H-Town Sports

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

Monday, October 10, 2005

Weekend Thoughts

On Texas-OU:
To me, Vince Young is the most fascinating athlete in sports right now. If I were an NFL GM, I am not sure I'd spend more than a 3rd round pick on him as a QB because I am not certain of his ability to read complex defenses and make pressure, NFL-caliber throws. As a WR or RB, I'd take him first overall. And after another year of practice, I may be convinced that he could handle NFL defenses as a QB. After all, he did beat OSU and OU with his arm, not his legs.

VY is exhibiting Michael Jordan-like qualities in the realm of college football. There is no game that I think he will not win, no matter the situation. He exudes a quiet, yet brash, confidence that obviously spreads throughout his teammates. I know that this vaunted USC offense is one for the ages, but if I had to pick one team who I'd bet my life would be in Pasadena in January, I'd take Vince's Horns. Roadies to South Bend and UCLA and a bout with Jeff Tedford's Cal Bears are all games that I think USC could potentially lose. The Horns underrated defense is an asset that the Trojans do not have and is a reason that they are a serious, serious threat to USC's back-to-back dreams. Adrian Peterson's absence was certainly a problem for the Sooners on Saturday, but Rhett Bomar persistent horizontal state was the reason that UT would have won this game 10 times out of 10, with or without A.P.

On the Astros:
Hats off to everyone in the Astros organization (outside of Phil Garner) in this legendary win. Dan Wheeler earned my permanent respect with his three gutty innings, and Cha-Cha will always be remembered for putting his girth in front of that laser one-hopper at first base (I heard third-hand that Chamo was allegedly drafted as SS - I will search relentlessly for verification...I'm thinking maybe the truth is that he accidentally swallowed a SS shortly after being drafted as a rotund catcher).

I could not be happier for Chris Burke, a stud prospect who has been screwed over by Drayton's Chase for 3000. Maybe the Astros will capitalize on this moment by dealing Burke in the off-season, which would certainly be a benefit for Burke, who has absolutely excelled at every level of baseball when given the chance.

I could not believe that the ESPN broadcast team did not make more of a fuss over Garner's removal of Lance Berkman. The Astros lineup, with Berkman, is one of the worst in major-league baseball. Only thanks to their once-in-a-lifetime pitching staff are they in the postseason. Nothing outside of a death threat (and only a very, very credible death threat) should have removed either Berkman or Ensberg from the game. I realize that Lance's knee may be bothering him, but only his wit has ever been quick. Any marginal benefit that a pinch-runner may have provided in that situation was completely offset by the immensely negative impact that Lance's absence from the lineup would have on the Astros' offense for the remainder of the game. I am sure that Scrap has a spot on his mantle just waiting for his self-made plaque honoring him for using a record 23 players in one game, but the Astros certainly won in spite of his managing rather than as a result of it.

One move that Garner does deserve credit for is sticking with Ausmus in the 9th. The ESPN knuckleheads had already set the stage for Baggy pinch-hitting for Brad in storybook fashion, obviously unaware that Baggy's one-armed swing was less likely to produce a walk-off HR than Ausmus' healthy swing. Credit to Scrap for letting Ausmus hit, although I thought that was a clear non-decision.

Speaking of bad managing, was anyone else stunned that the Braves did not try a suicide squeeze with the bases loaded and one out against Wheeler in the 15th (or maybe it was the 14th?) It sure seemed obvious that one run would likely win the game at that point, and I was very surprised that the Braves did not try to push that runner home the LaRussa way.

On the Texans:
Just when you thought it could not get any worse... I know that the offensive line stinks, but I swear that David Carr's pocket presence is non-existent. He is so gunshy that he refuses to stay in the pocket for more than a single second on any passing play. I'm no offensive-line guru, but at least one of the sacks that he took yesterday was the direct result of Carr refusing to stay in the pocket that had been nicely formed by his O-line, and he nervously shuffled out to the right a few steps, right into the arms of an otherwise-occupied D-lineman. Additionally, when Carr does roll out, rarely does he make a play other than a six yard run/slide. He ran out of bounds for significant losses of yards on multiple occasions rather than throwing the ball away. He needs a lot of work, regardless of the line problems. He has to start letting the ball fly when he does have the time, even if there is not a wide-open receiver. Also, it sure seems like quick slant routes would be a welcome addition to Joe P.'s playbook.

That said, I better not see a Riley-Pitts-McKinney-Wiegert-Wade offensive line trot out for the first series next Sunday night in Seattle.

The two most troublesome points of emphasis for me are: (1) the lack of offensive playmakers and (2) the lack of any semblance of a pass rush. The Texans may well possess the worst set of tight ends in the history of football. Never would I have thought that I would be longing for Billy Miller after four games. And whatever urban legends exist about Bruener and Murphy being "known for their blocking" are no longer accurate, if they once were. Sure they've got cinder blocks for hands, but at least hoist those things into an oncoming pass rusher if you're not going to use them to occassionally catch a pass. Each time Erron Kinney or Ben Troupe made a play yesterday (they combined for twelve catches), I cringed with envy.

The wide receiving corps is horrendous. Why Derrick Armstrong is not on the field continues to amaze me; I understood the argument about his lack of speed being a detriment, but at this point, a completion is virtually a miracle. At least if Carr manages to let go of the ball in DA's vicinity, there's a very good chance it will be caught, if only for a yard. Corey Bradford may as well be handcuffed when he breaks open downfield. Jerome Mathis certainly shows signs of potential. As a matter of fact, I felt like the Texans' best chance to score was when Mathis returned kickoffs after each Titans TD. Andre Johnson does not escape scrutiny either. Yesterday's injury-shortened game aside, Andre has not shown the ability to make plays while being the focus of the opponents defense. Double and triple coverage do not prevent true #1 WRs from making tremendous impacts on games. Andre has to find a way to impact games, no matter the intensity of the coverage.

On defense, only Robaire Smith seemed to make his presence felt. Seth Payne seems to do a good job of occupying blockers at nose tackle, but I thought the point of his doing so was to open up gaps for athletic LB's to fire through and make plays in the backfield. Instead, said gaps are utilized by opposing RB's who dance freely through into the secondary or for opposing QB's, who could recite the Iliad prior to making a throw. Steve McNair actually took a full circle tour of the pocket yesterday, then spun around, called Marc Vandermeer a "goodie two-shoes", then stepped up into the pocket before firing a completion downfield. Questions lobbed from Katie Couric's piehole to the Celeb-of-the-Day are more pressure-packed.

Does anyone else feel bad for legendary NFL referee Ed Hochuli for being subjected to the Texans-Titans game?


Blogger Banjo Jones said...

your posts are dead-on

Mon Oct 10, 03:50:00 PM  

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