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Has Time Run Out for Charlie Strong at Texas?

After another disappointing start to the season for the Texas Longhorns, could Charlie Strong be on his way out? (USA Today.) Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
After another disappointing start to the season for the Texas Longhorns, could Charlie Strong be on his way out? (USA Today.)
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Texas lost a nailbiter to Kansas State 24-21 that would send the Longhorns to 3-4 on the season in a story that we’ve seen far too many times. The Longhorns were the more talented team, but were once again outcoached and allowed their youth to be the team's kryptonite. After jumping out to a 21-7 lead, the Kansas State Wildcats did everything in their power to give the game away, and Texas never took it. The Wildcats turned the ball over three times in the second half, twice in their own territory. Those three possessions for the Longhorns ended up being two turnover on downs and a missed field goal from 35 yards out. The Texas defense once again reared its ugly head. The Longhorns allowed K State QB Jesse Ertz who came into the game with an injured throwing shoulder and only completing 55% of his passes, complete 20 of his 27 pass attempts and combine for 3 total touchdowns. Kansas State possessed the ball for 38:27 of the 60 minute battle, but that wasn’t entirely the defense's fault. The offense didn’t play that well either. Eight of Texas’ eleven drives lasted less than 2:30. It was an overall lackluster performance in a game Charlie Strong couldn’t afford to lose and it's something Longhorn fans have become accustomed to.

The loss was the Longhorns’ 4th in their last 5 games and also makes the Longhorns 0-4 on the road this season. With only three wins on the season so far, it's going to take a miracle for the Longhorns to make it to a bowl game. Still remaining on the schedule is #8 ranked Baylor next week in Austin, at Texas Tech, and West Virginia and TCU in Austin as well. The Longhorns also have to go to Kansas, but that is a pretty much a guaranteed victory as the Longhorns have won the last 13 matchups. That means the Longhorns will have to scrape together two wins against the four remaining games. Charlie Strong lost three of the four matchups last season, and the only win was against a Baylor team that was down to their 4th string QB. I give the Longhorns a decent shot to beat the Red Raiders in lubbock as their defense can’t stop a rock. This means the Longhorns would have to win one of the three big matchups vs Baylor, West Virginia, and TCU to give Charlie Strong another statement victory, and be considered for a bowl game. Will that be enough? If the Longhorns finish 6-6, that would make Charlie Strong’s career record as the head coach at Texas 17-20. As the head coach of the University of Texas that is unacceptable.

It honestly hurts to think about Charlie Strong no longer being the head coach of the Texas Longhorns, but the possibility grows by the week. Charlie Strong is a good coach and even better recruiter. Coach Strong has a team full of Freshman and Sophomores believing in him and continuously pulls in top 10 recruiting classes even with the Longhorns finishing every year with a losing record. I truly believe this team is a year or two away from returning to the college football elite, where Texas football needs to be. Someone is going to inhabit a great young team next year, and it might not be Charlie Strong.

The unfortunate news for Charlie Strong is football is a “what have you done for me lately” kind of sport. Nobody cares about what the Longhorns were 6 or 7 years ago, or what Charlie promises this team is going to get to. It’s about what are you doing right now. Mike Perrin the athletic director has continued to show support and trust in coach Strong but even he is beginning to get to his witts end. After the loss to Kansas State, the AD refused to take questions from the media. He also earlier this week had a one on one meeting with the head coach. If the Longhorns wanted to fire Charlie, after this season would be the perfect time to do it.

Heading into the offseason Texas could see a few potential big name candidates. Les Miles, Tom Herman, and Jimbo Fisher would all be candidates for the next head coaching job at Texas. Les Miles was fired by the LSU Tigers just a month ago after losing to the Auburn Tigers 18-13, sending LSU to a 2-2 record. Les Miles had been on the hot seat at Louisiana State for a while now, and the loss to Auburn was the final nail in the coffin. His offensive system is outdated, but that wouldn’t be a problem at Texas with new offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert and the spread system that he has brought in. Miles is still an elite recruiter, as LSU finished 3rd in recruiting last season, and is currently 5th in the rankings for this season (according to ESPN.com.) Les Miles would be a big name that could attract the top recruits in the state of Texas, and possibly bring the Longhorns back to dominance.

The next candidate is someone who should receive a lot of attention as he is in the final year of his contract. This candidate is also my favorite to be the next head coach for the Longhorns if Charlie Strong were to be fired, as rumblings have already begun that Tom Herman will be the next Texas head coach.


Tom Herman has turned the Houston Cougars from an average team in the American conference, to a powerhouse in college football. In his first season as the head coach, Herman led Houston to an 11-1 season, an American Conference championship, and a victory over fellow candidate Jimbo Fisher and the Florida State Seminoles in the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl. This season Houston has been a bit disappointing. Houston currently sits at 6-2 on the season and have lost two of their last three games to Navy and SMU. The Cougars still hold a victory over the Oklahoma Sooners, and are likely going to have a another great season participating in possibly a January bowl game. With all this success in just two years at Houston, imagine what Tom Herman could do at Texas. My good friend Nick Gonzalez has gone over a few key points as to why a Texas and Tom Herman marriage makes sense.


With the brand and resources that Texas provides, Tom Herman could turn Texas into a national championship contender very quickly.

Jimbo Fisher is the least likely candidate of the three to join the Longhorns if Charlie Strong was fired as Jimbo is very happy at Florida State. If there was ever team that could pry him away from Florida State it would be Texas. The Longhorns would likely have to fork out an insane amount of money to get Jimbo, but it would be worth every penny. Jimbo is one of the nation's best college coaches and recruiters, which has caused Florida State to continuously be one of the top teams in the nation and in the running for a national championship. If Texas could somehow land Coach Fisher, I would expect a turnaround something similar to what Jim Harbaugh has done at Michigan.

As the weather gets colder the seat of Charlie Strong continues to get hotter. Let me know your thoughts. Is Charlie Strong going to return to Texas next season? If not, then who will be the coach of the Longhorns next season? Let me know your thoughts by leaving a comment down below, voting in the poll below, and tweeting me @Texashomeboy1.   

Madden 18 Wishlist

Madden 17 was one of the best Madden's to date, but what can Electronic Arts do to improve next years game. (Xbox.com)
Madden 17 was one of the best Madden's to date, but what can Electronic Arts do to improve next years game. (Xbox.com)

Madden 17 is one of the best Madden games in the Electronic Art's series. The gameplay is the best it has been in years, franchise mode has taken huge strides, and the presentation is top notch. However, as great has Madden 17 has been, no video game is perfect. What can Madden do to improve next years game? Let's find out; here is my wishlist for Madden 18.  

Gameplay:

- Lack of Clock Management - I’m disappointed that this once again has to be added to another Madden wishlist. EA has once again failed to address the horrific clock management that the CPU uses in late game situations. I was just playing a game recently and was up by 10 points late in the 4th quarter on the CPU. With about 3 minutes left, the CPU started the drive with a quick pass over the middle, casually entered the huddle and took their sweet ole time to get up to the line to snap the ball. Before you knew it, only two plays had been run, the two minute warning had hit, and the CPU was still only at its own 40. This simply doesn’t happen in the actual NFL. Teams recognize when down multiple scores with a just few minutes left that they have to go as quickly as possible. If they were to take their time and wait until after the two minute warning to pick up the pace, then they probably aren’t going to have the opportunity to get the ball back.

- No Forward Progress - Forward progress has been a problem in Madden for a few years. In fact, there really isn’t forward progress in Madden 17. When a player gets tackled and starts getting pushed backwards, if he makes an effort and starts progressing forward, wherever he is tackled is now the new line of scrimmage. Make it like the NFL so wherever he stopped progressing forward is where the player is marked down.

- Man Coverage No Huddle Cheese -  This is a glitch that I just recently noticed while playing Madden 17. Let me set the scene. You’re playing the CPU, and the CPU has the ball at their own 20 with 1:54 left in the first half. You run a basic cover 3, and the CPU completes a pass for 15 yards. The CPU runs no huddle and you switch to man coverage as you hope it will have better success. Once you pull up the play art, you notice that your left outside corner side has been given the assignment to the receiver on the right side slot. Before you can have time to adjust the coverage, the CPU has gashed you with a 65 yard touchdown pass because of a blown coverage. When I switch from a zone to a man coverage when the CPU is in no huddle, I need the corners to pick up the proper assignments.  

Presentation:

- Crowd/sidelines - This was one of my biggest pet peeves for presentation in Madden 16, and it has once again returned for Madden 17. With how great the 22 players on the field look, it’s such a shame at how terrible the rest of the game looks. The sidelines and the crowd still look like models from Madden 04 on the PS2. Please update the graphics EA.

- Big Mouthguards -  Another small feature in presentation, but players need to have the giant mouthguards that they wear in the actual NFL. Just another thing to add to the realism.

- Adjustment for Arm Sleeves - This is a small feature in the presentation, but it's a personal pet peeve between me and a few of my friends. When editing a player's accessories, you are very limited when it comes to arm sleeves. What you do to one  arm has to be done to another. You can’t for example, put a full sleeve on your QB’s right arm, then put a half sleeve on his left. With how much other sports franchises like NBA 2K and MLB the Show allow you to customize, Madden needs to step its game up.      

Ultimate Team:

- Play the next solo without leaving the menu - MUT took a huge step when they added the ability to retry solos without having to leave the game and go back to the main menu. The loading time to leave the game and go back to retry usually took longer than the attempt itself. This causes a lot for frustration and already makes the grind of doing solo challenges even worse. Now let’s take the next step and almost do away with the loading time. Let’s say you’re doing a set of solos like the gauntlet. Once you complete the first one you should be able to move on to the next solo challenge in that set without having to leave the game. This will essentially knock out almost all of the loading time in between solos, and make it even less of a grind.

- No More Contracts for MUT - After completing the journey solo challenge set, I’ve come to realize how big of a problem contracts are in Madden Ultimate Team. I started the solo challenge set with over 2,000 contracts, and about ¾ of the way through I had run out of contracts and had to purchase more. By the end of it, I had run out of contracts and had to purchase another 25k worth of contracts to complete the solo set. I think EA should do away with contracts all together. They are a waste of time and coins, and in my opinion I don’t see what the purpose is in having contracts.  

Franchise:

- Cut/Practice Squad based off low overalls - Cuts in franchise mode have been a big problem for years in Madden. The problem is that the other 31 CPU franchises cut players or put them on the practice squad based off of overall and not based on position or where they were drafted. If you start a Madden 17 franchise and look at the practice squad list you’ll see a couple of names that shouldn’t be there. For example, a guy like Su'a Cravens. The former safety out of USC who was a 2nd round pick and now starts on the Washington Redskins. There’s also Kenyan Drake the 4th round running back out of Alabama. With Lamar Miller gone and the only running backs on the roster being a 30 year old Arian Foster and a Jay Ajayi who has battled knee injuries since college, you probably want to keep Kenyan Drake. Another example is Malcolm Mitchell, the receiver out of Georgia taken in the 4th round by the Patriots. New England has only taken two receivers in the 4th round or earlier since 2010, so I think Belichick sees something in Mitchell. The point is that the CPU needs to account more than just the overall. They are letting go potential building blocks for the franchise.

- Practice Mode Upgrades - Practice mode has become one of the best features in Madden franchise, but it still needs a few tweaks. The first thing to add is actually using practice squad players in practice. Practice squad is one of the new additions to Madden franchise. You can develop rookies and second year players without having to use a spot on the 53 man roster. While you can see who is on your practice squad, you can’t do anything with the players. In Madden 18 when using practice to gameplan for the upcoming game, you should use the practice squad players in that practice. Another thing to add is non contact jerseys for quarterbacks. In this year’s madden, QB’s can get destroyed by defensive players during practice. This is simply unrealistic. Quarterbacks are the prized possesion of an organization and aren’t allowed to be touched in practice.

- Edit Draft Classes before the Draft - As we all know by now, Madden lacks actual draft classes for franchise mode. They have done a great job with coming up with generated players, but it just isn’t the same with not having the college rookies come up into the NFL in your franchise. Now I know that Madden isn’t going to have the actual draft classes in the game anytime soon, and the NCAA Football franchise isn’t returning in the near future, but I have a solution. One thing that NBA 2K does really well is draft classes in their franchise mode. You can still use generated ones that are created by NBA 2K, or you can download a class from the community creations. This allows for guys like EmbraceThePace to build amazing, authentic NBA draft classes. Madden needs to steal this idea. If you give the ability for people to create prospects and build draft classes, and allow the user to download it before the season starts, it would make franchise that much more fun. It would be amazing to do a 49ers franchise and build my team around DeShone Kizer, instead of random generated QB out of Stanford.   

- Snap Count limits - Madden 17 took a step in the right direction with their big decisions inside of connected franchise mode and the ability to bring a player back early from injury, and run the risk of that player getting re injured. I want to take it one step further. It’s unrealistic for a player to return from injury three weeks earlier than they are supposed to and be able to play the entire game at 100%. This is why most teams use snap count limits. Going into the game, the coach has set a certain amount of plays that player will play in the game. That way you’re easing a player back into the game, and it will decrease the chance of a re injury occurring.

- Benching for poor performance - Another cool feature to seen in Madden Franchise is the ability for players to be benched for poor performance by the CPU. Let’s take the New York Jets for example. The Jets don’t really have a true #1 starting quarterback. With Ryan Fitzpatrick, Geno Smith, and Bryce Petty, the starting quarterback position is fair game to everyone. If Fitzpatrick were to go 0-4 to start the season, with 3 touchdowns to 7 interceptions, then the Jets should consider putting in Petty or Geno. Players aren’t really punished for poor performances by the CPU.

- Suspension, ability to implement - In today’s NFL suspensions seem to be more common than injuries. It’s actually surprising if you find a team that doesn’t have a suspended player in 2016. This makes it difficult for a player like me who likes to keep franchises realistic with roster moves. With the inability for player to get suspended in Madden or to put them on suspension, it's near impossible to keep players who are suspended in the actually NFL off the field in Madden. Now, I know that Madden doesn’t want to add suspensions because of the negative outlook it brings with it, but I think I have a fix. Add the ability to add players to a suspension list, and you don’t have to specify what the player is being suspended for. This makes it so that you can keep the realism of taking players off the field, while Madden and EA still keep a good image.

- Player Emotion - One thing that Madden franchise mode still truly lack is player emotion. EA took baby steps when they tweaked the contract negotiations so you can actually see what the player doesn’t like about his contract, but once again, I want to take it one step further. We need to see more emotion and interaction from players. If a player gets benched and they feel that they should still be the starter, let them voice their frustration to you. If you franchise tag a player who feels he should be given a contract as one of the highest paid players at his position, have them threaten to miss games and holdout until a deal is done.   

New Modes:

- Online team up - The one thing that keeps me playing NBA 2k on a yearly basis is the my park and pro am feature in the game. You team up with several of your fellow friends and work together as a cohesive unit to battle against another team full of users. Madden used to have an online team up mode, but it was removed after Madden 25. EA please bring the mode back.  

 

- Improve career mode - This is just getting sad at this point. In 2016 you have to have a career with some story. It’s inexcusable not to. NBA 2K has dominated the player based mode for years with an interesting story that changes from year to year. Now Fifa 17 has incorporated the story-based career mode with the Alex Hunter story. Madden’s career mode doesn’t have anything. You can be an instant starter by the first game. You don’t have any interaction with the team, opposing player, the coach, the owner, nothing. There’s no true incentive to play the career mode unless you want to see your player hit a 99 overall and break all the NFL records. If Madden 18’s player career mode doesn’t have a story or something new for the player career mode, they might as well just do away with it.

This concludes my Madden 18 wishlist. Let me know your thoughts. Did I miss anything in my wishlist? What would you like to see added to Madden 18? Let me know by leaving a comment below and tweeting me @Texashomeboy1.



 

Why Terrance Williams Days as a Dallas Cowboy are Numbered

Terrance Williams has struggled to start in his contract year, could his days as a Dallas Cowboy be numbered. (USA Today.) Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Terrance Williams has struggled to start in his contract year, could his days as a Dallas Cowboy be numbered. (USA Today.)
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Contract years are when you usually see a player take that next leap in his development. You saw it from Josh Norman, and Oliver Vernon last season.  After a pretty average start to their careers, Norman and Vernon saw a big leap in their play in the last year of their contract, which netted each player a huge payday in the offseason. Through three games this has not been the case for Terrance Williams. In fact he has done the exact opposite of elevate his play. In my opinion, this has been the worst three game stretch in Terrance Williams career.


If you look at just statistics, Terrance Williams hasn't been that bad. Williams is fourth on the team in targets (8), catches (7), yards (122), and leads the team in yards per reception (17.4.) Let's dig a little bit deeper into these numbers. If you take away Terrance's week three performance where he had 4 catches for 88 yards, in the first two games Terrance Williams had 3 catches for 44 yards in two weeks. In his week three performance, 47 of those 88 yards came off of one catch. That 47 yard catch came at the beginning of when Terrance Williams broke a post route to the next level and ran for 47 yards. What was going to be a huge gain that would take the Cowboys into the red zone and put the metaphorical nail in the coffin, was all taken away because Williams fumbled the football at the Chicago 17 yard line and Adrian Amos returned it all the to the Bears 40 yard line. Some people might give Terrance Williams a pass because the Cowboys were up 21 points and the game had seemed like it was already over, but not me. This fumbled could have easily avoided. First, you are taught as a receiver whenever possessing the ball, always keep it in the hand closest to the sidelines and away from defenders. Not only did he keep the ball in his right hand while racing down the left sidelines, but he had such a loose grip on the football that it was easily poked away by Jacoby Glenn. I wish I could say this is the only boneheaded move we've seen from Terrance Williams this season.

Let me set the scene. Its week 1 and the Dallas Cowboys are hosting division foe the New York football Giants. The Cowboys are down one with 12 seconds left and Dak Prescott has the ball at his own 46 on a 3rd and 10. The Cowboys have no timeouts. Terrance Williams runs an out route to the sidelines, Dak completes the pass to Williams at the Giants 47, and he can very easily run out of bounds at the 45 to give the Cowboys a shot at the game winning field goal. Terrance instead stops in his tracks, cuts up field, dives to the 40, and once he realized what he had just done, the clock had run out and the Giants had picked up the victory. Now I know what you're about to say, "even if Terrance Williams does run out of bounds, there's no guarantee that Dan Bailey is making a 62 yard field goal to win the game." You are 100% right. There is no guarantee that Bailey makes that field goal, but I like my chances with Dan Bailey, who was 5/5 on field goals on the day.

The misuse of clock management wasn't all Williams fault. To start the drive, Dak Prescott found Lance Dunbar on a 5 yard curl that he turned into a 17 yard reception before falling to the ground in bounds. With a little more effort, Dunbar probably gets out of bounds and saves the Cowboys about 12 seconds. Two plays later, Dak missed a wide open Jason Witten who would have probably scored a touchdown, but at the very least would have gotten in field goal range if the two connected. The loss wasn't fully on Terrance Williams. He's just the icing on top of the disaster cake.

If Terrance Williams had shown great statistical numbers in years past and had consistently produced on the field, then I wouldn't be so hard on him, but this just isn't the case. Last season Terrance Williams was the #1 receiver for most of the year with Dez Bryant out do to injury, and he didn't produce like one. Williams' 94 targets last season were the most in his career by a wide margin, as his previous career high was 74 back in his rookie season in 2013. Terrance 52 catches last season was only 8 more than his rookie season. His 3 touchdowns last season was a career low. I'm not saying he needs to produce 1,500 yards, 90 catches, and 9 touchdowns every season, but I need more production out of my #2 receiver.

With Terrance Williams set to hit the free agent market this season, he is going to get paid by someone. Last season we saw Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones each get over $6 million a year. Terrance should be one of the top receivers in next years free agent class, one that is headlined by Alshon Jeffrey, Michael Floyd, Desean Jackson, and Vincent Jackson. Some team is going to pay Terrance Williams, and I doubt it's the Cowboys. Let me know your thoughts. Should the Cowboys resign Terrance Williams? Let me know by leaving a comment below and tweeting me @Texashomeboy1!     




   

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