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The Q&A: Texas vs. Cal

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NCAA Football: California at Texas Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Q&A, where we’ll take a look at the hottest Longhorn topics as the team gears up for payback against Cal.

As always, these are real questions from real fake Barking Carnival readers. If you’re a real Barking Carnival reader with a real question, fire away in the comments.

Q: So where ya been, man? Hardly seen hide nor hair of you on BC this week. You’re not overlooking the Cal game, are you?

A: Not at all. Just spent the week out in Durango, Colorado with my folks doing some fishing and relaxing. Very Waldenesque, particularly with respect to the dodgy access to WiFi.

Q: A professional blogger would have shrugged off that soul-restoring BS and manned up with a personal WiFi hotspot. Was it pretty at least?

A:

Q: Wow. That does look pretty soul-restoring.

A: To an extent. The only thing better than the tranquil serenity of a mountain lake in the high country is shattering that serenity by sending multiple “G****** it!”s ringing out over said lake as you try to pry a rotting trout out of a Chocolate Lab’s slavering jaws, to later be rewarded with riotous vomiting inside the truck cab.

GUILTY.

Let’s just move on.

Q: Fair enough. So are we ready to talk Texas-Cal?

A: Sadly, I fear that the ol’ Q&A is getting short shrift this week. Family time, precious memories, etc - you know the drill. I did get to share some thoughts on the game with the fine folks at California Golden Blogs, so I’m afraid that’ll have to tide you over for this week along with my solemn promise to do better for the rest of the season.

Q: Seriously?

A: Ha ha ha ha! Of course not. Neither rain nor snow nor sleet nor getting three hours of sleep a night as my body battles the thorough discombobulation of a week without alcohol shall stay me from my appointed rounds. Let’s do this.

Q: OK, good. I have not-so-fond memories of Jared Goff and company more or less setting DKR on fire to the tune of 45 points last season. Should I be terrified of the Bears’ O in this one?

A: Ehhhh, kinda. Sonny Dykes’ Bear Raid is a well-assembled offense that rolls out all the familiar Air Raid staples and also offers some two-way terror potential when speedburning backs like Khalfani Muhammad break into the open field. You may remember Muhammad from such plays as That 71-Yard Touchdown Run and That Other 49-Yard Scamper.

Q: Well what’s with the kinda, then? They dropped 55 points last week and a two-way Air Raid attack sounds pretty scary.

Well, we’ve got some things working in our favor that weren’t in the mix in 2015. Muhammad is a rocket when he’s able to sprint in a straight line to the open field, but we’ve surrendering far fewer of those sprints now that our down DL appear actually capable of combatting and playing off of blocks. Jam up Muhammad’s initial lane and he becomes much easier to lay hands on as his lack of vision and wiggle becomes evident. It also may not take much to push Muhammad to the periphery of the game plan - new Cal OC Jake Spavital appears to rival early-era Jason Garrett in terms of getting a warm, safe, heroin-user high as soon as he abandons the run and calls fifteen straight passes.

Q: OK, so let’s say we don’t get pillaged to the tune of 280 yards on the ground this time. That’s still a high-octane air attack, yes?

A: The counting stats are there for sure, but the efficiency figures to come in well below last year’s effort. Cal lost its top six receivers from last year’s squad, and while guys like Chad Hanson and 5* true freshman Demetris Robertson are worthy replacements they also won’t be going up against The John Bonney Experience at cornerback or getting to pick on a thrown-into-the-fire Kevin Vaccaro the way they did last year after Dylan Haines’ ejection on a dubious targeting call.

Q: Speaking of Haines, he’s back this week, yes?

A: It sounds like it.

Q: If he’s able to inflict some white-on-white crime against Chad Hanson on a deep crossing route, I’m totally yelling “MMMMM-BOP!”

A:

Q: Sorry. Got a little carried away there. How do things compare at QB?

A: Despite the overall plug-and-play nature of Air Raid offenses, when you’re plugging in a replacement for the #1 pick in the NFL draft you’re bound so see your play decline a bit. Jared Goff was a killer against Texas and stuck a half dozen pro throws 15+ yards downfield in the face of heavy pressure. While Davis Webb looks good from a clean pocket, let’s just say he hasn’t shown the same aplomb in a Golden Bears uni.

Q: So he’s not a cool customer in the pocket?

A: He fired a trio of dubious interceptions against SDSU when pressured and got away with a few more heave-and-pray jobs when pressure closed in. It may be too early to say that Webb has that Blaine Gabbert-In-The-NFL-Pure-Terror-Of-Getting-Hit thing going on, but maybe it’s not too early to say that. There’s one way to find out, and that’s to bring the heat - or threaten to bring the heat - early and often and from unexpected angles to keep his cage well and truly rattled.

A dose of the ol’ Dirty Foxy Dime may be just what the doctor ordered to keep Webb guessing and keep the pressure on. Early in the game we could roll with a Cover Three look to keep Webb working underneath against four defenders...

And once we get up some and Spavital gets frustrated we can roll with a pure-coverage Cover Five with man underneath and safeties over the top...

...throw a changeup with Quarters using 2-Read rules on one side and a Cover Two look on the other for a hybrid Cover Six to really foul up Webb’s pre-snap reads...

...or send Malik on a “hug-up” blitz at the back with everyone else manning and Wheeler and the FS helping from the middle zones:

Q: I like it. Do we have a special Q&A guest this week?

A: Well, we would have had a legitimate Q&A with those nice folks at California Golden Blogs, but I didn’t get my shit together in time to send reciprocal questions their way. Fortunately, a last-minute scramble turned up a couple of worthy replacements - both of whom, as it turns out, are kind of miffed at not being allowed into California Memorial Stadium this Saturday. We’re pleased to give a warm Q&A welcome to the new Longhorn mascot, Bevo XV:

As well as a veteran of many West Coast football games and other occasions with sweaty men jammed into tight spaces, Scipio’s Fanny Pack*:

Q: Bevo, you’re just hitting your stride as the Longhorns’ new mascot, and Fanny Pack I know you have the words Long and Horny stitched into your backside. It’s got to be disappointing for both of you to be banned from Texas’ first road contest of the season.

BXV: It’s tough, man, it really is. The Cal game was one of my homeboy BXIV’s last games, and I wanted to be there to settle the score with those beef-hating hippies, you know? I had to settle for pouring one out for BXIV last night. Some snot-nosed rookie Silver Spur thought I had just knocked over my water trough for no reason, but one of the older guys set him straight.

SFP: Yeah, it sucks to get shut out a stade full of prime California split tail thanks to some lame “no bags” policy. But my bro Scip and I have slayed enough ass up and down the PCH that sitting one out is no big. I don’t know why they won’t let Bevbro in, though – ain’t like he’s carryin’ a bag any more!

* Snickers, attempts bro fist with interviewer which interviewer politely declines *

BXV: Hey look, douchepail…

Q: Gentlemen! Relax. We’re all on the same side here. Bevo XV, have you gotten to do much bonding with the current Longhorn squad?

BXV: It’s early days yet, but yeah they seem cool. I was a little put off at first when I saw that video of everybody walking out onto the field and touching those horns on the wall. If you see a bunch of cattle heading to the pasture to get their graze on and they all like nuzzled a human skull on the way out the gate you’d be a little weirded out, right? But I chalked it up to one of those when in Rome kind of deals.

Charlie’s pretty chill, but he’s got that quiet intensity, you know? I know what they mean about that “don’t let this dude on your couch if you don’t want to be a Longhorn” thing. I mean, I’m already a Longhorn and it’s not like I have a couch - my legs would be splayed out all awkward as fuck. But if Charlie like sprawled out in my pasture or something he could definitely get me to sign up.

When he and Bedford are together I get this real Chuck D/Flava Flav vibe which I respect. Bedford’s gotta pick it up, though. Cal hangs a 40-spot on us tomorrow and that big clock around your neck’s gonna strike midnight, ya heard?

Just getting to know the guys on the team, but Swoopes and I are tight. He’s got that whole Ferdinand the Bull “I’m a quiet guy but I’ll crush your sternum and laugh on the inside” thing going and I’m down with that. Everybody else keeps it pretty chill, just a fist-to-horn dap or something like that…except that one blonde asshole who ran right up and tried to bulldog me to the ground like it was the Mesquite Goddamn Rodeo.

Fucking Hager.

Q: Fanny Pack, you’ve no doubt got the answer to a question that’s rattled around in our heads for quite some time – what does Scipio bring to a road game?

SFP: Well, brocephus, it depends. The typical ho-hunting loadout is a bottle of Drakkar Noir, bomb-ass silver bracelet, a stack of rubber-banded ones with a $20 on the outside and a couple of those custom regular-size jimmies from Spencer’s Gifts that say “MAGNUMM” on the wrapper. That last one doesn’t fool the smart chicks, but it ain’t like the smarties are his target market, knowwhatimsayin?

Q: We have heard his approach described as “shooting fish in a barrel...”

SPF: More like shooting a fish strapped to the end of a shotgun, Bromeo & Juliet. Sometimes he tries to trick it up, though. When he was on the Clipper Cooper tip he tried jamming two pop-collar Polos in me to pull off that Sig Ep Bro Meets Sir Francis Drake Neck Display thing, right? But they came out so wrinkled that it 86’d his game and he had to settle for a UTEP handy at closing time. Rookie mistake, Bromega Code.

Q: Well, that’s all the time we have this week. Before you go, let’s get a Saturday night score prediction.

BXV: Davis Webb is a pussy, D’Onta’s gonna stomp some fools out and Roach even scares me. Horns roll, 52-27.

SFP: Two chicks coaxed back to the Days Inn in El Cerrito and…well, you do the math, brochacho.

*Despite his growing Interwebz notoriety Scip can be kind of a private guy, so we inserted a vintage 60’s stag flick black bar here to protect his identity.