Archive for November, 2008

BCS chaos ensues

November 30, 2008

The newest BCS rankings are out, and after downing Oklahoma State 61-41 in Stillwater on Saturday, Oklahoma has jumped Texas into the #2 spot in the rankings.  That means the Sooners win the three-way tie for the Big-12 South Division title between themselves, Texas, and Texas Tech, and it’s OU who will meet Missouri next Saturday at Arrowhead Stadium for the conference championship. 

I have to approach this topic delicately to avoid making a lot of enemies out of a lot of local Longhorn fans I currently call friends. 

Let me start by saying that I think the system stinks.  Texas has a legitimate complaint in being left out, and I don’t blame them a bit for feeling their team was wronged.  But in light of that, I’ll say this:  If the tables were turned in some other season and Texas won the tie-break after losing to OU in October, there wouldn’t be a Longhorn fan alive making any apologies or conceding any injustice in the outcome.  So OU fans shouldn’t be apologetic either.  

Compelling arguments can be made for both teams, and at the end of the day, the South Division champ was determined by subjective means.  There’s no way that’s the correct way to determine a division champion within a conference.  (It’s not really the correct way to determine a national champion either, but that’s another topic for another day.)   

My problem with the Texas argument is that it steps outside the boundaries of logic.  The battle cry of Horn fans everywhere the past week has been “45-35″, and that would actually be relevant if we were actually talking about a TWO-way tie.  But we aren’t.  It’s a THREE-way tie, and that means head-to-head scores get thrown out.  Those are the rules.  I didn’t make the rules, and Texas supporters don’t have the authority to change the rules on the fly just because the rules aren’t convenient to their cause.   

The suggestion by Texas supporters that it’s somehow still “really a two-way tie” because Tech removed itself from the discussion by losing to OU in blowout fashion also spits in the face of logic.  What Texas supporters (and Kirk Herbstreit, and Mark May, and every other woefully misguided ESPN employee) are basically saying when they make this argument is that Tech would still be in the discussion if OU had only beaten the Red Raiders by a touchdown, and it would then be viewed as a “true” three-way tie.  So that line of thinking essentially penalizes Oklahoma for playing as well as it did in its win over Tech.  If somebody can tell me how that makes sense (hint: you can’t, because it doesn’t), I’m all ears.

As I see it, in a three-way tie with head-to-head thrown out, the overall body of work for the entire season by each team has to be what a voter considers (and in the end, it looks like most of them did).  Breaking it down:

Oklahoma has four  wins over teams currently ranked in the BCS top-15 (Big-East champ & BCS bowl-bound Cincinatti, TCU, Tech, and OSU), with one of those wins coming on the road .

Texas has three wins over teams currently ranked in the BCS top-20 (Oklahoma, Missouri, and OSU), with none of those wins coming on the road. 

Tech has two wins over teams currently ranked in the BCS top-20 (Texas and OSU) with neither coming on the road.

So it’s pretty clear which team owns the most accomplished season resume of the three – the one with the most wins over ranked teams, and the only road victory over a ranked team.  I’m not saying that’s the best way to break the tie between them, but it’s a lot closer to logical than clinging to the head-to-head score between TWO of the teams involved in a THREE way tie.

I’m not trying to be a rah-rah guy for Oklahoma or rub salt in the emotional wounds of Texas fans.  I’m just trying to inject some logic and common sense into this argument – two things most members of the national media have done a remarkable job of ignoring over the past week.  So again – before you start flooding me with hate mail – I think the system stinks, and the two teams left out certainly have cause to feel slighted.  Honestly, the whole thing gives me a headache.

Former Mat getting it done in the classroom at OU

November 26, 2008

I was perusing the sports pages of various newspapers on the web this morning, and came opon something in the Daily Oklahoman that Seguin football fans might be interested in, and happy to see.

The Matadors’ former All-State defensive back Desmond Jackson, now a redshirt freshman strong safety on the OU football team, made Second Team All-Academic Big-12  this season.  Second team honors go to student athletes whose grade point averages fall between 3.00 and 3.19. 

Always nice to see a gifted student-athlete take the “student” half of the equation seriously and take full advantage of the wonderful opportunity that comes with a full scholarship to a four-year university.  Good job Desmond.

Saturday’s big games, Part II – reactions

November 23, 2008

Time for some post-game thoughts on Saturday’s big contests – 1) Navarro’s 31-21 playoff loss to Altair-Rice, and 2) OU’s unforeseen 65-21 shellacking (and it wasn’t even that close) of Texas Tech.

Let’s start with Navarro.   First things first – everybody tip your caps and congratulate Coach Les Goad and the kids on his team for an outstanding 2008 season.  The Panthers finished 10-2, won the program’s first outright district championship since 1982, and strung together a 10-game win streak before falling in the second round of the playoffs. 

Turnovers were the story on Saturday in Victoria.  Navarro gave the football away five times (four fumbles, one interception), and Rice turned three of those turnovers into touchdown drives.  There’s your ballgame.  The Raiders are a skilled bunch offensively and mix the run and pass out of the spread as well as I’ve seen a 2A team do it.  Their 6’5″, 200 lb. receiver Marquis Tolliver is almost an impossible matchup for defensive backs at that level of high school football.  They have a tough, physical back in Zacchaeus Foster who grinds out yards on the ground, and several other playmakers that quarterback Myles Dumont can deliver the ball to.  As Coach Goad alluded to in our post-game interview, you just can’t give a team that good that many extra possessions and expect to come out on top. 

Still…The Panthers never quit, they never hung their heads, and they kept hitting, blocking, & tackling as best they could until the final buzzer.  Jacob Garcia had another great game with 142 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 20 carries, but Navarro never got much going offensively aside from Garcia.  He finishes the season with 1,726 yards and 33 touchdowns.  Those are All-State numbers, and this kid is just a junior, so defenses around the area have to deal with him again next year.

The game’s turning point (or lack of a turning point, I suppose) came just before halftime.  Leading 19-7 with less than a minute remaining, Rice curiously elected to go for it rather than punt on 4th and long from around midfield.  Navarro stopped them, Rice was flagged for a personal foul after the play, and the Panthers looked like they would capitalize on the pristine field position by driving inside the Rice five-yard line.  Navarro looked poised to make it a 19-14 game at the half, but a fumble at the two-yard line kept the potential points off the board and allowed the Raiders to take their 12-point lead into the locker-room.  HUGE turn of events.  Navarro still managed to cut the deficit to five in the second half, but Rice pulled away from that point.  I would like to have seen how the game might have played out had the Panthers punched it in just before the half. 

Oh…one final thought:  Do you think Navarro basketball coach Bob Ermel is breathing a HUGE sigh of relief that his All-District point guard Zach Hernandez, and starting small forward Will Valdez, made it through football season without injury?  Such is the life of a 2A basketball coach.  Looking forward to seeing those two continue their athletic feats on the hardwood this winter.

On to the Sooners and Red Raiders.   Turns out (and who would’ve thunk it) that in the era of spaced-aged, fast-break, glamour-and-glitz, spread offenses, there’s still a place in the game for dominating the line of scrimmage, playing great defense, and running the football.  Now, it would be easy for me to say that on Saturday we learned that OU is a program capable of such things in a big game, and Tech isn’t there yet.  But that wouldn’t be fair.  Saturday’s outcome, despite the ramblings of ESPN types, does not erase or negate what happened when Tech and Texas met in Lubbock a few weeks ago. 

What we learned on Saturday is that home field advantage is an ENORMOUS factor in the Big 12 South this season, that OU’s defensive struggles were a bit overstated, and that Tech’s reported dramatic improvement on the offensive and defensive lines were a bit overstated as well. 

Bob Stoops and his staff took full advantage of the extra week to prepare, and flat out had their team as ready to play as a coaching staff possibly can.  Brent Venables orchestrated the best defensive game plan of any game in college football this season nationwide, given the opponent.  OU had the athletes to match up with Tech’s skill position players out of a base defense – the Sooners didn’t do much substituting or use many nickel or dime packages.  Their linebackers stayed in the game regardless the down and distance, and were fast enough to stay with Tech’s receivers, for the most part. 

Also, Graham Harrell didn’t exercise the best judgment in the week leading up to the game by declaring that he couldn’t be sacked.  That fired up the OU defensive line, I think.  He was sacked only five times all year coming in, and he went down four times on Saturday.  Tech’s first five offensive possessions resulted in three punts and two failed fourth-down conversions.  In addition to Heisman candidate Sam Bradford having another coldly efficient 300-yard, 4 touchdown game, the Sooners had two running-backs (DeMarco Murray & Chris Brown) top the 100-yard mark and racked up 299 rushing yards as a team.  Game over.   

So now we’ve inched a step closer to what any real college football fan should want – a scenario of BCS chaos that absolutely BEGS for a playoff to determine the national champion.

Two big games Saturday

November 21, 2008

Two games on Saturday’s football slate occupy the thoughts of this particular sports reporter: 1) Navarro vs. Altair-Rice in the 2A Divsion 1 Region 4 playoffs, and 2) OU vs. Texas Tech in Norman, with BCS clarity or BCS chaos hinging on the outcome.  I’ll address them one at a time.

I expect a whale of a game at Memorial Stadium in Victoria.  Rice Consolidated is loaded with talent, can run or throw out of its spread offense, and has a ton of speed on defense.  The Raiders are 10-0 this season & ranked #6 in the state’s AP poll for 2A schools.  They throw the ball well enough with Myles Dumont at quarterback (son of head coach Brad Dumont) that the production of their top running-back Zacchaeus Foster has been cut nearly in half from 2,600 yards last season to just over 1,300 this year.  But that’s the scary part – he still has to be defended like a 2,600-yard back, and he’s got the support of a QB who has completed 60% of his passes for 22 touchdowns and only three interceptions. 

Those numbers might make the Panthers’ task look daunting this Saturday, but guess what – Navarro gets the ball too, and Rice has to figure out a way to stop the Panthers’ ‘Slot-T’ rushing attack, which has gashed opponents for close to 40 points and over 340 rushing yards per outing this season.  Busting big plays on the perimeter might be difficult against the Raiders’ speed, but pounding away between the tackles with Jacob Garcia & that outstanding offensive line gives Navarro a great chance to control the clock, wear down that defense, and keep the Rice offense antsy and on the sideline for long periods of time.  By the way…those are names we don’t mention in our coverage enough.  Tip of the cap to offensive linemen Steven Perez, Edward Adame, Ross Randow, Ronnie Carter, Jay Jones, Matt Kinsey, Skylair Richter, and Kyle Mueller for opening up the holes that spring the Panthers’ backs for those big yardage totals.

And another reminder – for those of you who can’t make the trip to Victoria to support the Panthers, we’ll have the game live on 1580-AM, KWED, and online at www.seguintoday.com.  Our pre-game coverage, anchored by Sennett Rockers, starts at noon with a 30-minute studio segment addressing a number of different playoff matchups around the region.  Mike Andrews and I will take it live from Victoria at 12:30 p.m. to break down the Navarro-Rice matchups, and that segment includes the pre-game interview with Panthers’ head coach Les Goad.  Kickoff is at 1 p.m.  Be sure to remind grandparents, friends, fans, & relatives who live outside the listening area that they can catch the game on the internet.   

Now…on to Tech at OU.  It isn’t any secret around here where my bias falls in this matchup.  Be forgiving…I’m as loyal a Texan as anybody can be in all matters OTHER than college football.  But my dad & uncle both graduated from OU and I spent nearly a decade of childhood living in Norman and walking to games during the Switzer era.  You grow up with that, and you don’t flush it out of your blood.  So I make no apology for being an OU fan.

Over the past two weeks (felt like a month, didn’t it?), all the pundits have broken down all the positional matchups ad nauseum, and there’s nothing insightful that can be added on that subject at this point.  On paper, it doesn’t look like there’s any way either defense is going to stop either offense.  There’s no way OU’s secondary can cover Tech’s receivers if Harrell is given time to throw.  Ditto for the Tech secondary trying to cover OU’s receivers & tight-end if Bradford stays comfortable in the pocket.  If one team can generate a pass rush, and the other can’t, then there’s your winner.  Given that both offensive lines have kept their QBs squeaky-clean all season, it’s difficult to see which team that will be.  OU running-backs DeMarco Murray & Chris Brown are considerably better than their Tech counterparts, but Tech throws so efficiently that it might not matter. 

So it comes down to which coaching staff wins the chess match with well-timed play calls & gambles on both sides of the ball, and it comes down to which team gets a few more breaks than the other.  OU has only lost two home games in ten seasons under Stoops, but that has more to do with the Sooners NOT playing on the road than with any noise their fans make in Norman.  The crowds at Owen Field are historically pretty laid back, and the stadium design doesn’t hold & echo sound as well as a lot of other facilities.  Stoops has challenged the 86,000 or more who will be in attendance this Saturday to change that trend and raise their voices.  We’ll see if that’s a factor – though I have a hard time seeing any amount of noise rattling Harrell. 

I’m not predicting a final score ( I know…chicken!).  No result will surprise me, unless it’s one team blowing out the other.

SHS hoops season underway

November 21, 2008

The high school basketball season is underway, and I’ve watched each Seguin team play once.  Just a few observations:

The girls look poised to make another run at the playoffs under second-year head coach Kevin Lewis.  Losing top post player Monnarae Martin, who moved to Round Rock, makes them a bit more perimter oriented this season, but they’ve got plenty of talent at the guard positions.  Kindle Busch can penetrate and break down defenses, Jessica Kalina can knock down threes, and freshman surprise Tabatha Richardson-Smith can do both.  We’re talking about a 9th grader who’s 6’1″, can run the floor, handle the ball, finish inside, and shoot from the perimeter – and she’s only going to get better.  Throw in varsity veterans Madison Koehler, Molly Cordes, and Lee Lee Logan, and you’ve got an experienced, versatile group out there.  Coach Lewis has them playing more man-to-man defense this season, which gives opponents something else to think about when preparing for them. 

The Seguin boys team, playing under first-year head coach Dwayne Gerlich, appears to be in stark contrast with those of the past few seasons.  Over the past two years, the Matadors had a ton of size and depth on the front line, pounded the ball into the post on offense, and packed the lane with big guys on defense while primarily using a 2-3 zone.  This season?  Guards, guards, and more guards.  The Mats play full-court man-to-man defense, pressure the ball, jump and trap, penetrate and kick out for threes, and try to keep the game at a frenetic tempo.  Brig Gerlich and Ryan Tovar provide some muscle inside, but after that, it’s all perimeter.  Victor Lopez seems to be the catalyst – relentless defender, lethal three-point shooter, fearless driving into the paint against bigger players.  Jason Even, who shoots it from three like his older brother Derek did for the Mats in ’06, has become a very skilled perimeter player as well.  Gerlich came on really strong at the end of last season as a freshman move-up to the varsity, and once he gets his “basketball legs” under him (he’s just two weeks removed from football season), he’ll be another double-digit scorer and rebounder for this team.   

Again…these observations are after seeing each team play once – looking forward to watching them some more over the next few months, along with the squads from Marion & Navarro.

Catch up time

November 16, 2008

I’ve been less than diligent in keeping the blog current over the past two weeks, so it’s time to play catch-up in a “lightning round” format, with a firing off of random thoughts that follow no pattern whatsoever.  Sports related or not, as I see it….

 

*****Navarro proves that in the age of the spread offense, there’s still a place for smash-mouth football.  These guys execute coach Les Goad’s ‘Slot-T’ rushing attack to perfection. 

What was the line Denzel Washington’s character used in regard to the old Split Veer offense in “Remember the Titans”?  Something akin to “It’s like novacaine…give it time, it always works.” 

It applies to the Slot-T as well, and it certainly applied when the Panthers pulled away from Comfort on Friday in their 41-7 bi-district playoff win. 

It was a 7-6 game at halftime, and the Bobcats seemed to have a handle on Navarro’s running game. 

But the Panthers’ offensive line and workhorse back Jacob Garcia kept pounding away, and next thing you know, it’s 41-7 and Navarro has over 300 rushing yards. 

Patience, persistence, and faith in the system are marks of championship teams.  Navarro vs. Altair-Rice in this week’s regional semifinal will be a matchup of two such teams.   

 

*****Seguin no doubt had a tough year, but there are 4A districts in this state in which the Matadors would have been a playoff team this season.  27-4A just happens to be the most unforgiving gauntlet a 4A team can play in. 

Did you happen to check the bi-district playoff scores in games involving 27-4A and 28-4A teams? 

Those teams from District 28 got blown out by much wider margins than the non-playoff teams in District 27 did against Steele, Kerrville-Tivy, Alamo Heights, and Clemens. 

Add New Braunfels-Canyon and Boerne-Champion to the list of teams that would wipe the field with an opponent like Jefferson or Burbank, and add Seguin and San Marcos to the list of teams who would beat any team from District 28 soundly.  

 

*****On the subject of the Matadors, you had to enjoy watching D’Shawn Singletary play football this year. 

He topped the 1,000-yard mark in receiving yards, he played hurt, and he played both ways when the defense needed him to (a rarity at the 4A and 5A level). 

Tip of the cap to Wayne Clemons for going both ways as well when needed. 

But back to Singletary…He’s not only a superb athlete, but his coaches will tell you he’s the kind of kid who will run through a brick wall if you ask him to.  His soccer coach, Ed Perry, says the same. 

Always fun to see a kid with great physical tools maximize those gifts with a work ethic to match. 

 

*****Tough-luck finish to the season for Marion.  The Bulldogs showed DRAMATIC improvement under 2nd year head coach Glenn Davis, going from 1-9 in 2007 to 6-4 this season. 

They missed the playoffs by virtue of a 41-40 loss to Poteet in the final game of the season, and a controversial decision by a member of the officiating crew in that game certainly didn’t help matters. 

On a return in which a Poteet player was tackled in the end-zone for an apparent safety, the Aggies were flagged for a block in the back.  Obviously, Marion wanted to decline the penalty and take the result of the play and the two points. 

The official ignored that request, enforced the penalty, and it cost the Bulldogs two points and a possession that were rightfully theirs.  How does this happen in this day and age? 

That debacle notwithstanding, the Bulldogs should be proud of what they accomplished this season.  With Jordan Littlefield throwing it, Curtis Davis catching it, Keith Carter running it, Taylor Greene doing both, and a bevy of other players playing solid football, Marion was a fun team to watch. 

And a player to watch next year that caught our eye in the two Marion games we broadcast?  Sean Hessler.  A sophomore who was a starting d-back & backup QB, Hessler really impressed with his athletic ability & football instincts this season.  He’s got a bright future ahead. 

 

*****Message to competent golfers who see me on the course or get put into a foursome with me:  I don’t want your &*^%$#* advice. 

I know my swing stinks, and I know my game is weak.  I’ve been playing for less than two years, I’m not a very good athlete, and I’m too cheap to pay for lessons, so how in the world could I possibly be any good at a game that’s so difficult? 

Giving me a lesson in the middle of a round will decisively NOT help my chances of carding a better score.  I’m just trying to have fun, and I always see somebody out there way worse than me worm-burning his way along the course 80 yards at a time, so that’s the guy you’re after. 

So for all you Harvey Penick wannabes – leave me the &^%* alone.  People take themselves way too seriously on the golf course, and my poor fundamentals are none of your business.

Sorry…had to vent on that topic…enjoyment of my last round was severely hampered by an unsolicited “teacher” that I got thrown in a group with.   

 

*****Sign of the apocalypse:  Texas A&M fans are complaining on internet message boards that BAYLOR is classless for…get this…RUNNING UP THE SCORE against the Aggies in the Bears’ 41-21 win over A&M on Saturday (the Ags had to score two late touchdowns to make it that close). 

So let me get this straight…the poor, underpriveleged A&M program is supposed to expect mercy from that traditional football juggernaut BAYLOR?  That’s downright comical. 

Nothing against A&M…I know plenty of die-hard Aggie fans around here who are disgusted with the way things are going right now in College Station and point the finger at the administration who hired Fran and then Mike Sherman, not those mean old Baylor Bears, for the football program’s current state of disarray. 

But let’s all raise a glass and down our beverage of choice in a toast to Mike Andrews.  Dude – your alma mater has actually been accused of RUNNING UP THE SCORE against A&M!  That’s got to be some kind of “rite of passage” into big-time college football, right?  Party time!

Touchdown Isaac Camacho!

November 2, 2008

These words were uttered by KWED Sports Director Sennett Rockers in the 4th quarter of TLU’s 52-6 loss to Hardin Simmons on Saturday afternoon, and while they described another bad moment in a bad day for the Bulldogs, anybody who’s a Seguin High School football fan had to enjoy it. 

Camacho, as many of you well know, was an All-District wide receiver for the Matadors just one year ago, and for those who didn’t make it out to Matador Stadium on Saturday, I’ll tell you this – he’s just as lightning quick as ever.  On the scoring play, he lined up as a slot receiver on the left side of the formation, went in motion to the right, took the handoff on an end-around, and made an explosive cut upfield into the end zone for a six-yard rushing TD. 

I didn’t have a chance to catch up with Isaac or HSU head coach Jimmie Keeling after the game, but it’s almost as if the play was drawn up just for Isaac so he could score on his old high-school home field in front of his friends and family.  It was the first time he’d touched the ball all season for the Cowboys.  Love that the coach of the #12 team in the country, who’s been at his school for two decades, would do that for a freshman on his team.  No wonder so many good players want to go to Abilene (not to be confused with paradise) and play non-scholarship football for Coach Keeling.  Several members of the Seguin High coaching staff, who played for Keeling at HSU, can back me up on this. 

It also has to be noted that one of Camacho’s Seguin classmates, Pedro Tello, is now an offensive lineman for Hardin Simmons and delivered one of the key blocks on the right side of the formation during Camacho’s late touchdown. 

So it was a bittersweet day for fans who root for both TLU and Seguin.  Tough loss for the Bulldogs, but a great finish to the game by the former Matadors playing for HSU.


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