Photoblog: Wyoming versus Texas

Of course, I brought the camera with me last night to get some pictures of the home opener between the Wyoming Cowboys and the Texas Longhorns.

We watched the team walk in, but the lighting was such that the pictures didn’t turn out well. The Wife was shooting video, and I suspect that came out better. I’ll play with it next.

Tech Notes: All pictures taken with a Nikon Coolpix P80 and processed in Adobe Photoshop.

Thoughts on Wyoming versus Texas

Friends, let me introduce you to Texas’ new number one receiver, Mike Davis. We waited through spring practice, the pre-season camp, and five quarters of real play for a receiver to step up as Garrett Gilbert’s go-to guy.

In the second quarter against Wyoming last night, the true freshman did so, catching a 29 yards pass to start the first drive of the second quarter. That drive then stalled for a punt, but a couple of drives later, Davis goes 45 yards for a touch down.

Davis finished the day with seven catches for 104 yards.

Gilbert had a decent game, going 22 of 35 for 222 yards and a touchdown. He does tend to lock-in on a receiver, and his passes aren’t very pretty when he gets happy feet. He showed some impressive shiftiness from Wyoming’s sometimes strong pressure.

Which brings us to the offensive line. They just weren’t very good last night, and they’re going to get Gilbert killed if they don’t step up.

Backup offensive tackle Luke Poehlmann was helped off the field in the fourth quarter with what looked like a knee injury. No word on him so far today.

The running-back-by-committee choose to feature Fozzy Whittaker last night, with his going 62 yards on seven carries with a touchdown. Starter Tre’ Newton was a non-factor with only 25 yards on eight carries.

It’s becoming quite apparent that what we have are three mediocre running backs. That’s going to be a problem with an inexperienced quarterback and a suspect o-line.

The defense showed improvement with fewer physical breakdowns than last week against Rice. But the mental mistakes were legion.

One drive in the third quarter had Wyoming make three first downs by penalty, including a late hit by Blake Gideon where he lowered his head and drove into the wide receiver. I love the aggression, but you have to play smart.

I would have liked to have seen some turnovers, but holding an opponent to seven points and 257 yards offense will win a lot of games, even with a suspect offense.

Special teams was certainly special. Our kicking game looks great, with Justin Tucker hitting both his field goal attempts, and knocking most of his seven kickoffs into the end zone. Many of them were quite deep in the end zone, in fact.

Kick coverage looked good as well. On one kickoff in the second quarter, Wyoming return man James Caraway made the mistake of attempting to return a kick that went about four yards deep in the end zone. Adrian Phillips tackled him on the Wyoming twelve yard line.

We did see the return of Justin Tucker’s rugby punt, but it was from the Wyoming 44 yard line, so if it had been executed, it might have worked out well for us. Unfortunately, Tucker’s kick went out of bounds after only 17 yards. Not so pretty.

Punt receiving is much more exciting than it should be. The Wyoming punter was kicking away from us, but our guys were insisting on trying to field the bouncing, rolling ball. We didn’t muff any punts last night, but if we keep this up, it will burn us again.

The heart of our season starts next week, with a visit to Lubbock for Texas Tech. Then we get UCLA at home, Oklahoma in Dallas, and Nebraska in Lincoln after a bye week.

UCLA looks truly bad, so I’m not too worried about them. But if we play the way we have for the last two weeks, the other three are all losable games.

The defense should keep us in the games, but at this point, I’d be happy to get away with wins in two of the three.

Thoughts on Texas versus Wyoming

A Saturday of upsets and near upsets.

Fifth ranked Oklahoma State lost to unranked Houston by two scores. Freshman quarterback Tate Forcier lead his rebuilding Michigan team to a four point victory over 18th ranked Notre Dame. Number 21 Georgia slips by South Carolina. Eleventh ranked LSU can’t put away Vanderbilt until midway through the fourth quarter. And third ranked USC needs a game saving touchdown late in the fourth quarter to beat Ohio State.

And for thirty minutes in the rarified air of Laramie, Wyoming, much of the Longhorn Nation wondered if Texas was destined to join the mighty fallen in the second week of the season.

I never hit the panic button, but I’ll confess that as the first half wore on, the seeds of doubt began to grow. Finally, in the closing seconds of the first half, Colt McCoy put together a drive, and after all the nerves and fears, Texas took the lead into halftime.

Three more unanswered touchdowns in the third quarter and one for good measure in the fourth led to a 41-10 victory.

The Wyoming Cowboys hit the Texas Longhorns with everything they had. Wyoming might not have had as much talent or depth, but on Saturday they had more heart and desire.

If not for on of the most complete games played by a Texas defense in several years, the outcome might have been different. Both of Wyoming scores are more properly attributed to the special teams than the defense, which held Wyoming to three of seventeen on third down conversions and sacked Wyoming quarterbacks five times.

About those special teams… In the second quarter, punter Justin Tucker decided to call his own number, running for the first down, and turning the ball over on downs at the UT fourteen yard line.

Later in the second, punter John Gold is blocked. The ball is recovered by Wyoming’s Ghaali Muhammad and returned for a touchdown.

Finally, in the third quarter, Jordan Shipley fakes a field goal attempt and is tackled short of the one yard needed. It’s fourth and one. Put the fat boys in the game, line up, and push it across.

Perhaps it’s time to hire a dedicated special teams coach?

A pleasant surprise on the offensive side of the ball was the running of Tre’ Newton. The son of former Dallas Cowboy Nate Newton ran eight times for 62 yards and a touchdown. He countered Texas’ horrible run blocking by hitting the hole immediately, instead of dancing around in the backfield waiting for pursuit to catch up with him.

It was also good to see Garrett Gilbert allowed to pass again. He went two of three for sixteen yards. We need him to get as much real game experience as possible.

McCoy continues to spread the ball around, with nine receivers and backs catching the ball. James Kirkendoll was the top receiver, with seven catches for 102 yards and a touchdown.

It appears that Shipley has won the punt receiving job outright. He’s certainly a big play threat in that role, but I’d hate to see him get hurt.

Sergio Kindle was a non-factor all afternoon, recording onle one solo and one assisted tackle. There were claims in the post-game conference that he was being double teamed, but it looked to me like he was being consistently beat one-on-one. So far, he’s not living up to the hype.

Fortunately, the defensive backfield is playing lights out. Chykie and Curtis Brown were amazing. Blake Gideon may have butter all over his fingers, but his coverage is outstanding.

Out highly regarded offensive line is beginning to look overrated. Several big gains were brought back due to holding. And several plays didn’t even get started due to false starts. And Wyoming was consistently getting pressure on Colt McCoy, sometimes while just rushing three players.

The officiating was just plain ugly. Some of the low-lights include:

  • A phantom unsportsmanlike call against Chykie Brown.
  • Resetting the game back two plays, after Wyoming had run a play thinking it was 1st and goal.
  • Miscalling an obvious Colt McCoy fumble as grounding the ball, then taking several minutes reviewing the play.
  • A penalty being called on #10 for Texas. I know Vince Young is having a hard year, but sheesh. Give him a break. He’s in Tennessee, not Wyoming.

I know that Oklahoma State’s loss to Cougar High hurts our strength of schedule, but it sure was fun to watch. The reality is that we need to run the table to have any real shot at the national championship game. Whether our opponents win or lose their other games won’t really effect that.

Any Saturday where Notre Dame loses is a good Saturday.

I can only hope that Texas is better prepared next weekend, as Texas Tech comes to town.