I can’t decide which is worse: my lack of surprise at the Cal-Berkley loss or the fact that getting pantsed by a team that was manhandled the previous week by San Diego State didn’t really bother me all that much.
“I’m sorry the Horns lost, Sweetie,” politely cooed my wife. The she paused, tentatively waiting to see if I would 1) rain down curses and invective like a presidential candidate caught in a blatant lie, 2) punch the wall like an anger management counselor on methamphetamine, 3) launch into a 15-minute soapbox tirade filled with football minutia about what one particular player did or did not do on one particular play, 4) act like a 8 year-old drama queen, declare our season over, western civilization destroyed, God dead, and life no longer worth living, or 5) take out a straight razor and make tentative, practice cuts across my wrists.
“Yeah, I’m sorry they lost, too. What do you want to do for lunch tomorrow?”
At this point, the Charlie Strong Roller Coaster, Pinball Arcade, County Fair, and Vomitorium has pretty much shown me all it’s potential spills, chills, and thrills. I’ve ridden all the rides, twirled in the teacups, tried unsuccessfully to win a stuffed animal, strolled through the House of Mirrors, and been made suitably uncomfortable by the Freak Show. All that fried food is weighing heavily on my stomach, and I’m trying to decide if the long line to ride the Ferris wheel is worth it, especially since half the seats have rust showing. After two plus years, there’s not a whole lot more to see, I suspect.
I thought the Notre Dame win could potentially lead to new, exciting adventures – How freaking gullible am I? – but the Irish loss to an underwhelming Michigan State team made me realize it was the same old roller coaster I’d ridden many times since Mack Brown left, but with a new coat of paint.
Horror movies don’t stand up to repeated viewings because we know when and where the bad guy with the machete will jump out and slash the horny teenage couple with an incessant need to copulate in weird situations and locales.
The same with our current version of the Horns. If you’re still surprised at anything you see this season, you’re just not very observant. Texas will play well at home, be physically tough against Oklahoma – perhaps even winning the game – and puke our guts like a middle school kid attending his first drinking party on the road.
Coach Strong, with a waver in his voice, will tell us the losses fall on him and that he’ll work his tail off to set things right. I think Coach Strong believes from the depths of his heart he’s telling the truth when he says he’ll get things fixed. Whether or not you believe him is an entirely different matter.
Personally, I’m putting a great deal of emphasis on the Oklahoma State game. It’s a conference road game against a team with even more offensive firepower that the Golden Bears. We have two weeks to get healthy and get our heads screwed on straight defensively. Coach Strong made his bones as a defensive coordinator. If he can’t get these kids ready to play under those very forgiving circumstances, then the future is looking dim.
If, however, Strong can use the Cal loss to grab the attention and focus of his young team, everything could come together. With constant repetition, our offense will continue to gel. Once the younger players get past their initial, sharp learning curve, the game will slow down for them. If we simplify the assignments on defense, it could eliminate most of the big-play mental mistakes that haunted us in the Notre Dame and Cal games. The Big XII is down this year – way down – and we could…
Dammit. I’m doing it again, aren’t I?
How freaking gullible am I?
A 1986 graduate of the University of Texas, Jeff Conner has held many jobs in his life: husband, brother, uncle, son, oil field roustabout, short-order cook, sandblaster, irrigation pipe mover, musician, retail assistant manager, attorney-at-law, public school teacher, preacher, cartoonist and writer. While he does have a hot, young wife, Conner is neither as clever nor as good-looking as he believes himself to be. Jeff is currently teaching 8th grade math and Pre-A.P. algebra in Taylor, Texas, home of the Fighting Ducks.Conner’s regularly submitted commentary appears in InsideTexas.com and Inside Texas Magazine. The opinions presented do not necessarily reflect the views of the Inside Texas editorial staff.