I’m Not Surprised That The West Coast Apologists Are Dismissing Texas

By Gregory Moore
Updated: December 5, 2005

SAN ANTONIO – Go ahead USC fans. Keep talking. Keep espousing how great USC is and how they are unstoppable. As a matter of fact let me help you pile on the kindling. I want Reggie Bush to get the Heisman because I want to see him go ahead and make a foolish decision and go to the NFL early. Reggie, please go ahead and listen to your stepfather. Fathers do know best after all. Come on USC fans, keep talking. Keep stating how great Pete Carroll is as a head coach at the college level but the rest of us know damn well that he is a below average NFL coach who may get one more shot because he is the next coming of Nute Rocknie. As a matter of fact why don’t we go ahead and give him a head-coaching job now. I hear Detroit is looking for a guy who can run a West Coast offense that is balanced both vertically and horizontally.

I want you USC fans to keep being myopic and I want every single sports talk show host to continue to dismiss the accomplishments of Texas and Mack Brown. Heck I’ll even call out one of my friends, Ben Maller. I want Big Ben to continue to heap praise after praise on how great the USC program is because I think it’s quite ironic that the city of Los Angeles continues to be the front running bed of wayward fans that has always been the case before Phil Jackson ever stepped foot in that city. So come on Big Ben, do the rest of us a favor and keep the fires lit. We Texas fans want you to constantly say how great the Trojans are. We like that kind of talk.

What is truly amazing is the fact that west coast football fans complain all season about an east coast bias but yet for the past few days, all I’ve heard on the airwaves was USC apologist football. There was more butt kissing going on last night during Maller’s show that I almost wanted to go online and buy a few cases of cherry chap stick because I have heard so much lip smacking I thought the sports nation might get chapped lips. Nobody has even considered the fact that maybe, just maybe, this could be the test that USC was looking for. Forget what happened last year because as one coach is fond of saying, “this is not the same team that won the title”. That head coach was correct in his assessment and you would think that talk show hosts would subscribe to that premise. So since the butt kissing is going to continue for a few more weeks, let me throw in some serious cow manure and show exactly why, at least on paper, the Longhorns could not only hang with the Trojans but also take this game, win it and effectively send every west coast apologist to see Dr. Phil McGraw. We’ll do this comparison by using statistical data as gathered over the season and let’s compare these two teams on paper.

STATS DON’T LIE AS TO HOW TIGHT THIS GAME COULD GET Many USC fans think that their team will be able to run all over Texas. They firmly believe that the Longhorns aren’t worthy of stopping Reggie Bush, Matt Leinhart and company. They claim that Carroll is a defensive wizard. But is he just a coach who has a great offensive mindset and the defense is ordinary and hidden or does the Trojans truly have a stellar defense? Ladies and gentlemen the Trojans are deep kemshie as the stats are about to show.

To begin with defensively the Trojans are defensively inept on defense in several stat categories. Pulling up their team stats page from CSTV.com, numerous key stats just glare at me and I shake my head. Average opponent time of possession is around 30 minutes a game. The average mistakes because of penalties in yardage are around 40 yards a game. What’s truly glaring is the offense that the Trojans defense allowed almost 400 yards in total offense this season.

Again I can hear the faithful say that doesn’t mean squat when Jan. 4th comes around. Or does it? The whole season has been predicated on experts saying that the USC defense if porous and we witnessed good teams not take advantage of that fact. Until now. This is the game where the USC faithful may not be seeing things so rosy through their tinted glasses. Those glasses become quite foggy when you look at the offensive stats of the Longhorns. They are ranked first in scoring at nearly 50 points a game and they are third in rushing offense. Sure the Trojans have this team beat in passing but it’s the defense of the Longhorns that should be a major concern to Trojans fans. In passing defense, the Horns are ranked sixth where the Trojans aren’t even ranked in the Top 50. On run defense the two teams are almost evenly matched as the Trojans are 24th in the nation and the Horns are 31st. In scoring defense, meaning how many points an opponent gets against a team, the Longhorns are ninth in the nation, allowing about 20 points a contest while the Trojans defense has allowed about 30 a contest. Probably the most telling stat is one called total defense and that is where several key categories are added up and averaged out about how you stop an opponent. This where the Longhorns separate themselves from anyone that USC has faced in possibly two years. If you look at this statistic by itself, the Horns are ranked eighth in the country. Where are the Trojans? Try 43rd.

And probably for the umpteenth time of the month I hear everyone saying that those numbers don’t mean squat and will have no bearing on the winning margin that USC will put on the Horns. Okay well then you better take a look at one more stat: the turnover margin. In that category the Trojans do have a tremendous advantage as they are ranked first in that category while the Horns are ranked 46th. However here’s were I think this stat skews what you should be looking at. The Longhorns’ defense forces so many three and outs that their margin of turnover is slighted by the fact that they turn points very quickly. Look at what they did to Ohio State. For the Trojans, a lot of their turnovers came from teams just making mistakes in a shoot out, not from any real pressure from the defense.

USC WILL NOT PLAY MISTAKE FREE FOOTBALL So why do I think the Horns will win their first title and squash all the apologists on the West Coast? Because USC cannot play mistake free football. They are the defending champions and that mindset will force them to be very conservative in their actions, their preparation and how they view this game. Pete Carroll will be trying to win the game based off of what he believes is a proven formula from last year and it will blow up in his face. The biggest mistake that USC will make is their under estimating just how good Texas is. If you don’t think that will happen, just listen to the people who call into the talk shows. Not one single person has said, “Hey this team scares me. They can hang with the Trojans and possibly even beat them out right”. It hasn’t been said because they are thinking that this team is unbeatable.

Well that’s fine and maybe nobody on the Trojans side believes that numbers can tell a different story. Maybe nobody believes that Mack Brown is a good enough coach to prepare his team to do something that the program has never done before. What you might want to realize is that not only is this team probably being prepared for the biggest challenge in Brown’s ten year tenure, it might also be the challenge of a lifetime to show why many experts are simply pundits with opinions. There can be no mistake that the Longhorns will turn their media frustrations onto the Trojan program and look to make the Rose Bowl a two-time winning tradition.

To put it bluntly, the Trojans cannot think they are invincible against this opponent. The Longhorns are just as good, if not better, than the Trojans and they are not going to be denied. If the USC faithful wants a shoot out, then they better be prepared to stop several weapons that the Longhorns have. They better be prepared to see Vince Young act more like Donovan McNabb and surgically expose the secondary of the Trojans for what it is; piss poor in coverage. The Trojan faithful better be prepared to handle whatever game plan the Longhorns come out with from a passing attack to a three yards and a cloud of dust contest. In other words, this is a game that nobody will be able to predict as a clear-cut winner if they were true experts in the realm of prognostication.

However I’m not of such ill and I’m going to go out on a limb and say that not only do I believe in the statistical data that I have glanced over but I believe in the fact that the Longhorns are ready to shut a few people up very quickly in their assessment of their program and their head coach. So I’ll take Vegas’ seven-point line and I’ll go with Texas. As a matter of fact I’ll go on record saying that not only will the Longhorns win the game but also they will win the game by two touchdowns or more. That’s not bragging but that’s watching them handle teams that gave them all kinds of looks including Ohio State and Texas Tech.

So as the USC faithful add me to their list of disliked individuals. That’s fine. As a matter of fact I implore you to add me to that list because I’m one of thousands of others who don’t want to hand out something to a team just because a bunch of experts say they are good. As a matter of fact if you want to find me, I’m one of the leading builders of that wooden horse that will be waiting in your roses. Ironically it may not be a Trojan horse but how about a Longhorn steer that sees nothing but red.