Good morning. Breakfast is served.
It’s September 20th — 264 down, 102 to go.
And 41 till Halloween.
YESTERDAY: Charlie Strong had his regular Monday press conference, and the hot topic was defense. Baylor met the media too, and we learned that Jim Grobe never wondered who the 6-8, 287-pound guy in his locker room was after the Rice game (it was Shawn Oakman). The Eagles beat the Bears on Monday Night Football. For you fantasy footballers, Adrian Peterson’s MRI revealed a torn meniscus, yet wasn’t ruled out for this week’s road game at Carolina, and Danny Woodhead’s out for the year with an ACL.
TODAY: Texas volleyball opens Big 12 play, at West Virgina.
TOMORROW: Kirk Bohls and Cedric Golden will hold their weekly live chat at 11 a.m., here on Hookem. And former UT offensive coordinator, er, quarterbacks coach and passing game coordinator Shawn Watson will celebrate his 57th birthday.
Sept. 20 has a sports history. On this date, Greg Louganis won springboard diving gold at the Seoul Olympics (1988); Walter Payton broke the NFL record with his 107th rushing touchdown (1987); San Francisco’s Dwight Clark saw his NFL streak of consecutive games end at 105 (1987); Willie Mays announced he’d retire at the end of the season (1973); Billie Jean King beat Bobby Riggs in the Battle of the Sexes tennis match at the Astrodome (1973); Mickey Mantle hit his final home run, No. 536 (1968); and Ernie Banks hit his first homer (1953).
Last year on Sept. 20, Tony Romo suffered a broken collarbone in Philadelphia. He’d go on to miss eight weeks.
Today’s sports birthdays: Carlos Hyde (25), Dante Hall (38) and Juan Pablo Montoya (41). Other notables: George R.R. Martin (68).
Tuesday trivia: Name — and rank, in order — the top four running backs on the NFL’s career rushing touchdowns list. Hint: For what it’s worth, their touchdown totals are 164, 145, 123 and 110. (Answer’s at the end of Breakfast.)
Top of the menu: Texas football.
This is an off week for Texas, but head coach Charlie Strong and some of his seniors held a Monday press availability as if it were a regular game week. This is a rare occurrence for an off week. The Longhorns announced it last Thursday, back when they were ranked No. 11, were undefeated and getting ready to hit the road for California. So, on Monday, Strong was peppered with questions about the current state and immediate future of the Texas defense, including defensive coordinator Vance Bedford’s job status, what the problems are, and whether Strong himself will take over play-calling duties for that side of the ball.
After three games, Texas ranks fifth in the Big 12 it total defense, fourth in rushing defense, fifth in pass defense, last in pass efficiency defense and is still looking for its first interception. The Longhorns do lead the Big 12 in sacks, with 11. Nationally, Texas is tied for 70th in total defense, 68th in rushing defense, 73rd in pass defense, 120th in pass efficiency defense and tied for 11th in sacks.
The Longhorns (2-1) are off this week and open their Big 12 schedule on the road at Stillwater next Saturday, Oct. 1.
Our staff that covered Monday’s presser — beat writers Brian Davis and Danny Davis, and columnists Kirk Bohls and Cedric Golden — offered their individual takeaways from UT:
Brian Davis: Is winning more important than loyalty?
Charlie Strong has gone through seven assistant coaches in two-plus seasons at Texas. He isn’t afraid to fire anyone or make changes when necessary. “You have to set aside your friendship,” Strong said when he announced Shawn Watson’s demotion, “and you always have to do what’s best for the university.” Strong has a special affinity for defensive coordinator Vance Bedford, a key cog in Louisville’s rise. But now it’s clear the former Texas defensive back has been put on notice. Strong said “there’s other guys sitting there” who could take over the UT defensive play-calling. Can Strong afford to stick with Bedford, a Texas-ex who wants to win more than anyone realizes? Or will the head coach go with Brian Jean-Mary or Brick Haley? Strong has less than two weeks to decide.
Danny Davis: Plenty of Davis Webbs yet to play
The Texas defense has plenty of problems, none of which is whether Vance Bedford talks to the media after the games. Whether it’s Bedford, Charlie Strong or the players who takes responsibility for this defense, they have about two weeks to find some answers because there are plenty of Davis Webbs left on the schedule. Said linebacker Tim Cole: “It’s a copy-cat league. They see things that probably worked against our defense against Cal, so a lot of these teams are probably going to run those similar route combinations, if not identical. We’ve just got to go back and correct our mistakes in Cal, so when we see that again against Big 12 play, we’ll be ready.”
Kirk Bohls: Strong should know by now how to weather this
Charlie Strong does quite well in the lion’s den. He answers tough questions with an appropriate seriousness and gravity and never snaps at reporters or lets down his guard. He doesn’t always answer directly and tends to repeat himself. After 15 losses in just over two seasons, he’s accustomed to doing that. You can tell this is totally eating at him, but in fairness to him, he’s never really changed and doesn’t give in to highs and lows as he desperately tries to reverse the Longhorns’ fortunes.
Cedric Golden: Loyal to a fault, but I get it
Dylan Haines was asked about Vance Bedford’s job performance, and gave this answer: ‘I’ve been playing for (Bedford) for three years, and he’s been doing a great job.’ With all due respect to the senior safety, you must remember that Haines was a walk-on when Bedford joined Charlie Strong’s staff in 2014. A few days before the season opener, he was awarded a full scholarship. The point is, if I’m struggling and someone throws me a lifeline, then you won’t see any criticism from me. Haines is loyal to a fault to the people who made his college experience much better than eh could have ever imagined. Of course I disagree with Haines, but I understand.
Our main coverage of Monday’s presser centered on Strong’s strong stance that he’d get things fixed. And Bohls dug deep into the nature of anger and asked the question: Are Strong and his players angry enough?
What else is being written out there?
The Dallas Morning News cast its defense story around the fact that Strong himself is such a defensive-minded coach. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram looked at the possible shakeup to Strong’s defensive staff.
AROUND THE BIG 12: The Morning News is wondering if the Big 12 is already shut out of CFP consideration. The DMN also wrote about TCU wide receiver KaVontae Turpin, who looks to be out with a PCL injury. The Star-Telegram wrote about TCU’s season prospects, which are centering on the Big 12 race now that the CFP is probably out of the picture. There was plenty of news coming out of Waco today, both on (Baylor sees Saturday’s game with Oklahoma State as a real Big 12 measuring stick, the Waco Tribune-Herald wrote) and off the field (as Big 12 play is starting, the Bears continue to be haunted by the offseason sexual assault scandal, we wrote). Oh, and it turns out that former Baylor defensive end Shawn Oakman, who’s been indicted on charges of sexual assault, hung out with players in the Baylor locker room after last Friday night’s Rice game in Houston. The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal’s Don Williams wrote about Texas Tech’s defense. The Oklahoman wrote about Oklahoma State running back Rennie Childs, who had a 100-yard, four-touchdown game against Pitt. The Texas defense gets him next weekend. Hey, the Kansas Jayhawks lead the country in at least one statistical category: The most number of turnovers. It’s a rank they’d rather get rid of, the Kansas City Star reported. The Lawrence World-Journal had a by-the-numbers piece on Kansas quarterbak Montell Cozart.
AROUND THE FORTY ACRES:
Volleyball: No. 5 Texas, coming off its second loss of the season to No. 6 Wisconsin on Sunday, open Big 12 play on Tuesday night at West Virginia. First serve is at 5 p.m. Central. No TV. The Longhorns are back at home Saturday, hosting No. 3 Kansas.
Softball: Texas has released its fall schedule. Five of the seven games are at McCombs Field — St. Edwards, Oct. 13 (7 p.m.); Odessa College, Oct. 21 (5); McLennan Community College, Oct. 27 (7); Galveston College, Oct. 28 (5); at UTSA, Nov. 4 (6); at UTSA, Nov. 5 (noon); and vs. Texas State, Nov. 10 (7).
Men’s tennis: Texas is at the Cajun Tennis Classic in Lafayette, La. from Thursday till Sunday.
Women’s tennis: Texas is at the Rice Invitational from Friday till Sunday.
Women’s soccer: Texas plays at Baylor on Friday, 6 p.m. It’ll be televised by Fox Sports Plus. The Horns travel to Oklahoma on Sunday.
On Sept. 20, 2011: The “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy ended in the U.S. military.
On Sept. 20, 1984: A suicide bomber in a car attacked the U.S. embassy in Beirut, killing 22.
On Sept. 20, 1881: Chester A. Arthur was sworn in as U.S. president, the morning after James Garfield was assassinated.
Trivia answer: The top four players on the NFL’s career rushing touchdown list — No. 1 Emmitt Smith (164), No. 2 LaDainian Tomlinson (145), No. 3 Marcus Allen (123) and No. 4 Walter Payton (110).
OK, Breakfast is over. Thanks for stopping by.
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