College football report

Saturday NCAA football recap: Longhorns bag their first season-opening win in 3 years

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Week One is in the books and Texas teams are giving everyone something to talk about. Here's a look at what happened in the Lone Star State and with LSU:


Oklahoma 49, Houston 31

First year Houston coach Dana Holgorsen, who coached at West Virginia before making his train wreck of a debut Sunday night, seemed to have expected the loss well before kickoff. "We knew we weren't going to catch these guys sleeping today, so it is what it is," Holgorsen said. "They're a top-five team, deservedly so." And that defeatist mentality is what keeps world-class talent from reaching its full potential. Are the Sooners a top-five team? Yes, but did we really have to let them roll over us like that? Fourth-ranked Oklahoma allowed 31 points by a team that lost its glimmer of national relevance three years ago when Tom Herman left for Texas. The struggles of the Cougar's offensive and defensive lines decided the game. Houston's new defensive coordinator, Joe Cauthen has some explaining to do after his defense was shredded by Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts. In his first game with the Sooners since transferring from Alabama, Hurts put on a show racking up 508 total yards. Hurts appeared focused and comfortable as he completed 20-of-23 passes for 332 yards and rushed for 176 yards on 16 carries. To be fair, Hurts is phenomenally talented and Cauthen is tasked with transforming a defense that finished amongst the worst in every major category last season. I spent most of the game searching for the "attacking style defense" Cauthen spoke so fondly of back in July. As much as I would like to lay all the blame for Sunday's loss at Cauthen's feet, the explosive offense we know and love was dormant for the entire first half. OU was playing like they were trying out for the league and the Cougars looked like they only showed up to keep their scholarships. King was limited to just 87 passing yards in the first half and finished with just 167 yards passing.

Texas A&M 41, Texas State 7

This should come as a surprise to no one but the 12th-ranked Aggies easily put the Bobcats away in their season-opener on Saturday. Aggie quarterback Kellen Mond threw for 194 yards, three touchdowns and ran for another score, all in the first two quarters, giving Texas A&M a 28-0 halftime lead. First year starting running back Jashaun Corbin had 103 rushing yards with a touchdown run and a TD reception. Defensive back Myles Jones had two of Texas A&M's four interceptions and the Aggies had three sacks and nine tackles for losses. Although Texas A&M's secondary was a weak spot last season, the four interceptions in Saturday's game were the most the team has had since 2006. Texas State quarterback Tyler Vitt threw two interceptions in the first half before first-year coach Jack Spivital replaced him with Gresch Jensen who threw an interception on his second pass. Hopefully the Bobcats can get their quarterback situation ironed out before hosting Wyoming next week. The Aggies are set to take on top-ranked Clemson in South Carolina next week.

LSU 55, Georgia Southern 3

LSU quarterback Joe Burrow tied an LSU single-game record with five touchdown passes in the first two quarters and the Tigers cruised to a 55-3 victory over Georgia Southern. Burrow playfully urged reporters to write that the Tigers new offense "showed everything we got – all of it," in its season opened against Ga. Southern. The Tigers scored 21 points in the first quarter, more than they ever did in any quarter last season. Burrow completed 23-of-27 passes for 278 yards and five touchdowns. "We're going to run the spread offense. We're going to score points. We've got athletes. That's what we do," LSU coach Ed Orgeron said. "The scheme is a lot better this year. We have answers to different coverages." While the true test for LSU will come next week when they face Texas, the new spread scheme will put the Tigers' opponents on notice. Eagles starting quarterback Shai Werts threw one completed pass for no yards and was knocked out the game before halftime with an upper body injury. Georgia Southern faces Maine in week two and LSU visits 10th-ranked Texas on Saturday.

Texas 45, Louisiana Tech 14

Texas star quarterback Sam Ehlinger threw four touchdown passes Saturday night, leading the No. 10 Longhorns to an easy 45-14 home victory over Louisiana Tech and giving third-year coach Tom Herman his first season-opening victory with the program. Ehlinger was well protected which will be a key to Texas' success this season as the Longhorns only have an inexperienced freshman behind him this year. Senior receiver Devin Duvernay had nine receptions for 55 yards and Ehlinger's first TD pass of the season. The Longhorns debuted eight new defensive starters Saturday night and used a mix of looks which forced three turnovers. Next week the Longhorns host their biggest non-conference opponent of the season – No. 6 LSU.

Texas Tech 45, Montana State 10

Sophomore Texas Tech quarterback Alan Bowman threw for 436 yards and two touchdowns to guide the Red Raiders to a season-opening 45-10 victory over Montana State on Saturday. Texas Tech finished with 691 yards and held Montana State to 289 total yards. The Red Raiders face UTEP next Saturday.

Army 14, Rice 7


Slow and steady wins the race. After guiding a 9-minute scoring drive consuming all but 3:48 of the fourth quarter, Army quarterback Kelvin Hopkins Jr. hit running back Kell Walker with a 17-yard touchdown pass to put the Owls away with a 14-7 win on Friday night. This win over Rice gives the Black Knights the second-longest winning streak in college football, behind 1st-ranked Clemson. Hopkins Jr., who last year became the first player in academy history to run for 1,000 yards and pass for 1,000 yards in a season, finished with 80 yards on 21 carries and 53 passing yards. The Owls limited the Black Knights to 120 yards on 30 plays in the first half. Rice hosts Wake Forest in week two on Friday and the Black Knights are at Michigan on Saturday.

Baylor 56, Stephen F. Austin 17

Baylor coach Matt Rhule had no shortage of annoyances in the Bears' season-opener against Stephen F. Austin Saturday night. Putting this game away took longer than Rhule may have liked but the Baylor never trailed and was well on its way to victory by halftime. "I didn't like that lull where they scored and we didn't answer it to the level that I think we should," Rhule said. Bears starting quarterback Charlie Brewer threw for 199 yards and three touchdowns, leading Baylor to a 56-17 victory over SFA. Baylor looks to UTSA next week as the Bears look to rebuild their national recognition.

TCU 39, Arkansas-Pine Buff 7

The Horned Frogs debuted two quarterbacks Saturday night as they cruised to a 39-7 victory over UAPB. Graduate transfer Alex Delton and true freshman Max Duggan left much to be desired in a TCU quarterback: Delton was 10-for-22 and 119 yard passing and picked up 67 yards on seven carries. Duggan led all of the TCU's touchdown drives and finished 16-for23 passing for 165 yards. "I thought they stayed pretty composed," said TCU senior receiver TreVontae Hights, who set a career high with eight catches for 108 yards. "Their leadership was great. I feel comfortable with either one of them." TCU's defense was strong, forcing 11 punts and picking off two Pine Bluff passes. The Horned Frogs are off next week before facing off against Purdue on Sept. 14.

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The power struggle continues. Photo by Getty Images.

Boy, with the recent blizzard of negative publicity – searing magazine cover stories with headlines blasting "Houston Has a Problem" and "The Chaplain Who Won a Power Struggle and Plunged a Franchise into Chaos" – I'll bet the Houston Texans wished they had a seasoned, respected and award-winning media director to handle damage control.

Oh yeah, that's exactly what they had in Amy Palcic, but she was fired last year. Reason: she "wasn't the right culture fit."

What exactly is the Houston Texans culture these days? Apparently the culture is players disliking and distrusting the team executive specifically charged with managing the team's culture. It's that same executive whose resume has more fudging than the Keebler Cookie Company. It's that executive who's accused of authorizing illegal practices and hiring private eyes to follow players in their private activities. It's that executive who's accused of intimidating employees who trash him to the media and threatening to sue media outlets. It's that executive who imposes his religious fervor on lower-ranked employees. It's that executive who has created a culture where gifted quarterback Deshaun Watson is said to want a trade out of Houston.

That executive is Jack Easterby - the backstabbing, butt-smooching BS'er who seems to have a Svengali hold on Texans chairman Cal McNair.

If it comes down to one stays and one has to go between Watson and Easterby … hmmm, let's see. Deshaun Watson threw for 4,823 yards and 33 touchdowns last season. Jack Easterby, zero and zero.

Last week, Texans legend Andre Johnson, who usually speaks up less than the magician Teller, tweeted: "Since Jack Easterby walk into the building nothing good has happened. For some reason someone can't seem to see what's going on. Pathetic!!!"

That "someone" would be Texans chairman Cal McNair, who continues to support Easterby despite all the accusations and revelations hurled Easterby's way.

By the way, Easterby has not sued any media outlet that is publishing stories about his bullying and sneakiness. And he won't sue because that last thing he wants is to be put in a witness chair and swear to tell the truth.

In the past 12 months, with Easterby sticking his nose in McNair's ear, the Texans have managed to alienate and infuriate superstar Watson: trade All-Pro receiver DeAndre Hopkins and create a losing, uninspired clubhouse that has favorite son J.J. Watt wanting a trade to leave his beloved Houston.

It's not like Easterby is some mad genius who somehow produces spectacular results despite his unorthodox tactics. The Texans finished 2020 with a disastrous 4-12 record, with little to show for it, not even a top draft pick to honor their futility. The Texans are clearly in need of divine intervention, and not from huckster Easterby, whose degree is in sports management from Newberry College. Easterby is only dimples and wavy hair short of being a TV preacher.

You can't deny that Easterby is inspiration. He recently inspired a public protest on the sidewalk outside NRG Stadium and signs swaying over Southwest Freeway with the same message: #FireJackEasterby. Watson asked his supporters not to attend the rally due to COVID precaution.

Then there's the case of Deshaun Watson v. Cal McNair.

Watson was born into an economically disadvantaged family and has worked for, and deserves, every penny he is paid. He is a champion.

Cal McNair found the Houston Texans under his Christmas tree in 2018 after his father Texans original owner Bob McNair died.

Watson is an extremely bright and sensitive man who is deeply involved in social issues off the field. Last year, during the summer of racial upheaval in America, he led the charge to have the name of a former slave owner removed from a building on his alma mater Clemson's campus.

McNair hardly ever speaks in public and his stumbling, confused performance at a press conference to announce the hire of general manager Nick Caserio showed why. It's rare when a team owner has to apologize after making what should have been a happy statement promising fans a better future. However, if a stage production of the Beverly Hillbillies ever goes to Broadway, we've got our Jethro.

Many times when a player gets into a public spat with a team owner, it's a dumb jock player vs. the super-smart businessman who owns a billion-dollar company. It's usually over money. And the public typically thinks, "just get rid of the ungrateful, overpaid and greedy player."

Not this time. Watson already got his – four years at $156 million. This is a war of morality. Watson is the hero here, McNair the fool being played by Easterby, who like Cassius is Shakespeare's play Julius Caesar, "has a lean and hungry look."

If it came to a public vote between Watson and McNair (Easterby), Watson's landslide win would rival Kim Jong-Un in North Korea … or LeAnn Rimes on The Masked Singer.

It's unfair to call McNair and Easterby polarizing figures because polarizing implies that there are two sides to the issue.

There is only one side. Houston loves Deshaun Watson and wants McNair to sell the team, right after he fires Easterby.

Seemingly the only defender rushing to Easterby's side is a Twitter account allegedly owned by Easterby under a fake name. If it is a burner account, Easterby has a whole lot of faith in himself.

Although football insiders say that Watson is all but out the door at NRG Stadium, there is still a chance that McNair could save the day, and do what is needed to keep Watson in Texans' gear. And that would be to fire Easterby. Now.

Sadly, given McNair's repeated pledges of loyalty to Easterby and insistence that criticism of Easterby is unwarranted, Watson's leaving Houston gets more likely each day. Andre Johnson had it right … "pathetic!!!"

Three exclamation points.

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