Preseason NFL Football

Posted in Sports - football, mostly by EloiSVM42 on August 29, 2018

I watched some NFL football this preseason, as usual, but also as usual, only in small amounts and not with a lot of enthusiasm. I only watch the first quarter of preseason games at most, because that’s about the only time the starters play. That said, I’m always grateful to see football start up again.

For the same reason that starters only play a quarter or less in most preseason games, NFL preseason tickets should cost at most no more than one fourth of a regular season ticket, but that’s a Carol for another Christmas.

Oddly, the last game of most teams’ preseason can be worth watching, because teams generally hold their starters out and use the game for a last long look at the players fighting for the last few open roster spots, and give those players one last chance to make an impression. You generally see a lot of hustle, and occasionally see a player break through. Good stuff.

Some – most, actually – of these players still won’t make the roster, but they could end up on someone’s taxi squad, or even picked up by another team based on their play in that final game. Teams will all have footage of their play to review if need be.

Several teams impressed. Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers looked crisp. I like their running back – Christian McCaffrey. Tom Brady and the New England Patriots looked like, well, how the New England Patriots always look. Oakland impressed me. The Chargers looked good, though they always do, early. Minnesota can play. Philadelphia will be competitive again if they can get a quarterback on the field.

Of interest to me is the Cleveland Browns, who didn’t win a single game last year, but who got Baker Mayfield with their No. 1 pick in the draft as their booby prize.

Mayfield is not the starter. The Browns traded for a decent starter, Tyrod Taylor, who they got from the Bills this year. But Mayfield has a spark very few players have, and a competitive spirt that Cleveland needs desperately. There’s never been a team dumb enough or otherwise able to keep Mayfield off the field. (“Field” is part of his name.) It will be interesting to see what Cleveland does with Mayfield, but they need to do something.

That said, the rest of the team is still terrible. They will win a few games this year, but they need a lot more pieces, and I’m not sure the present management can find them with a flashlight and a bow fiddle. But Mayfield will make them better.

Sadly, little impressed me about my Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys’ defense has clearly improved, and it has the potential to become even better. Their excellent offensive line is banged up and/or ill. The rest is the same old, same old. Same owner. Same coach, which in the case of the Cowboys are one in the same. (The coach – Jason Garrett – wanted to play the starting quarterback and running back for at least a half to prepare them for the season, and the owner – Jerry Jones – did not. The players did not play. Who’s the coach?)

That’s a big part of the problem. The team has little or no respect for the coach, because the players know he’s just a marionette whose strings are pulled by Jerry Jones. (I don’t respect Garrett either, but that’s because I just don’t think he is a good coach.) There’s no reason to take Garrett seriously.

Among the unfortunate results of this woeful dynamic is that there is no discipline, no focus. Dallas’ first two punt receptions were both fumbled and both lost, one for touchdown. It was painful to watch, and I turned it off. I read the next morning that the Cowboys lost eight turnovers! Does that sound like a team ready to compete?  Sounds more like last year’s Cleveland Browns to me.

I’ll repeat my years old mantra: Jerry Jones is the best owner in the NFL, but he is a menace when he thinks he knows something about football, which he does frequently enough to damage them. The Cowboys will not succeed again until there is a new coach and Jones lets him actually coach. Jones has succeeded this way before but cannot see it. He ran off two Super Bowl winning coaches (technically three), who simply wouldn’t put up with his interference.

(BTW, the Arizona Cardinals, a team I watch, living in Arizona, also seems in trouble. They got Sam Bradford, another former OU player and among the most accurate passers I have ever seen, but, other than Larry Fitzpatrick, no one on the team can catch a pass. Bradford threw several passes into the hands of receivers who promptly dropped them. Bradford left the game after just a couple of series, rolling his eyes.)


Thoughts on College Football Bowl Games

Posted in Sports - football, mostly by EloiSVM42 on January 21, 2016

Believe it or not, young’uns, there was a time when there were only four college football bowl games, and they had nothing to do with national rankings.

In theory, these four bowls – Rose, Orange, Sugar and Cotton – pitted the best eight teams against one another, though it rarely seemed to work out that way, and it certainly didn’t necessarily pit #1 against #2, and so on. The bowl committees didn’t even try to do that. For instance, the Rose Bowl always took the winners of the Big 10 an Pac 12 Conferences, whatever their ranking. Usually, the teams were both highly ranked, but not always.

The bowls were not tied to ranking, except indirectly. They were viewed as a reward for the teams who had done well, after the final rankings were determined. The players played, but also enjoyed themselves. You can imagine how a Big 10 team, say, Minnesota, would enjoy spending a holiday break in Southern California, or how an OU or Nebraska team would love to do the same in Miami. The fans of these teams who attended the games doubtless felt the same. I know I did. One could argue that those were the good old days.

Times have changed. The curtain falls and time passes, and now there are more bowl games than the colors in a jumbo box of Crayons. By the time all the slots are filled, more than 60% of college teams in America are going somewhere, which means a whole lot of students are missing a whole lot of classes, many to play in some not so desirable venues. The Pinstripe Bowl in New York in December? Come on.

The bowls are used to determine national rankings now, so they are no longer a reward but a stressor. Worse, all of these bowls now have sponsors, which adds a vulgar volume of crass commercialism, albeit with a little unintended humor: the Belk Bowl (what the hell’s a Belk?), the TaxSlayer Bowl, The Quick Lanes Bowl, the Russell Athletic Bowl (which always reminds me I used to wear Russell Athletic Supporters), and my own personal favorite, the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.

That said, I like that we now have a championship playoff. I’d like to see it expanded to eight or 10 teams. I think this year was proof the system works well. There was a strong consensus that the four teams in the playoffs were the most worthy, and the teams that filled out the remaining major bowls were good as well. There are only a few problems to iron out, very few if you reduce the emphasis on money just a bit.

First, now that we have a playoff system, the remaining bowls are superfluous, save for providing entertainment to alumni so that they may write checks to their alma maters. You know it. I know it. Everybody knows it. Other than that, and a blip in local economies, they are an afterthought, though one that comes before the important games. And that’s the problem.

The long hiatus between the end of regular season and the playoff games upsets teams’ routine, with unpredictable effects. Injuries heal, but more school time is lost by more students; attention wanders back to academics, or the NFL draft; coaches move on, the whole scene changes.

I would rather see the more meaningful playoff and championship games played immediately after the season, while the teams are focused, and let the other bowl games fend for themselves.  (Note: I’ve been to some minor bowl games and they can be fun and interesting. For instance, at the Cactus Bowl in Tempe, AZ in 2012, the overhead camera fell and almost landed on the Iowa quarterback.)

Obviously, this idea will be resisted by entrenched “bowl interests,” including chambers of commerce, television networks, but especially university presidents. They took control of athletics in the interest of cleaning them up, but just the opposite has happened. Athletic departments have some interest in the integrity of their athletic programs, but university presidents have no interest in anything but money. That’s their job.

The NCAA basketball tournament – the best event in sports in my view, and I don’t even watch basketball except in March – goes immediately from conference championship games to the Big Dance, which is over in only a few weeks, with more students going home and back to the books after each game. NCAA football should follow suit.

I predict it will come to this one day, but I am making the case now because, well, it’s a good idea. Minor bowls may fade away, but we can live with that, and I think colleges and universities will benefit from it too, once their presidents get over the shock.

So, do we want a better playoff system, or the status quo of interminable and meaningless Toilet Bowls?” I prefer the former.

College Football Pregame Thoughts

Posted in Sports - football, mostly by EloiSVM42 on September 12, 2015

Below are a couple of brief observations about college games last week, before OU kicks off against Tennessee.

Ohio State v. Virginia Tech: After watching Ohio State play this week, they look extremely likely to make the playoffs. They have many fine athletes at skill positons, and they have a very easy schedule. One might argue that their first game, against Virginia Tech, is the only real challenge they will face this season. That said, I think it is extremely unlikely they will win the national championship, because to do that they will have to play a couple of real opponents, and they won’t be ready for them.

The fact is, Virginia Tech was giving OSU serious competition until their quarterback went out with a shoulder injury. VT might still have won the game, but their offensive coordinator did not adjust well to having the backup quarterback in the game. Instead of playing to the backup’s strength – running – the OC dumbed down the starter’s passing game strategy and took his backup out of his comfort zone. I’ve seen OU do this on occasion with its previous OC, and it doesn’t work well.

Notre Dame v. Texas: I wanted both teams in this game to lose, but it wasn’t going to happen. The Irish were head and shoulders above the Longhorns, whose team played inconceivably badly.

However, Notre Dame did something in the game to prove that they are losers too. Twice in succession, they iced Texas’ field goal kicker by calling time out just as the ball was snapped. This is bush, and it shouldn’t be allowed. A kicker could pull a muscle trying to pull up. Once a team sets up for a field goal, the opponent should be allowed to adjust its defensive players, and there should be no time outs called until the play is complete.

More on Dallas Cowboys’ and DeMarco Murray

Posted in Sports - football, mostly by EloiSVM42 on June 10, 2015

The more I study the Cowboys on paper, the better I like them. They made good draft choices (CB Byron Jones, DE Randy Gregory, OT Chaz Green), upgraded through free agency (Greg Hardy), signed one excellent un-drafted first round talent (La’el Collins) and they have an excellent linebacker returning from injury that kept him out all last year (Sean Lee).

It has been said that Dallas took a “high risk – high reward” approach this off season, but my sense is the rewards will be rich and the risk has been way over stated by an over risk-averse League. We’ll see.

Dallas will be stronger in the offensive line, which is already pretty strong, better on defense, and much better at pass rushing, which hurt them disastrously last year. You’ll remember, Dallas couldn’t rush Aaron Rodgers last year in the playoffs, when Rodgers was practically planted in the ground with a leg injury.

However, we still have that nagging risk if Tony Romo goes down, and of how to keep the pressure off of his backup in that event. Dallas let NFL rushing leader, DeMarco Murray, go in free agency, which they will regret in any case, and will rue the day if Romo can’t play. ? I think Dallas is whistling through the graveyard about the loss of Murray and the strength of its returning backs. We’ll see.

Romo is optimistic, as always. In fact, he says he may be able to play longer than he anticipated – perhaps four or five years – with his much improved offensive line. Cowboy tight end, and shoo-in Hall of Fame inductee, Jason Witten, when asked if he thought that Romo and he might be able to play together that much longer, said, “If we do it like last year we can.”

But the Cowboys can’t do it like last year, can they? They let go one of the NFL’s best players. Romo can still throw, Witten can still catch, and Dez Bryant at receiver is a star. But what if Romo can’t throw? Who’s going to get the ball to those guys, and who’s going to take the pressure off him so he can

I think the Cowboys will be even better than last year, possibly enough better to get to the Super Bowl, if Romo stays on the field. But if he cannot, Dallas will wish they had held onto Murray. ? I still think Dallas is whistling through the graveyard about the loss of Murray and the strength of its returning backs.



Dallas Cowboys Blew it With DeMarco Murray

Posted in Sports - football, mostly by EloiSVM42 on May 14, 2015

I knew when the Dallas Cowboys took running back DeMarco Murray, the leading rusher in Oklahoma Sooners history, in the third round of the NFL, that they had made the steal of the draft, whether they knew it or not. They didn’t. For the first few years the Cowboys were pass happy and didn’t use him enough. Everyone knew this, except the head coach.

Last year, admittedly with a better offensive line, the Cowboys used Murray a lot and he led all NFL running backs in rushing yardage by a margin. Some say they used him too much; I say if they had run Murray just twice more, when the situations screamed for them to, the Cowboys might have been in the Super Bowl. Murray deserved a payday, but the Cowboys wouldn’t pay up, and he left to get one at Philadelphia.

You just don’t let the best NFL player at any skill position get away. Period.

The NFL has become a passing league, which I regret philosophically, but a great running back is still a great asset. The Seattle Seahawks wouldn’t be where they are without Marshawn (you may take my picture, but don’t talk to me) Lynch.

Dallas needs this luxury. Tony Romo has been in the league more than a decade now, and he has a dicey back. Romo could go down at any time, in which case Dallas will need Murray to take some of the load off a backup quarterback. He can run and he can catch the ball out of the backfield.

Dallas’ biggest needs, assuming Romo stays healthy, are a pass rushing defensive lineman and another defensive back or two, or three. In my view, the Cowboys had an excellent draft, and a spectacular acquisition season, overall. They were prioritized, focused, and disciplined.

With their first four draft picks, Dallas took Byron Jones, a good cornerback, Randy Gregory, a pass rushing defensive end/linebacker, Chaz Green, an offensive tackle, and Damien Wilson, another pass rushing linebacker/defensive end type.

The Cowboys did not take a quarterback, but after the first two picks in the NFL draft – Winston from Florida State and Mariota from Oregon – there wasn’t much to choose from. Nor did Dallas take a running back, which means they are satisfied with what they’ve got, which is not good enough, unless they pick up Adrian Peterson.

What the cowboys did beyond the draft is sign veteran Greg Hardy, an excellent pass rusher with a bad history, who will sit out some games under suspension, and La’el Collins, an undrafted linemen from LSU, who would have been a first rounder except for his problems.

Gregory, Dallas’ second draft pick, also has some problems. In a perverse way, the Cowboys have spread their risk by taking three problem children, and I think it is going to work out well for them. In my view, Collins’s problems are bogus, and he is going to be “a mauler” on the offensive line. Gregory’s problems are minor, and he seems to have his head on straight now. With Hardy, we’ll see. But if/when Hardy is “right,” He will fill a big hole in the Cowboys’ “D.”

But here’s the problem: Romo is not going to last much longer, and he could go down any time. The Cowboys have made no provision for this. They are like the Arizona Cardinals when Kurt Warner retired. Inexplicably, Warner’s retirement seemed to catch the Cardinals completely by surprise, even though he all but told them he was retiring, and everyone knew he would after his Super Bowl game. It’s like this with the Cowboys. They are in no way prepared to lose Roma. This should have been dealt with years ago.

Romo won’t retire. He’s like his hero, Brett Favre; he’ll have to be carried off on his shield. If he goes down this season, Dallas will miss having Murray to take pressure off the backup. If Romo goes down in a year or so (he’s only got two left at the most, I’m thinking), that’s not much time to groom a new starter.

Not only did Murray get away, he went to division rival Philadelphia Eagles, who in my opinion, got a lot better over the off season leading up to the draft. They added Murray, one of the few backs better than the one they gave up, and added quarterback Sam Bradford, who is an excellent quarterback, but brittle. Murray will help keep the pressure off Bradford. (Why the Eagles let Jeremy Maclin go is another perplexing story.)

Bottom line: the Cowboys are looking better, overall, than they have in years, but they have two high risk vulnerabilities, both self-inflicted, and both at one of the four most important skill positions in football. They let Murray go, which was insane, and they have not prepared for Romo’s “retirement,” which is stupid. Consider that quarterback is the keystone position in the NFL, and not having one, or a running back/pass catcher to provide relief for a second tier replacement, could be disastrous.


Discontent with Football

Posted in Sports - football, mostly by EloiSVM42 on January 10, 2013

The football season is over for me, even though the best of the NFL playoff games are yet to be played, and the Super Bowl is in the future. I have no interest in any of those games. My pro and college teams are finished for the season, and so am I.

My Oklahoma Sooners were a big disappointment. They went 10-3, which gives clear evidence how spoiled OU fans are, that we would consider 10-3 a bad year. But OU was expected to do better, and not only did they fail in this, but they under-performed their talent, which is rare at OU, generally suggests coaching issues, and is painfully visible and unacceptable to OU fans, who are football knowledgeable.

OU, to its credit, plays a tough schedule, but in reality, our schedule was easier than it looked on paper this year. OU won 10 games, but some of the teams that looked tough pre-season, proved not to be: West Virginia and Texas, in particular. We played three really good teams: Kansas State, Notre Dame and Texas A&M, and we lost them all.

All these losses were painful for different reasons, each worse than the last. We should have beaten KSU, and we would have except for two spectacularly bad and disastrous plays at the quarterback position – a fumble at our goal line by one of our QBs, and a fumble at their goal line by our other one. Absent either of those plays and we win.

The loss to Notre Dame was painful because all OU fans hate losing to ND. They beat us fair and square, but we hated it, all the more after seeing what Alabama did to them.

The Aggie loss was worst of all. They cleaned our clock, but the worst of it was to see how poorly we played, how badly we were outcoached, and how some of our best players seemed to be mailing it in after deciding to leave early for the pros. Painful!

I’m worried about OU, because their problems seem serious and long term. The case can be made that OU had some bad luck with injuries, but the problems seem to run deeper such as coaching – particularly on offense – and recruiting for the defensive line. I see us having a poor year next season now.

The Dallas Cowboys’ season may have been worse, certainly in terms of under-performing their talent. Like OU, the Cowboys had some injury problems, and, in fact, their injuries on defense, and to De Marco Murray, were genuinely damaging to their season. But the Cowboys’ problems go deeper too.

I used to maintain that Jerry Jones is the NFL’s best owner, but gets into trouble when he thinks he knows something about football, which he doesn’t. I no longer can say this. Jones’ interference with the team has become so intrusive, and so bad, that he is ruining the team, again.

The worst debacle occurred after the season, when Jones fired defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, who was not the problem, who was, in fact, providing some solution. It’s like when we were sabotaged by terrorists led from Afghanistan, and George W. Bush went to war with Iraq.

The biggest problem, after Jones, is on offense, where the Cowboys consistently betray their own talented team with poor (head) coaching. Jason Garrett is not up to the job, never has been and never will be. He was beneath Wade Phillips, for Pete’s sake. But Jones lets him continue to fail, unfailingly.

I was excited for a day when it looked like Jones was about to make an intelligent move and hire Norv Turner as offensive coordinator, but apparently that isn’t going to happen. The fact is that Jason Garrett is an absolute waste of space on the sidelines, and Jones and his son are destroying the team from the front office. They are as bad as the Bidwell family now.

This is going to be a winter of discontent for me, and next season doesn’t look very promising either. Ouch! At least I feel a little better for getting this rant off my chest now.

Dallas Cowboys Fail

Posted in Sports - football, mostly by EloiSVM42 on January 1, 2013

I am sick to death of my Dallas Cowboys, sick to death of them. They have not made the playoffs for three straight seasons, the last two of which they could have gotten into by winning their last game, and they botched both chances. They lead the league in excuses and obvious, correctable warts.

This last three-peat of failure has a specific starting point, when Jerry Jones – the Cowboy’s owner, and NFLs best owner, except when he starts thinking he knows something about football instead of ownership, ran Bill Parcells off and replaced him with Wade Phillips as head coach (akin to firing Atlas from holding up the world and replacing him with Don Knotts), and then named Phillips’ assistant – Jason Garrett – as designated head coach in waiting. What a mess.

When Phillips failed, predictably and spectacularly, they elevated Garrett, who was, of course, complicit in the coaching failures, to the head job, where he has gone 8-8 each in two full, disappointing seasons.

The Cowboys have, surprisingly, made some pretty good drafts recently. When they took De Marco Murray in the third round I thought they got the steal of the draft. Tyrone Smith and Morris Claiborne were good picks that filled holes. They have great defensive ends and an excellent quarterback, the leading indicator for a successful NFL team.

Simply put, the Cowboys, due to coaching defects, consistently underperform their talent. There is no excuse for this, except coaching.

This year, there is another reason for some of the Cowboy’s woes. They had a number of injuries, many concentrated in the defensive line and linebacker positions. But that is not an excuse; it is a reason, which coaching could only hide behind and not correct.

Instead, they put more and more of the load on Tony Romo, to the point of insured failure. Romo is capable of carrying a huge load, but his knees buckle under the weight of the entire world, as he has demonstrated vividly.

I called a friend and fellow Dallas Cowboys fan yesterday and told him what the Cowboys should do immediately – something I have written previously. I want this on the record, because this very next morning, several commentators, including Skip Bayless and Ed Werder, on ESPN, said the very same thing.

The Cowboys should hire Norv Turner as offensive coordinator, and let Jason Garrett concentrate on his true talent – kissing Jones’ ego. Turner did not have the success as a head coach I hoped and expected in San Diego. But he is the best offensive coordinator in the league, the best play caller (infinitely better than Garrett, who insists on calling his own plays), and the guy who coached Troy Aikman to three Super Bowl Championships.

I’m sick to death of these Dallas Cowboys, but I’m stuck with them (what am I going to do, cheer for the “local” Arizona Cardinals, the worst managed franchise in the NFL?), so I wish they would get something right.

Ungranted Wishes

Posted in Sports - football, mostly by EloiSVM42 on November 4, 2012

In 1956, The University of Oklahoma Sooner beat the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in football, 40-0. This was a year before I became interested in Oklahoma football, even though my father had a personal and business relationship with Bud Wilkinson, the Sooners’ head coach at the time.

In 1957, the year I did become interested in OU football, Notre Dame beat OU 7-0 and ended OU’s winning streak at 47 games, the longest winning streak in Division I football to this day. I’ve resented Notre Dame, for this, and other deserved reasons, ever since.

Waiting for revenge against Notre Dame has been frustrating. From 1957 game until last Saturday, OU has lost 10 straight games to Notre Dame. Some of the losses have been bizarre; others have been maddening.

The most bitter of these losses to me was in 1999, Bob Stoops’ first year as OU’s head coach. Playing as an underdog at South Bend, Stoops had OU up on Notre Dame through three quarters. But that OU team just didn’t have enough depth to hold the lead, and Notre Dame won at the end. (Note: OU won the national championship the next year.)

We have nothing to bitch about the loss last Saturday, however. Notre Dame beat us fair and square, on our field.  This Notre Dame team is good, and there is no denying it.

It’s exasperating, however, that between the losses in 1999 and 2012, when the two teams didn’t play, Notre Dame stunk on ice. My mantra, since 1999, has been that if Notre Dame never wins another football game, it will be too soon for me, and from 1999 to 2012, they won precious few. Meanwhile, OU has been fantastic. We could have beaten any of those Notre Dame teams with our reserves.

It is especially galling that even those sorry Irish teams got coverage as if they were worth watching, which they weren’t. They even got a network TV contract, and a sweetheart BCS deal, which, as bad as they were, they couldn’t always qualify for.

As depressing as losing to Notre Dame has been, even more irritating has been to watch sports writers elevate Notre Dame high in the rankings and declare them a national title contender every time they beat the Little Sisters of the Poor. Same with Penn State, by the way.

I’ve waited since 1957 for OU to beat Notre Dame again, but it has not happened, and it’s unlikely now that I will ever see it. No games are scheduled between them in the foreseeable future.

Oh, well, there’s always Texas.

Texas Falter

Posted in Sports - football, mostly by EloiSVM42 on October 14, 2012

As you know if you read my blog, Oklahoma football fans enjoy nothing so much as beating Texas in our annual game.Texasfans feel exactly the same about beating OU. And the reverse is true for both teams. Each fan base hates to lose the game, and a loss is often followed by recriminations.

Thus it will be for the Texas coaching staff this week, because my beloved Sooners pounded Texas 63-21 Saturday, and the game wasn’t nearly that close. OU was up 36-2 at half time. The game was decided long  before Texas scored two touchdowns, after Bob Stoops had called off the dogs.

This was not remotely the game I expected. I expected a nail biter. Thinking now about the game, I see some reasons it was lopsided, in hindsight.

Texas has made some recruiting mistakes at the crucial position of quarterback recently. Since Colt McCoy, Texas’ next three quarterback recruits – Gilbert, Ash and McCoy (Colt’s younger brother) – have not been up to the job. Texas settled on the best of the bunch – Ash – but he is not as good as OU players at the position.

Texas has had injuries at the important linebacker position, and it showed in this game and in their other loss. I sympathize with Texas about this. We had a similar problem a couple of years ago, and it really hurt us.

Texas doesn’t have as good a coaching staff as OU, nor does it seem to be able to acquire one. There is an even greater disparity between the two staffs now that Mike Stoops has returned to OU (more about this below). Texas recruits players as good as OU’s, but doesn’t develop them as well.

Texas head coach Mack Brown alone is responsible for this. Texas’ Athletic Department had the chance, and the excuse, to retire Brown (OU poundedTexas last year as well), but didn’t take it, even though they had a replacement in waiting – Will Muschamp. Instead, they let Brown reshuffle and hire a new staff, which doesn’t seem much better. When this happened, Muschamp left Texas to take the head coaching job at Florida, which seems to be working out pretty well for everyone except Texas.

Mike Stoops, former defensive coordinator at OU, and head coach Bob Stoops’ brother, left OU to take the head coaching job at Arizona, which he had earned. He was not adequately successful as head coach there, even though he had been a magnificent defensive coach at OU.  He returned to OU as defensive      coordinator,  and the positive results of this are taking shape for the Sooners.

Josh Heupel, OU’s offensive coordinator (about whom I have expressed concern previously), made the right call to run the ball more against Texas. The results were impressive. (Note to Josh: This will work against Oklahoma State and especially West Virginia, too.)

OU still has its own problems this year, but they do seem to have righted the ship and are heading forward after an inexcusable loss toKansas State, due to poor quarterback play. And besides, beatingTexas, especially drubbingTexas, earns a lot of forgiveness from OU fans.

I wrote in my last football blog that if we beat Texas Tech we would not learn much about our team, and that we would have to play a good, ranked team to do that. Apparently I was only half right. We did beat a good ranked team in Texas, which made a statement. But Texas Tech annihilated 6th ranked West Virginia Saturday, so maybe Tech will be a high ranked team that taught us more than I realized at the time.


Boomer Sooner!

Oklahoma Sooners – Early Assessment

Posted in Sports - football, mostly by EloiSVM42 on October 2, 2012

OU had an off week to think about their miserable performance againstKansas State two Saturdays ago. So I have taken some extra time to think about the game myself, and about Oklahoma’s prospects going forward this season. OU is in a real mess right now, and it could get worse. It could get better, but it could get worse.

OU could, and should have won the KSU game, but they (read the quarterbacks) gave it away.  Landry Jones played poorly enough to lose the game singlehandedly, something of which he is capable. Jones threw an interception or two; threw many other poor passes; and fumbled at his own goal line, to give the Wildcats a free touchdown. It was a disastrous night for him, and thus for us.

It didn’t help OU either, that the back-up quarterback, Bell, nicknamed the “Belldozer,” because of his size and because he is used mainly to bull the ball into the end-zone from short yardage, fumbled on his first play of the game, which was 1st and 10 at the KSU goal line, losing the ball and a touchdown opportunity.

College football is played mostly by kids, and kids make mistakes. But Jones is not a kid anymore. He is a fifth year senior, married. He is a terrific passer, and he has had many great days on the football field. Yet he still makes the same disastrous mistakes he did as a sophomore. He seems hardly to have advanced at all.

It breaks my heart to say this, but I’m beginning to think that our offensive coordinator, Josh Heupel – a hero at OU who quarterbacked us to a national championship – is not doing his job very well either. He is putting too much of the game on Jones’ shaky shoulders, and not enough on a superb group of running backs. My view is that the running game was working against KSU, but Heupel kept leaving it for the pass when Jones was clearly not on his game. He has done this often.

OU’s offensive line was set back this year when two excellent starters were lost just before the season, but the O line seems to be regrouping. The defensive line is OK, but not great. This is not only my assessment, but that of former OU coach Barry Switzer, a great judge of college level talent, if ever there was one, who opines that OU just doesn’t have the outstanding defensive linemen that it has had in the past.

I like our defensive backfield, and my opinion is that defensive back Tony Jefferson is the best player on the team.

A final, more esoteric problem for OU this year is scheduling. OU has had two off weeks in the first five weeks of the season, and will have no more the rest of the way. The OU schedule thus far has been: game, game, off week, game, off week. I think this has kept OU from getting into a rhythm.

OU has the schedule going forward to get back into it. The Sooners play a number of highly ranked teams that could power them up the rankings. But they will have to win those games, consecutively, which at their present level of performance doesn’t seem as likely as I expected.

Looking back at this blog, I see that I have been more polite than I am feeling. Inside, I am seething with disappointment and resentment, particularly at Jones. (The Sooners are mostly kids; I must keep that in mind.) We go to Lubbock next Saturday to play Texas Tech. That could tell us something if we lose, but not a lot if we win. We need to go play another ranked team to tell that.