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November 16, 2011
The Good Stuff: Texas football, nuggets galore and more
***Senior LB Emmanuel Acho was the talk of the Missouri game after posting 12 tackles, including 4 behind the line and forcing a key fumble on Missouri's first drive, deep in Texas territory. Acho also broke up two passes and had a QB hurry. All of it after moving from weakside LB to middle linebacker, replacing Keenan Robinson, who left the game with a dislocated thumb.
"Emmanuel is playing so much better than he was at this time last year," Mack Brown said. "And the biggest part of that is because he's feeling well. He had that strained knee last year and played with it all year. He's not sam's little brother anymore. He's making a name for himself.
"We've got an older defense. We are more talented on defense than we are on offense right now. And I thought the older guys stepped up when they lost Keenan and Fozzy. I thought the younger guys on offense didn't respond to that adversity."
***Sophomore guard Mason Walters said Texas' 2-5 record against Kansas State under Mack Brown as well as last year's 39-14 loss to the Wildcats have served as motivation.
"I guess historically, the stats a little shocking for me to see (Texas' record against Kansas State)," Walters said. "It's very lopsided, and Kansas State historically doesn't have many Big 12 championships.
"So you automatically think, 'Not a good team.' But that's not the case. They are a physical team. They work hard and are well prepared every week.
"The biggest thing for young guys like me going up to Manhattan, Kansas, last year, it didn't set well. It's been something we've worked on since then, kind of encouraging us to get better and better. And we're going to line up on Saturday and see how far we've come in a year."
***Walters said of losing Foswhitt Whittaker to a season-ending knee injury, "I want to go out there and play my guts out for him."
***It was a big step up facing Missouri's defensive line as opposed to the lines of Kansas and Texas Tech, Walters said.
"They were much better athletes, stronger, older," Walters said. "I think their scheme was a lot more detailed than what we had faced the previous two weeks. We had an opportunity to step up and meet a big challenge and we didn't. We get that same opportunity this week."
Kansas State's defensive line is made up entirely of junior college transfers in their third or fourth year of college football.
***Walters said Missouri's defense did a great job of scheming the Texas running game.
"Holes are going to open different places depending on how the defense plays it," Walters said. "We didn't really have any idea how Missouri would play us. They had two weeks of film with this new kind of system we had been working on.
"The holes opened in different places, and the backs had never made that certain cut before. He did what he was expecting in practice, and that's not the look we got on Saturday, and we didn't adjust well enough, and that's on us on the offensive line. The hole should be where the play is designed to go, and the hole not opening there is on us."
***Marquise Goodwin said Missouri didn't really mix pass coverages on Texas.
"No. Actually they did exactly what we had seen on film," Goodwin said. "They gave us a lot of man-to-man, cover zero. The middle of the field was open. They came up and pressed. And did a good job of covering and a good job of rushing. That's why they won."
***Goodwin said he still thinks David Ash has his confidence.
"He's been doing a great job leading in the huddle as well as outside the huddle," Goodwin said. "He's been doing pretty well. We just have to make him more comfortable.
"I think he's a pretty confident guy. He's doing pretty well, especially for a freshman assuming that leadership role. He's the brain of the operation.
"He has a lot of weight on his shoulders, as well as Case McCoy. It's hard to lead a team being the quarterback and being young. But they are doing it."
***Goodwin said the team is moving forward.
"We can't take steps back," Goodwin said. "We can't let this team beat us twice. We have three games left. We have to get better.
"Brick by brick. We have to hold each other up. We've got to hold each other accountable. We can't let each other get down and mourn the losses we've had, because that's not getting better. That's taking steps back. We have to worry about what we can do to win against K-State."
***Last year, against Kansas State, Will Muschamp went into the game with a plan designed to stop QB Carson Coffman, who was attempting 22.3 passes per game and completing 65 percent of his throws prior to the Texas game in 2010.
But Coffman never played because Bill Snyder sprung seldom-used QB Collin Klein on the Longhorns, who promptly ran it 25 times for 127 yards and two touchdowns and only attempted four passes.
Klein didn't complete a pass (he only completed two) until K-State had a 31-0 lead on the Longhorns midway through the third quarter.
"We went into the game with a completely different game plan," said Texas senior linebacker Emmanuel Acho.
"We went into the game thinking we were going to play a passing team, and then they ran it 50 times that game. Now, we have our minds right. We're going to be mentally prepared and physically prepared. It's going to be fun."
***Mack Brown said Kansas State has consistently "outcoached and outhit" Texas in the seven meetings the Wildcats. Mack is 2-5 against K-State. That is the worst record he has against any opponent in the Big 12.
***This season, Blake Gideon said the defense made a vow to be the most physical defense on the field against Kansas State.
"They did a great job of game-planning us last year," Gideon said. "But there's only so much you can do with schemes and strategies. In the end, it's going to come down to who's more physical. And they were definitely more physical than us on that day.
"I think it's a physical issue on Saturday. They've come out with the mindset that they are going to be the most physical team, and we have to match that. We said in our meetings (Sunday) that we are going to be the most physical team on Saturday. If nothing else goes right, we are going to be the most physical team."
***Steve Edmond showed up big in the Missouri game by stopping Henry Josey for a 1-yard loss on third-and-goal from the 1 in the third quarter, forcing the Tigers to kick a 19-yard field goal.
Kenny Vaccaro is one of many teammates who have sung Edmond's praises.
"He's a great middle linebacker," Vaccaro said of Edmond after the Missouri game. "I can't wait to play with him next year. He fills some holes."
So could Edmond see some more playing time against Kansas State this week in a game that should be all about stopping the run?
"Steve Edmond made the great play on the goal line, and we're seeing really good things out of him," Mack Brown said. "And this would be a game he'd have a better chance to play than one where a team is in five-wides and all over the place with a lot of different drops."
Manny Diaz said Kansas State's running schemes are heavy on disguise with a lot of shifting and motion, which will require a ton of film study this week.
When I asked Diaz about Edmond possibly getting some playing time against the Wildcats because he's more of a downhill guy, here's what Diaz said:
"You can be 500 pounds and bench-press the stadium and leap tall buildings. But if you can't get lined up and you don't know which gap you have, they will run for 500 yards on us," Diaz said. "Because they are going to change formations every play and they are going to run what appears to be similar running plays. But the blocking scheme is different.
"So what you have to do is you have to find a way to know where to fit, now where to get lined up before the snap. They line up all different kinds of ways.
"What they are trying to do with their offense is change your run fits on every play. On every play, they want to ask you a different question on how you fit the run.
"And the quarterback is running so they have an extra blocker on most of their plays. So whoever goes in the ballgame, they better make sure they understand where to stick their nose.
"We can have three 140-pound linebackers, and if they stick their nose in the right place, we can at least get caught up in the spokes and try to trip the guy on the way to the end zone.
"If we have three hee-men linebackers and they all run to the same gap, the play is going to score. So that's priority no. 1. Whoever can do that will play."
KANSAS STATE STUFF
***The story of 8-2 Kansas State this season starts with junior QB Collin Klein. If he was on a team with any national recognition coming into the season, he'd be a Heisman Trophy candidate because his numbers are staggering.
---Klein is the nation's leader in rushing touchdowns with 24 and is three away from tying Ricky Williams' Big 12 record of 27 (1998) and the NCAA Division I record for quarterbacks (Navy Ricky Dobbs in 2009). Tim Tebow ran for 23 touchdowns during his Heisman Trophy season in 2007.
---Klein recorded 5 rushing touchdowns in K-State's 53-50 4OT win over Texas A&M last weekend. Klein also threw for a TD.
---He has accounted for 85 percent of his team's offensive touchdowns this season.
---Klein has rushed for 1,009 yards on a Big 12-leading 241 carries, which ranks No. 3 nationally and tops among QBs.
***Manny Diaz compared Kansas State junior QB Collin Klein to former Florida QB Tim Tebow.
"If you just go by the film and not the hype and the sideshow," Diaz said. "What the film says is he plays a lot like Tim Tebow played at Florida.
"He's third in rush attempts. He has 24 touchdowns. Kansas State has sort of snuck up on everybody this year. I think if they had been someone in the national spotlight from Day 1 and playing on national TV every week, I think people would think of him in those lines.
"As a football coach when you put the film on, that's what the film looks like, and that's what the numbers look like.
"It's not a surprise that he's going to run the football.
"His performance throwing the football this past weekend was scary (Klein was 17 of 27 passing for 281 yards vs A&M). They can be explosive in the passing game.
"When you have to account for the running quarterback, it changes some of the looks he gets in the passing game. They run trick plays and do different things to get points."
***Mack Brown said he can't believe how tough Klein is to carry the ball an average of 24 times per game.
"Collin Klein is probably the most untalked about great player in the country," Brown said. "He's 6-5, 226 pounds. He's 26th in the country in rushing. He's rushing for more than 100 yards per game. He already has more than 1,000 yards. He has 241 carries, which is third-most in the country. And he leads the nation with 24 touchdowns.
"I remember us griping about Vince Young and Colt McCoy leading our team in rushing. Well, they are proud of it because he is a good football player and one our fans will enjoy watching and one who will be really difficult for our team to stop.
"They have very few turnovers. He protects the ball. And I'm amazed how tough he is and that he comes back every week and does the same thing. He is a great football player.
"I think he's the No. 1 reason they've won 8 football games so far. Bill Snyder has done a good job of utilizing his best player and get the ball in his hands.
"They have a unique offense that involves a lot of shift and motion and do a lot of things that we're doing now. And then he tries to be innovative with his quarterback runs. They are averaging 35 points per game."
***Kansas State leads the nation in time of possession (35:01). Texas is fifth (34:08).
"It will be a fight to see who can keep the ball," Mack Brown said.
***K-State coach Bill Snyder has had some good option quarterbacks. But he says Collin Klein may be the toughest.
"We've had a lot of quarterbacks who have served in a similar capacity," Snyder said this week. "People say he's a running back playing quarterback. Back in the Ell Roberson or Michael Bishop days, I don't know if they got hit as much as Collin. I know this, he's courageous and he's tough as nails."
***Emmanuel Acho said Klein has taken some vicious hits this season and kept on going.
"He's tough. That's one thing he's proven on film. He's tough," Acho said. "He's ran the ball more than he's thrown the ball this season.
"As a defense we have to have a philosophy of no margin for error. We can't make a single mistake.
"We've faced a Taylor Martinez, who would try to run around you with his speed. With Klein, if you're in his way, he'll try to run through you. But your goal in a game is to hit the quarterback, and they are bringing him to you, so I look forward to it."
***Mack Brown said he's as close to Kansas State coach Bill Snyder as he is to any coach in the country.
"He's smart," Mack said. "You're not ever going to get inside because he's going to be really careful about who he talks to and what he says. He's a great father and cares about his children. I know that because I know his family really well.
"And I don't think there's any question that he's done more for Kansas State than any other college football coach has done for any university in the country. He's been unbelievable. He's very driven.
"He's not going to talk about it much. But I'll talk to him July 4, and he's in the office studying a team. And I'd say, 'Would you go home today for me? Just get out of there.' And he'd say, 'I'm going home. I'm going home.' Yeah, at 10:30 at night. He's got tremendous energy for 72 years old.
"And he breeds a certain element of toughness and confidence in his teams. He did it when no one could do it before, and then he left and decided to come back and do it again. So I think you have to give him credit. Lots of credit."
***It's no secret the Snyder has built his program on junior college players and transfers at Kansas State. This year is no different. He has 32 junior college players on his roster as well as 6 program transfers. Snyder has 17 JUCO players in his two-deep, including 9 starters. Seven of those starters are on defense.
***For those wanting to know how Snyder went about rebuilding the 119th-ranked run defense (of 120) last year in college football just look to junior college.
Snyder's starting defensive line is DE Adam Davis of Hutchinson CC; NT Ray Kibble of Navarro JC; DT Vai Lutui of Mt. San Antonio CC; and Jordan Voelker of Butler CC.
So K-State went from giving up 231.4 yards per game on the ground and 6 yards per carry last season (a defense Texas threw the ball 59 times against in 2010) to 25th (117 ypg).
***The heart of the K-State defense is junior middle linebacker Arthur Brown (6-2, 223), who transferred from Miami. He has at least 5 tackles in every game and at least 7 tackles in 8 games.
He was the first player to intercept Baylor's Robert Griffin III this season in a huge play that led a K-State comeback in a 36-35 win over the Bears.
***The other star of K-State's defense is junior cornerback Nigel Malone, who transferred from City College of San Francisco and is tied for second nationally with 7 interceptions.
***Kansas State is plus-9 in turnover margin. Texas is even.
***Kansas State always seems to have a weapon on returns, whether it was Darren Sproles, Brandon Banks, Jordy Nelson or David Allen.
This year, it was freshman WR Tyler Lockett, who leads the nation in kick returns with an average of 35.2 per return with two TDs. But Lockett has been lost for the season with an undisclosed injury.WR Tremaine Thompson is averaging 14 yards per punt return.
TEXAS BASKETBALL STUFF
***Kudos to J'Covan Brown for putting on a show the first two games of the season with 28 in a win over Boston University and 35 in a win over Rhode Island.
There will be days when Brown can't find his shot. It will be those days that Julien Lewis and Sheldon McClellan need to combine for 25 to 30 points.
That will be the big test for this team in terms of handling adversity. If J'Covan doesn't have it one night, how will this team handle it, and who will provide the scoring?
***I still can't believe Jerry Sandusky's attorney let him be interviewed by Bob Costas. It's almost as if Sandusky's attorney wanted his client to trip and fall - and Sandusky did - needing 17 seconds to finally answer whether or not he's sexually attracted to young boys.
***The rank and file of the NBA - the Royal Iveys of the world - are the ones that get crushed in this lockout stalemate. They are the ones who struggle to pay mortgages and other bills without paychecks. Kobe, Dirk, LeBron and D-Wade can survive a year without income. The rank and file can't.
***While it's cool that Tristan Thompson is a full-time student at Texas right now, taking 12 hours, it's got to be frustrating for Thompson and Rick Barnes to think what could have been this season at Texas.
The money will be there for Thompson when the league finally gets its act together. But it looks like it will be less than what Thompson was expecting and could mean a year away from competitive basketball.
***The winner of the NFC East is probably going to have 10 wins, so the Cowboys have to find five more wins and four of their last seven games are on the road - at Washington, at Arizona, at Tampa and at the NY Giants.
The home games are against Miami, the NY Giants and Philly.
It's not impossible to find five wins in the final seven. But it's not a guarantee either.
On paper, the Cowboys should win their next four: at Washington, home against Miami, at Arizona and home against the Giants. But this is the NFL, where the Ravens sweep Pittsburgh and lose to Jacksonville and Seattle.
Yes, I understand the Cowboys simply have to finish ahead of the Giants, and the Giants seem to have a tougher road thanks to games against New Orleans and Green Bay.
But something tells me it's going to come down to the final weekend of the season for the NFC East title on the Giants' home field.
***The Houston Texans can survive Matt Schaub's season-ending injury with their monster running game and some minimal play-action passing from Matt Leinart.
I should doubt Leinart because he's been a no-show in the NFL up to this point. But I keep going back to his second half in the national title game against Texas when he was 12 of 14 passing. The guy has some 'it' factor to him, and he's working with one of the best QB coaches in the NFL in Gary Kubiak.
So I'm still buying the Texans as AFC South Division champions. I need to SEE Leinart in action before I buy more than that. But if Leinart plays his cards right, he could have a little Tom Brady thing going on circa 2001 (replacing Drew Bledsoe). OK, I know, let's not get carried away. Just sayin.
Is Texas Tech the Texas of 2011 with the Red Raiders' win at OU the equivalent of Texas' win at Nebraska in 2010?