until Texas vs Kansas

Wednesday, April 27


Youth course tees off

This has only a little to do with Longhorns (maybe future ones), but indulge me for a paragraph or two. Yesterday, I was privileged to watch the christening of the Harvey Penick Golf Campus at the East Communities YMCA in East Austin. The campus is the latest venture in the First Tee Program. First Tee is a national organization dedicated to making the game of golf affordable and accessible to inner city kids across the nation who otherwise would not be exposed to the game. First Tee has over 200 facilities across the country and has served nearly 500,000 youth.

For those of you who don’t know, I work for the YMCA of Austin and have thought about this day for a long time. The youth of Austin now have a golf facility dedicated to them. First Tee built an amazing facility: driving range, putting green, chipping area, three practice holes, and a nine hole layout. The course looks amazing. On hand for the grand opening were stars of yesterday and hopefully stars of tomorrow. Former Longhorns standouts, Ben Crenshaw, Tom Kite, and Cindy Figg-Currier spoke of their admiration for Harvey Penick and their excitement about the game of golf expanding its reach. Also on hand was current PGA Tour commissioner, Tim Fenchem. He summed it all up for me when he talked about a future day when a winner on the PGA of LPGA tour can talk about learning the game of golf at a First Tee facility. This was a proud moment for Austin, a proud moment for the game of golf, and a proud moment for the YMCA.



Expert takes on Longhorn draftees

Comments on Cedric Benson here. Derrick Johnson here. Since many of you probably don't have ESPN Insider subscriptions (though you should), I'll post their commentaries:

Scouts Inc. take on Benson pick: "New offensive coordinator Ron Turner favors a power, between-the-tackles running game, and Benson should be an excellent fit. Benson has the size to wear defenses down over the course of the game, he excels at picking up yards after contact and he is a reliable short-yardage receiver. He doesn't have breakaway speed, and he isn't going to break many long runs, but he's quick enough to turn the corner and agile enough to cut back when the opportunity presents itself."

Mel Kiper's take on Benson pick: "Benson is a multi-skilled athlete who also was drafted to play baseball, and he showed those talents in four amazingly productive years at Texas. He has unbelievable lower body strength and is never tackled by the initial defender, making him a tremendous red-zone runner who one respected GM called the best red-zone back he has ever scouted. Benson does not fumble and proved his durability with lots and lots of carries."

Scouts Inc. take on Johnson pick: "The only surprising aspect of this pick is how long Kansas City took to select Johnson, as he clearly was a player the team coveted heading into the draft and hoped would fall to them at this pick. Johnson isn't a physical run stuffer, but he is an explosive player, which is something the Chiefs are lacking right now. He is extremely active, he has the range to make plays from sideline-to-sideline and he does a nice job of wrapping up up on contact. Johnson also has the burst to get to the quarterback quickly when he's asked to blitz and the ball skills, speed and athletic ability to make some big plays in coverage."

Mel Kiper's take on Johnson pick: "Johnson is a gifted athlete who retained his speed despite putting on some weight last season, only making his sideline-to-sideline speed more impressive. He runs to the ball as well as anyone, knows how to jar it loose once he gets there and as a result is one of the most productive players in this year's draft. There have been some questions about his toughness, but Johnson is a hard worker who has improved during his career, and he will be a good value for a team desperately in need of an upgrade along the front seven."

Tuesday, April 26


2006 "Sneak Peek"

Thank you, internet. Yes, because sports sites have to keep trying to provide 24/7/365 content to increasingly wired (and demanding) internet content-seekers, you get some pretty ridiculous articles. Like taking a sneak peek at next year's NFL draft.

But who am I to fight the revolution? Three Longhorns were among CBS SPortsline's top seven picks next year: Rodrique Wright (#5), Jonathon Scott (6), and Vince Young (7). Squeaking in at the last spot of the 32 previewed was safety Michael Huff. You can see the full Top 32


Michael Young? Vince Vick?

From ESPN college football analyst Bruce Feldman:

We like Mack Brown. If you ever spend five minutes with him, you have to. There's not a more charming man in college football. The guy could sell protein powder to a room full of sports writers. But this business about him encouraging comparisons between Vince Young and Michael Vick doesn't sound like a good idea to us.

In fact, it borders on the same kind of wisdom that would make a guy bring up an old girlfriend in front of the current one. Not smart Mack. She's ALWAYS going to misinterpret it, even if your intentions are pure. Always! And yet, Brown went right there when talking to the Dallas Morning News:

"I think it's OK because Vince is that type of player," said Brown. (Uh, no Mack, he's not. Vince Young is a great talent, special even, and he's a very classy kid. But there is only one Michael Vick. And there's no comparison between Vicks amazing arm strength and wicked-snap release and Young's.)

"And Vince has so much confidence now and is throwing the ball with such confidence and velocity," Brown continued. "He's developing into one of the best quarterbacks in school history.
"I think comparisons to Michael Vick put pressure on Vince. But I think that's a healthy thing right now."

Huh? No, not healthy. Texas hasn't beat Oklahoma in years. Isn't that enough pressure for the guy to cope with?

Friday, April 22


Defending Derrick

The Sporting News's Dan Pompei offers this take on Texas LB Derrick Johnson:

"Texas linebacker Derrick Johnson, who is expected to be a top 10 pick, has been criticized for not being a "take-on" linebacker. But that's like downgrading a Ferrari because it doesn't handle well in off-road conditions.

Basically, there are two kinds of linebackers -- those who try to avoid blockers and run to the ball, and those who try to go through blockers. Johnson is the former. Not coincidentally, almost all of the NFL's best linebackers are similar players, including Atlanta's Keith Brooking, Tampa Bay's Derrick Brooks, Denver's Ian Gold, Baltimore's Ray Lewis and Chicago's Brian Urlacher.
Generally speaking, those who can run around blocks do; those who can't take them on. You wouldn't want a linebacker with Johnson's speed to be wasting it wrestling with ogres nearly twice his size.

The reason Johnson has been criticized is he shows no interest in colliding with blockers. In fact, it isn't unusual to see him kind of curl up when a blocker has a bead on him.

"He surrenders," one general manager says. "He looks worse than the norm."

Because of that, a team that runs a 3-4 defense probably won't have much interest in Johnson.
Johnson should be able to improve at taking on blocks if it's demanded of him. Clearly, it was not demanded of him at Texas. Either way, how Johnson handles blocks should not define him."

Well said. Johnson's going to be a star in the league. Scouts that downgrade him aren't seeing the forest for the trees.

Tuesday, April 19


NFL Draft notes

CBS Sportsline's Clark Judge offers this article on Texas' Derrick Johnson, placing the All-American linebacker in a class of his own on draft day. Johnson, who won the national defensive player of the year award, is expected to be among the top fifteen picks on draft day. The NFL draft takes place this weekend.

Texas Cedric Benson, considered one of the top three running backs available in the draft, is also expected to be selected in the high first round.


Ricky spawns Lil' Blazer

Former Texas star and Heisman Trophy winner, Ricky Williams has made the headlines again. And once again it has nothing to due with his football ability. Williams was ordered last week to pay $4,200 in monthly child support to a South Florida woman. She and her son, Kekoa Blaze Williams now live in Hawaii. Ricky also agreed to establish a $300,000 trust, pay for his medical and life insurance, and pay for any legal fees from the case. A famous athlete fathering a child out of wedlock is hardly news. But this is just the latest in a string of poor decisions by Williams. The running back who could do no wrong in college has done almost everything wrong in the pros. From hiring a rapper as his agent, to negotiating an almost entirely incentive based contract, to meeting with the media with his helmet still on, to self medicating his depression and social anxiety with weed, to retiring from the NFL early, and so on and so on. Sadly, this once great star will be remembered only for walking away from the game in a puff, puff, pass cloud of confusion. Ricky Williams could not be reached for comment on the story. He is said to be traveling in India. He still owes the Miami Dolphins over $8 million. Hornsblog wishes him the best and hopes he is happy in his new life.

Monday, April 18


Horns pitchers thriving

Congratulations go out to two Texas pitchers for outstanding weekend performances. Huston Street secured his first Major League victory while pitching two innings of scoreless relief for the Oakland Athletics on Sunday. Street struck out three during his second strong appearance of the season. This time last year Street was pitching for the Horns. This year’s Horns are currently ranked #1 in the country and completed a weekend sweep of rival Oklahoma. The big star of the weekend series was freshman pitcher, Adrian Alaniz. Alaniz threw only the nineteenth no hitter in Texas baseball history in a 4-0 victory on Saturday over the Sooners. The no hitter was only the third in Big 12 history, the first by a Texas player since 2000, and the first by a Texas freshman since Greg Swindell in 1984. Texas now sits at 32-6 overall and 9-5 in Big 12 play.

Thursday, April 14


Hoops team loading up

The 2005-2006 men’s basketball team is about to get even better. Texas is expected to sign two transfer guards, Craig Winder and JD Lewis. Winder played last season for Cecil Community College in Maryland and averaged 22 points a game. Lewis played for Midland College last season averaging 17 points a game and shooting 45% from three point land. If Texas lands both of these, we could be as deep as we were last season during the fall semester. Texas loses Klotz, Harris, Gibson and walk-on Gracely from last year’s squad but will add these two transfers and early signees AJ Abrahams and McDonald’s All American CJ Miles. A top five team isn’t a stretch.


Ford to return to NBA next year?

TJ Ford may soon return to the NBA. The former Texas star and 2002-2003 college player of the year suffered a severe spinal cord injury for the Milwaukee Bucks during a February 2004 game. He went through surgery last May but hasn’t rejoined his team or even been cleared to practice. Doctors have now cleared TJ to resume light workouts. Here’s hoping the most exciting Texas player in our lifetime returns to the hardwood soon. The Bucks are 29-48 and in last place in the Central Division this year without TJ. Ford played the majority of last year and the Bucks finished 41-41.

Tuesday, April 12


Lovin' it

It’s never to early to look ahead, and that is just what college basketball analyst and enthusiast, Dick Vitale does here. He has already selected his “All Rolls Royce Teams” for next season. (This is his distinction for All Americans.) Both Daniel Gibson and PJ Tucker can be found as third team selections. This is high and fitting praise for each of them. Gibson was everyone’s national freshman of the year this past season and Tucker, when on the court, is as big a matchup problem as anyone in the country. Both should challenge for first team all Big 12 selections. As detailed earlier in this blog, Texas should start next season as a top 10 club. Both Oklahoma State and Kansas will be in “rebuilding years” after losing multiple seniors each. Oklahoma on the other hand will return all five starters and will challenge Texas for Big 12 supremacy. Yes, we ended on a down note that should not be forgotten, but the future is bright and Dickie V knows it. Texas will most likely start four McDonald’s All Americans next season with Gibson and incoming McDonald’s selection CJ Miles in the backcourt and LaMarcus Aldridge and Brad Buckman banging down low. Our only starter not touted with McDonald’s honors will be Tucker. Those five look very formidable. The bench will be decent with an improving Mike Williams to help with front court foul problems, Dion Dowell on the wing, and Kenton Paulino and freshman AJ Abrahams to help with tiring guards. These stars will shine brightly next fall.

Thursday, April 7


Wide receivers ready to step up?

I've said before that I think, no matter Vince Young's talents, our offense is going to need some serious help from the wide receivers this year. Last year's wide receivers were miserable, save a few memorable plays from senior Tony Jeffreys (who was what, a third, fourth option when we were loaded at WR?). The Statesman's Suzanne Halliburton serves up this soft piece on the Texas wide receiver corps, suggesting they're ready to take a big step forward this year. I'll remain pessimistic until I see more...


Street makes debut for A's

Former Texas ace closer Huston Street made his debut for the Oakland Athletics last night, entering the game in a 7-0 blowout to pitch a scoreless inning. Street retired the first batter he faced, then walked Brian Roberts. After getting Melvin Mora to line out to third, he gave up an opposite field single to Miguel Tejada and had to face Sammy Sosa with two runners on. He struck out Sosa to end the inning.

Not a bad way to make your major league debut. Street was clearly amped up a bit too much, but he pulled himself together to get the job done. Of course, striking out Sammy Sosa isn't quite the same as, say, striking out Albert Pujols (who, incidentally, didn't strike out a single time in 50+ spring training at bats); still, that's a great way to end your first big league inning. Congratulations to Street - may it be the start of a productive year.

Wednesday, April 6


I'm going to throw up

Apparently, not to be outdone by their friends at ESPN, the good folks at CBS Sportsline unleashed their own pre-pre-season college hoops rankings for next year. Atop the list? Oklahoma. Ugh...

The Horns check in at #11 on the CBS list.


How to support Hornsblog

Let's be serious - this is not a site intended to generate profits. We write here because we love UT sports and, well, we love to write. Everyone wins, right? Still, we’ve put a few ads in the left hand column that hopefully pertain to UT-related things. Even if you don’t care to go buy anything, clicking through the ads now and again generates a few pennies here and there. So if you enjoy this blog and want to support the authors, go ahead, click an ad or two. Or not. It’s up to you.


Defensive end back in the mix

The Statesman's Suzanne Halliburton profiles defensive end Mike Williams, who figures to play a significant role in new defensive coordinator Gene Chizik's plans. Williams missed last year because of academic ineligibility, but has worked his way back to the team after passing a rigorous nine hours of ACC coursework.


ESPN analysts rank 2005-06 hoops team high

I feel very strongly that it’s never too early to start talking about next year… and ESPN agrees! College basketball analysts Andy Katz and Dick Vitale have already unleashed their pre-pre-season rankings for next year’s college hoops season. Checking at #5 on Katz’s list are the Longhorns. Vitale has Texas at #10 on his own list.

“The Longhorns were a shell of the team that started once P.J. Tucker was ineligible and
LaMarcus Aldridge got hurt,” writes Katz. “Well, both are back next season, along with Daniel Gibson and Brad Buckman. That's enough to whet our appetite. This team could be the Big 12 champ and a pick to get to Indianapolis.”

Vitale’s praise is a little less glowing, but positive nonetheless. “With forwards
P.J. Tucker and LaMarcus Aldridge expected to return, the Longhorns will contend in the Big 12. Point guard Daniel Gibson will be one of the nation's premier super sophs.” (Query: Has this man ever written or spoken a sentence without alliteration in it?)

The only other Big 12 team in Katz’s Top 25 and Vitale’s “Dazzling Dozen” is Oklahoma (Katz: #7, Vitale #9).

My own take: I think this is about right. We were probably a Top 15 team this year (had Aldridge and Tucker been around all year) and next year’s team will only be better. In fact, Tucker and Aldridge’s disappearance forced Brad Buckman to take the step forward he’d been unable (or unwilling) to make before, and will make next year’s team that much better. We deserve to be in the Top 10 to start next year, and if all the stars align and everyone stays on the court for a full year, I think we’ll be one of the most dangerous teams in the country by year’s end. The future is very bright for Texas basketball…


Baseball team still cruising

The Horns got by Texas State on Tuesday, getting six strong innings from freshman Kenn Kasparek to pull out the 3-2 victory. Kasparek was perfect after allowing back to back hits to open the game, retiring the next 18 batters. Catcher Taylor Teagarden collected a pair of hits, including an RBI double, in the victory.

The Texas baseball machine just keeps rolling along. The #1 ranked Horns are 27-5 and enjoying yet another outstanding year under head coach Augie Garrido. Is he the best college baseball coach ever? He's won national titles with two schools and puts together Omaha-caliber teams year after year after year. We all have fond memories of the outstanding Cliff Gustaffson (what a tough act to follow), but Garrido hasn't missed a beat.

If you haven't been down to the Disch yet this year, get out there soon. In fact, why don't you go this weekend, when the hated Sooners come to town. OU visits the Disch for a three game set on Friday (6:00 p.m.), Saturday (6:00 p.m.), and Sunday (noon).

Tuesday, April 5


Hype machine revving up

Part of what comes with a superstar Rose Bowl performance and a Heisman candidacy is millions of puff pieces previewing your upcoming year. It's already started for Vince Young. Dennis Dodd of CBS Sportsline gets the party started here.


In all fairness...

Congratulations to Roy Williams and North Carolina. I've never been one to shy away from ripping Roy when he's failed, so it's only fair to give him his credit when he wins it all. The team with the most talent won the championship, despite a valiant effort from Illinois. And while Roy may have inherited most of the players that won his first title, a championship is a championship. Kudos to Williams and UNC.


Dunn blasts two homers

His connection to UT is more of a what-might-have-been, but hey, it's baseball season and I'm excited... Adam Dunn, who signed to be a quarterback for UT before eventually deciding to turn pro in baseball, hit two mammoth home runs to lead the Cincinnati Reds to a come from behind victory over the Mets yesterday, 7-6. Look for the massive left handed slugger to lead the major leagues in home runs. For those of you in fantasy baseball leagues, go get him. He's due for a big, big year.

Monday, April 4


Huston Street makes A's roster

Reader Andrew Windler noted that Texas’ former ace closer, Huston Street, has made the Oakland Athletics opening day roster. Drafted by A’s GM Billy Beane in 2003, Street will join the club after just one brief season in the minor leagues, a tremendous accomplishment by any standard.

Street is considered to be the A’s closer of the future, and Beane, famous from Michael Lewis’ bestseller Moneyball, is notorious for his bold transactions, which would mean he’d be willing to ship current closer Octavio Dotel to another team if he thought Street was capable of handling the job. In fact, watch Street’s performance closely. I’d venture to say that if Street is as successful against major leaguers as he has been against every other level of competition, it’s guaranteed that Beane will dump Dotel to another team to get another player he needs.

Dominant college closers don’t have a particularly glittering track record of early major league success, however. The Giants tried to bring Rice closer David Aardsma to the majors quickly last year, but he was bombed back to the minor leagues nearly immediately. The Cincinnati Reds tried to rush University of Houston closer Ryan Wagner to the majors, but his 2004 struggles got him demoted to the minors as well.

Street has an excellent command of the strike zone, he attacks hitters aggressively, and he’s one of those rare players that both statheads and scouts love. Statheads love his high K/BB rate and low HR-allowed totals, while scouts drool over his “moxie.” Here’s to hoping for a successful first year in the Show for Street.



Spring game draws record crowd

The Horns kicked the Spring football season into full gear on Saturday with the Orange-White Spring Game. You can browse the statistics and try to understand the utterly bizarre scoring system, but only one statistic from Saturday really matters: 40,550. That’s the number of fans who showed up to watch the game, a record for the Spring game. Hell, that’s a sellout at 90% of Division I schools.

While the game itself may be meaningless, you can already feel the buzz surrounding this year’s team. The Horns will likely be ranked #2 or #3 in the preseason polls, ahead of even, gulp, Oklahoma. If Texas beats Ohio State and enters the Red River Shootout undefeated, we’ll probably enter the game… as favorites.

Expectations are always through the roof for Texas football, but this year is going to be crazier than usual. Let’s hope the Rose Bowl Vince Young is here to stay.


Friday, April 1


Final Four picks

Okay, I’ve put this off all week, but it’s time to make predictions for this weekend’s games. I’ve been pretty inconsistent with my picks this tournament: I’ve made some damn silly predictions. And some pretty good ones, too. So, take my word with a truckload of salt:

Louisville vs Illinois

I’ve wanted to pick Louisville all week. I still want to. But I can’t. I think they can beat Illinois 6 times out of 10, maybe even 7. But they’re not going to on Saturday night. Nope, in the bright lights of the Final Four, I think Louisville won’t show up with their A-game.

This is a gutshot call if ever there was one. Louisville has the talent to win it. They’ve got a coach who’s already won it all. Illinois has a coach who’s never been here before. I won’t be surprised a bit if Louisville wins. I just think the Dream Season takes another step forward. Illinois in a close one, 80-78.

Michigan State vs North Carolina

This is another game where the better talent is on the team that I’m going to pick against. No question about it: North Carolina is the most talented team in the country. The smart pick is with North Carolina, but the spiteful pick is with Michigan State. I just don’t think very highly of Roy Williams.

If you were looking for an in-depth breakdown of the games, look elsewhere. There’s a flood of previews of Saturday’s games out there. I’m just putting my picks on the record. Roy Williams bows out short of the championship. Again. 84-81.



Friday Open Thread

What's on your minds, Horns fans? Are you planning on going to the Spring football game tomorrow night? Headed to the Disch for the Kansas State series this weekend? Just taking it easy and studying chemistry with P.J. Tucker? Surfing online for naked pictures of Jessica Alba? We wanna know...

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