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Breakfast with Bevo: Ten thoughts from Texas 23, Kansas 0

Posted September 28th, 2014

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Good morning. Breakfast is served.

It’s September 28th — 271 down, 94 to go.

And 13 till Texas-OU.

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YESTERDAY: Texas blanked Kansas. Texas A&M barely survived Arkansas, at Jerry World. Missouri upset South Carolina and Florida State had to rally past N.C. State. And the Europeans spanked the Americans over in Scotland.

TODAY: The Dallas Cowboys play their first prime-time game of the season, at home vs. the Saints (7:30 p.m., NBC). The Houston Texans host red-hot Buffalo (noon, CBS). It’s the final day of the Major League Baseball season, which means it’s the final day in Derek Jeter‘s career. And the U.S., down 10-6 to Europe, has some major work to do in singles play at the Ryder Cup.

TOMORROW: Patriots at the Chiefs on MNF (7:30, ESPN).

Sept. 28 has a sports history. On this date, we lost the great Althea Gibson (2003); Baltimore’s Roberto Alomar was suspended five games for spitting on an umpire (1996); Orel Hershiser extended his record scoreless streak to 59 innings (1988); Muhammad Ali beat Ken Norton in 15 rounds for the heavyweight title (1976); California Angles pitcher Nolan Ryan threw his third career no-hitter, 4-0 over the Twins (1974); Ted Williams hit his final home run, No. 521 (1960); and eight members of the 1919 Chicago White Sox were indicted by a Chicago grand jury for throwing the World Series to the Reds (1920).

Today’s sports birthdays: Ryan Zimmerman (30), Se Ri Pak (37), Marcus Spears (43), Janet Evans (43), Johnny Dawkins (51), Irving Fryar (52), Steve Largent (60) and Lou Piniella (71). Other notables:   Naomi Watts (46) and Mira Sorvino (47). Oh, and Brigitte Bardot is 80.

TODAY’S TRIVIA: Birthday girl Mira Sorvino is an Oscar-winning Best Supporting Actress. Name the 1995 movie. (Answer’s at the end of Breakfast. Hint: It’s not “Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion.”)

Texas senior receiver John Harris greets fans after the game. Harris caught a touchdown in his fourth straight game.
Texas senior receiver John Harris greets fans after the game. Harris caught a touchdown in his fourth straight game.

TODAY’S LEAD: TEXAS FOOTBALL. Tyrone Swoopes got his first career win, John Harris caught another touchdown pass, Duke Thomas picked off two (shoulda been three, coulda been four) passes, the defense pitched a road shutout for the first time since 2005, there didn’t appear to be any serious injuries, and the Longhorns are off to a 1-0 start in Big 12 play.

Everything’s cool. Right?

Depends on which side of the Texas fence you’re on. Let’s put the program-building/culture-changing/dismissals-mounting/suspensions-continuing parts to this Texas season over there for a bit. Let’s talk about where this team is in terms of this year’s Big 12 race.

September’s now in the rearview. October’s a long and winding road that’s riddled with potential potholes — Baylor comes to town on Saturday, then there’s Oklahoma on Oct. 11, and then at Kansas State on Oct. 25. We’re not including Iowa State (at DKR, Oct. 18) on that list of potholes right here, but certainly could. Remember, if the goal is to make a bowl game, then the Longhorns will still need four more victories against a slate of (in order of winnable games) Iowa State, TCU, Texas Tech, West Virginia, Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Oklahoma and Baylor.

Here’s today’s Texas Top 10 — 10 thoughts, observations and tidbits out of Texas 23, Kansas 0:

(1) Running into problems. There’s not one thing wrong that’s preventing Texas from getting Malcolm Brown (53 carries, 191 yards, 2 TDs, 3.6 yards per carry) and Johnathan Gray (50 carries, 232 yards, 0 TDs, 4.6 yards per carry) on track. It’s several things, which makes it a harder problem to fix. Against Kansas, Gray rushed for 44 yards and averaged 3.4 yards, while Brown finished with 29 yards and averaged 2.4. It looks like the offensive line may be an issue all season, though if Joe Wickline‘s as good as advertised, maybe things can improve. But not being able to run the ball is really going to affect matchups against Baylor, Oklahoma, Texas Tech and West Virginia.

“The thing you would like to see is just consistency with our offense,” Charlie Strong said after the game. “We drove the ball the first half and got the field goal blocked, and even right before halftime we tried to get some plays in with Tyrone getting outside with his feet and make some throws. And in the second half, we had to find a way to run the football because if we can establish the run game, then the passing game is going to open up for us. On first-and-10, we have to get in front of the chains and get a manageable second down. We’ve got to get consistency.”

(2) Where’s Anthony Fera?: We know where he’s not — kicking for Texas. But the Horns sure could use him. Nick Rose hooked an extra point wide yesterday, then later had a 48-yard field goal attempt blocked. He did make one from 42 in the fourth quarter. But for the season, he’s only 3 of 6 on FG tries. If a game comes down to a last-minute kick, how safe do you truly feel there?

(3) Big D: Texas’ D looked great against North Texas, looked great for half of BYU, looked strong against UCLA and bageled Kansas. Baylor and Oklahoma in back-to-back weeks is a formidable challenge for this defense, which picked off four passes Saturday. Caleb Bluiett, who got the nod at defensive end over Shiro Davis, was an active presence. Malcom Brown is solid. Hassan Ridgeway had his good and not-so-good moments in Lawrence, but also was making his first start. Cedric Reed got his first full sack of the season, Jordan Hicks had a nice day and the secondary, of course, came up big.

Said Quandre Diggs: “We are attacking the ball and we are catching them and not dropping them. The guys on the defensive line continue to work hard and make our job easier.”

Said Hicks: “They are Division I players, just like we are. They had the same amount of time to prepare to put that ball in the endzone, as we did to keep them out. It means a lot to this defense and to this team. It was great.”

(4) Senior moments: If it was up to the seniors needing to step up not only in the locker room, but actually on the field, here’s how they fared. Diggs had a score-saving pick and a punt-inducing sack. Reed got a sack. Hicks had a pick. Harris caught a touchdown.

(5) Five key phases of the game (and who won them). Offense (Texas, 329-313); Defense (Texas); Special Teams (Texas); Turnovers (Texas, 4-1); and 3rd-Down Conversions (Push. Texas 7-17, Kansas 9-19).

(6) Offensive game ball: WR John Harris. Another game, another touchdown grab. The senior has been Texas’ most dependable pass-catcher since the opener, and he’s now caught a TD in every game so far. There were a couple of key third-down conversions, too.

(7) Defensive game ball: CB Quandre Diggs. This isn’t saying Diggs would be Texas’ defensive MVP of the game. That would be Thomas and his two picks. But Diggs represented the senior class with a really nice game, one that’s deserving of a game ball. He picked off his second pass of the season, in the end zone, to quash an early scoring drive. Did the same thing against BYU, too. And he had a big second-down sack on KU’s long opening drive of the second half, forcing a third-and-19 that the Jayhawks couldn’t convert. Diggs changed the course of the game with both plays.

(8) Toeing the line: Texas, a 13 1/2-point favorite, covered with the 23-point victory. The Longhorns are 2-0 when they’re the betting favorites.

(9) Sweet tweet: From American-Statesman alum Matt Obernauer (@mattobernauer) — “Texas 23, #Decidedschematicadvantage 0”

(10) Milestones: DT Hassan Ridgeway (7 tackles, .5 tackle for loss) and S Jason Hall (7 tackles, the first true freshman to start since Blake Gideon in 2008) made their first career starts. So did DE Caleb Bluiett (2 tackles, 1 breakup, 1 QB hurry). … John Harris caught a touchdown pass for the fourth straight game. … Jaxon Shipley‘s 41-yard punt return was a career high, and it’s Texas’ longest punt return since Daje Johnson‘s 85-yarder vs. Oklahoma last year.

Up next for Texas: Baylor, on Saturday, DKR (2:30 p.m., ABC).

Our coverage from Texas-Baylor: Cedric Golden‘s column (Kirk Bohls was at Jerry World, for Texas A&M-Arkansas) raised the alarm ($) for the rest of the Big 12 schedule, Brian Davis‘ game story centered on the positives and negatives ($) to take out of a 23-0 shutout, and Ryan Autullo‘s sider on Duke Thomas was an interesting piece on how a cornerback’s mindset ($) can’t ride on the highs and lows of big games. We also had the everything-you-need-to-know story, broken up by quarters ($). And we analyzed the win ($) and answered Saturday’s five pre-game questions ($) facing the Longhorns.

How others covered the game: The San Antonio Express-News’ coverage centered on Thomas’ big day. And on the other side of the coverage fence, Kansas City Star columnist Vahe Gregorian made the case that KU shouldn’t part ways with Charlie Weisnot yet, anyway. The Star also lamented the Jayhawks’ conservative game plan. The hometown Lawrence Journal-World noted that even with KU’s new red unis, the result was the same, and also wondered if Montell Cozart and his four picks are signs whether he should continue as KU’s quarterback.

TEXAS 23, KANSAS 0: REPORT CARD. Quickie grades …
Quarterbacks: B
Running backs: C
Receivers: B
Offensive line: C
Defensive line: B
Linebackers: B
Secondary: A
Special teams: A
Fox Sports 1: D

Why the low grade for FS1? Consider these statements made during the game: (1) Malcolm Brown is coming off an Achilles injury; (2) Jordan Hicks is the leader of the defense; (3) Kansas is providing the rest of the Big 12 with the defensive blueprint for stopping Texas; (and 4) during the fourth quarter, viewers were told that surely Longhorns fans must be happy to know that the Aggies were losing — even though when that was said, Texas A&M and Arkansas were tied 28-28 and heading toward overtime.

BIG 12 STANDINGS
T-1: Oklahoma (1-0, 4-0) Next: At TCU, 2:30 Saturday, Fox
T-1: Baylor (1-0, 4-0) Next: At Texas, 2:30 Saturday, ABC
T-1: Kansas State (1-0, 3-1): vs. Texas Tech, 6 Saturday, ESPNU
T-1: TCU (1-0, 3-0): vs. Oklahoma, 2:30 Saturday, Fox
T-1: Oklahoma State (1-0, 3-1): vs. Iowa State, 11 a.m. Saturday
T-1: Texas (1-0, 2-2): vs. Baylor, 2:30 Saturday, ABC
T-7: Texas Tech (0-1, 2-2): At Kansas State, 6 Saturday, ESPNU
T-7: West Virginia (0-1, 2-2): vs. Kansas, 3 Saturday
T-7: Kansas (0-1, 2-2): At West Virginia, 3 Saturday
10: Iowa State (0-2, 1-3): At Oklahoma State, 11 a.m. Saturday

AROUND THE FORTY ACRES: A quick sweep of UT teams.

Football: Deep snapper Nate Boyer is one of 167 national semifinalists for the Campbell Trophy, which recognizes the country’s best football scholar-athlete.

Volleyball: No. 2 Texas beat West Virginia on Wednesday in its Big 12 opener, 3-2. Haley Eckerman had 12 kills and nine digs. Texas (9-0, 1-0) next plays on Wednesday, hosting Iowa State (7, Gregory Gym, LHN).

Baseball: Texas will play a three-game Orange-White fall world series next month at Disch-Falk (Oct. 13, Oct. 15 and Oct. 20).

Cross country: Redshirt freshman Robert Uhr was named the Big 12’s runner of the week last Tuesday, coming off his win at the UTSA Ricardo Romo Classic.

Soccer: Texas knocked off No. 6-ranked Texas Tech 1-0 in overtime on Friday, the winning goal coming from freshman Olivia Brook. It was the first win over a Top 10 team since 2010. The Horns (6-3-2, 1-0) host No. 17 West Virginia today (1, Myers Stadium, LHN).

Tennis: The men are at the ITA All-American Championship in Tulsa, through Oct. 5. The women are at the All-American Championship in California, through Oct. 5. On Saturday, two doubles teams — Ryann Foster/Danielle Wagland and Lana Groenvynck/Pippa Horn — won their opening matches over teams from Houston and USC, respectively. Foster/Wagland play Northwestern and Groenvynck/Horn play Florida for berths in Tuesday’s qualifying draw.

TRIVIA ANSWER: Mira Sorvino‘s Best Supporting Actress Oscar came from her role in Woody Allen‘s “Mighty Aphrodite.”

TODAY’S LITTLE NUMBER: 2. Recent commitments for Texas’ 2015 football class — Westlake DE Breckyn Hager and South Oak Cliff S Jamile Johnson. Both are three-stars; Hager switched his pledge from Baylor to Texas.

TODAY’S BIGGER NUMBER: 9. Players that Charlie Strong has kicked off the team, since January. Starting left tackle Kennedy Estelle became the ninth, last Tuesday.

TODAY’S BIG NUMBER: 12. Consecutive wins for Texas over Kansas. That’s the longest active losing streak for the Jayhawks against Big 12 schools.

OK, Breakfast is over. Thanks for stopping by.

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