Bohls: Longhorns' D has been especially important in Omaha

Bohls: Longhorns’ D has been especially important in Omaha

June 23, 2021
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While I got ya, here are nine things and one crazy prediction: 1. Defense never rests. Texas’ defense is deadly. You’ll see no better defensive play than catcher Silas Ardoin’s scoop of a bounced throw from third baseman Cam Williams to start a huge double play to help Tristan […]

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Texas reliever Tanner Witt came on in great relief of Tristan Stevens and, coupled with some super Longhorn defense, kept the Longhorns battling in the College World Series.

While I got ya, here are nine things and one crazy prediction:

1. Defense never rests. Texas' defense is deadly. You’ll see no better defensive play than catcher Silas Ardoin’s scoop of a bounced throw from third baseman Cam Williams to start a huge double play to help Tristan Stevens escape a bases-loaded, no-outs jam. Was the defensive play of the year. Then second baseman Mitchell Daly started another big double play to prevent a run in Texas' 8-4 win over Tennessee. David Pierce gets his first CWS win as Texas head coach. … Tennessee went up to the plate hacking. The Volunteers weren’t shy about swinging at Stevens’ first pitches, knowing he’s always around the plate and not overpowering, but Texas bats were lively. … North Carolina State’s 1-0 win over Vandy and co-ace Jack Leiter was just terrific baseball. … Interesting how LSU pitcher Ben McDonald and the ESPN booth discussed the art of breaking in gloves. Terrific analyst Chris Burke reminisced about putting his glove in a microwave to soften it up. I’ll never forget the time Texas beat LSU 12-7 in the 1989 College World Series in part when Longhorns coach Cliff Gustafson detected that the blister-ridden, All-American McDonald held the ball either higher or lower in the glove pocket depending on whether he was throwing a fastball or breaking ball. Gus would somehow relay the news to his hitters, who pounded the Golden Spikes Award winner for nine runs in his worst start ever.

2. Supreme decision. Much is being made of a unanimous decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to deny anti-trust protection for the NCAA and declaring that student-athletes can receive education-related benefits like computers, internships and postgrad scholarships. It’s mostly window dressing because it isn’t a precursor to pay for play, but it’s just more affirmation that the repressive amateur model the NCAA clings to is finally dying a much-needed death. The real change will begin on July 1 when at least six states — Texas, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, New Mexico — enact laws allowing college athletes to profit from their names, images and likenesses. These state by state laws are the real meaningful change with teeth. … And know this. The NCAA is being neutered and marginalized, but it’s not going away. Just think of it as a house that is being razed and will have to be built back up from the slab. But don't think for a moment the NCAA went away. The Division I schools still need an umbrella organization to set new rules, new enforcement policies, new championship models, etc. The whole works. And I’ve not seen one replacement model suggested by a school, a collection of schools or conferences.

3. On the road again. Again? So after a lengthy, uh, one-game homestand, Austin FC is back on the road again for a Wednesday match against a Minnesota team it beat 1-0 with an actual, real-life goal on May 2. Head coach Josh Wolff even joked Monday that his team is “very familiar” with being on the road, having played its first eight matches away from home before breaking in Q2 Stadium last Saturday night with its home debut. Wolff bought into the set-up question and said, “Yeah, we were missing the road. But we’ll regroup quickly.” ... Austin sure wasn’t done any favors with the taxing schedule, due in part to Q2 Stadium not being ready at the start of the MLS season. But that doesn’t explain the 10 sets of Saturday-Wednesday quick turnaround games that the Oaks will endure in their inaugural season. … One thing that should be in Austin’s favor is the preponderance of home matches the second half of the season with 16 of its final 25 games at the Q. Such a loud stadium made it hard for Wolff to even shout commands to his players standing only 20 to 30 feet away, but the oppressive heat and humidity should work in Austin’s favor when the dog days get here. (NOTE: I guess these are the cat days, but they should feel hotter.) Injuries and a lack of access to an academy that can supply reinforcements have kept the roster to only 18 players with several done for the year. The team doesn’t have any healthy strikers and will look for support elsewhere. “We’ve got to add an attacker or forward or midfielder,” Wolff said. “We’ve brought in 15 players from the academy to help us train. Brought in a couple of college kids, too. That is a challenge.”

4. What closet? I think Carl Nassib's a hero. I’m sure some others do not. I can’t imagine the verbal abuse he’s going to receive from fans, opponents, maybe even some of his own teammates. But it took a lot of courage for the Las Vegas Raiders defensive end to come out and say he is openly gay, the first active NFL player to do so. It was a historic occasion. He also donated $100,000 to the non-profit organization Trevor Project, a toll-free, confidential hotline with counselors to help combat suicides among other worthwhile goals and should be commended for that.

5. Bowled over. Was chatting with a friend about Tom Herman recently and the fact that he was fired despite winning four bowl games in four consecutive seasons. If you omit Mack Brown’s terrific 10-5 bowl record with five victories in CFP bowl sites Cotton (two), Rose (two) and Fiesta (one), Herman’s postseason production equaled the combined bowl wins of the other four head coaches who preceded him. Charlie Strong, John Mackovic, David McWilliams and the late Fred Akers totaled just four bowl victories among them with an overall record of 4-11 over a 24-year span. Those wins came in the Cotton (one), Sun (two) and Bluebonnet (one). Really magnifies just how good the Mack era was and what a shame it disintegrated because of subpar recruiting, poor offensive line evaluation and development and — this will shock you — average quarterbacks. But to think a football coach will be fired after four winning seasons and four bowl victories and Strong lasted just three seasons, it should serve notice to Steve Sarkisian that winning isn’t recommended for his survival, it’s mandatory. ... The start of football season is just two months away, and I saw a couple of interesting gems. The five teams with the hardest schedules are Arkansas (first), Kansas, Auburn, Texas and Oklahoma State. Close behind are Baylor (sixth), Kansas State (eighth), TCU (14th) and Texas A&M (17th). ... A shame wideout Jake Smith is entering the transfer portal. Thought he might have star potential. Had a whopping nine touchdowns and 48 catches in two years.

6. Quick hits. Best wishes to R.C. Slocum, who is battling a form of Hodgkin's lymphoma, needing chemotherapy. One helluva guy. A favorite of every reporter I know. Straight shooter. And an A&M coach who kept the Aggies relevant enough that the SEC wanted them. ... Texas head tennis coach Howard Joffe was named the ITA Division I women’s national coach of the ear, and UT associate head coach Taylor Fogleman was selected as the ITA Division I women’s national assistant coach of the year. Texas finished 31-1 in dual-match play and won the school’s third team national championship, ending with a 24-match win streak. … Congrats to Texas Lutheran placekicker Juan Ocampo for being named first-team All-American to the 2020-21 Division 3 All-American football team. The Lockhart junior, who is also an academic All-America nominee, missed one kick all season as he was seven for eight in field goals with a long of 44 yards and hit all 17 of his extra point tries. Ocampo joined teammate Nike Gooden — who surely was also on the All-America All-Name Team — a senior offensive tackle from Bryan for the Bulldogs.

7. Crackdown. I welcome a new stance from Major League Baseball for instituting instant and widespread checks on pitchers for illegal substances. On the first day, umpires were all but frisking pitchers, even making Jake deGrom take off his belt. Not totally disrobing, but close. Not sure where it’s going to end. As good as deGrom is — a 0.50 ERA, really? — the Mets pitcher might need to be checked after every pitch. Tim Kurkjian, my favorite baseball sportscaster, said Monday night that historically pitchers have received these foreign substances on mound visits from catchers, and that catchers may have to be examined as well. That’s not going to make these tediously long games even longer or anything. … But, hey, these hitters need all the help they can get. Of course, batters might consider helping themselves by, say, not trying to hit every pitch out of the ballpark, by hitting the ball away from a shift, by practicing bunting. The contact hitter in baseball has gone the way of Blockbuster. … We’ve already seen five no-hitters, all of them by mid-May and even one by Wade Miley. The league average has sunk to an appalling .239, which would represent the worst since .237 in 1968. Dan O’Dowd, the major league baseball analyst on the MLB network and former long-time GM of the Colorado Rockies, said last week that the contact hitter “has been devalued more than ever before,” and that’s a shame.

8. Scattershooting. While wondering whatever happened to former Longhorns shortstop Blair Stouffer, one of the stars of the 1975 national champion team.

9. On the couch. Watched “Oslo,” a movie based on a Tony Award-winning play about the historic and secret Oslo peace accords between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization. Slow-moving and dry, but illuminating. Gave it five ducks.

Crazy prediction: The Dallas Cowboys will reach the NFC title game.

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