Emotion is defined as one of the three fundamental properties of the human mind. You can have desire and knowledge, but to excel in anything, you must also have emotion.
Sept. 2, 2012
Bill Little, Texas Media Relations
It is interesting that the last letter in “RISE” - the Longhorns’ team theme for the 2012 season - stands for the most important word of all.
The “E” is for emotion. “R” was for relentless, “I” was for intensity, “S” was for swagger (the coaches wanted “sacrifice”). And Saturday night in Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium, the team made its debut.
Webster will tell you that “emotion” has many meanings, and that was well-evident in the 37-17 victory over Wyoming and the events that surrounded it. The first surge came before the day ever arrived, when AT&T U-Verse added roughly 10 million television viewers nation-wide (800,000 in Texas alone) to the households where the Longhorn Network is available. Then, the firing of Smokey the Cannon signaled the arrival of the team at the stadium Saturday, and the players took a walk through hundreds of fans, including the Longhorn band and the Texas Pom and cheerleaders down 23rd Street and into the gates of the Red McCombs Red Zone at the north end of the stadium.
Shortly before 7 p.m., most of the crowd of over 100,000 was there for the emotional (there is that word again) moment when Coach Royal and his wife, Edith, were introduced as the honorary captains, and the 88-year-old man rose from his golf cart and stood with the Longhorn game captains for the coin toss.
All of that done, it was now time to see if the 2012 team was ready to validate their theme. And for awhile, the jury was still out on whether they were going to be able to embrace that vital final phrase.
Emotion, you see, is defined as one of the three fundamental properties of the human mind, the other two being volition and intellect. So you can have the desire, and you can have the knowledge, but to excel in anything, you must also have emotion. And you darn sure can’t play the game of football without emotion.
And for awhile, the team that wanted so badly to earn the right to swagger, was seemingly without any. The ‘Horns had trailed, 3-0, and after taking a 7-3 lead, watched a good Wyoming team steal their swagger and march right down to a 9-7 lead. Emotion finally arrived when Chris Whaley blocked the extra point try. Then, the fiery leader of the defense, Kenny Vaccaro, gave the crowd - and the team -something to hang their emotional hats on. An interception and a long return and another play where he blitzed and forced the Wyoming quarterback into a bad pass that Carrington Byndom intercepted, swung the emotional tide in the Longhorns’ favor. Texas scored 24 unanswered points before the Cowboys cut the lead to 31-17.
The offense turned to a power running game with Joe Bergeron and Malcolm Brown leading the way, complimented by some speed sweeps by D. J. Monroe and highlighted by a brilliant touchdown reception by Jaxon Shipley. Bergeron rushed for 110 yards and Brown for 105, the second time in their young careers that the sophomore running backs have both had 100-yard plus games.
Quarterback David Ash had an efficient night, mixing 20 pass completions for 156 yards with the running game. But it would be the defense which would have to come up with a major fourth down stop inside the ten yard line as Wyoming threatened to cut the lead to just seven points after Ash lost a fumbled snap at his own 35 early in the fourth quarter with the ‘Horns leading, 31-17. After the defensive stop, the offense - fueled by Bergeron’s 54-yard run on the first play - drove 91 yards for the final score of the 37-17 victory.
In the end, Mack Brown got his 14th opening win in his 15 seasons, and saw just about what he expected. Wyoming looked to be better than the Cowboy teams the Longhorns have faced in two of the past four years, and the ever-present excessive heat didn’t appear to sap the men from the mountains all that much. The Longhorns’ hard summer training from strength and conditioning coach Bennie Wylie also shined, as the ‘Horns, too, withstood the heat.
The game was what coaches look for in an opener - a pretty much injury-free victory which leaves them lots to work on as they head to week two against a Bob Davie-coached New Mexico team next week.
What is important about the words represented in RISE is that they have to be a commitment for the season, not just a catchy phrase to produce a wrist band. Themes, to be successful, have to mean something every day. That’s why the 2005 “Take Dead Aim” mattered so much. Mack applied it to everything the players did, from their focus on life to their focus on the game of football.
So it must be with RISE, if it is to work. You do have to be relentless. You do have to have intensity, and after Saturday the players should fully understand that if they want to swagger, they have to do something to earn that right.
Finally, in the end, we arrive at emotion. Emotion doesn’t manifest itself by the shouting and the tumult, and there is strong evidence that controlled emotion has its place right along with the jumping-up-and-down in your face shouting. But however you define it and however you attain it, you absolutely must have it. Of those three senses, volition gets you there, and intellect tells you how and what to do.
It is, however, in the state of emotion that greatness is achieved. And that, as we understand it, is the bottom line to what this team has said it wants to achieve.