HARRIS COUNTY - HSA INSIDER

A weekly look at all things Houston sports from the Harris County-Houston Sports Authority

Matt Bullard (left) will join legendary broadcaster Bill Worrell. NBA.com

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How do you introduce Houston sports legends?

With the city’s legendary broadcasters, of course.

Call it a two-fer. Not only will the inaugural  Houston Sports Awards bring together a Who’s Who of the city’s greatest sports legends Feb. 8 at the Hilton Americas, but they’ll be introduced by another Who’s Who list -- The Voices of Houston.

Houston native Bill Worrell tops the list of a dozen iconic Voices involved on the night and he will be up first to kick off the show.

In his 35th year as the Rockets’ play-by-play man, Worrell has been a part of the Houston sports scene for more than five decades, dating back to the 1960s when he graduated from Lamar High School. He played baseball at the University of Houston, then spent a decade at KPRC Ch. 2 as a reporter and sports director.

Worrell will be joined by his Rockets’ broadcast teammates Clyde Drexler, another Houston native, and Matt Bullard.

Drexler, nicknamed Clyde the Glide for his high-flying effortless swoops down the lane, is another Houston legend. He graduated from Sterling High School, played for UH during the Phi Slama Jama years, became a 10-time NBA All-Star and played on the Rockets 1995 NBA Championship team. Drexler, who played a dozen seasons with Portland before coming to Houston, was also named one of the 50 Greatest Players in NBA History along with his UH/Rockets teammate and Houston Sports Awards honoree Hakeem Olajuwon.

Bullard played on the Rockets’ 1993-94 NBA Championship team and played two stints with the Rockets – first from 1990–94, then again from 1996–200.

Texans broadcasters Marc Vandermeer and Heisman Trophy winner Andre Ware will also be on hand. Vandermeer just finished his 16th season as the Texans’ play-by-play announcer, while Ware, the Dickinson native who starred at UH and is in both the Texas and College Football Halls of Fame, handles color analysis.

The Astros broadcaster team of Todd Kalas and Geoff Blum, who teamed up at the start of the 2017 season and finished off their first year covering an amazing seven-game World Series and the World Champions, are also among the Voices.

The Houston Sports Awards has drawn a longtime Astros broadcast team out of retirement. Legendary Bill Brown, who retired in 2016 after 30 seasons as the Astros’ play-by-play voice will be joined by his long-time broadcast partner Jim Deshaies. Deshaies, the former Astros lefthander, spent 16 seasons as color analyst with Brown before retiring.

Soccer player-turned-broadcaster Glenn Davis is also on the list of hosts. Davis has covered Houston soccer since the early '90s.

Former Texans defensive tackle and current Sports Radio 610 host Seth Payne will handle duties as a roving reporter during the televised broadcast, while AT&T SportsNet’s Kevin Eschenfelder will host the on-site, pre-broadcast ceremonies.

In addition, there are still a few more iconic faces to be announced who will on hand to honor awards winners.

Stay tuned.

There are still tables and tickets available for the Houston Sports Awards, which kicks off at 4:30 p.m., with a dual red and blue carpet event. Dinner is at 6 p.m. and the awards program starts at 7 p.m.

In addition, there are still Golden Tickets available. The $100 ticket enters you in the Houston Sports Awards Golden Ticket Raffle and gives you a chance to win a pair of season tickets to all Houston Astros, Houston Rockets, Houston Dynamo, Rodeo Houston & Houston Open home games/events during the 2018-19 season. In addition, the winner receives tickets for two Houston Texans home games, the 2018 AdvoCare Texas Kickoff and the 2018 Texas Bowl.

Information on all tickets, tables and the Golden Ticket are available at www.houstonsportsawards.com

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A WEEKLY REVIEW OF CRENNEL'S COACHING

Now my job: Texans feast on Lions

Photo by Getty Images.

Thanksgiving is full of tradition. There's the typical family gathering, large meal, and of course, football. Sometimes, new traditions are added and old ones are retired. I think the Texans did both in their impressive 41-25 win over the Lions in Detroit. Old traditions were carried on (Lions losing on Thanksgiving), some were put to rest (Texans not being able to get turnovers), and new ones were started (multiple passing touchdowns by Deshaun Watson in six straight games).

The fact that this defense got three turnovers in the game was unbelievable! They got all three in the first quarter within the span of eight plays. JJ Watt's pick-six was insane. He went for a batted ball, ended up catching it, and ran it in. They forced Jonathan Williams to fumble on the Lions' very next play from scrimmage and recovered it. On the Lions' next possession, the Texans recovered yet another fumble after the challenge was reversed. Great call by the coaching staff to challenge and win. The defense looked good. Tyrell Adams stood out because he was in on those two fumbles, made 17 total tackles with 14 of them being solo tackles. They also brought pressure that seemed to make Matthew Stafford very inaccurate and resulted in four sacks. I give defensive coordinator Anthony Weaver credit for knowing he needs to blitz to get pressure, but the run defense has to improve.

The offense kept the tempo up in this game as well. The spread and hurry-up were used to keep the Lions already staggered defense off balance. Knowing the Lions were without a couple defensive backs, I thought it would be the perfect marriage of their defense and the Texans' offense. A buddy asked before the game about the line (Texans -3.5) and the over/under (52.5). I told him bet the Texans and the over because neither team can play defense and both have good quarterbacks. Offensive coordinator Tim Kelly put together another good game plan and Watson executed it flawlessly. One route combo I saw later on in the game I particularly enjoyed. Two receivers were tight to the left side. Cooks ran a hook/curl and settled in the middle of the zone while Fuller ran a vertical route. Duke Johnson ran a swing route to that same side. It left Cooks wide open as the attention went to Johnson in the flat, Fuller deep, and the action to the other play side. Route combos are important because it gives the quarterback different reads as he goes through his progressions and lets him pick apart the defense based on what he sees. Combine that with Watson's play and the way Kelly has changed his play calling now that he's liberated from he who shall not be named, we're seeing a beautiful thing.

As good as things were, there's still room for improvement. The defense gives up way too many easy yards, both run and pass. They can't get pressure bringing only four and will often give up big plays if the blitz is picked up. Plus the run defense is still an issue as evidenced by the Lions' first possession of the second half. The Lions ran the ball 10 plays straight for a total of 58 yards on that drive. Utterly ridiculous! Watson was good (17/25 318 yards and four touchdowns), but he missed two more touchdowns with passes slightly off, and continues to hold onto the ball too long at times. The difference between these two issues I've presented here is the fact that Watson has so played well, his "issues" are minor and very correctable, while the defense is terrible and there's no easy fix in sight. But let Romeo Crennel and Anthony Weaver tell it, they're getting the most out of these guys and they're playing disciplined.

The thought that this team may actually creep into the playoff picture may take shape better after next week if they can beat the Colts. I doubt it, but it is getting interesting. Let's see what else happens around them because they need help getting there.

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