The best story in college sports this year is without a doubt the tale of Matt Williams at Texas Tech. The picture above is of course not him (that is the former alleged steroid-induced free swinger in baseball with the same name), but with no picture yet available of Matt, it has to do. Williams was a kid with a dream…..the chance to win free rent for a month at a Texas Tech home football game. He was picked out of the crowd to kick a 30 yard field goal at halftime, a kick he nailed through the uprights. Then things got surreal. The Red Raiders’ crazy head coach Mike Leach, whose team has a surreal offense but whose kicking was atrocious, got word to Williams that he would like him to try out to be the team’s extra point kicker. Three days later, Williams shows up at practice, kicks well and seven days later, he is on the road in Lawrence kicking for Texas Tech in its Big 12 road game. Williams went 9-9 during the game, and now has the job permanently….just seven days after essentially just being a kid in the crowd. An amazing story and one that will have me pulling for the Rambling Wreck of Texas Tech this weekend in their big showdown in Lubbock.
To the news…..
(1): Well the game in Gainesville was nasty…..hide your eyes nasty. And today Coach Brooks suggested that severe changes in the starting lineup were coming. He said that a number of positions were subject to change, including RB and parts of the secondary. Most importantly however, he left open the possibility of a change at QB and noted that he would make the decision by Tuesday as to who his starter would be this week. Brooks has been very hesitant to pull the trigger on a change and I think he still believes that Hartline at QB and Cobb at WR is the right path….especially since Cobb’s future is at WR. But facts are facts, and it is clear that when this team struggles offensively against a good opponent, Cobb is able to make more plays and move the offense. One can only watch Hartline dump the ball off so many times before seeing the benefit in Cobb’s scrambling ability. Whenever the trigger is pulled on a change, it will be hard for Brooks to go back. But with so much at stake this weekend in Starkville, change may be in the air.
(2): The biggest story on Saturday however may have been the monumentally bad special teams play that this team produced. Three blocked kicks is a “once in a lifetime” bad performance and it is more than negligent to not have the blocking schemes in a better position at this point in the season. Special Teams Coach Steve Ortmeyer had the bad distinction of being singled out in the ESPN highlights and Mark May even said that he “had to be fired”, not exactly the news you want if you are at that already tenuous position. Expect there to be much more emphasis on the positions this week and hopefully the coaches can prevent another day in which the Special Teams put the game out of reach before the Offense or Defense could even have a chance to fight.
(3): Switching to basketball, we are five days away from the first public appearance by the team, at the annual Blue-White game in Rupp Arena. The game will be extremely interesting this year as the 20 players ensure that there will be a full roster for both squads. In talking with some folks around the team, they are very happy with the big man play at this point and feel that the Patterson-Stevenson-Stewart-Harrellson grouping gives them a ton of options to address whatever type of post players they see from other teams. The coaches are ready to watch Jodie Meeks become a breakout star this year and everyone is convinced that he will shock the country with his play. There is still concern about the PG position as DeAndre Liggins, while playing well, is still behind on knowing the playbook, Porter is playing better and is likely to start at the beginning of the year, and there is some disappointment with the early play of Kevin Galloway. I will be watching all three closely this weekend.
(4): Ramon Harris suffered a slight injury late last week in practice, what has been termed to me to be a sprained knee. He has missed a bit of time, but is expected to be back at full speed in the next day or so. Harris is the defensive glue on this team and his perimeter defense is a key to the season.
(5): UK is producing a new “Behind the Scenes of UK Basketball” show that will debut this Saturday night after the Blue-White game. I was at UK yesterday and there was some taping of a media panel that I was on with Jerry Tipton and Dave Baker (which included some Jones vs. Tipton on the value of blogs discussion that would be interesting viewing….you can guess who was on which side) for the show and I learned a bit about the new tv production. The goal is to show life within the program in a way that most fans dont get to see….an idea that I think can be done extremely well if executed properly. The cameras are covering the season throughout and the show will be done in a few different parts, with the preseason section coming Saturday. I look forward to seeing the first episode, and if you catch me making the cut for the show, please dont make fun of my hair.
More throughout the day…..we move to Round 2 of the Blogger contest, a little scoop on what is to come in basketball over the next week and the beginning of the Sylvester Croom moustache love for the week. Stay tuned…..