Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The Deconstruction of Rising Stars

Rethinking Mack Brown's place in coaching

Used to be the conventional wisdom was that Mack Brown was not a good game coach.

"He's always had the players", many, including myself, argued, "but he can't get it done in big games." And as recently as last week, a former players Cedric Benson was saying that Mack Brown coaches conservatively in big games

But in the last 3 big games Texas has been in, something has clicked. In last year's Rose Bowl, Texas played a close game against Michigan and won. Then they went up to Ohio State, and got Mack Brown's first regular season win over a top-5 AP team (at the time, the Buckeyes were #5) and handed Ohio State it's first non-conference loss at Ohio Stadium in a long while. Now Mack has finally beaten Bob Stoops.

Now, this could very well be the fact that Brown has a once-in-a-lifetime QB like Vince Young, who apparently has the mental toughness to go with his athletic ability. But there's been a drastic change the Longhorns' game play in big games.

The play calling is more aggressive, as evidenced by the long bomb the 'Horns called at the end of the first half in the Oklahoma game. Most coaches play the percentages when up 17-6 and take a knee to end the half, and Mack Brown would have done the same in the past. This time, Brown called a pass play, scored a touchdown, and effectively ended the contest.

Also, the Longhorns have designed their offense around their players' abilities, rather than constraining them by making them fit a "system". They let Vince Young take off during the Michigan game, but during the Ohio State and Oklahoma games, they've taken advantage of Vince Young's arm on key plays.

Maybe he's learning as a coach.

However, coaching is a "what have you done for me lately" buisness, and Mack Brown faces a QB crisis next year as former walk-on Colt McCoy could be the only returning player next year, and the star QB they thought they had, Mitch Mustain, verbally committed to his home state of Arkansas (although, verbal commitments are worth nothing, as UT found out last year with Ryan Perriloux). Without a solid QB, the longhorns could sink back to the pack, and we can forget we ever had this conversation about Mack being a better coach.

Astros beat Braves, set up rematch with Cardinals.

It took 18 innings, but the Houston Astros finally won Game 4 of the division series to set up a rematch with the St. Louis Cardinals. in the National League Championship Series.

It's been a wild ride for the Astros, who started out slowly, then came back to capture the Wild Card behind a cast of young talent, which were led by veterans like Roger Clemens, Andy Pettite, and Craig Biggio.

Unfortunately, for the second straight year, the Cardinals may block the Astros from getting into the World Series. Houston lost 11 of the 16 meetings with the Cardinals this year, and in almost every game, St. Louis stifled Houston's hitting. Also, the Cards have been surprisingly effective against Houston's pitching.

I'd like to see Houston finally make the World Series, but it looks like the Cardinals are going to stuff them once again.

Stars score 5 unanswered goals to win home opener

The NHL season opener snuck up on a lot of people. I was one of them.

However, from what little I've heard and seen, I looks like the NHL's new rules are working. For proof, look no further than the Dallas Stars' home opener.

The LA Kings got up 4 goals on the Stars, which last year would've meant that the Kings would have just sat on the puck and clutched and grabbed their way to victory.

The Stars, however, because of the new NHL rules, were able to score 5 unanswered goals and come back to win.
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