Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Peck 'em Owls!
After 45 years of not playing a bowl game, at least in part because the school is too small to have a lucrative alumni base, the mighty Rice Owls qualified for one of Conference USA's bowl invitations this Saturday by defeating Southern Methodist University.
Jarett Dillard caught six passes for 145 yards and three touchdowns in leading the Rice Owls to a 31-27 win over the SMU Mustangs in Conference USA action from Houston.But for a one point loss to the University of Houston at the start of the season, Rice would have made it to the C-USA championship game against the University of Southern Mississippi this year.
Getting Dillard the ball was Joel Armstrong, who completed 13-of-21 pass attempts for 205 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions. Quinton Smith also got into the mix for Rice (7-5, 6-2 CUSA), as he rushed for 79 yards and a score on 15 carries. The Owls have now won six straight games.
With just over four minutes left in the game, the Owls went ahead for good courtesy of a Dillard 25-yard touchdown pass from Armstrong.
Dillard has caught a touchdown pass in every game this season for Rice and he has pulled in a score in 14 straight games dating back to last season.
Jarett Dillard, the sophomore wide receiver, has been a crucial part of this story all season, and not just because of the incredible accomplishment of reliably cranking out touchdowns, scoring on passes (of all the things to do at Rice!). He has intangibles, too. I would say that he is a team leader on a par with former Texas quarterback Vince Young, although he could not have quite the same overwhelming presence on the field since he is not the quarterback.
I have not had the pleasure of seeing Dillard in action yet, but from what I can gather from following the Owls in news reports over the season and having seen an interview with him, he has a great deal of self-confidence, which he projects very well. In addition to being able to project this confidence personally, he backs it up on the field.
For example, in the victory over SMU, Dillard demanded to be thrown passes and did indeed find a way to score.
Owls receiver-turned-quarterback Joel Armstrong, subbing for injured starter Chase Clement, recovered from two second-quarter turnovers to toss a pair of second-half TDs to Jarett Dillard, who on occasion demonstratively demanded the ball. His insistence paid off with 4:05 left, when he snagged a 25-yard Armstrong pass for the game-winner.This is no one-shot deal for Dillard. I remember his doing the same thing earlier in the season. And I also really admire the persistence he showed the week before:
"I just felt that in my soul," Dillard said of his demands. "Is that right? No, I don't believe that's right, but it's something you just feel (the need) to do. When the game is on the line, I'll take the blame if we miss it. Just throw it up there, and let's go do something."
Dillard was locked in an epic struggle with Pirates strong safety Pierre Parker, who separated Dillard from the ball with a jarring hit in the end zone early in the fourth quarter before recording the interception of Armstrong by stripping Dillard of the ball after both players fell to the ground. When the twosome grappled again on the Owls' final drive, Dillard responded with a leaping catch over Parker at the East Carolina 36.And why do I think Dillard is so effective? Because he never forgets that football a team sport.
"That last play, I told myself I was going to catch it and nobody is going to pull it away," said Dillard, who had five catches for 73 yards and a TD. "I don't know how I came down with it. All I know is I felt the ball in my hands, I grabbed it, and I came down with it."
Dillard upped his totals to 82 catches for 1,176 yards and 20 touchdowns -- all single-season Rice records. He extended his streak to 14 consecutive games with a TD catch, second in NCAA history.If you're an Owl, you know from this that Dillard is not just a force to be reckoned with, but that he is definitely on your side. You will be inspired and you will not want to let him down.
"It probably will sink in the next couple of days," Dillard said. "Season's over with and we have a long time before the bowl, so I might actually look back and check stats out.
"It's a good accomplishment, but I give it all up to the coaches. The coaches gave me the opportunity to make these plays and make those catches, so all my respect goes to them. They had faith in me, even when I was dropping passes in two-a-days and dropping passes in practice this week.
"I'm hard on myself, but they kept faith in me."
To top everything off, the Owls may go bowling in New Orleans, which is close enough to where I plan to be for Christmas that I might find myself attending a bowl game!
As an alumnus, I guess I'd better brush up on my unofficial hand signal!
Even Rice students occasionally use a sign, but it is not pictured here because university officials, suspecting that a middle finger poked outward has a meaning other than "peck 'em, Owls," have declined to sanction it. ...Peck'em, Owls!
Buchanan Sides with Russians
Yesterday, I noted that the Russians were trying to avoid the blame for the recent poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko. Apparently, Pat Buchanan wants to help them. The Corner quotes Buchanan:
What benefit could Putin conceivably realize from the London killing of an enemy of his regime, who had just become a British citizen? Why would the Russian president, at the peak of his popularity, with his regime awash in oil revenue and himself playing a strong hand in world politics, risk a breach with every Western nation by ordering the public murder of a man who was more of a nuisance than a threat to his regime?Gosh, Pat. I don't know. And why would Russia choose to build up an Islamic terrorist state and still-Communist China for that matter, rather than liberalize its economy and enjoy free trade with the rest of the world?
People can and often do choose to do stupid things, Pat. But I guess you know that already. After all, that would explain why you're so busy making excuses for Russia on a matter whose consequence likely pales in comparison to other things it is doing around the world.
I blogged yesterday about a lawsuit by a bunch of tree huggers that has made it to the Supreme Court and could result in the EPA making it almost impossible for Texas to continue being America's electric generator. But this news article makes it seem like much of that suit's stated objective -- control of automobile emissions -- has already been achieved incrementally.
The new strategies, [Sabrina] Strawn[, executive director of the Galveston-Houston Association for Smog Prevention] said, fail to address the biggest contributor of nitric oxides to the atmosphere -- cars and trucks. In the Houston area, 55 percent of these chemicals come from such mobile sources.Our prosperity is being actively attacked on two fronts now. And this is all what the Democrats have been able to accomplish while not in power. This doesn't just tell us what kind of nightmare we have in store for us come the swearing in of our new Congress. It also speaks volumes for how ineffective the Republicans have been as the party of small government. Heck. The fact that there is still an EPA just about does that by itself!
State officials say they have limited power to regulate these emissions, citing federal rules in the Clean Air Act that restrict the local creation of measures such as fuel economy and emission standards.
However, there is a loophole in the rules. States may not adopt their own emission standards, but they can adopt California's stricter rules on new vehicles. And there may now be a growing political movement to do just that in Texas.
One such call already has come from the greater Dallas area, another region currently in violation of the federal clean air standards. In late October, the North Texas Clean Air Steering Committee, which is working to bring that area into compliance, asked the Legislature to adopt California's emission standards.
A spokesman for state Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston, said he was considering filing such a bill in the legislative session that begins in January.
"It is something that we're thinking about and actively researching," said Kenneth Besserman, Ellis' chief of staff. [bold added]