IDES OF OCTOBER
The name "Seneca" harkens us back to the days of the Roman Empire when Julius Caesar set out to conquer the known world much in the same way Iowa State quarterback Seneca Wallace has set out to conquer the world of big time college football. And just as the Roman Senators conspired to overthrow the overly ambitious Caesar, the national media has put the proverbial knife in the back of the young upstart by announcing Wallace as the favorite to win the Heisman Trophy. And though the soft spoken Seneca probably shares more in common with the famous Roman orator who shares his namesake than the ruthless Caesar, after back to back losses on the road and in the rain, I'm sure he probably feels like he's shared a similar fate as the fallen Praetor. Undoubtedly, many will argue that the media hardly did Seneca a disservice by making him a household name, but it's hard to ignore the debilitating effects of the target which has been ostensibly painted on his back ever since.
Following OU's lead, the Texas defense set about keying off of Seneca's movements and forcing him to stay in the pocket. Early on, it was readily apparent that Carl Reese was holding his front seven back on the pass rush. Even Cory Redding, one of the top pass rushers in the country, laid back a few times to make sure Seneca couldn't escape the pocket. This "bend don't break" philosophy worked for a while, but Wallace broke it with several key 3rd down completions including a 20+ yard TD pass to give the Cyclones a 10-7 lead going into the half. Fortunately for Texas fans, the second half didn't result the same way. I thought the defensive adjustments Carl made were key to holding the Cyclones scoreless and Seneca in check. On key passing downs, Reese blitzed one linebacker to force the situation right away, limiting the amount of time Seneca had to decide whether to pass or run the ball. Wallace didn't have much trouble alluding the rogue linebacker, but when he tucked the ball to run, the lineman and other linebackers were still in position to catch him. That and a couple of key drops by Cyclone receivers as well as some missed fieldgoal attempts kept the Longhorns home winning streak in tact.
As for the Texas offense, I've stopped trying to understand Davis and what he's trying to do. With so many injuries, I can only imagine Greggo is grasping for straws and implementing a "whatever works, run with it" philosophy. Against K-State, the Horns couldn't run the ball, so they tried several long passing attempts in the hope that they would hit on a few setting up some scoring opportunities. Fortunately, the gamble worked. Against, Iowa State, the passing game was shelved to focus on the running game and Cedric Benson erupted for 199 yards on 30 carries. Not taking anything away from Benson's performance, but this imbalance in the offense proved to be ineffective against the Sooners and will undoubtedly lead to another loss before the season is done. This may be easier said than done, but
I say if Roy and Sloan are hurt, then get them off the field. Put players on the field that demand respect from the defense. Texas needs receivers who can get separation and concentrate solely on catching balls, not strained hamstrings. But what do I know? The Horns are 7-1 having beaten two top 25 teams in consecutive weeks and maybe if the offense isn't completely broken, this isn't the best time to try and fix it. Especially when it's only days until the....
This weekend it's off to Nebraska to wade through the "Corn." And though this is not a typical year for the Huskers - two conference losses to date - they still own the nation's longest home winning streak at 26 and won't be easily defeated at home. Ironically, the last team to beat the Huskers in Lincoln was the very same team that comes a calling this weekend. In fact Texas has beaten the Cornhuskers three out of the last four times. And for good reason too - Texas simply matches up well with them. Nebraska still features an option offense with limited passing plays. Jamal Lord (J-Lo of Lincoln) is another mobile quarterback who can get to the corner and turn it quickly. He registered over 100 yards rushing against the Wrecking Crew in College Station. However, if the Texas defense has one thing going for it, it's team speed. Derek Johnson leads a trio of linebackers who can really fly from sideline to sideline. The key to shutting down Nebraska will be stuffing the option and forcing Jamal Lord to throw the ball, something he's not comfortable with and hasn't done well in the past. Many times he drops back in the pocket, waits for the protection to break down, then tucks the ball away and tries to escape the pocket to move the chains. If Texas' front seven can contain him, look for the Longhorn DB's to get some easy picks if they stay focused and take care of their on-the-field assignments. On offense, expect the Horns to try and establish the running game again, especially with the temperature at or below freezing. Teams have had success running right up Nebraska's gut and after watching the Iowa State game, this could be Texas' new forte. And even though many of the receivers are on the shelf with injuries, I expect the Horns will need some plays in the passing game to win, similar to what they did in the K-State game. The Texas offense has struggled to find a comfortable balance all year, but with the exception of OU, they've been able to adjust. Passing or running, somehow, they've gotten the job done with the help of superior efforts from the defense. I expect another low scoring affair and the issue to remain in doubt deep into the 4th quarter. But who will win, it's on to the....
In honor of our road trip to our nations bread basket, I figured it was only appropriate that I consult the most popular prognostication publication out there for this weeks prediction - that's right, the "Farmer's Almanac." And according to these agro-american prophesiers, it's widely believed that when the moon occupies a particular place in the Zodiac each day (basically, when the corncob gets near Uranus), it can play an important role in achieving the best possible results for certain activities. Here are the "Best Days" for the following activities as published in the "Farmers' Almanac": Harvesting the crop 1-5, 29-31; Planting Corn, Beats and Kale 6, 9, 14; Planting Kale, Beats and Corn 7, 10, 15; Planting your seed 1-31 (except when she's on a bye week); Canning Fruits and Squirrels 1, 27, 28; Choking the chickens 1-9; Packing fudge (only on a full moon); Propositioning your sister (anytime, incest is best, put her to the test); Hunting yard bird 6-12; Propositioning your prize goat 22-26; Ah yes, here it is, Castrating Farm Animals - best days for that are the 10th through the 19th. And since the game is being played on the 2nd, I'd say Bevo's rock solid for another week or so. (UT 24, NU 14)
If you're planning on visiting Nebraska (Lincoln - Is it NU?) this weekend, the smart money (penny for your thoughts) says most Longhorn fans (agent burnt orange) will be hanging out in the "O District" ("Oh, are they?"), located on O Street between 9th and 16th (look both ways before you drink). Here are two can't miss places (better call your bookie) complete with comments (4-1-1 on the 402) from people (parents of the children of the corn) who actually know what they're talking about ("word to your mother"): Sidetrack Tavern - THE bar (it's the shiznit) to drink at on Friday nights (drunk after dark) before a game. Joyce and Paul (two names I enjoy) tell jokes (no, but seriously) and sing raunchy songs (porn on the cob) for all to enjoy. Visiting fans are welcome (that's what they all say) for some good-natured ribbing (for their pleasure). Stay alert for free shots (I'm your Huckleberry) and arrive reasonably early ("sign says your closed, I say you're open") if you don't want to stand in line (hey, no cutting). Barry's (Manilow or White) - THE bar to drink at before the game (Huck the Cornfuskers) on Saturday. Famous for a reason (bring the camera) - the cavernous back room (ah yes, the corn hole) has a wall-sized projection TV (beam me up Barry). Fight songs (full contact choir) from either team's fans may break out at any time (say when). Located about four blocks (go the distance) from Memorial Stadium (ah yes, the corn field).
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
"Where'd you eat last night?"
"Order a margarita?"
"Oh yeah, too many of 'em."
"Drinking 'em down kind of fast were ya?""Like a juice box."