DKR Varmint Eradication Program
Mack Brown has a gift for attracting celebrity. This weekend was no different. Steve Zissou graced our sideline. I dig Bill Murray and I am a big fan of his work. Caddyshack, Ghostbusters, Rushmore, Lost in Translation. I even liked The Razor's Edge. Speaking of razors, can someone send Jack Arute a Schick Quattro? Bathing your mouth in super-glue and having a hirsute Syrian stripper shed her sporran on you is not a grooming best practice. There is no such thing as a good goatee and this was a particularly bad one. It's unforgivable that Gameplan made me watch Arute mouth-gina so I could find out that Chris Mortensen's son is a 3rd team scrub on the worst team we'll play this year. And Matt Jones is a better player than Vince Young. Uh, thanks Mort.
Arkansas Football is the goatee of college football. Like the goatee, it had a brief moment of public interest, but that subsided when the once in a century scratch off lottery ticket of McFadden and Jones fled to the NFL. Bobby Petrino continues to learn the hard way that character is destiny. He'll be building quite a bit of it this year along with the Arkansas fanbase. The same day that Arkansas gets mercy slain by Texas, Houston Nutt beats Florida in the Swamp with a Texan at QB and Ed Orgeron's recruits. Pick banjo, pick six, always pick the Razorback's opponent against the spread. This is a bad weekend to be a Hawg. Which makes it, by my reasoning, a pretty solid weekend to be a Longhorn. If I was feeling particularly cruel, I'd organize a Snake Farm boycott, but I don't want to destabilize a regional economy.
The 52-10 score was outrageous and I'm not even sure that fully reflected how one-sided the game was. 66-3 was attainable, but we were inserting 2nd and 3rd teamers liberally in the mid 3rd quarter. We hurt their QB. We pissed on their opportunist coach. We played hard. We had fun. We grew again as a team. I learned that we have a walk-on cornerback named Ford who played 7 minutes in the 4th quarter. Who knew? Let's break it down...
Man-to-man nickel under with two deep. This is who we are. Coach Boom has accepted that a secondary of teens can't zone to save our lives, so let's man up and get it on. I wrote in my Rice Post-Game that Muschamp now realizes our front is athletic and deep enough to let the dogs out rushing the QB and that prediction is holding true. We'll challenge the short passing game more each week and we'll try to create turnovers with our pass rush by making QBs hold onto the ball. I wouldn't call our secondary rock solid, but it's getting better. We held Arkansas to 191 total yards, 3 offensive points, forced two turnovers, scored a defensive touchdown, had seven sacks, and knocked their QB out of the game. Works for me. Arkansas ran the ball pretty effectively in all three of their previous games. We played the run with an honest front and held up well.
Brian Orakpo played his best game as a Longhorn. 3 TFL, 2 sacks, drew a key penalty. Should have drawn four of them. He changed the game. He also played a reverse like a seasoned pro and destroyed any semblance of an outside running game to his side of the field. When I saw Rak grab two guys and throw them into a third while stringing a sweep to the sideline, I knew the Nigerian Nightmare was dialed in. Keep pouring it on, Rak. The other DEs (and Kindle, a de facto DE) were great: Sergio had a sack and led us in tackles (he made a ton of hustle plays - I credited him with more tackles than the official box score), Melton had a sack and strip, Acho continues to dominate in his snaps, and Jones had a sack in mop up time. DE/Rush LB is a very productive position for us.
Arkansas wanted no part of Miller and Houston. We'll see a lot of them over our next five games though.
Norton started over Bobino. I'm not sure Bobino played twenty snaps. I know I've mentioned it before, but it's amazing how Norton's athleticism has declined the longer he has been in the program. Muckelroy continues to be our best LB and one of the best players on the team. Keenan Robinson reminds me of Derrick Johnson, dare I write it. He needs to start next year.
Earl Thomas has reached Awareness. He's not thinking, he's reacting. The timing couldn't be better. Is there anything more fulfilling than watching a young player grow? I know a lot of fans prefer the dominant finished product - VY as a junior, Huff and Hampton as seniors. That's understandable. Personally, I love watching the development process. Which leads me to...
Aaron Williams. The true freshman is now our dime back and pushing to be our full time nickel. I was impressed with what he did on the interception return for a TD. I was more impressed by his coverage on an island on the Hawg's first possession. Arkansas isolated him on a fly route and he ran stride-for-stride with the receiver and PLAYED THE BALL. I'm looking at you, Ryan Palmer. When everyone on the sideline starts screaming, "Ball! Ball! Ball!" I want you to glance back. They're not trying to trick you. Hang in there, brotha.
The Acho brothers and Keenan Robinson continue to flash major ability. My thought for 2009? Muckelroy to MLB. Robinson to starting WLB. Big Acho? Never leave the field. Little Acho? First LB of the bench, two year starter thereafter. Further thought -don't let Madden anywhere near any of them as he drains quickness, hip flexibility, and lateral movement like a ghoul.
Chykie Brown is our best corner and he gets better every game. Deon Beasley needs to watch some Nathan Vasher tape and learn that little guys with cover skills can enhance their value by embracing their inner mean bastard and getting more physical. Take a look at the depth chart, Deon. New management in town. Muschamp doesn't believe in unconditional love.
Our base running offense remains a cluster, but I love GD inserting the QB Lead and QB Draw for Colt. It allows us to account for every defender and it places the ball in the hands of our most dynamic runner. We'll see those calls again in Dallas on some key downs. Our passing game is operating at a high level primarily because Colt is in tune with Shipley and Quan like he is holding their Wii controller. These guys aren't just on the same page, they're on the same sentence. The first TD pass to Shipley had some many fine adjustments that telepathy may have been at work.
McCoy is playing the game full speed while watching it develop in slow motion. Accurate passes, quality decisions, and his ability to run the ball with power, vision, and speed continues to shock me even though he has been doing it since late last year. 9 carries, 84 yards, 2 TDs. 17 of 19 passing for 185 yards and 3 TDs. He's completing 80% of his passes on the year. Those are numbers Master P wouldn't negotiate into a contract. Haven't seen a four game stretch like this from a Longhorn QB since VY, competition be damned. The prevailing wisdom is/was that Colt is a good player that you need to surround with elite talent. I subscribed to that theory. Well, he's not exactly surrounded by great talent. Maybe Colt is the elite talent.
Needs talent? He is the talent
I thought Vondrell ran hard and I have little issue with his play except for the fact that he doesn't run the zone play particularly well. He thinks it's about hitting it up in the hole quickly. That's not the intent of the play. It's about stringing it out, getting the defense to commit their momentum, then plant and go. It's not a dive. The problem is that he has no trust for the OL to allow that continuation since we give up a free defender in the backfield on a 1/3 of our snaps. He had nine yards in losses on three carries. Cody Johnson had none. Primarily because he doesn't have to run that shit. Oh well, we'll continue to have a fan base that asks, "What's wrong with Vondrell?" when he gets hit while receiving the handoff. I've accepted it.
Shipley and Cosby aren't the most talented duo in Texas history, but they're the most consistent. Fearless, nifty, hands of glue. Malcolm Williams' disappearance has been disappointing. A&M is getting more production out of Jeff Fuller than we're getting from Dan Buckner or Williams. Factor in Under Armour models Montre Webber and Phil Payne and I wonder what Bobby Kennedy is doing over there for player development. We throw bodies at the problem every year in recruiting. I'm wondering if talent is the issue.
Tanner is healthy and has his starting gig back over Huey, though Huey had a number of snaps. I can understand this move. Huey isn't consistent and he's not a zone blocking guy. He needs to maul. We could stand to get better at center. Hall is a great kid, but I'd prefer to make him a Swiss Army Knife depth guy than a starter at this point in his career. The Arkansas DL was actually not terrible, so it was good to get our guys acclimated to some legit D-1 athletes.
John Chiles has improved as a passer while becoming less elusive. I'd prefer the opposite. Am I insane to think that Sherrod Harris needs some of that mop up time?
Arkansas had exactly two players that interest me. LB Jerry Franklin and TE DJ Williams. Rice had three.
The rest of their schedule sets up thusly:
How many wins do you see there? Mind you, Tulsa has a a great offense and Kentucky is 4-0.
After they sign this year's solid '09 class - if they don't defect en masse - I'd expect Arkansas to start hitting the JUCOS. Petrino had no problem taking questionable types at Louisville and the dominance of Texas, LSU, OU has put the squeeze on top Texas recruits. Throw in a resurgent Ole Miss and raiding NorLA and Memphis is no cinch. If they go 3-9, program-building timelines may need to be accelerated a bit. Bring on the gangstas!
Cancel the game in Arkansas. There's no upside for us and it would be amusing as hell. Replace them with someone interesting with a recrutiing payoff.
Watch how Applewhite reacts to Hills when he doesn't put his nose in there to fight sufficiently for the ball on Chiles' fumble.
One more thing:
S-E-C! S-E-C! S-E-C!