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Happy Thanksgiving

November 23, 2016

I hope you all will take a few minutes and relax from the track meet that has been the last several months. Seems like I was just in California on vacation or in Omaha for the College World Series … and BAM! Here we are at the kickoff to the holiday season. Football season seems to do that; it pulls you at warp speed through the fall. One day I’m driving home from a muggy, hot morning scrimmage at Amon G. Carter Stadium, and the next thing I know, it’s the day before Thanksgiving … and time to give thanks. A lot of thanks.

God Bless Texas
Be thankful, Horned Frogs. (photo by Leo Wesson)

I’m thankful for my memory and the ability to recall Thanksgivings past with family and those on the road with friends, maybe working a football game on radio. Making a road trip. Picking up my dad at the airport. Driving down I-35 on Wednesday night, gazing at the clear Texas sky, anticipating a weekend with my cousins. The aroma of my grandmother’s house in Austin at 3904 Cherrywood Road – it was a cornucopia of appetite-tantalizing splendor. Hit you like a wall as you walked in the door. I can still see the scene there: Adults around the big round table in the dining room, kids at the four-top in the kitchen. Loud conversations bouncing off the plaster walls of the house my grandfather built. Trying to stifle a giggle during the prayer. EVERYONE was there. I’ll be in Austin on Thursday. I think I’ll take a drive down Cherrywood Road.

I’m writing these as they come to me over a cup of coffee. What are your Thanksgiving memories? Take time to let them and the things you’re thankful for come to you. And give thanks. It’s the day to do it.

Once you’re done and the tryptophan coma has worn off, there’s work to do on Friday in Austin. The Frogs and the Longhorns both have their sights set on a bowl, and a win punches the ticket for both. The difference is the Frogs have two games to get it done. For the Horns, this is it.

Texas will be running on a lot of emotion as they play for head coach Charlie Strong amid a difficult week in Austin. No matter the outcome or the decision by UT, it’s the players that it’s toughest on in this situation. I remember playing the last week of the season in 1982 at Texas A&M with our fired head coach F. A. Dry, who was let go the weekend before after a loss to Texas. It was a strange, emotional week, and the trip to A&M was just weird. We tried to play for our coach and send him out in style, but the truth was that the emotional and psychological toll of the week affected our play, and we just plain ran out of gas in the second half.

That being said, the Frogs have to be ready for anything Friday in Austin. Texas will come to play, and they’ll pull out the stops. Why not?

Aside from a few gadget plays, the Frogs’ biggest concern will be running back D’Onta Foreman, the Heisman Trophy candidate who has run for 1,863 yards and has 250-plus in three of his last four games. Texas has the offensive line to give him the room he needs. The Frogs will need the run-stopping effort they had three weeks ago at Baylor. That means better tackling. Coach P said yesterday in his press conference that the Frogs missed 20 tackles in the fourth quarter against Oklahoma State.

Offensively, the Frogs will have to reestablish the run game and get physical. Texas will likely employ much the same strategy that Oklahoma State did, jamming the box and making running difficult. Creativity will be the key for TCU.

Once again, the Frogs go into their second-straight road game in which the attention is centered as much off of the field as it is on it.

The good news is that the Frogs are getting good at playing in interesting environments.

On another note: It’s time to congratulate (again!) TCU’s quarterback Sonny Gibbs and offensive end (that’s what they used to call receivers back in the day) Buddy Iles on the 55th anniversary of TCU’s version of “The Catch” in 1961. It was a “flea-flicker” that caught the Horns by surprise just before halftime when Gibbs hit Iles for 50 yards and a touchdown. TCU upset No. 1 Texas that day 6-0. It happened in Austin 55 years ago this month. If you see them, tell them thanks. Darrell Royal never got over it.

 

Kick ‘Em High!