Say, maybe Lou and Ms. Ciccone could do a movie together. It could be about a kinky female suburbanite whose sexual fetish is being sprayed with lisping spit. Halle Barry would be the voyeuristic next door neighbor, and Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy could play the psychotic, monomaniacal serial killer stalking them all who sends the cops a taunting video screaming, "I'm a man! Come after me!" We'd call the flick "Slobber Me, Clobber Me." Geez, this thing practically writes itself.
Excuse me for a second. I need to You Tube Gundy to see if he ever acted in T.V. commercials. Sweetie, where's my agent's number?
Speaking of phoning it in, my beloved, mighty, fighting Texas Longhorns shot themselves in the foot while screwing the pooch against Kansas State. The Horns mixed game errors the way that last sentence mixed metaphors. Like the popular country and western dance, it's what we refer to as the Texas Two Step. Step One was throwing four interceptions while creating no turnovers on defense – that's the shooting ourselves in the foot part. Step Two is permitting not one, but two special teams touchdowns – obviously, that's screwing the pooch. Without both steps, we still have a good chance to win the game, but combine them and we're one Colt McCoy concussion this side of being a laughingstock.
I feel bad for Colt, who will be an easy, obvious scapegoat for this loss. Fact is, three of his four interceptions were batted passes where K State's defensive linemen were able to get one or more hands on the pigskin. The Wildcats' uncanny ability to deflect throws seems to be more of an offensive line problem than a Colt's-not-that-tall (He's 6'2", which is not tiny) issue. My high school offensive line coach taught me to extend my hands into the defender's groin area on pass plays, and that would keep him, by instinct, from raising his hands and blocking passes. Batted balls are prevented by … uhm … batted balls, so to speak.
Defensively, I thought a lot of good things were happening. I heard Norton and Muckelroy's names called quite a few times by the stadium announcer. They had roughly as many snaps as the starters, Killebrew, Derry, and Bobino. The extra speed our second set of linebackers brings to the field kept K-State from doing things (turning one yard tight end passes in the flat into seven yard gains, for example) they sometimes got away with when the first-stringers were in the game. Problem is, with an extreme number of turnovers, the Defense is constantly in the game, frequently in intense, short-field situations. There's a limit to how many times even the best of us can perform repeatedly, time after time, under pressure. Or, to quote the Sheriff of Rock Ridge in "Blazing Saddles," "Please, baby, I am not from Havana!" I mean, Jesus made a fantastic save, too, but he only had to do it once.
The kicking game is the real mystery to me. Long a strong point for the Horns under Mack Brown (including a game-winning blocked field goal in Manhattan in 2002), our mastery of the "third side of the ball" (as Mike Leach calls special teams) disappeared faster than Molly Ringwald's career. We looked absolutely clueless on James Johnson's speedy kick-off return, despite placing the ball almost exactly where we wanted it in southwest corner of the field. Jordy Nelson, the tough, quick Wildcat slot receiver, was a Lee Corso in our sides the entire game, and we simply refused to cover lanes or tackle well on his punt return for a score. It's like we unlocked our front door and had our home burglarized. That's bad enough, but after calling the cops and insurance adjuster, we turned around and left the front door wide open, switched on the front porch light, and went to bed, giving the thief a chance to get a dolly, some buddies, and a pick-up so he could return to get the heavy, expensive stuff he couldn't haul off the first time.
The rainy weather conditions didn't affect the outcome of the game, but they definitely added to the overall dreariness of the day. When burnt orange clothing gets soaking wet, it turns several shades darker, into a rusty brown color. The current state of the Longhorns is similar to McCoy's fractured psyche – confused, extremely self-critical, frustrated, and turning an unfamiliar, dark tone as the heavy rain clouds form overhead. I could give you a long string of clichés about now being the time to find out what we're made of, how with the Sooners' loss Saturday, we can still win the Big XII South, the Horns having a real chance to prove all the naysayers wrong, when the going gets tough, the tough get going, buy low, sell high, a stitch in time saves nine, blah, blah, blah. And all those things are true – or at least as true as clichés can be.
But at this point, even my usually limitless optimism is running a little low. The odds of us bucking up and playing the game of the year next week seem more remote than my chances of getting my Lou Holtz/Madonna/Mike Gundy movie made.
But I have my fingers crossed. You see, Molly Ringwald and I have the same agent. It's just that she still hasn't returned my call.
Jeff Conner's political and pop culture-infused Longhorn commentary appears regularly in the Inside Texas magazine and at InsideTexas.com.