Football in the Fall

I can still picture it clearly. Fall in Atlanta, Georgia is an amazing experience. The air is crisp and cool. The autumn leaves have started to change their color. Eating healthy is pretty much out of the question as it is time for some real comfort food, especially deserts. The smell of a freshly baked pecan pie and peach cobbler literally tease your senses.   Friends and family gather to reflect on the past year’s occurrences and to create a sense of community and belonging that will continue on until the New Year. Most importantly, it was the culmination of America’s original past time, the World Series.

Midtown Atlanta

My father, a mathematician, naturally passed his obsession and love for baseball and its statistics onto my brother and myself. We three would get our neighbors and friends together to play catch, pick-up ball and create our own dramatic 3-2 full count situations that added to the passion we had for the game itself. To top it off, the Braves had sucked pretty much since their move to Atlanta until 1991, a season which would see them capture the hearts of its city in a spectacular run to the NL pennant, and create the culture we became engulfed by when we moved to the city in 1992. Led by the dominant pitching of Tom Glavine, John Smoltz, and Steve Avery, the power of David Justice, the athleticism of Terry Pendleton and Deion Sanders (the one and only), the Braves would once again go on to win the 1992 NL pennant and with it my heart and what I would associate the fall season with until my freshman year in college.

Freshman year is an exciting time. New friends and people to meet, new places to go, new experiences to create, etc. The game that “had me at hello” was my first game at DKR stadium, a 65-0 blowout of UNT, in which Texas had over 500 yards rushing. The tailgates, the pageantry, Bevo, Smokey the Cannon, Big Bertha, the Showband of the Southwest, 80K people cheering, the smoothness of Vince Young, the power of Cedric Benson, & the post-game parties pretty much sowed the seed to the Saturdays I would look forward to with so much zealousness. It was the beginning of an era of Texas dominance, which would last all the way until 2009 and the way I would remember Texas football during my collegiate years.

It’s been a rough couple of years for us Texas folks. We’ve gotten rid of Greg Davis, a major catalyst behind our offensive ineptitude and fired several coaches who sat on their laurels after experiencing success. Last year was a transition year, with many underclassmen taking on major roles, for which we will hopefully reap the benefits this year.

Led by Manny Diaz and anchored by Kenny Vaccaro, Texas’ defense will be among the best in the nation. Legitimate NFL talent litters the defensive depth chart, the likes of which Texas hasn’t seen since the 2005 National title team.  On the offensive side, Bryan Harsin leads a group that still has many question marks. Our QB play needs to be more consistent, our OL needs to play with more tenacity, and for the love of God, if we just one TE who would step it up and hold down the fort, we would all be extremely grateful. Even then, the talent alone on defense will carry the team into a season which will set a foundation for the resurgence of Texas football.

Thus, let’s take this season for what it will be. Surprising moments that will lead to raised expectations and shortfalls that will have us realizing we are still a little ways away. I look forward to seeing all of you at our tailgate and for those of you I haven’t met; I look forward to becoming friends. After all, it’s Texas football that is bringing us together and what the Fall season is really about.

Hook ‘Em and God Bless.

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