Monday, January 05, 2009

Tuesday Reading

Great Fiesta Bowl finish last night. You know me, I have no stake in this, but I should tell you that Texas was the team that I think should be playing Thursday from the Big 12. No offense, Sooners, but head to head will always out-weigh any other debate you can toss at me for two 1-loss teams.

Regardless, Colt McCoy and the Longhorns looked like they were in trouble, looked like they were in control, looked like they were in trouble again, and then finally won the game at the end. Heck of a finish to a heck of a season that turned on 1 dropped interception and 1 miracle play about 60 seconds apart in Lubbock…

the report from the San Antoinio Paper

Actually, Colt McCoy did fold under the pressure.

With his Texas Longhorns trailing Ohio State by four, less than two minutes on the clock to mount the comeback, and the entire focus of the University of Phoenix Stadium centering on his jersey, McCoy bounced up and down on the sideline and then lowered himself to one knee.

McCoy bowed his head, collected his thoughts and silently steadied his shoulders underneath the weight of an entire team.

He lifted himself up, calm and cool, and then he lifted the third-ranked Longhorns to a remarkable 24-21 Fiesta Bowl victory in a manner that defines his entire season — poised and precise.

McCoy and the Longhorns trailed 21-17 with 1:58 on the clock and the ball on their own 22-yard line. One minute, 42 seconds later, they were celebrating in the end zone, and it was all because of McCoy.


UT needed 11 plays to gain 78 yards, and McCoy was responsible for every one. He was 7-of-10 passing for 76 yards, including the 26-yard touchdown connection to Quan Cosby, and McCoy also picked up the other 2 yards on a sideline scamper.

“To me, that’s a Heisman-type drive,” UT coach Mack Brown said. “He has tremendous faith. He’s strong-willed. He’s very confident, and he never thinks he’s going to lose.”

McCoy will never take sole — if any — credit for this.

When he was runner-up to Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford for the Heisman Trophy, McCoy was most disappointed to let down his team, because he considers the honor to be the “ultimate team award.”

But on Monday, McCoy carried the Longhorns to their school-record fifth straight bowl victory — and third BCS triumph in the past five years. UT rolled up a Fiesta Bowl record 486 yards of offense, and McCoy picked up all but 69 of them. He completed 41 of 59 passes for 414 passing yards and two touchdowns, and ran in for another score.

Cosby caught 14 of those passes for 171 yards and two scores.

This season, McCoy passed iconic Vince Young on the all-time UT victories list, and passed fan-favorite Major Applewhite as the all-time passing touchdown leader. And this victory was the perfect testament to the leadership he has given the Longhorns all season.

AA with the highlights

The Pro-Prospect Watch from the Fiesta Bowl….

Ohio State

Full Name Pos Number Year Round
Chris Wells RB 28 3Jr 1
Malcolm Jenkins CB 2 4Sr 1
James Laurinaitis ILB 33 4Sr 1
Marcus Freeman OLB 1 5Sr 2
Anderson Russell S 21 4Jr 2-3
Brian Robiskie WR 80 5Sr 3rd
Justin Boren C 65 3Jr 2-3
Kurt Coleman CB 4 3Jr 2-3
Jim Cordle C 64 4Jr 3-4
Brian Hartline WR 9 4Jr 4-5
Donald Washington CB 20 4Jr 4-5
Alex Boone T 75 4Sr 5-6
Chimdi Chekwa S 5 3So 5-6
Doug Worthington DE 84 4Jr 6-7
Jake Ballard TE 86 3Jr 7-FA
Rory Nicol TE 88 5Sr 7-FA
Steve Rehring G 71 5Sr FA
Nader Abdallah DT 93 5Sr FA
Todd Boeckman QB 17 5Sr FA
Maurice Wells RB 34 4Sr FA
Nick Patterson S N 5Sr FA

Full Name Pos Number Year Round
Brian Orakpo DE 98 5Sr 1
Sergio Kindle OLB 2 3Jr 2-3
Adam Ulatoski T 74 4Jr 2-3
Colt McCoy QB 12 3Jr 2-3
Roy Miller DT 99 4Sr 3-4
Quan Crosby WR 6 4Sr 4-5
Chris Hall C 71 4Jr 5-6
Ryan Palmer CB 13 5Sr 6-7
Cedric Dockery G 55 4Sr 6-7
Jordan Shipley WR 8 4Sr 7-FA
Rashad Bobino ILB 44 5Sr FA
Aaron Lewis DE 95 4Sr FA

I was so fascinated with yesterday's turnover findings about the Cowboys, that TC and I wanted to break down the season on a game by game basis. Of 16 games, the Cowboys won the turnover battle 5 times. Ouch. Ouch. Ouch.

GameFumbles (Lost)INTSFumbles (Lost)INTS+/-
W @ Cle1 (0)12 (0)0-1
W vs Phil2 (1)13 (1)0-1
W @ GB3 (1)12 (1)0-1
L vs Wash1 (0)100-1
W vs. Cin2 (1)11 (1)10
L @ Arz4 (1)02 (2)1+2
L @ St Lou2 (1)300-4
W vs TB001 (1)0+1
L @ NYG1 (1)33 (2)1-1
W @ Wash1 (0)201-1
W vs SF1 (1)02 (1)1+1
W vs Sea012 (1)1+1
L @ Pitt3 (2)32 (2)0-3
W vs NYG2 (0)02 (0)2+2
L vs Balt2 (0)25 (1)0-1
L @ Phil4 (4)11 (1)0-4
Totals29 (13)2028 (14)8-11

Table Tutorial

A little more on the Cowboys:

Michael Lombardi with this little detail ...

I hear the Cowboys are not sweating the notion of losing Jason Garrett to another team as a head coach. They are actually hoping this might happen.

My thoughts exactly.

Rafa's autopsy on the Defensive Line ...

In pass rush, the front took one giant step forward and one annoying step backward. Herring was running rushing drills on the first day of camp that Pasqualoni did not include in his repertoire. It took about half a season for the lessons to sink in, but Demarcus Ware finally began to incorporate better hand usage and change of direction into his rushing patterns. He appeared to finally attack left tackles with a game plan, rather than trying to out rush then on every play.

The results speak for themselves. He lead the NFL with 20 sacks, and if he can begin the '09 season the way he ended '08, the sack record will become his. On the line, Jay Ratliff showed by the team made him the first -- and only -- young DL to get a contract extension. His rush skills blossomed and he finished the year with 8
sacks, an unheard of number for a nose tackle.

The overall sack numbers jumped 28%, from a good 46 to a league-leading 59 this year. For their aggression and better technique, the d-line gets the award for the least disciplined unit on the team. They didn't take as many penalties as the offensive line, but when you consider good linemen and lines almost never take penalties, the groups 25 total penalties is unforgivable.

The 2009 Draft Order ...

Mike Mayock looks at the best Seniors in College Football with Draft prospects ...

Canada wins the Juniors ...

Canada captured its fifth straight World Junior Hockey Championship gold with a 5-1 victory over Team Sweden in front of a record crowd on Monday night.

Canadian netminder Dustin Tokarski saved his best performance of the championship for the final, turning aside 39 shots in the win. While he was shaky at times during the tournament, the native of Watson, SK was sharp against Sweden.

Tokarski's play coupled with steady pressure from Canada on Sweden's goaltender, Jacob Markstrom, were the difference. Markstrom looked rattled during the game and
there were several run-ins with Canadian players.

Head coach Pat Quinn's decision to go with Tokarski in the final was met with some skepticism following rough starts against the United States and then Russia in the semifinal game.

"I knew I had to come out better tonight and I think I did that," Tokarski told TSN after making the game.

"Pat Quinn was smart. Dustin Tokarski's pedigree is phenomenal," said TSN's Pierre McGuire. "You think about being the Memorial Cup MVP and when he needed to be at his best, he was in the gold medal game."

Debates over Canada's starting goaltender are nothing new.

"Canada went through this last year too," explained McGuire. "Craig Hartsburg had to make a decision in the Czech Republic, go with Steve Bernier or go with Steve Mason. He ended up going with Mason. He picked right and Pat Quinn picked right tonight."
Following the win, Tokarski was asked about his knack of coming up big in high-pressure games.

"It's all about battling, people can put you down and say you're not good enough but if you believe in yourself you can do anything," said the 2008 Memorial Cup MVP.
The attendance for the game was announced at 20,380, a single game record for the WJHC and the five straight gold medals equals a Canadian record for the tournament (1993-97).

"There's nothing like this," John Tavares told TSN before the medal presentation. "There's nothing like it at all. Listen to these fans. That's five, Canada."

Tavares was named most valuable player and top forward for the tournament and made a strong case to be the top pick in the 2009 NHL Entry draft with his performance in Ottawa.

Stoops to center stage, please ...

Oklahoma Coach Bob Stoops bristles when asked about his recent failures in Bowl Championship Series games.

He proudly rattles off his team’s successes in the Big 12, including appearances in seven of the last nine championship games with six victories. What he does not mention is that his teams have lost four consecutive times in the B.C.S., including the national title games at the end of the 2003 and 2004 seasons.

Nor does Stoops, whose team plays Florida for the title Thursday, point out that his only crystal trophy for winning the B.C.S. championship game bears the fingerprints of his predecessor John Blake.

The only black head football coach at Oklahoma, Blake recruited more than half of that championship team’s 22 starters, including future N.F.L. players like safety Roy Williams and linebacker Rocky Calmus.

The mere mention of that fact seems to agitate Stoops, who did recruit quarterback Josh Heupel, tailback Quentin Griffin and linebacker Torrance Marshall, all vital players in Oklahoma’s 13-2 victory against Florida State for the national title at the end of the 2000 season.

“You’ve got to go there after all these years?” Stoops said in a telephone interview last month. “Are you kidding me?”

But the matter is no joke to Blake, an associate head coach at North Carolina. A defensive tackle for Oklahoma from 1979 to ’82 under Barry Switzer, he was later an assistant for the Sooners and the Dallas Cowboys. He returned to his alma mater in December 1995 for his first head-coaching job, taking over after the Sooners went 5-5-1 in Howard Schnellenberger’s only season as the coach.

“I’m happy for Bob because sometimes one man’s sacrifice is another man’s gain, and I really believe that,” Blake said last month in a telephone interview. “Through the process, I sacrificed a whole lot and took a whole lot of negative things. But if it’s for one man to gain the glory, then I’ll just accept it. That’s fine with me.”
Although Blake’s contributions to the Sooners’ 2000 national title is barely a footnote nationally, it is known in Oklahoma. It is still occasionally fodder for sports talk radio stations and Internet message boards.

“It’s probably a no-win situation for Bob,” Al Eschbach, a longtime sports radio host in Oklahoma, said in a telephone interview. “He doesn’t want to say that John had nothing to do with it. On the other hand, he doesn’t want to give John all the credit, either, because the program was in pretty bad shape when he took it over.”
Still, Blake wonders what might have been had he been able to coach a fourth season at Oklahoma. Instead, he was fired in November 1998 after posting a 12-22 record during the worst three-year stretch in the program’s history.

“I really felt that we had the recruiting class and young talent to turn the program around,” Blake said. “I just needed another year.”

Less than two weeks later, Stoops was hired from Florida, where he had been the defensive coordinator. In his first season, the Sooners went 7-5 and lost to Mississippi in the Independence Bowl.

The next season, Stoops claimed his first and only B.C.S. title.

“We weren’t even a couple of years away,” Blake said.

We Like Sportz - language alert

Tank Johnson on Ice Skates


Jake said...

Actually you probably have a better argument for Utah over both OU and Texas in the MNC game.

Got to give props to McCoy last night for finding a way to win though.

Texas vs. Ole Miss, next year's championship game? As much as it pains me to imagine it, it's possible.

Go Stars.

Jay Beerley said...

T.O. may or may not have to go. I'm not sure, but it will help if Tank and Pac are no longer around. Usually one crazy person is manageable, even more so when they actually have talent. So maybe with the extras gone we'll be ok.
And hopefully someone is almost done cloning 21 Jason Wittens to play the other positions.

Gravypan said...

Yes it should.

Except when another head to head game cancels that out.

Ed said...

As an OU alum who was around during the Blake years, I find his comments laughable.

Everybody knew he was fantastic recruiter. He but he was a horrible game day coach, simpleton tactician and ran a lax program. Stoops reportedly said he was surprised at how out of shape the team was.

While Blake gets some credit for assembling the parts, it would have all been a monumental waste if Stoops hadn't have developed and coached that team to the success they enjoyed.

Oh yeah, and about the Texas should have been there comment. One more time, it was a THREE way tie. The validity of the Texas argument goes out the window because it forces you to ignore the fact that UT lost to Tech. Oh, unless you want to see that irrelevant because OU crushed Tech deeming them unworthy for BCS consideration.

Lancerdfw said...

When your only claim to being in the MNC game is that you beat Tech, you know your argument is a weak one. Watch the replay of the Cotton Bowl if you need a reminder. Sure, you can't ignore UT's loss at Lubbock, but Sooner fan has to stop trying to ignore OU's loss on a neutral field to UT.

Besides, everyone knows it's only because OU got Tech in Norman this time around anyway. OU fans love to point out UT's last second loss at Tech, but we've all also seen what has happened to OU the last 2 times they have gone into Lubbock. Which is yet another thing Sooner fan conveniently tries to forget...