Tepper's Take: Let's Go!
Tepper's Take: Let's Go!
2014-08-28 10:30:00

Tepper's Take fights conservative coaching, picks Allen-Guyer and plays with cats.

 By Greg Tepper
 DCTF Managing Editor

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Editor’s note: This is Tepper’s Take, the weekly column from managing editor Greg Tepper. It’s a blend of football and non-football topics. All opinions are Greg Tepper’s alone. Enjoy.

It’s the August 28 edition of Tepper’s Take, and I’ve done lived more than an eighty year man still kickin’, ‘cause they live for some moments, and I live for the livin’.

First Word

Last night, the first FBS college football game of the season took place, and it was also the first FBS college football game involving a Texas team. Abilene Christian traveled to Atlanta to take on Georgia State in the Georgia Dome. And while the Wildcats (an FCS squad) acquitted themselves well in a close loss to the Panthers (an FBS team), last night’s game was indicative of a problem across all of football:

Coaching scared.

Let me paint the picture: Abilene Christian held a 37-35 lead with 2:53 left in the game. After a 5-yard gain, the Wildcats faced 4th and 2 on its own 47-yard line, and Georgia State had just burned its last timeout. Abilene Christian coach Ken Collums opted to punt, and lost.

Now, I won’t badger you with my own personal feelings about 4th down (short version: coaches don’t go for it on 4th down nearly enough), and I won’t suggest that the decision to punt was the only reason the Wildcats lost, but let’s break down the decision-making here.

-The ensuing punt traveled 34 yards, and Georgia State took over on its own 19.

-If Abilene Christian had gone for it and not made it, Georgia State would’ve taken over on the ACU 47.

-Thus, the decision to punt resulted in a field position change of 34 yards.

Of course, there’s another side to this: if Abilene Christian goes for it on 4th down and converts, they can essentially kneel out the clock (or, at the very least, run the clock down to its waning seconds).

Abilene Christian averaged 6.5 yards per play last night. All they needed to essentially win the game was two yards.

Let’s put it another way. According to AdvancedNFLStats.com’s Win Probability Calculator, here are Abilene Christian’s win probabilities based on these three outcomes of that decision point.

Punt (GSU ball on its own 19, down 2, 2:41 to play): 62%
Go For It/Failure (GSU ball on the ACU 47, down 2, 2:48 to play): 48%
Go For It/Convert (ACU ball on the ACU 49, up 2, 2:48 to play): 88%

Basically, based on the numbers, you have more to gain by going for it than you have to lose. Is it a risk to go for it there? Absolutely: you’re no longer favored to win if you don’t convert. But if you punt, you’re giving away what is your best chance to win the game on your own terms.

Punting the ball away is passive, it’s playing it safe, it’s making sure your team doesn’t lose as opposed to ensure that your team wins. It would’ve been a very aggressive move from Ken Collums to go for it there.

And the thing is: most coaches — the vast majority of coaches — would’ve done exactly what Ken Collums did. Because coaches are, by their nature, risk-averse.

It’s time to change that. The right move last night was to go for it.  Hopefully, we’ll see a move toward more aggressive coaching and away from “playing not to lose.

Games I’d TiVo If The UIL Would Let Me (And College Games I Will, In Fact, TiVo)

Denton Guyer vs. Allen, 7:30 p.m. Friday at UNT’s Apogee Stadium
It’s important to remember, on the eve of this, the only scheduled matchup of reigning state champions, that games like this — state title-caliber teams meeting in non-district matchups — didn’t always happen. As recently as ten years ago, coaches shied away from scheduling these big-time games. Now, they’re commonplace, and it’s hard to argue that there’s a bigger one this week than this rumble in Denton. You know Allen: biggest school in the state, best player in the state (QB Kyler Murray, our reigning Mr. Texas Football), one of the best coaches in the state (the somehow underrated Tom Westerberg) and just an all-around wrecking machine. But Denton Guyer, the defending 4A DI champs making the leap to 6A, is more than just their star QB who now resides in Austin. They’ve got an heir apparent in Shawn Robinson, a fantastic running back in Anthony Taylor and a blitzkrieg of a defense, led by DT Carl Thompson. And don’t forget: Allen is almost entirely green on defense. This will be a classic.
Tepper’s pick: Allen 34, Denton Guyer 31

UTSA at Houston, 8 p.m. Friday at Houston’s TDECU Stadium
Not the college game you were expecting? Don’t worry: we’ll have your full preview of games tomorrow (or, for tonight’s A&M-South Carolina game, right now). But this game intrigues me to no end because it’s a clash of two teams we have very high expectations for. UTSA is one of the most experienced teams in the country, replacing only their quarterback and one defensive starter. Meanwhile, Houston is christening its brand new stadium with a team that features an explosive offense, courtesy of QB John O’Korn and WR Deontay Greenberry, and a criminally underappreciated defense. I hate to put this on one player, but this game comes down to UTSA QB Tucker Carter. If the new Roadrunner-in-chief performs well, UTSA can spoil the grand opening. If not, Houston will look the part of AAC contender.
Tepper’s pick: Houston 38, UTSA 28 

Aledo vs. Cedar Park, 7:30 p.m. Friday at Baylor’s McLane Stadium
See what I mean about mega-matchups in the high school ranks? This might as well be a state championship game, considering the pedigree that both teams will bring onto the field. The big story is that this game will be the first in Baylor’s new McLane Stadium, but once you get past the beautiful new facility, you’ll see that this is one of the state’s great matchups. Aledo is absolutely loaded again, with WR Ryan Newsome and QB Luke Bishop back to direct the Bearcats’ record-smashing offense. Cedar Park’s defense, too, looks like its usual exceptional self, with LB Thomas Hutchings back for his senior season. But I think it’ll be the other side of the ball — Aledo’s unproven defense against Cedar Park’s unproven offense — that’ll serve as the deciding factor.
Tepper’s pick: Aledo 35, Cedar Park 28

Three Bold, Sure-To-Be-Wrong Predictions

Let’s see if I can get above .500 this season. 

-San Antonio Brennan proves that last year wasn’t a fluke as QB Da’Shawn Key runs wild in a victory over Leander Rouse.

-TCU, Texas Tech and Texas State beat Samford, Central Arkansas and Arkansas-Pine Bluff (respectively) by a combined total of more than 120 points.

-McAllen topples Odessa Permain in San Antonio, sending the Valley into jubilation.

Manster Watch!

Each week, I’ll identify one player to watch across the state who could be poised for a breakout game. If he does, in fact, have a breakout game (we’ll define the stakes each week), he’ll get the honorary title of Manster — half-man, half-monster — and a place in this column for the entire season. Also: “True Detective” on DVD. OK, just the title. 

For its first nomination of the season, the Manster Watch casts its gaze upon Richmond George Ranch ATH Xavian Marks. It’s hard to specify what Marks does, because he does a bit of everything. Run the ball? Yep. Catch the ball? You betcha. Special teams? You better believe it. He’s George Ranch’s X-factor, and a big reason why we expect the Longhorns to thrive this season

So here’s the deal, Mr. Marks: if you can rack up 150 yards of total offense and score two touchdowns in your game against Pearland Dawson on Friday night, we’ll name you our first Manster of the year. Sound good? Let’s see it.

Song Sure to Get You Fired Up for Football

“Benzie Box,” by Danger Doom. Pretty much anything that producer Danger Mouse touches turns to gold, and his collaboration with underground rapper MF Doom is no exception. This is the best song off their collaboration, not only because it involves Cee-Lo Green (that’s him singing the hook) but also because the beat is so infectious. Oh, and MF Doom can rap.

Personal Rankings Apropos of Nothing

Top 5 Regions of Texas Based on Beauty:

1)   Big Bend
2)   Hill Country
3)   Piney Woods
4)   Coastal Bend
5)   Permian Basin

Pre-Game Meal of the Week

Slow cooker Italian chicken! All hail the mighty Crock Pot. It is my leader. The greatness of the Crock Pot is that you can just dump all the ingredients in there and leave. That’s so beautiful. In this recipe, you take chicken breasts (4-5 of them, to be exact) and a 16-ounce bottle of Italian salad dressing. Put all of it in the Crock Pot, set it for 3.5 hours on high, and you’re done. Seriously! Recipes that even I can’t screw up are proof that there is a God and He loves us very much.

Bye Week Distraction

Maybe your team isn’t playing this weekend for some reason, opting to take Week 1 off. No biggie! We can get you through the weekend. 

Do you like cats? Well, I don’t. But I also recognize that there are people who do like cats. And so, for those people, I pass along iPet Companion, a website which allows you not only to watch live webcams of cats in humane society shelters across the nation, but lets you control the camera and three toys in the room. That’s right: you can now virtually play with cats. We’re living in the future.

Yell At Me

I’m available via e-mail or via Twitter. Let me know if you like my column, or if you want to tell me all about your cat named Sparkles, or both.

Impressive (and True!) Trivia of the Week

Did you know that some squids can fly? Believe it: some cephalopods can propel themselves through the air up to 50 meters. Enjoy your nightmares tonight! 

Go football!

Greg Tepper is the managing editor of Dave Campbell's Texas Football and TexasFootball.com.

He can be reached via e-mail, via Twitter (@Tepper) and via the DCTF Facebook page.

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