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Dotson Lewis' Blog Archives for 2013-07

Texas Longhorns Preview


Dotson Lewis

Special to the Dotson’s Benchwarmers Blog

Pre-Season Insights for College Football Fans

Dotson’s Note #1: Before we get into a discussion about College Football nationally, A&M and UT are the two teams that engender the most conversation in this area; them we will discuss them first. If any Benchwarmers fans need a detailed report on their favorite team, let us know.

UT wins the toss so we will discuss where they stand, next week we see where A&M fits.

UT Quarterback, Junior David Ash

The Texas Longhorns faced a number of obstacles last season that left them at 9-4 with a momentous Alamo Bowl win in December. Now with some confidence behind them, the 'Horns are looking to tackle a 2013 year that has special written all over it.

Nineteen returning starters is enough cause for some enthusiasm, but uncertainties at certain positions may seriously weaken the foundation for a run at a conference title.

Exactly what else are the Longhorns facing as the summer weeks dwindle?

Strengths

The Running Game: The trio of Johnathan Gray, Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron figures to be one of the most potent backfields in all of college football. The talent is there, but now it is time for that talent to translate into production.

With such a diverse set of skills between the three, there may exist a delicate combination of touches that will support the development of quarterback David Ash and the passing game.

Much it of, however, will rely on the progression of an experienced offensive line that returns all five starters.

Health is the biggest concern. Brown missed five games in 2012, which opened the door for Gray to shine. But like a tripod, Texas' running game will need all three legs performing consistently or the entire project can suffer.

Mike Davis and Jaxon Shipley: Apart from Davis and Shipley, Texas does not exactly exude a ton of confidence with its other wide receivers. With 11 receivers on scholarship, that leaves plenty of doors open for whomever wants to lunge at the opportunity.

The senior Davis and junior Shipley will have plenty on their plates.

Davis decided to return for his final season instead of jumping to the NFL, a decision that should prove critical for Texas' deep ball. Meanwhile, a fully healthy Shipley figures to provide that security-blanket aspect for Ash in what will be a crucial year for his development.

19 Returning Starters: Texas returns vast experience as it becomes one of the most veteran teams in the country in 2013.

Offensively, the 'Horns get everyone back. And, from a chemistry standpoint, those returning starts will be imperative for the growth of co-offensive coordinator Major Applewhite's offense.

Defensively, Texas will have to replace all-conference performers in Alex Okafor and Kenny Vaccaro, efforts that will be heavily scrutinized during defensive coordinator Manny Diaz's third season in Austin.

Experience is not always everything, but inexperience ran wild throughout Texas' defense a season ago and we all know the result of that. Now, it is time to flip the script.

Speed: The Longhorns seemingly have been recruiting more speed lately and the offensive side of the ball figures to have plenty of it.

Although the departures of Marquise Goodwin and D.J. Monroe are huge losses in speed, the emergence of sophomore Daje Johnson could make us forget all about the long-goners.

Johnson impressed in his limited action as a freshman and he will look to inherit plenty of those speed-sweep and end-around looks as the go-to home run guy on offense.

Davis has shown his ability to get behind the opposing secondary, a tool that will be an essential component to Texas' offense this year.

Other notables include Johnathan Gray and up-and-coming wideout Kendall Sanders, who appears to be in line to secure the No. 3 spot behind Davis and Shipley.

Weaknesses

Defensive Safety: Losing Vaccaro in the secondary is a huge hit and now the Longhorns are looking at a duo of senior Adrian Phillips—who struggled incredibly in 2012—and junior Mykkele Thompson, who has just six starts under his belt.

If Phillips can bring more of his 2011 self rather than his 2012 self, Texas will be in much better shape. But that is a big if.

The back end figures to be one of the more heavily scrutinized positions early on.

Linebacker Shortage: It is no secret that Texas had its biggest problem at linebacker last season, but the return of Jordan Hicks off of injury as well as the emergence of at least one other has generated some encouragement heading into the year.

Still, the flak coming from the worst statistical defensive season in Texas football history has issued plenty of concern.

Will Hicks come back as the difference-maker he was once projected to be? Is Peter Jinkens, who started three games in 2012, the real deal or was it some fixation?

How will Steve Edmond respond after a very disappointing season? Can Dalton Santos brew enough competition to provide a much-improved middle linebacker front?

Texas can squash all of the negative talk quickly with strong play from its linebackers and it is all a wait-and-see type of project right now.

Receivers Ranks Thin: Texas' depth beyond Davis and Shipley is laughable. The numbers are there with 11 receivers, but the consistency in performance is not.

Sophomores Kendall Sanders and Cayleb Jones appear to be the top underclassmen, but both have had off-the-field issues that have them suspended for the season opener. Marcus Johnson, however, is not far behind them.

Bryant Jackson, John Harris and Miles Onyegbule are the veteran upperclassmen, but their production has been stymied by injuries or the inability to perform consistently.

Can any of the three keep healthy enough to cash in?

Jake Oliver, Montrel Meander and Jacorey Warrick fill out the rest of the group as true freshmen, but the realistic expectations for this year have to be slim.

At the end of the day, Texas cannot be comfortable with just two proven options at receiver.

Tight End needed: Junior college transfer Geoff Swaim could be making a push for the top job now that sophomore M.J. McFarland is recovering from a knee injury. Regardless, the Longhorns will have to see production instead of just imagining it.

Junior Greg Daniels is the only other tight end on the roster, but his body of work does not exactly scream production, either.

Generated by  IJG JPEG Library

The Bottom Line:

Head Coach Mack Brown is on the hot seat, he has plenty to work with—good and bad.

But if Texas can hone in on what it already has going strong while improving on its weaknesses, then 2013 will be a great ride to the end.

Just as the players in college football present a carousel of talent, the coaches have their own circus rides that can create waves throughout the sport.

The Texas Longhorns enter year No. 3 of a rebuild that started following their 5-7 disaster in 2010. As one of the most experienced teams in the country, a near 180-degree switch from a season ago, Texas is on the brink of a true resurgence.

But just as success—in the form of a conference title and beyond—will re-establish the 'Horns as a top program, anything close to mediocrity or stagnation could signal the end for Mack Brown.

Defensive coordinator Manny Diaz is definitely in a make-or-break season for his job, for reasons well endured.

Dotson’s Note #2: Had I known when I wrote the foregoing, of all of the brewhaha about Johnny Football’s escapades during the last few days, I would have fixed it so that A&M won the toss. Be ready for next week; hope we don’t run out of space.

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Top Headlines


Dotson Lewis Benchwarmers Blog

There have been many sports headlines this past week. Here are the two leaders. High school football practice starts in just over a month. It’s about time to start talking about something worthwhile. Hang in there!

 

 

Patriots Fans Rush to Swap Aaron Hernandez Jerseys

Fans of the New England Patriots rushed to trade in jerseys bearing the name of former tight end Aaron Hernandez, who is being held without bail at Bristol County Jail on charges of first-degree murder.

 

 

A fan shields his head in the sun while waiting to exchange his New England Patriots Aaron Hernandez football jersey at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., on Saturday.

Prosecutors have said that Hernandez orchestrated the execution of 27-year-old Odin Lloyd – found dead near Hernandez’s home in June. The Patriots released Hernandez less than two hours after his June 26 arrest.

On Wednesday, the team issued a statement announcing that over the weekend the Pro Shop at Gillette Stadium would offer fans the opportunity to trade in the disgraced player’s jersey for that of another player on the team.

A saleswoman at the Pro Shop in  Foxborough, Mass., said Saturday that the store was “very busy” with fans opting to swap their No. 81 jersey. Close to 1,200 jerseys had been traded in by the afternoon, NBC Sports reported. Jerseys for quarterback Tom Brady and nose tackle Vince Wilfork were among the most popular sought in trades, the team said.

Still, some fans view their Hernandez jersey as collectible and have chosen to auction their jersey online. On Saturday, there were more than 750 results listed on eBay for Aaron Hernandez jerseys. Some sellers were asking for up to $1,000 for a jersey with his autograph.

Peter Leventhal, a sports memorabilia dealer at Boston’s Kenmore Collectibles, says there is little value to the Hernandez jerseys.

 “There was a small bump [in sales] when O.J. Simpson was on trial,” Leventhal said, “but that didn’t last.”

Vintage Simpson jerseys are being auctioned online for between $12 and $200 – asking prices that are similar to Simpson’s football contemporaries with untarnished reputations.

Leventhal said he would never sell a Hernandez jersey in his store, adding, “I find it distasteful.”

 

Dwight Howard will join Houston Rockets

 

 

After 20 months of twists and turns in the Dwight Howard saga, he made a decision on where he will play next season, the Houston Rockets.

"I've decided to become a member of the Houston Rockets," Howard tweeted. "I feel its the best place for me and I am excited about joining the Rockets and I'm looking forward to a great season. I want to thank the fans in Los Angeles and wish them the best."

Howard's deal with Houston is worth $88 million over four years. If he had stayed with the Lakers he could've made another $30 million and one more season.

 

Dwight Howard vs. Tim Duncan

 

Late Friday evening, Howard had changed his twitter avatar to him wearing a Rockets uniform.

Howard informed all the teams in the running of his decision one at a time, with the Lakers coming later in the day.

"We have been informed of Dwight's decision to not return to the Lakers. Naturally we're disappointed," Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said in a statement. "However, we will now move forward in a different direction with the future of the franchise and, as always, will do our best to build the best team possible, one our great lakers fans will be proud to support. To Dwight, we thank him for his time and consideration and for his efforts with us last season. We wish him the best of luck on the remainder of his NBA career."

For all the allure of the Lakers that he was so excited about after the trade that brought him to Los Angeles in the summer of 2012, Howard ultimately went with the team that gave him the best chance to win a championship now rather than later.

 

Dwight Howard vs. Tony Parker

 

 

The Rockets had gone to great lengths to clear the way for his arrival, remaking their roster and offering a chance to partner with James Harden on the team that went 45-37 last season and pushed his former Oklahoma City Thunder team to six games in a first-round playoff loss.

After being traded from the Orlando Magic to the Los Angeles Lakers in a four-team deal a year ago, Howard entered the summer unsure of what he might do because of the awful Lakers season that had unfolded.

He will be happy only if the spotlight is on him…look out James Harden!

 

James Harden-Houston Rockets Star

 

I didn’t know much about Dwight Howard and really cared less, until he decided to sign with the Rockets. Now after some research, I believe it’s a question of attitude (Howard’s). What do you think of the deal, now that he is in our back yard? Call the Benchwarmers and let us know.  It should be a fun year, especially “Spurs vs. Rockets.”

4TH OF JULY


Fireworks and barbeques may be the first things to come to mind when thinking of the Fourth of July, but a number of notable events in the world of sports have also occurred on Independence Day.

 

This is the 4th of July sports event that stands out in my memory

 

 

Close to 62,000 fans packed Yankee Stadium on July 4, 1939 for an event called "Lou Gehrig Appreciation Day." With the ailing player retiring, the Yankees retired his No. 4 uniform as players, coaches and dignitaries feted the captain. In a speech that has now become famous, Gehrig told the fans in attendance "I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth."
 
Do you recall hearing of any of these? Do you have others?

 

 
 
1910: Former undefeated heavyweight champion Jim Jeffries came out of retirement in with the sole purpose of defeating African-American boxer Jack Johnson. The anticipated fight took place on July 4th that year in front of 22,000 people. When the bout was stopped in the 15th round after Jeffries had been knocked down twice, Johnson was declared the winner. The result sparked race riots across the country.
 
 
1919:  Jack Dempsey knocked out defending champion Jess Willard in four rounds to become the heavyweight champion of the world.
 
1964: Although the game between the Kansas City Royals and Baltimore Orioles was tied 6-6, officials stopped play because of a Baltimore curfew to permit a fireworks show to take place. The game was also notable because Kansas City's Manny Jimenez, who hadn't hit a single home run in 1963, went deep three times in the tie.
 
1976:  Philadelphia Phillies catcher Tim McCarver hit what should have been a Grand Slam homerun. Instead, it became known as a “Grand Slam Single,” as McCarver passed his teammate Garry Maddox on the bases. The Phillies still beat the Pirates, 10-5.
 
 
1980: As a member of the Houston Astros, Nolan Ryan earned the 3000th strikeout of his career. He fanned Ceasar Geronimo of the Cincinnati Reds to achieve that impressive mark.
 
1983: New York Yankees pitcher Dave Righetti's 4-0 win, was special for two major reasons. First, it came against the Boston Red Sox, and second, it was a no-hitter.
 
 
1984: NASCAR legend Richard Petty took the checkered flag in the Firecracker 400.  Not only was it the final race he would win in his storied career, but it was also Petty's 200th career victory.
 
1985: By the time the 19-inning, six hour and 10 minute game between the Mets and Braves was finished, the calendar had rolled over from July 4, to July 5. Despite the late hour of 4 a.m. and despite the Braves' 16-13 loss, fireworks were set off at Atlanta Fulton Country Stadium. While the 1000 fans left at the game considered it a treat, the ballpark's neighbors did not. According to reports, 911 operators received many calls fearful the city was under attack.
 
1993: It was an "All-American" championship at Wimbledon, as Pete Sampras faced off against Jim Courier. Winning the first of his seven titles at the All England Club, Sampras prevailed in four sets, 7-6, 7-6, 3-6, 6-3.
 
1999: As a member of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Jose Canseco became the first player in Major League history to hit 30 home runs with four different teams (the A's, Rangers and Blue Jays are the others).
 
2001: Team USA soccer captain Cindy Parlow became the youngest player in U.S. history with 100 international appearances in a 1-0 victory over Canada.  She was just 23 years old at the time.
 

 

2001:  Fifty people were stranded on the Ferris wheel ride at Comerica Park during a game between the Royals and Tigers.  After two hours they were rescued by firefighters and given tickets to another game, free dinner and team autographs from the Tigers.
 
2004: The All-Star Game selections were announced on July 4th that year. For the first time in MLB All-Star history, three players with 500 career home runs started in the game. Those players were Barry Bonds, Ken Griffey Jr. and Sammy Sosa (all from the NL).
 
2006:  Mets closer Billy Wagner induced Juan Castillo to hit into a fielder's choice for the final out, becoming the 20th pitcher in Major League Baseball history to record 300 career saves.
 
2007: Six-time Nathan's Famous Fourth of July International Hot Dog Eating Contest champion Takeru Kobayashi was upset by Joey Chestnut .  Chestnut won by downing a record 66 hot dogs and buns in 12 minutes.
 
Dotson’s note: If you know of any memorable sports events that happened on July 4th, please call the Benchwarmers, ESPN Corpus Christi AM 1440, weekdays 4-6 pm, 361-560-5397.Listen/call in  for the best in local sports talk. 
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