rookie season but let's cool the expectations after week 1. I'm a fan of him and I will root for him but unless he rocks the Super Bowl winning Packers, his star might lose some bulbs next Sunday. Overshadowed by Newton's record setting performance was the Cardinals' new quarterback, Kevin Kolb. Albeit it was against the Panthers, he threw for over 300 yards and 2 touchdowns. The NFC West is always open so keep your eye on Kolb and the Cardinals.

Cowboys-Jets: I don't want to bash Romo because everyone is already calling for his head but how many times can you make mistakes to cost your team the game? Unfortunately for the Cowboys, it doesn't all fall on Romo's shoulders. He wasn't the one who allowed a blocked punt for a TD; the entire line let Joe McKnight stroll into the backfield to block the punt. Late in the game, the Jets finally opened up the vertical playbook and let Sanchez fire away against the Cowboys' hurt and limited secondary. Why it took till the 4th quarter for the Jets to attack Dallas' biggest weakness is beyond me. Maybe the Cowboys shouldn't have been in this game at all but the fact they were says something about the coaching and the talent on the field. This game gave no indication of how the rest of Dallas' season will go but we do know it will be well covered by the media.

Lastly on the Cowboys, did you catch Dez Bryant's post game interview? The way he defended Romo sounded a lot like Terrell Owens. And why does he shake his head from left to right like he is subliminally telling us he doesn't believe a word he is saying. Check the video around the 4:45 mark.

Should be another exciting season!