Alex Okafor tries to get past an Ole Miss offensive lineman in Texas' last game, a 66-31 win in Oxford. The Longhorns had five sacks and forced three turnovers in the victory but defensive coordinator Manny Diaz estimated that they missed 11 tackles in the game, costing them 120 yards.

Photo Credit: Lawrence Peart | Daily Texan Staff

The last time Texas played Texas A&M, the Longhorns came out on top. The Aggies have since gone to the SEC and taken the college football world by storm, elevating their program to a place where they can rightfully claim Lone Star State supremacy. 

But now that they’re in the SEC, they can’t prove it on the field. Ole Miss is another SEC squad who fell to Texas the last time it faced the Longhorns, also on its own turf. But the Rebels get the chance Texas A&M doesn’t – to prove that they have passed the Longhorns up on their way to newfound national relevance. 

They won’t waste that opportunity.

Since Texas trounced them by five touchdowns in Oxford last September, the Rebels gave Alabama a better game than Notre Dame did in the national title game, nearly knocked off Texas A&M, beat Mississippi State for the first time since 2008 and won a bowl game for the first time since 2009. 

And if you thought Mack Brown was a good recruiter, wait until you hear what Hugh Freeze did. After winning seven games in his first year at Ole Miss, he signed the fifth-best recruiting class in the country last year, according to ESPN. 

It was a group that included the nation’s best wide receiver prospect (Laquon Treadwell), best offensive lineman prospect (Laremy Tunsil) and best prospect at any position (defensive end Robert Nkemdiche).

Since trouncing Ole Miss by five touchdowns in Oxford last September, on the other hand, the Longhorns were blown out by Oklahoma for the second straight season, extended their losing streak to Kansas State to five games, fired one coach (Manny Diaz) and saw another accused for paying players while at another school (Larry Porter).

There is no better time for the Rebels to come to Austin, with Texas breaking in a new defensive coordinator and coming off a brutal defeat against BYU when it allowed a school-record 550 
rushing yards. 

“It was just unacceptable,” head coach Mack Brown said. “When you lose at Texas, it’s bad. When you lose like that, it’s really bad.”

Texas has been losing like that a lot lately. That embarrassing effort in Provo led to Diaz’s dismissal and marked the 10th time since 2010 the Longhorns lost a game by at least 12 points. They suffered 11 such defeats in the previous 12 years under Brown.  

An offensive line that has started more combined games than any other in the country suddenly has trouble run blocking. A defense promising problems leading to allowing more yards in school history last year still can’t tackle. A head coach 16 wins away from becoming the all-time wins leader at one of the most storied college football programs in America may be on the hot seat. 

And a team with a 35-point home loss almost exactly a year ago still fresh on its mind is on its way to Austin right now.

Mississippi coach Hugh Freeze coach-walks with Frove on his way to Vaught-Hemingway Stadium before a game against Central Arkansas in Oxford, Mississippi.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

Stepping onto the Oxford, Miss., campus on game day is like stepping back into the glory days of college football ­— where the football team always won and the party would never end. Every Saturday, “The Grove” at Ole Miss transforms into one of the most famous college tailgating spots in history.

The Grove is quite literally a grove of trees. It is a 10-acre field in the middle of campus littered with oak, magnolia, and elm trees. A sidewalk winds through the middle of the field bearing the name “Walk of Champions” on a stone archway at its head. And instead of the traditional game day t-shirts and jeans, fans dress to the nines in crisp Oxford t-shirts, khaki slacks, dresses, and pearls.

Austin fans making the trek to Oxford for this weekend’s football game will get to experience what many call the “holy grail of tailgating,” an experience unlike any on the Forty Acres.

“Just be ready for what they call the best tailgating in the nation,” said current Ole Miss student Calvin Jarboe.
The game has been anticipated in Oxford since it was scheduled over a year ago and the turnout at The Grove is expected to bigger and more exuberant than ever before. This will be the first time the Burnt Orange and White will travel to Oxford. Two old and traditional football programs meeting for the first time at Ole Miss is expected to double the size of the 40,000-strong Mississippi town.

The legendary history of The Grove is so storied that the Texas coaches have been preparing their team for the atmosphere that they should expect when they touch down in Oxford.

“We’re going into SEC country, so it’s going to be a hostile environment,” said Texas senior Kenny Vaccaro. “[Strength and conditioning head coach for football] Bennie [Wylie’s] been talking all week about how crazy it gets down at Ole Miss. So we’re ready for it.”

Jarboe, originally from San Antonio, has experienced both tailgating scenes and insists that the Texas tailgating experience pales in comparison to that at Ole Miss. To many, The Grove is even bigger than the actual game itself.

“On Saturday, The Grove is the main event,” Jarboe said.
While Texas fans arrive to the stadium several hours prior to kickoff every Saturday, Rebel fans truly live up to the first part of Texas head coach Mack Brown’s mantra of “Come Early, Be Loud, and Stay Late.”

Students and alumni camp out all day Friday so that they can get prime tailgating locations — the most coveted spots being near or along the famed “Walk of Champions.” Even out-of-town alumni and fans find the time to come and camp out before every home game. Occasionally, daring visiting team fans will venture into The Grove to tailgate before the game.

The annual Grove Bowl, the pre-season blue and red scrimmage, even gets attention from tailgaters. This year over 23,000 people attended the Grove Bowl and showed up to party before hand — a school record.

At 9 p.m. sharp on Friday night, the individuals who have been sitting on The Grove all day are finally relieved as thousands of people stream from all directions to begin setting up tents, televisions, barbecue pits and other tailgating staples.

They call it “Rushing the Grove,” and it transforms the campus into a tent city. The campus authorities mean business when it comes to tailgating. Although they allow students and alumni to sit all day on The Grove to reserve spots, anyone caught with tailgating equipment on campus before 9pm face the confiscation of their belongings and possible arrest.

On normal game days in the past, over 25,000 people gather at The Grove the night before, a number that is expected to double when Texas comes to town for one of the most anticipated games in Oxford in recent history.
About two hours before kickoff, the “Walk of the Champions” takes place. Much like the recently established “Stadium Stampede” on the Forty Acres, the Ole Miss Rebel football team walks down the “Walk of Champions” through the middle of The Grove and receives good luck and well wishes from their fans.

Like any normal tailgate, fans cook large quantities of food, drink large volumes of beer, and watch many
minutes of football. The party lasts from the moment of the “Rushing of The Grove” until the final second of the game, and sometimes even later.

The level of reverence for a tailgating ritual is impressive, especially when the team has not had much success in recent years, winning their last SEC Championship in 1963 and last National Championship in 1962. You would not know that the football team has been experiencing several years of bad luck — the campus of Oxford parties the same as it always has.

“We might not win every game, but we never lose a party — that is widely accepted in these parts,” Jarboe said.

Ole Miss fans celebrate game day in Oxford. The Grove provides an atmosphere like no other in college football with The Walk of Champions and the “Hotty Toddy” chant.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

Saturday’s matchup between Ole Miss and Texas pits the SEC against the Big 12 in ESPN’s College Football Finale. However, for the thousands of Longhorn fans making their way to Oxford, Miss. this weekend, there may be more buzz around the tailgating scene than the game itself.

The Grove at Ole Miss is known nationwide for the tailgating atmosphere that makes Oxford truly one of the greatest experiences in all of college football.

Longhorn fans can expect to see tents sitting one beside the other and a large array of spreads as far as the eye can see. Chandeliers will hang from tents with tables covered with tablecloths, while thousands of fans dressed in red hold the drink of their choice. The late kickoff on Saturday will give Texas fans in Oxford plenty of time to spend in the Grove and walk around a campus that was voted the most beautiful campus in the country by Newsweek in 2011.

As kickoff gets closer, fans can turn their attention toward the Walk of Champions — a traditional walk the football team makes through the Grove on their way to the stadium roughly two hours before game time. It’s a sight that must be seen on game day in Oxford.

When game time arrives, Longhorn fans should make their way toward Vaught-Hemingway Stadium for the matchup Texas and Ole Miss fans everywhere have been waiting for.

Be sure to be locked in and focused about 15 minutes before the game begins to ensure you don’t miss the Rebels’ traditional “Hotty Toddy” chant. By this point, Texas fans will probably be tired of hearing the chant, but when a celebrity asks the question, “Are you ready?” the sea of red packed closely inside the stadium will join in unison to yell the chant.

At that point, it’ll be game time and the atmosphere should be electric, and everyone will finally get to see what they’ve been waiting for: football.

The game has the potential to be a thriller if Rebel head coach Hugh Freeze can design some plays to cut into the Texas defense. On the other side of the ball, the Ole Miss defensive line will see where it really stands going against a huge Longhorn offensive line and big running backs Joe Bergeron and Malcolm Brown.

It should be an epic showdown Saturday in Oxford, and one that Texas fans making the trip will remember for a lifetime.

Horns Stomp Rebels

For the first time in school history, the Texas Longhorns traveld to Oxford, Miss. to play the Ole Miss Rebels, an event that drew a capacity crowd to Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, estimated at 61,797. By the fourth quarter, however, the majority of the fans had already left, as Texas ran away with a 66-31 win.

Texas captains Trey Hopkins, Alex Okafor, Kenny Vaccaro, and Ryan Roberson prepare to take the field before the Longhorns' first-ever trip to Oxford. Texas went on to trounce the Rebels, 66-31, to improve to 3-0. Photo Credit: Lawrence Peart | Daily Texan Staff

Junior linebacker Jordan Hicks brings down Ole Miss' Randall Mackey, one of his three tackles in the 66-31 victory. The Longhorns defense allowed nearly 400 yards, not including a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. But the Texas offense more than made up for the defensive miscues, scoring more points in one game since the 2005 Big 12 title game. Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

Alex Okafor takes on a Rebels offensive lineman. The senior defensive end made three tackles, including two of Texas' five sacks — all in the first half — on the night. Okafor was part of a defense that picked off Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace three times but found itself susceptible to giving up big plays. Photo Credit: Lawrence Peart | Daily Texan Staff

Senior D. J. Monroe prepares to celebrate after a 10-yard touchdown run in the third quarter — the first of five second-half touchdowns scored by Texas against Ole Miss Saturday. Monroe, who has scored in each of the Longhorns' three games this season, was part of a Texas offense that racked up 676 total yards, tied for the second-highest single-game total in school history. Photo Credit: Andrew Torrey | Daily Texan Staff

Sophomore quarterback David Ash eludes an Ole Miss defender during the Longhorns' win over the Rebels Saturday. Ash was 19-of-23 passing for 324 yards and four touchdowns — both career-highs. Photo Credit: Lawrence Peart | Daily Texan Staff

Sophomore running back Joe Bergeron gets one of his 11 carries against Ole Miss Saturday. Bergeron ran for 48 yards before exiting with a shoulder injury, although the initial prognosis is not serious. Photo Credit: Andrew Torrey | Daily Texan Staff

Texas to play Ole Miss at 8:15

Those making the trip to Oxford, Miss., will get to enjoy a full day at The Grove -- barbecue, beer, mimosas, stuffed eggs and plenty of hotty toddy -- before Texas kicks off against Ole Miss at 8:15 central time.


The Sept. 15 game will be televised nationally on ESPN from Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.


The Longhorns have a 5-1 series advantage over the Rebels, but have never played in Oxford. 


Texas last trekked to SEC country in 2004, coming away with a 22-20 win against Arkansas. Though I guess a 27-25 win at Texas A&M last Thanksgiving would count, retroactively. 

Augustine Monroe (left) and Sarah Holub (right) will travel to Oxford, England to participate in the 2012 IQA Summer Games.

Photo Credit: Pu Ying Huang | Daily Texan Staff

Although it will not be a recognized sporting event associated with the Olympics, there will in fact be an international Quidditch tournament, the International Quidditch Association Summer Games, in which the best players from around the country will represent Team USA and compete against the United Kingdon, Australia and France in a round-robin style of play in Oxford, England July 8-9.

Quidditch is an adaptation of the magical sport portrayed in the “Harry Potter” series. The object of the game is to score the quaffle in any of the three hoops on either side of the pitch. There are four positions: chaser, beater, keeper and seeker, each with their own assigned role that helps their team score points and win. Every time the quaffle is scored, that team is awarded 10 points. When the golden snitch, which is worth 30 points, is caught, the game ends and the team with the highest point total wins.

The top players from around the U.S. applied to the IQA with hopes of being able to represent Team USA in the IQA Summer Games in Oxford. There was originally a pool of more than 150 candidates to represent the U.S. in this international tournament. Two current Longhorns, Augustine Monroe, a junior social work major, and Sarah Holub, a senior public relations major, will be heading overseas to represent Team USA and participate in the tournament.

“The community is unique — everybody is united,” Monroe said. “When there’s a tournament, people come in from other schools and other teams, and they’re spending the night at your place if you’re hosting the tournament, so you get to meet a lot of the players that you’re playing against. Going into Team USA I already know a few of the other players because I’ve talked with them at other tournaments, but a majority I’ve never met and I am excited to meet because they’re all quality people.”

Monroe comes from an athletic background, playing multiple sports before joining the Texas Quidditch team. He fell in love with the game soon after and has been playing ever since. He is able to play every position well, but is listed as a keeper for Team USA.

“The physicality of it is similar to any contact sport, but it is just very unique because there are many different elements to the game,” Monroe said. “I first started playing a year ago, and since the first time I ran around on a makeshift broom, I saw the potential that the sport has. Now, one year later, it is being played in an international tournament across seas. It is an honor to have been selected for the first ever Quidditch Team USA.”

The intent is to host the tournament alongside the Olympic torch ceremony in Oxford July 9 to raise awareness on the fast-growing sport by showcasing the IQA’s focus on the athletic nature of the sport, as well as the idea of creating a worldwide community through the sport.

Rhys Ifans portrays the Earl of Oxford in a scene from “Anonymous.” (Photo courtesy of Sony and Columbia Pictures)

Roland Emmerich has built his career on disaster film epics such as “Independence Day” and “2012,” but his passion project “Anonymous” is a film of an entirely different vein. Positing that William Shakespeare’s (Rafe Spall) works were in fact written by the Earl of Oxford (Rhys Ifans), Emmerich’s film has been in development for more than a decade and is the director’s latest since 2009’s “2012.”

The Daily Texan participated in a round table interview with Emmerich when he was in town for a screening.

The Daily Texan: Why did you choose to make a film about the Oxford theory?
Roland Emmerich:
I got a script where Oxford was the candidate. Right now, I’m 100 percent of belief that the man from Stratford [William Shakespeare] didn’t write it. I would say that Oxford is the most likely but also the most interesting candidate of all the candidates. I think it’s appropriate that Oxford is the true author in our version.

DT: How is doing a period piece like this one different from your bigger blockbuster fare?
On one hand, it’s exactly the same. It’s shooting a movie. You have a camera, you have a crew, you have actors. When I’m doing a big movie, I always dread the days when I have to do action scenes or visual effects scenes because they’re actually really boring, and it’s very hard to keep the energy of the actors up and say, “John [Cusack], you have to run faster!” He tries to run faster on this fake walking machine. It’s ridiculous. In this movie, everything was there for me, because the actors were all there.

DT: Did you have time afforded to you that you could spend with actors on set?
It’s English actors. When you look at my other films, I use a lot of English actors. I love how well-prepared they come and how easy they are to direct. You can really have a normal conversation with them. They have no ego and really just want to please you. When you’re good with them and you say the right things to them, they give amazing performances, and I think we have some of the best performances we have seen ever in a film in this film. I think it’s stunningly acted. I don’t know how these guys did it, they can even control the tears in their eyes.

DT: Tell me about casting.
These are high-class English theater actors. You’re quite honored that they want to take a meeting with you. And then some of them are my favorites. David Thewlis has been one of my favorites since “Naked.” He’s a terrific actor. And Vanessa [Redgrave] and Rhys Ifans. A friend of mine shot a movie with him like 10 years ago, and he said he’s probably one of the best actors I’ve ever worked with. I started studying him, and when we met, he was so interesting. You kind of pigeonhole directors, but you can also pigeonhole actors. He’s always been pigeonholed since he was in his underwear in “Notting Hill,” and he is the clown. That’s it.

DT: Was it by design that you had Joely Richardson and Vanessa Redgrave [a mother-daughter team who play the adult and elderly versions of Queen Elizabeth] in the film?
When we wrote the final draft, I said, “I know how we do Elizabeth. We cast Vanessa and Joely.” It was an idea I had at that moment, but it totally made sense for me and I never wavered in it. I got very lucky that they both wanted to do it. Joely always kind of stands a little bit under the shadow of her mom, and I think she gives an amazing performance. It was tough for both of them, they’re competing in a weird way to overcome that it’s not competing. It’s showing two sides of a character, and they kind of understood that.

“Anonymous” opens in theaters today.

Printed on Friday, October 28, 2011 as: Director Roland Emmerich returns with 'Anonymous': Emmerich branches out from disaster genre


Photo Credit: Betsy Cooper | Daily Texan Staff

“Anonymous” director Roland Emmerich played a large part in getting the film made, but a man famous for bringing audiences explosion-happy apocalyptic films such as “Independence Day” and “2012” should probably stay away from the period pieces.

“Anonymous” is by no means Emmerich’s trademark disaster fare, but that doesn’t stop the film from being a straight-up disaster, something that becomes clearer with each self-serious, excruciatingly overwrought frame of the film.

Based upon a theory that William Shakespeare’s many seminal works weren’t actually written by the great author, “Anonymous” posits the author was instead the Earl of Oxford (an unrecognizable Rhys Ifans). Shakespeare (played here by a drunken, idiotic Rafe Spall) isn’t even the Earl’s first choice for a public face for his plays, which can never be published under his own name due to the British royalty’s disdain for playwriting. However, when Ben Jonson (Sebastian Armesto), another playwright, rejects the Earl’s offer, both he and Shakespeare are loosely drawn into the Earl’s web of Victorian intrigue, which includes a passionate affair with Queen Elizabeth (played by mother-daughter duo Joely Richardson and Vanessa Redgrave).

If all of that sounds incredibly dry and convoluted, that’s because it really, truly is. “Anonymous” fails on a basic storytelling level in every way, unable to decide if it wants to be a large-scale tragedy (despite lacking engaging characters or plot), or just a really long episode of HBO’s “Game of Thrones” — despite missing that show’s pulpy satisfaction. Either way, the film wouldn’t work, simply because Emmerich’s take on the Shakespearean mythos is so clumsily handled and unconvincing that audiences will dismiss the theory simply because of the turd of a movie that presents it.

There are a few redeeming qualities, though they are few and far between. The film’s theatrical bookends, centered on monologues delivered by the reliable Derek Jacobi, are a clever framing device, and Emmerich’s construction of Victorian-era London is detailed and extremely impressive.

As always, Shakespeare’s writing is a fascinating thing to watch on-screen, and the film’s most powerful scenes involve the performance of one of the Bard’s many plays and manages to portray a few interesting ideas about the power of art. On the acting side, many of the performances range from scenery-chewing to dull delivery of dusty dialogue, but Vanessa Redgrave stands out as the half-mad Queen, selling every beat of the queen’s sense of betrayal as her mental stability is stripped out from under her.

Unfortunately, Redgrave’s is the only performance that’s worth noticing. The rest of the characters range from bland to indistinguishable from others, something only hurt by the two timelines the film alternates between. As various Earls are introduced to us via pompous exposition without any reason to exist in the story, the film gets bogged down. Even when the overall story arc begins to take shape, the muddled screenplay has kept us at arm’s length for so long that it’s hard to care what happens. The script’s lack of subtlety and an incredibly ill-advised final twist make “Anonymous” even more frustrating to watch.

Usually with passion projects such as “Anonymous” one can usually find something to like, some sort of messy charm to the film that makes it worth watching despite its flaws.

However, “Anonymous” makes the biggest mistake a film can make: It’s boring, presenting a half-baked — at least in the film — theory that suggests a lowly commoner such as William Shakespeare could never have the writing ability of the high royalty the Earl of Oxford inhabits. There might be some clumsy social commentary to be pulled from that, but to do so would require more thought and effort than Roland Emmerich appears to have put into this mess of a film, so it simply doesn’t seem worth it. And watching the film? Maybe a good idea if you’re looking for something to put you to sleep in five minutes, because to sit through “Anonymous” is a chore — in every sense of the word.

Printed on Friday, October 28, 2011 as: 'Anonymous' suffers from convoluted plot