Good morning. Breakfast is served.
It’s September 8th — 251 down, 114 to go.
And 2 till the fantasy foot— er, NFL season begins.
YESTERDAY: We found out that several Horns’ seats are hot, most notably Shawn Watson and Tyrone Swoopes. Ohio State spanked Virginia Tech. Roger Federer won at the U.S. Open, but Andy Murray didn’t. The Rangers blanked the Mariners — they’re five games back of the Yankees for the AL wild card. The Astros came up one run short of the A’s, 10-9.
TODAY: The AP’s Top 25 is released, one day late — this week’s poll was delayed a day because of Monday night’s Ohio State game. Serena and Venus Williams square off in the U.S. Open quarterfinals (6, ESPN). The Astros (A’s) and Rangers (Mariners) are both on the West Coast, and start at 9:05 and 9:10 p.m., respectively. Scott Kazmir‘s starting for Houston, Cole Hamels for the Rangers. And our own Brian Davis and Ryan Autullo start their live Longhorns chat at 11 a.m. Here’s the link.
TOMORROW: Another Astros at Oakland, Rangers at Seattle pair of night-time starts on the West Coast. And Kirk Bohls and Cedric Golden will hold their live chat at 11.
Sept. 8 has a sports history. On this date, the Rangers lost to Tampa Bay, but set an MLB record by homering in their 26th straight game (2002); Steffi Graf beat Monica Seles to win the U.S. Open (1996); George Brett got his 2,500th career hit (1989); A. Bartlett Giamatti becomes MLB commissioner (1988) — three years to the day that Pete Rose tied Ty Cobb with his 4,191st career hit (1985); Ivan Lendl beat John McEnroe to win the U.S. Open (1985); and Martina Navratilova beat Chris Evert to win the U.S. Open (1984); Billy Martin was named the manager of the Rangers (1973).
Today’s sports birthdays: Matt Barkley (25), Matthew Dellavedova (25), Terrance Williams (26), Malcolm Floyd (34) and Maurice Cheeks (59). Other notables: Pink (36), Democratic Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (74).
Today’s trivia: It’s Battle of the Sexes Day. Who won more grand slam singles titles — combined: John McEnroe and Ivan Lendl or Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert? (Answer’s at the end of Breakfast.)
Today’s lead: Texas football.
There’s a cloud over this team. The sour taste from Saturday’s 35-point loss in South Bend is still there. We don’t know whether we’ll get Swoopes or Jerrod Heard at quarterback on Saturday. We don’t know how safe Watson’s job is. The Longhorns have lost three games in a row, and they’ve all been big games (TCU on Thanksgiving, Arkansas in the bowl, Notre Dame in the opener).
You’d expect seeing Rice on the schedule would be just what the doctor ordered. And maybe it is. The Longhorns have to wake up from their 10-month slumber sooner or later. And yet …
Charlie Strong said all the right things Monday. Here are the highlights:
- “The outcome on Saturday is not what we expect, and is not acceptable. This week we’re going to take our team and just evaluate everything about this program. It’s almost as if you want to restart the season and push that button.”
- “Every game is a big game. That’s just the way it is. As poorly as we played at Notre Dame, let’s put that one behind us. And it’s hard to put it behind you, because we didn’t play well.”
- ” I was hoping to see a big difference myself. When you talk about up-tempo, it’s about moving the football. We had two three-and-outs where we were out there for 55 seconds, and then the defense has to go back on the field. You have to make first downs — they’re going to allow you to move the football, and then the next big chunk is a touchdown. We all want to see touchdowns. We’ve got the playmakers, now let’s go score.”
- “The last three showings we’ve had, it’s been embarrassing. I told our staff.”
The more important things we learned: Coaches will evaluate Swoopes and Heard this week and make the call on Saturday’s starter probably on Thursday or Friday. … Likewise, offensive assistant/quarterbacks coach/play-caller Watson is being “evaluated.” Strong was asked about Watson’s job security three different times. … Strong wants more carries for Johnathan Gray, who had eight against Notre Dame. … Wide receiver Marcus Johnson, who left the opener with an injured ankle, is day to day and will be re-evaluated later this week.
Our staff takeaways from Monday’s presser:
Ryan Autullo: Reading the tea leaves. After the Texas Bowl debacle, Charlie Strong professed his faith in play-caller Shawn Watson, insisting the two were in lockstep with their plans for the offense. On Monday, Strong was again asked about Watson and responded that his performance is being evaluated. My guess is the evaluation is all but complete, and Watson is toast if things don’t improve quickly.
Kirk Bohls: Strong gets it. I continue to be thoroughly impressed with Charlie Strong’s perspective. He showed he fully understands the gravity of the situation after going 6-8 in his first 14 games. He preaches accountability. Conversations with about half a dozen Texas players show they completely support the staff, which is always a good thing. The Rice game already qualifies as a must-win game for Charlie, but at least he gets it.
Brian Davis: Let those freshmen loose. Veterans are supposed to be the team leaders, but should the freshmen just step up and take over this team? “Right now, that’s not our role,” linebacker Malik Jefferson said. “We don’t see ourselves as taking over the team. We see ourselves as coming in and helping the team.” Somebody needs to step up. Jefferson, John Burt and Kris Boyd all made standout plays against Notre Dame. Let’s see some other freshmen get more chances against Rice.
Cedric Golden: Time to walk (the walk). The sense I got Monday was one of anger and frustration. Tyrone Swoopes and Tank Jackson made the biggest impression on me when both said it’s time to stop talking about doing something and actually go do something. Love that sentiment. Only what happens on the field matters. Besides, the fans don’t want words. They want wins.
So, what’s being written about the Longhorns? Our coverage centered on all of the potential changes, big and small. At the top of the list is Strong’s decisions on Watson and Swoopes. Kirk Bohls wrote about Watson, whose days seem numbered. And Cedric Golden opined on the Swoopes vs. Heard debate. He’s still on Team Jerrod.
Others out there: The Dallas Morning News is calling Texas-Rice the first must-win game of the Strong era.
AROUND THE BIG 12: Here come Shawn Oakman and Orion Stewart, who missed Baylor’s opener. But their suspensions are over, and the Baylor defense is ready to make up for last Friday, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports. Bears coach Art Briles, though, didn’t pin the defense’s Week 1 issues on those two suspensions, according to the Waco Tribune-Herald. Up in Fort Worth, Gary Patterson acknowledges that maybe Trevone Boykin wasn’t Superman. But then again, lots of other big names struggled too, per the Star-Telegram. The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal wrote about Texas Tech’s defense, how bad players and coaches know it was, but also how nobody’s panicking. Oklahoma plays at Tennessee this weekend, and the Sooners are bracing for what should be the largest crowd they’ll ever have played in front of. It’ll also be a great test to see just where this year’s OU defense really is, writes Jenni Carlson of the Oklahoman, while Berry Tramel wrote about the Big 12 burden OU’s carrying to Knoxville. The paper also wrote about Oklahoma State quarterback Mason Rudolph, who’s making his home debut against Central Arkansas. And bad news for Kansas State — quarterback Jesse Ertz probably will miss the rest of the season with an injured knee.
OPPOSITION RESEARCH: RICE. Owls coach David Bailiff isn’t buying the Texas is Dead rumors coming out of 38-3. He’s expecting UT’s best ($), maybe even because of 38-3, the Houston Chronicle reported.
AROUND THE FORTY ACRES:
Football: Notre Dame running back Tarean Folson, who was the Irish’s leading returning rusher, is out for the year with a torn ACL. He got hurt in the first quarter Saturday. And Texas lost out to Oklahoma for the services of a four-star running back from Southlake Carroll, who pledged to the Sooners.
Men’s hoops: Just saw this nice item from the San Antonio Express-News on LaMarcus Aldridge. UT (that’s Tennessee, not Texas) coach Rick Barnes recently said Aldridge will have absolutely no problems meshing with the big names the Spurs already have.
Golf: Jordan Spieth is No. 1 again. Despite missing the cut at the Deutsche Bank Championship, he retook the world’s No. 1 ranking because Rory McIlroy finished outside the top 10 (T-29th) and Jason Day failed to win it (T-12th).
On Sept. 8, 1974: President Gerald Ford officially pardoned former President Richard Nixon for any crimes he may have committed while in office.
On Sept. 8, 1966: The very first episode of the original “Star Trek” series aired, on NBC.
On Sept. 8, 1930: The 3M company began producing Scotch tape.
Trivia answer: Women rule. Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert won a combined 36 grand slams (18 each), which is more than double the 15 won by John McEnroe (7) and Ivan Lendl (8).
OK, Breakfast is over. We should be on the menu again Wednesday.
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