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Barking Carnival’s Advent Calendar: 18 Days to Bama

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Ah, the dreamwagon has arrived.

I have great memories as a kid punching out the holes in advent calendars knowing there was some savory treat behind each window and it meant one day closer to Christmas.

Missing that feeling, I made a life-size one where I get to punch HenryJames in the face every day in exchange for a large bottle of strong Belgian ale. Today was Chimay. Jan 7 is his favorite beer: St. Bernardus. This thing is truly the gift that keeps on giving.


Trivia: Which Barker most closely resembles Santa in this picture? (Answer below)*

As a kid it was all about the build-up to Christmas Eve, wondering what you were going to get from your parents shitfaced on eggnog wrapping presents at 4 a.m. pretending to be Santa. Since I don’t have any kids yet through whom I can funnel some holiday joy and the holidays in general as an adult are generally a pain in the ass, my anticipation has shifted towards a further date on January 7 in Pasadena.

With all of our athletic programs firing on all cylinders, Texas fans tend to take a lot of things for granted. But National championships in football aren't one of them. Given the hurdles inherent in a 13 game schedule and the inevitability of 18-22 kids just wanting to take a week off every once in a while, even with a favorable schedule we should feel lucky and grateful to be here just four years removed from the greatest game in college football history.

Ultimately, it came down to a 46 yd field goal conversion with 1 all important second left on the clock from losing a game that would have left a lump of coal in our collective stockings with the radioactive half-life of Strontium-82. Any other option than winning the game against Nebraska and securing a Big 12 Title / BCS title berth would have been nothing short of apocalyptic. Basically, imagine you’re Viggo Mortensen in The Road and the person you have to herd to safety against all odds to ensure the human race lives on is none other than a self-defecating sloth with a 10 lb playbook chained to his neck named Greg Davis. Would you just let the world end? I know Closetojumping would.

West Campus post 12/5

West Campus post 12/5

Thank God for Hunter Lawrence.

Instead of looking back at a game that serves no purpose in film study other than motivation by stolen pride, or guilt for costing your QB a Heisman trophy, lets look forward to all that matters now: beating the Crimson Tide and bringing home a fifth national championship. For the record, that would bring Texas within two of Bama's seven national titles, a hefty accomplishment in its own right even after subtracting the five illegitimate ones they claim.

When looking at the match-ups, we already know the inherent problems we face on offense when lining up against a good defense and they might as well be etched in limestone tablets outside Greg Davis’ office. Nick Saban has had plenty of time to study these tendencies. Because of this fact along with Bama's ability to consistently run the football, I think the spread in this game should probably be Texas +5 points whereas Trips Right thinks we should be favored. We have made an agreement to always drink to disagreement. Vegas knows we’re a pick six or one busted coverage on Jordan Shipley away from winning the game straight up and pretty much everyone is expecting a close game.

So in the most positive of positive lights, let’s take a sunny look at the ways we might come out on top. This ray of sunshine is brighter than anything that came out of Robert Tilton’s ass. It’s more of a Velvet Pillow than a Mudhole, where Sergio Kindle gently lays down Greg McElroy's head to rest after a 12 yd TFL. I’m not asking you to get onboard Bill Little’s Dreamwagon, I just need to know you are open to the idea. Most of you are all a bunch of miserable pricks so why not indulge in some happy fiction in how this game might go perfectly goddamn well?

“Being a human being isn’t just all misery and despair. There’s a lot of available joy out there, even if we don’t often find it. I think that fiction should find opportunities for joy.”

– Wells Tower, whose joyous debut novel is titled Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned).

If Tiger Woods can wreck his life in two weeks, here are a few basic things that Greg Davis can figure out in a month's time starting with most obvious:

#1 – Never, ever, ever line up out of the I formation from your own endzone. Especially when lined up against a WMD like Suh, but even that fat tub of goo Terrence Cody can neutralize any interior surge from your OL and force Cody Johnson into the loving arms of Rolando McClain. Mack Brown admitted it was a mistake against Tech last year, then admitted we should have learned better from the Tech game after doing it again this year against UCF, then it was bizarro fucking Groundhog Day against Nebraska and it almost results in a safety. "Phil Powers?! Its Ned Ryerson! Needlenose Ned? Ned the Head? C'mon buddy!"That kind of shit puts fans in Sanitariums. So much for sunshine.


"Would you like to puke here or in the car? I think ... both"

#2Screens. Did we run one all night against the Huskers? If half the DL is chasing after Colt when we are trying to block them, why not intentionally whiff on the block and get upfield to set up a screen? Tre Newton knows how to run one. He gained about 1500 yards on screens in high school. Even if it’s not blocked properly, it can at least make Bama's front seven think about some misdirection.

#3Slants. Hot routes. Latin nights! Spice it up, Greg. TE drags over the middle. Fades and jump balls to Malcolm Williams. DO NOT OPEN THE GAME WITH A HORIZONTAL WR SCREEN. That play was scripted, Pelini knew it and the result was predictable - a Nigerian prince cannibalizing James Kirkendoll. Do some self-scouting (ha!) and play off those tendencies. I'd love to see a pump fake off the WR screen and go back across the field to a slanting Malcolm Williams. Bama's big safeties can be confused in coverage but Greg Davis has to be willing to take off his pants and get freaky with the offense. Air it out early at least once to pull the safeties off the LOS. Work the soft zone in the middle of the field sometime before the 4th quarter. Dan Buckner is still an eligible receiver/blocking surface and one that none of us or Nick Saban has seen recently. Do the unpossible, Greg!

#4 - Run Colt, run. Scipio's prescription from early November is good through 1/8/09.

#5 - Play action zone read. Terrence Cody is not gifted in quick thinking or lateral movement. Bama's DE's will initially bite to stop the run and Colt is faster than Tim Tebow. He also has a dark side Tebow isn't willing to go to. Like drinking milk after midnight. Or keying Tebow's brand new Chrystler with a national championship ring.

#6 - Exit strategy. If your senior-laden OL is playing like a bunch of bitches and your Heisman QB’s eyes start glazing over once again, it’s up to the coaching staff – Brown/Davis/McWhorter/Applewhite -- to change direction with scheme, make shit easier for the kids, and slap them on the ass. Who knows, maybe they tried that against Nebraska but I have a hard time accepting the theory our playcalling and half-time adjustments helped our kids win this game. The second half was just more of the same until the final drive, half of which was gifted. I will happily take another game winning field goal and forgive all prior sins. Scrap the scripted play bullshit and scheme in real time around what your opponent is doing. Greg Davis should be forced to play Call of Duty online for 24 hours straight between now and January 7th.

#7 - Play to your strengths. Other than one anomaly in our defensive performance against A&M (short week/Jihad game for the Aggies), we haven't had to worry about much with Muschamp and our defense. EVERYONE IS ACCOUNTABLE. Mistakes are fixed quickly and the players trust the system. Nebraska’s offense was terrible and we made them look like extras from Shaun of the Dead. With a month to prepare, odds are Muschamp can put McElroy in some situations that would make even sizzlechest feel uncomfortable. It's a great feeling to be confident in your defense. Earl Thomas, Aaron Williams, and Curtis Brown need to lock down Julio Jones. This is obvious. But Maze and Peek did most of the damage against Florida until the final drive when Chizik decided it would be against his principled coaching ethos to go nickel and double Julio Jones. If Auburn makes a stop there, we're playing TCU in a few weeks for all the marbles. Ha ha ha ha! Ha ha ha ha!

To summarize: I’ll buy Greg Davis a Tiger rub & tug if he steps up and pulls out a masterpiece. But given the collective body of evidence we’ve seen to date when facing an elite defense, I certainly don't expect it. What I hope and certainly can envision is that we can find a way to beat Bama with a defensive score, 3 FGs, and a timely QB draw or zone read keeper that goes the distance with a key downfield block by Shipley or Williams. Looking back at the prior two Rose Bowls, our WRs blocked like men and gave VY the slim crease of light needed to move the chains consistently. Against OU and Nebraska we could barely get off the line of scrimmage. If that happens again then we're all in for a long night. I think we'll be able to get some separation in the right formations at a few points in the game and lets just hope they execute. Colt actually had guys wide open a few times against Nebraska but when you're being pummeled that passing tree shrinks real quick.

Texas is the underdog in every respect yet has equal talent across the board. Bama is coming off its biggest win in the last 20 years and just brought its first Heisman back to Tuscaloosa. It's hard to keep that level of execution up two games in a row when they're a month apart. Let's hope Bama comes out like they did against Utah in last year's Sugar Bowl but don't expect it. Saban will more than likely have these guys ready and Ingram may just want to prove he deserved the award.

Hopefully the result is we're all trotting around on unicorns pissing champagne rainbows off the Dreamwagon and hugging longer than men probably should, kn

And if it doesn’t go well, you can lock yourself in the house for weeks and read Saul Bellow to fuel your post-mortem ire:

“Just because your soul is being torn to pieces doesn’t mean you stop analyzing the phenomena.”

- Humboldt's Gift

Hopefully we won't have to go there.

Today is December 20. HenryJames just took an uppercut to the chin and rewarded me with a Duvel. This day is starting well ...

*Trips Right and it wasn't even close.