While I got ya, here are nine things and one crazy prediction:
1. Sophomore Shane Buechele has a huge opportunity as the starting quarterback for the Longhorns’ Texas Bowl game against Missouri on Wednesday night, specifically a chance to convince the coaching staff he’s the guy moving forward. The whispers have been that Buechele entertained the notion of transferring with two years of eligibility in hand but decided to stay put at UT. Head coach Tom Herman said Tuesday that the four quarterbacks who will be on the roster next fall will be operating with “definitely a clean slate,” but he probably needed to placate Buechele by giving him the start after he had just one token series in the finale against Texas Tech and two against West Virginia. “We didn’t play well at that position in our last game,” Herman said after Sam Ehlinger’s critical interception set up the Red Raiders’ winning touchdown. “We should have played Shane more. Neither of the two quarterbacks have done anything so egregious that one guy is better than the other one. And neither has done anything to take the bull by the horns.” Herman does understand that Buechele’s start gives him the appearance of having the lead for the starting job for 2018, and it’s hard to imagine that Cameron Rising or Casey Thompson, both incoming freshmen, would win the job outright. Ehlinger will play against Missouri, and Herman said the Horns will see which QB performs better overall and “ride that guy for a long time.”
2. Texas nose tackle Poona Ford said he’ll play in the East-West Shrine Game in St. Petersburg, Fla., on Jan. 20, when the undersized senior from Hilton Head, S.C., hopes “to show I can do the job.” I think he’ll play a long time in the NFL as a poor man’s Casey Hampton. Asked if he had a favorite team he would love to draft him, Ford said, “If there’s any team I’d like to see take me, it’d be the Jaguars because Jacksonville is two hours from my house. My parents and grandparents could see me, and that’d be big.”
3. Quarterback Drew Lock still hasn’t made up his mind about coming out early for the NFL draft or returning to Missouri for his senior season. He told us that his NFL evaluation recommended another year of seasoning in college and that he needs to throw more intermediate passes. “We throw deep a lot,” he said. That has to be of concern to Longhorns fans since half the team’s starting secondary already has announced for the NFL draft and will not play Wednesday. Lock must know more about the Texas defense than we do because he doesn’t expect any drop-off from them even though four starters on that side of the ball will not suit up, including star linebacker Malik Jefferson. Asked what he sees in Lock, Herman said, “Touchdowns.” Lock threw 43 touchdown passes this season, the most in FBS play, and he said his decision about his future could depend on whom head coach Barry Odom hires to replace offensive coordinator Josh Heupel, who succeeded Scott Frost as the new head coach at Central Florida. “I’m still considering it,” Lock said of the NFL. “It’s not set in stone. We’re not losing much (off this year’s team), and I want to see what I could squeeze out of the next OC.” Lock said he never had an idol in the NFL because he didn’t want to get into an NFL game and say, “Wow, that’s Tom Brady I’m playing.” He never had the poster of an NFL quarterback in his bedroom growing up. “I did have a Michael Jordan poster. I was a huge basketball fan growing up.” He had a spectacular high school career in hoops as an all-state player with offers from Missouri, Oklahoma and Wichita State.
4. If a game is a tossup, I always lean toward the team with the better quarterback, which is why I’m picking Oklahoma and Heisman winner Baker Mayfield over Georgia and freshman Jake Fromm. In the other CFP semifinal, I’m doing the unthinkable and going against Nick Saban and Alabama with a month to prepare. The quarterbacks cancel out, and Clemson has an Alabama-style defense with the best front in college football. I’m looking for a Clemson-OU final.
5. Odom went from the hot seat at midseason to the leader of the hottest program in the country at the conclusion after a six-game winning streak. The coaching staff literally had a bonfire of game tapes after the Tigers’ 1-5 start. “I think they were going to throw me in it, too,” Odom joked Tuesday. When I asked how such a turnaround happened, Odom said, “I’m going to sell it at $19.99. If you call now and buy one, you get one free.” His players said they were basically playing the same in the second half of the season as they did in the first, just with better outcomes. It also helped that Missouri’s schedule lightened considerably as its final six opponents, including UConn, Vanderbilt and Idaho, combined for a 24-47 record and were 10-38 in their conferences.
6. Former Texas big man Jarrett Allen wowed for the first time in a big way when he went off for 22 points and 19 rebounds in a close loss at Kansas. The only way Texas has a chance in its Big 12 opener against the Jayhawks on Friday is for Mo Bamba to deliver a performance like that. Several thousand tickets remain for the Big 12 opener.
7. The Sitting Ducks, the fantasy football team run by my middle son, John Tyler, and me, finished third in an office league won by Longhorns beat writer Danny Davis. It didn’t help that we started six quarterbacks this year, including Brett Hundley, Josh McCown, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Joe Flacco. Jameis Winston didn’t pan out for us, and it didn’t help that both of our running backs, Marshawn Lynch and Leonard Fournette, were suspended during the season.
8. Scattershooting while wondering whatever happened to Longhorns wide receiver Tony Jones, who set the school bowl record with 242 yards in receptions against Pittsburgh at the 1987 Bluebonnet Bowl.
9. Saw about 10 movies over the holidays. I enjoyed the overly long “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” more than most, apparently, but I was bothered by Luke Skywalker’s reclusive storyline. I gave it seven ducks.
10. Crazy prediction: Texas A&M’s basketball team will reach the Final Four this season.
HOW CRAZY WAS HE?
Looking back at Kirk’s crazy prediction from Dec. 28, 2016 — that Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo would win the NFL’s comeback player of the year award in 2017. Well, Romo came back all right, but he’s huddling with Jim Nantz during NFL telecasts.
BOHLS, GOLDEN PODCAST
Columnists Kirk Bohls and Cedric Golden will take a break from their “On Second Thought” podcasts this week.