Wednesday, January 04, 2006


I cannot decide who I think will win this thing. Every time I lean one way, I end up reversing back to the other. On the one hand, USC has all of the offensive weapons, they have been there before and they have the better head coach. On the other hand, Texas is also loaded with talent, has a playmaking QB, is very very hungry, and seemingly has a better defense that USC.

It is almost impossible to knock either of these teams with a combined winning streak of 53 games. But, let's do it anyway. USC has been annointed by ESPN and many others as the best ever, which couold be a kiss of death. The over-fellation (and you thought there was no such thing!) of USC has got to be a motivating factor for Texas. USC has allowed too many points to too many teams this year for me to feel certain that they will win tonight.

Texas, on the other hand, has had a habit of losing the biggest games until this year. So, do they have it in them to get it done in this, the biggest game in decades for the Longhorns? I worry about the Mack Brown factor - which is that he is a great recruiter but not a great game strategist. Well, he certainly has a shit-ton of talent and this year they have looked like just as much of a juggernaut as the Trojans.

Here are two completely unreliable reasons to pick the Longhorns (based on the associative property which rarely applies to college football):

1. Oklahoma beat Oregon in the Holiday Bowl. So the 3rd best team from the Big 12 beat the 2nd best team in the Pac 10. Almost useless information at this point.

2. Ohio State handled Notre Dame fairly soundly in the Fiesta Bowl. So the theory goes ... USC's squeaker against Notre Dame looks less impressive than Texas's squeaker against Ohio State. Those games took place months ago, well before the hyper-fellation (something else you did not know existed!) of USC and the two basketball scores posted by UT and USC in their last games.

Here is another completely unreliable reason to pick the Longhorns over USC. Both schools have notoriously beautiful chicks, but UT has more of them due to the sheer number of students. I just got off of the phone with a Navy buddy, Taylor Bennett from Eufala, Alabama, who got an MBA at USC and lives in Manhattan Beach and is now a committed Trojan fan who was tailgating at the Rose Bowl 3 hours before kickoff. He reports that there is as much silicon in Texas as California and that the UT women are looking great. I heard several Holy Sh#@'s in a matter of 10 minutes.

The Trojans are favored by 7 or 7.5 and I feel comfortable picking the Horns against that line. But I can't get a handle on who I think will actually win the game, but I am confident that it will be within 3-4 points.

The Trojans have Reggie Bush. We love Bush. Bush rises to the occasion on every occasion. Whenever the team needed a highlight huge game-changing play, Bush delivered. There is no reason to expect that anyone can stop Bush, so he will make some plays tonight. Matt Leinart is so seasoned and has so many players around him, that there is no doubt that he will have a very good game. Some say that Vince Young can be prone to making a few turnovers. If he does, it will cost Texas in a game that I think they have a razor-thin margin for error.

The Carroll vs Brown matchup clearly goes to Carroll and USC. But, Texas has great assistants and USC is without Norm Chow this year. So far it looks like they have been fine without Norm calling the plays, but could this be the game that the absence of Norm is finally felt?

The Texas defense has posted better numbers than the USC defense. That keeps stirring in the recesses of my brain as important. Still, stopping USC is impossible, but slowing them down just enough to outscore them by a point may be possible with a defense that is good enough. Is Texas good enough?

Okay, time to make a pick. I am feeling Texas in a true epic championship game for the ages. If for no other reason, I think that they are hungrier, they should be focused like a laser beam to prove that they can win the biggest game of all and they have beautiful long-legged women who speak southern and know how to dress pretty.

Texas 37 - USC 34.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006


OK, so we all took for granted that we would win this game against the lowly West Virginia. So much so, that our team was asleep for the first 16 minutes of the game and trailed 28-0. There are two consolations in this loss.

1. At least our kids and coaches did not quit and in fact should have had the ball back with a chance to tie or win.

2. We found out that Coach Richt still knows how to call plays that result in huge gains and quick scoring strikes. We only have to get behind by 28 points for him to cast off the conservative playbook.

There are also two key learning opportunities.

1. Can we send our coaches to punt defense camp and finally get a clue about how to defend the now unstoppable rolling punt formation. I can recall this same punt formation resulting in at least 3 successful fake punts against us this year. Last night, we had one defender against three blockers and WVU had gotten the opportunity to see how we woould defend on a few earlier occasions. So, with the game on the line, WVU could be reasonably certain that the play would succeed. Also, the punter doesn't decide if he will run until he sees the reaction of the defense.

In the instance last night, we should have had 4 or 5 defenders staying home to prevent what happened. By failing to defend that punt, we throw away what would have been a great opportunity for one of the most heroic comebacks in school history. The way our pass offense was on fire, I was very confident that we would have moved into position to potentially win the game. Oh well. Let's at least hope that our coaches will now expend the effort to learn how to stop that punt formation. Maybe we could even learn how to run the damn thing ourselves if it is so unstoppable!

2. If what we saw last night is a harbinger of how easy it can be to score when you have blistering spped and sharp execution in the spread offense that we will be seeing from the Gators, we better learn how to stop it or at least slow it down. I think we made pretty good adjustments after we trailed 28-0, but we continued to overpursue and take bad angles like we did against McFadden from Arkansas. We continued to run at White when he was in the pocket and failed to break down before trying to tackle him, so it was easy for him to slip our rushers.
We have suffered from a lack of great speed in the defensive backfield and at outside linebacker and the speed of White and Slaton exploited that as did McFadden earlier this season. We had enough speed against most opponents, but when we faced the few offensive talents with exceptional speed, we got exposed. Imagine what Reggie Bush would have done to our defense this season. Ouch!

Now, I should praise the talent and execution of the WVU offense. White and Slaton are burners with poise and determination that will be a winning combination for a few more years to come. This will be a very good team for the next several years, you can bet on that.

I was proud that our team did not quit. That showed some character. Clearly they were shell-shocked early on, but did not mail it in. The offense really dug in to make some plays and I enjoyed seeing Lumpkin and Brown break some long TDs. There must be something about the turf at the Dome.

All in all, this loss is mostly inconsequential and I will not get hung up on it. I am glad we did not get embarassed as it looked like we might in the first quarter. It may sting a little to lose by 3 in a BCS Bowl, but it was not an embarassment, so I don't have all of these lingering questions about what is going wrong with our program a la Miami.

Let's go out and close the deal on our recruiting class and get back to work for 2006.

Go Dawgs.

Monday, January 02, 2006


I am back after a long hiatus of working, travelling and making sure Santa Claus would find us in Amelia Island. We had a wonderful Christmas with our 3 year old and 5 year old kids. The Magic of Christmas was alive and well in the Tanner household. We hope that yoour Christmas was equally special.

I am back on my Blog to make a few gameday predictions now that the more meaningful games are upon us. The games today:


Florida has a shot at redemption after getting clobbered by Iowa last year. With a new coach and a better defense, Florida should be able to get it done. It will be close, but the Gators will edge Iowa 30-27.

CITRUS (or the Capitol One if you prefer)

Auburn will send Barry Alvarez out with a memorable blow out. Kenny Irons will run wild and the big Auburn receivers will have some big plays. Wisconsin will give up points by the bunches. Auburn 44- Wisconsin 17.


Alabama's anemic offense against Texas Tech's defense that can usually get away with allowing 40 points because they can count on their offense to score 41. Alabama's bad ass 500 pound gorilla defense against Texas Tech's pass-happy, we throw it 60 times per game, offense. This is a curious match-up. I believe that Texas Tech will struggle to make time to throw the ball. I think Alabama's front seven will be in the Tech backfield so much that that they might as well break the huddle with the Red Raiders. On the other hand, Alabama has not scored much lately and it may not take many points to beat them. Or, maybe there are some good defenses in the SEC and that is part of the reason that Alabama has had trouble scoring. I know, I know, the popular national theme is that the SEC offenses lack imagination and that they basically suck. So how will anyone explain this outcome... Alabama 39 - Texas Tech 10.


The second best team from the Big East will play what may be the best team from the ACC (can anyone explain the FSU whipping?) If the real Va Tech team shows up, the high flying Louisville Cardinal offense will be grounded. The Hokies will score plenty against UL, so if they perform even only mediocre on defense and special teams, they will win easily. VPI 31-Louisville 20.


The two "supposedly best two loss teams in CFB history" face off in Tempe. THis one will be close and all we will learn at the end of the day is that one will become the Greatest two-loss team ever and the other will become the greatest three-loss team ever. If it weren't for all of this BS hype, I would find this game between two evenly matched teams more compelling. I will look for a well executed gameplan from both teams with a few key big plays making the difference. I like Weis, so I am picking Notre Dame to emerge victorious 24-20.


Kyle King has the break down. If Georgia comes ready to play on the defensive side of the ball like they did against LSU in the SECCG, it will be over early for the West Virginia Mountaineers. DJ Shockley and crew will score more than 20 points which gives Georgia an historical 45:1 chance at winning. I know WVU has a lot of young talent and an exciting Freshman QB in Pat White. However, this senior-laden Georgia squad will go out as the winningest bunch in UGA history by manhandling the couch-burners 34-16.

Tomorrow I will make predictions on the Orange and Rose Bowls.

GO DAWGS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!