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Houston Sports Blog - Real sports cities have TWO Conference USA teams

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Weekend Thoughts

ON TEXAS-OHIO STATE:

Rarely does a game that is unquestionably overhyped not just live up to its improbable expectations, but exceed them, but Saturday's Longhorn victory on the road against Ohio State was certainly one of those rare occassions. Like a heavyweight championship fight, the teams exchanged knockout-capable blows throughout, and the big names like Young, Hawk, Harris and Smith made the spectacular look routine all night long.

Longhorn Tim's prediction proved savvy, as the Longhorns' special teams unit was visibly manhandled by Ohio State's. Kick coverage is an area in which Texas must certainly improve dramatically over the course of the season if a return trip to Pasadena is to be in order. Texas' vaunted D-line was a disappointment throughout much of the night, especially against the run. A better performance will be required against Adrian Peterson on October 8th. However, big sacks by Tim Crowder and Larry Dibbles were huge turning points down the stretch, and I would not trade Texas' front four for any other in the land. Also, I thought that Texas' secondary, which understandably (if unfairly) receives less press than VY, was excellent in holding Teddy Ginn, Jr. to seven yards of total offense and in containing the elusive Troy Smith.

Finally, I consciously try to be the last to board the "bash-the-playcalling" bandwagons, but I am beginning to shop for tickets in the case of Greg Davis. I would like to see an increased emphasis on a more traditional vertical passing game. Texas' much-maligned wide receiving corps made multiple spectacular plays on Saturday night, and Vince Young's mistakes were more the result of bad decisions than of errant throws. Texas' upcoming opponents will continue to have focused defensive schemes aimed at stopping VY's scrambling and will provide more opportunities for UT's passing game to make plays downfield. Ohio State took a very Sooner-like approach to shutting down the Longhorn offense, using speedy linebackers to effectively contain Young's frolics from the pocket for much of the night. Next weekend's walkthrough versus Rice should include much less of VY running and much more of VY throwing to help continue to build the confidence and chemistry that will carry over from Saturday's night big win. Let's see some slants and hitches so that we can tell whether Saturday's WR performance was something on which Texas can build.

ON THE TEXANS:
Sadly, you could see the Texans' uninspired and sloppy performance on the horizon. The defense played admirably considering the amount of time that they were forced to spend on the field and the horrible field position with which they were constantly dealing. The O-line play was bad, but to me, the biggest problem is in the wide receiving talent, or lack thereof. Carr seems to have little to no confidence that his receivers will get open, and even when they do, drops are very frequent. Andre Johnson will be a non-factor all year until a second option in the passing game emerges. I'm no offensive cooridnator, but I still don't understand how giving average wide receivers less time to get open by shortening the QB's drop is supposed to open up the passing game more.

The most disturbing aspects of the Buffalo game, though, were the multiple dumb penalties committed (especially in the form of procedure violations) and the failure of the offense to go for a first down on fourth-and-three with about six minutes to play in the game. I understand and appreciate Dom Capers' reliance on probability and risk aversion, but to punt the ball when trailing by two touchdowns with six minutes to go is the equivalent of pulling your players off of the field. I guess Dom felt there was a better chance of the Texans' defense scoring a touchdown than of the Texans' offense driving for a score. Gus Johnson and Brent Jones rightfully roasted the Texans' coaching staff for their yellow bellies, and I think that Capers is going to have to throw his boys to the fire in order to change the downward spiral momentum that is currently swirling in Houston. Maybe when he senses that his job is on the line, he'll be more willing to play with danger.

OTHER NOTES:
Mark Snyder's second game as Marshall head coach was definitely one which he would like to forget. The Thundering Herd was trailing by two with seven seconds to play and a timeout remaining and had the ball at the K-State 21 yard line. The obvious play is to kick the field goal. Secondly, maybe a run to the kicker's preferred side of the field and a timeout. Snyder chose option number 3, which was to allow his backup QB roll out and fire an interception, ending the game.

Chris Leak and Urban Meyer will be heard from before this season is over. If they can eke out a win at Alabama, then their October 15 game against LSU may be their ticket to the BCS.

How do you evaluate Oklahoma now? They were lucky to escape against Tulsa, and their loss against TCU looks even worse now that the Horned Frogs followed that up with a loss to SM-freaking-U! Saturday's game against UCLA sure doesn't look hopeful for Sooner faithful, and there's still UT, a roadie at Nebraska and a roadie at Texas Tech left on the schedule.

Reason #142 to invest in ESPN GamePlan: Northwestern football games.

My picks were 4-1 this week, now 6-3 on the season. In top 25 games this week I was 15-2 ATS and am now 27-7 ATS on the season.

2 Comments:

Blogger Ted Bosquez said...

The Texans management must answer for a tragic waste of offensive talent. As a neutral observer of the Texans, the trio of Johnson, Davis, and Carr should be the foundation for a fantastic offense that at the very least should win a wild-card birth in the AFC.

However, the Texans have failed to address two major areas of concern. First, the problems of the Texans offensive line have been well-chronicled over the years. The beating that Carr has taken has been the stuff of NFL records and only comparable to that of Patrick Ramsey under Steve "Coach 'Em Up" Spurrier. The Texans have failed the last three seasons to aggressively address the offense line in either the free agent market or draft.

In 2003, the Texans took Wand in 3rd Round and Pearce (no longer on the team) in last round. In 2004 and 2005, the Texans took no offensive linemen. The Texans have found linemen in the free agent market, but to what result?

In 2004, the Texans allowed 49 sacks - an improvement over the 76 sacks allowed in 2002 - but seriously, how can Carr develop if he is constantly picking himself off the ground? For 2005, the Texans are off to a nice start of five sacks allowed in first games and god knows how many knockdowns and hurries.

Second, the Texans need to find a legitimate 2nd receiver to compliment Johnson. Receivers are available in almost all free-agent seasons, yet the Texans have failed to find one to help force defensive secondaries to play honest defense and not overload on Johnson.

Gaffney and company are not the answer.

Wed Sep 14, 12:02:00 AM  
Blogger Scott said...

I couldn't agree more, especially on the wide receiver issue. With what seems like a boatload of talented receivers in the NFL right now, it's beyond my comprehension how the Texans could fail for several consecutive years to upgrade Bradford/Gaffney. Mathis may be one answer, but it sure seems like this one was an easily fixable problem.

Wed Sep 14, 09:02:00 AM  

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