Video of the Day - The Arizona Stadium experience
- Published: Wednesday, 13 August 2014 07:34
- by Doug Samuels
Zach: I've been asked about this a lot and, while I have genuinely no idea what to expect or what final record to forecast, I do know three things Strong needs to do to complete a successful 2014:
1) Completely separate the ideas of "Texas football" and "soft" in people's minds - Strong's predecessor was (often unfairly) accused of being soft. Mack Brown's 2004-05 and 2008-09 teams were anything but soft - even if the latter group did struggle to run the ball at times - and I always wondered how a soft team could string together as many comebacks as the Longhorns did for the past 16 years, but perception is reality. Early reports out of Austin say Strong has revoked his players' memberships to the proverbial Burnt Orange Country Club, but it needs to show up on the field. Strong can't control the talent or schedule (more on that next) he inherited, but he has direct influence over how tough his team is to play.
2) Beat (at least) one of UCLA, Baylor and Oklahoma - On the bright side, Strong won't have the same issue Kliff Kingsbury faced last season, where Texas Tech earned a 7-0 start and a No. 10 ranking without beating a single team that would later become bowl eligible. No, Strong gets to face three preseason top 10 teams in his first six weeks. If Texas starts 7-0, its subsequent top 10 rankings will undoubtedly be earned. No one is expecting that (smartly) but Strong needs one of these games to serve as his hat hanger - and he needs that team to finish the season around where it starts for that win to have a shelf life that lasts until February. (And if you're ranking these games in order of importance solely focusing on their implications within the Lone Star State, it would go Oklahoma first, Baylor second and UCLA a distant third.)
3) Close the season with momentum - After Oklahoma, Texas closes like this: vs. Iowa State, at Kansas State, at Texas Tech, vs. West Virginia, at Oklahoma State, vs. TCU. A number of winnable games, but packed full of land mines, particularly those trips to Manhattan and Lubbock in consecutive weeks. Strong's stock answer when asked about recruiting is he's glad that Signing Day isn't until February, giving Texas time to build momentum between now and then. A 5-1 finish gives Strong and his staff some substance to point to when hitting the living room circuit this winter.
Scott: I believe the only way Charlie Strong can succeed at Texas is to stay true to himself. There are simply too many distractions at UT, if he tries to appease everyone, he'll never get it back on track. I don't believe that results on the field matter that much this season. But I do believe that high school players and coaches want to see a better attitude on the field and in the locker room from the Longhorns' players, because the 2015 signing class is going to be important for Strong's long-term success at Texas. Strong needs to sign four or five program builders, leaders who he can plant his flag with and say, "These are my guys. These are great examples of the kinds of players that are going to lead this program back to greatness."
Doug: When you hear the name Charlie Strong, you think "defense", and in order to compete at the level that the Longhorn faithful are going to demand, Texas is going to have to get back to dominating on the defensive side of the ball. The last time that Texas ranked in the top 25 in scoring defense was 2009, which is far too long ago for one of the premier programs in the country. With games against UCLA, Baylor and Oklahoma (all of whom averaged over 30 ppg last season), the defense is going to be tested...and that's not even counting the gauntlet of offensive firepower among the rest of the Big 12. In closing, I think that Charlie Strong's debut will be considered a "success" if the Longhorns rank in the top 25 in scoring defense. If you look back at the teams in that range dating back to 2007, that means allowing around 19-22 ppg, and I think if you can do that in the land of the Big 12, you're going to be successful.
Mississippi State is about to reset the market among college baseball facilities with the new renovations of Dudy Noble Field, which were released on Tuesday.
Watch this video and you will truly get a feel for how impressive this upgrade will be. Pay attention around the 1:11 mark. Yeah, those are individual grills out there in the "Left Field Lounge".
Seating capacity has not yet been determined, but it should not change much from the current totals of 7,200 seats and 15,000 total seats. The project is projected to cost (only) $40 million, and ground won't break until the Bulldogs have secured half of that in donations.
Outside of creating an aesthetically pleasing ballpark, Mississippi State and Populous have found a way to improve what could objectively be called the best stadium in college baseball. In fact, that's already been done. Stadium Journey rated Dudy Noble as its favorite stadium in college baseball last year. And it also holds the NCAA-record for on-campus attendance at 15,586.
The Bulldogs greatest accomplishment, however, is finding a way to actually improve upon the Left Field Lounge. For those unaware, the Left Field Lounge is Dudy Noble's version of the Wall at Fenway, Monument Park at Yankee Stadium, or Howard's Rock at Clemson. It's their untouchable shrine, simply because it's always been there and therefore always will be. Any renovation would have to take the Left Field Lounge into account.
Mississippi State has found a way to not only incorporate the Left Field Lounge into account, they modernized it and improved upon it. The 86 rigs will be transformed into 86 permanent lounges that will basically serve as year-round tailgating apartments. According to Mississippi State's official blog, lounge owners will have the option to personally customize their lounge, equipped with electricity and storage, and will be open in the fall and spring for both football and baseball tailgating.
Stricklin on LFL: "We want each of those 86 spots to be unique." Owners will be able to customize heavily. Grills, coolers, etc. allowed. — Bob Carskadon (@bobcarskadon) August 12, 2014
If there's a lesson here for football programs across the country - other than that the SEC has now reset the market for both football and baseball stadia - is to not let your stadium's sacred cow from pushing into the future.
Scott spoke with Mississippi State athletic director Scott Stricklin this afternoon about this project. Have a listen while taking in the images below. Truly an impressive project.
7-on-7's at the high school level have become just as much a part of the game as two-a-days, but according to first year Florida offensive coordinator Kurt Roper, except as he sees it, there is one major difference; the bad habits that the 7-on-7's are creating in young quarterbacks.
"What ends up happening so much in high school is that there is so much 7-on-7 that is played at a four second pace, that it really ends up training some bad habits."
"Nobody is getting hit, nobody is in front of them, they're blowing a horn at four seconds...and that's not the real world. When you have a guy like Clowney rushing you, that is below three seconds and then he's bringing 270 pounds of pain. So they have to understand, in order to stay healthy, they've got to throw the football."
Then Roper talked about his one rule for young quarterbacks, which I found especially interesting.
"I have a very simple rule for young quarterbacks when they come in; When we call a pass, I want them to throw the ball, and that's hard for a young guy to do because they don't know what the route concepts are and their first inclination is to keep it and run, well you're not running past guys like (Gators defensive ends) John Bullard and Dante Fowler."
"So simple rule; when I call a pass, throw it. Make a decision and throw it. We'll learn from our mistakes, but be decisive. If a guy can't be decisive, it's going to be hard to play."
Buffalo gets defending Big 12 champion Baylor at home on Friday, Sept. 12 for the all-too-rare ESPN broadcast. To mark the occasion, the Bulls will be in these new black helmets, and they're asking their fans to follow suit.
This is also the most artistically rendered helmet reveal video I've ever seen.