Alright, I know I usually corner the market on game recaps, and it may or may not just be a vehicle for me to entertain myself/relive football season, but this week I highly encourage everyone to give their own recap of arguably the most glorious TCU game I, and probably many of you, have ever witnessed. The only game that even comes CLOSE is the Tech rape of 2006, and that's mostly because Tech year in year out has the worst fans in all of sports outside of Philadelphia and watching them be bad losers is almost as fun as being a bad winner. However, due to the absolute DOMINANCE on both sides of the ball (JERRY HUUUUUGGHEEESSS!!!!!! Sorry, Muschamp, but he's usurping your Boom, MF'er nickname for the remainder of his career), I'm going to go ahead and give the nod to this game being the best I've seen and maybe one of the best in TCU football history. Now, typically when I do these recaps I'll go back through and rewatch the entire game on tivo to make some mental notes and review all of the stats, sometimes doing a little fact checking with Star Telegram stories... however, due to my late arrival home in Dallas/the need to come into work today, I'm going to have to wing this one as there's absolutely no way I can wait until Monday to type all of this up. But you can rest assured that as long as I have my current DirecTV receiver, this game isn't going anywhere.
Anyway, obviously there's nothing like looking forward to a gameday. Talking to UT/OU friends last week I just kept saying, "Man, now I know how you guys must feel every single year before the game." Seriously, I look forward to each gameday with a huge sense of euphoria and always get a huge rush when I step into that utopia each Saturday that is Lot 3 (thanks, lyle, for correcting my common mistake of calling it lot 2), but Thursday games are always different, especially with our recent failures. Being a midweek game, you know it's probably going to be a big one, and that 99% of the time it's going to be either Utah or BYU. This one was different, however, because how often since the dissolving of the SWC does TCU get to welcome a top 10 team with BCS and national title aspirations into Amon G? With the rumor of a "blackout," which obviously doesn't have a good track record for teams this year (looking at you, Jawja), Thursday gameday made my nerves even more frazzled than it normally would. Having to sit through an entire workday in this condition was brutal. Having to sit through an entire workday with your friends calling and saying they're hitting the parking lots around 330 is even more brutal. Sitting at your desk and all of a sudden realizing that you've bitten off all of your finger nails, your foot is tapping a hole through the ground, and you realize that not only have you not done any work, but you've been in the most uncomfortably upright position for the past hour and your back has completely cramped up is the kicker. Seriously, I felt like an expectant father. Finally, at about 4, I just couldn't take it anymore so I informed my office that I had to get to Fort Worth, and bolted. Rage intensified even more after hitting the typical Arlington traffic that has absolutely no cause and just stops and starts as it pleases. Rage reached peak levels when exiting onto University I was behind a mini van with a Romney for President sticker (alright, we get it, you're mormon. Rub it in our faces), so much so that I had to call my spiritual advisor lyle lanley and question what to do in such a situation. Fortunately he did not answer, as he surely would've informed me to hit ramming speed and not look back until the car was a pile of burning fiberglass. Scooped up the tailgate requisite assorted bloggers and hit the lot. Not a bad scene, especially for 5 on a Thursday, and actually ended up pretty great by the time halftime rolled around. About 10 of us have seats together on the visiting side on the 50, however said seats are typically adult surrounded who do not care for either our profanity or our use of standing and cheering our team (I hate adults. I will not be one), so we made the pregame decision watch the entire contest from the safe confines of section X. As kickoff rolled around and the east side of the stadium became absolutely jam packed, we mixed our in game yum yums and settled in for what will surely become the Game of the Millenium.
First Half. Now, I know I typically do an offense/defense recap with an overall grade, and I will still do that to an extent, but I kind of figured with this game I wanted to be able to relive every moment. I think when the Frogs charged out in the black on purple unis, I've never been as happy at a sporting ever in my entire life. Those things looked AWESOME. I love our purples, and I definitely think keeping the black jerseys a novelty is the way to go, but man... hopefully we can work those in about once a season. I do know that if after the spring game they are selling these (which they probably will not be, unfortunately), I will fight each and every one of you to the death for a Red, Henson, Phillips, Hodge, D Wash or Hughes one. True story. Watch your backs, I will not hesitate to shiv you. Anyway, when the Frogs won the toss and deferred as is our standard, I knew GP was not about to fuck around on these guys. After Washington caught that ball, took a few steps and dropped it (and, let's be honest, there was NO ONE in his way on taking that one to the house), the student section exploded then had a little air sucked out in the span of about .5 seconds. When they got a first down, we got a teency bit quieter... then BOOM, Jerry Hughes through the line forcing the fumble. This really set the tone for what was going to happen from that point on. Hall has 2 sacks on the year... he got sacked 6 times last night. You do the math. That guy was on his heels all night, and our secondary actually showed up for a game! I loved it.
On that first drive when Red stepped onto the field and immediately went deep to Antoine Hicks (drawing the pass interference from the ref waaay across the field), you knew something big was going to happen tonight. When he not only threw his first TD of the season on the next play, but hit Jimmy Young right on the money on a beautiful post route for HIS first TD, it became pretty clear that BYU was going to have to claw the Frogs' momentum out of their cold, dead hands. wwhd, lyle and myself were giving out high fives and man hugs like they were kittens. Lots of drank being spilled as we jumped around, but it was all for a great cause. After another 3 and out, the crowd was ecstatic... until the special teams happened when Corderra Hunter accidentally touched the punt and BYU recovered. Special teams were the only weak point of the entire evening for TCU, but fortunately we were able to withstand it. And, just because karma's a bitch when you get a fluke play like that, MY BOY HENSON with an assist from Tejay stopped Unga on 4th and 1. Turn over on downs, bitches. That's how we do it. I think at this point the lights started to go out. I'd about exhausted my hollering resources by this point (yes, 5 minutes into the first quarter, I'm weak) and was extremely hungry, but I wasn't about to leave to replinish my system.
I'm breaking up this paragraph because something has to be noted, and that something is the "Wild Frog." Now, being a TCU reformed Arkansas fan, obviously watching McFadden run the Wild Hog was probably my favorite football formation ever. However, I think I've found a new favorite man under center in this formation, and that man is Jeremy Kerley. We obviously all love Kerley. Heck, after this game, he may even develop a few stalkers, who knows? I read about the likelihood of running this formation more consistently this week, and how they wanted to use it more last week but were not able to because of the weather, but WOW. It's like, you KNOW Kerley is going to drop back and run the draw, but you have NO CHANCE of stopping it. First time run tonight, BOOM, 24 yards. After a couple of Christian and Turner runs, due to the great field position we received from the turnover, Kerley probably exerts more energy on a walk across campus than he had to on his rushing TD (thanks to a big block by your soon to be new favorite Frog, Antoine). 14-0. Less than 8 minutes off the clock. BYU looking like damsels in distress. Frogs looking absolutely vampirish. Crowd going crazy. Alcohol flowing through the veins. Anti-Mormon chants abounding. Most packed house we've had since Tech, and probably more TCU fans at this one. Nothing could go wrong, although at this point I made the un PC decision to bring up that we were up by the same score against Utah last year, and we see how that turned out. Sometimes I iz stoopid.
After BYU puts together a decent drive, leave it to the 903 boys to keep them in check as Sanders picked off Hall in our red zone (jeers to the guy who had the TCU flag and obscured my view of said INT). Some wild froggin, a BAD Reagan drop on the goal line, and a few AB runs later, Ross Evans kicked a FG to push the score to 17-0. Not wanting to get overconfident, I started to calm down a little bit at this point and not allow myself to just assume we'd take the win. However, after seeing us not only air the ball out, give AB a few carries (he still only ended with 8) and employ the Wild Frog, I started to feel more and more confident because it was very obvious that a competent OC had kidnapped Schultz and was consulting with GP before calling the plays. Seriously, other than ABs lack of carries, this play calling had absolutely zero of Schultz's stank on it. Let's make this a weekly thing.
Anyway, for the sake of being repetitive, I'll wrap up this first half. Defense looked absolutely dominating. Hughes was a monster. The double coverages we were calling never put us in any danger of giving up a big play. In fact, the biggest plays they got in their passing game were from questionable PI penalties. The way the 4-2-5 operates, there really are plenty of options, especially with having a roaming safety. We were sticking guys in the box on a lot of plays , showing blitz and either bringing the house, blitzing a different guy each time, or dropping back in zone, giving up a few short passes along the way, but never getting beat deep. After a BYU drive that had 2 Jerry Hughes sacks (3 in the first half, 4 total), TCU drove 94 yards (94!!), with a helpful facemask penalty along the way, and Dalton threw the most perfect pass of his career... a beautiful 12 yd fade to the back of the end zone giving Walter Bryant just enough room to catch the ball and drag one foot. Evans missed the PAT (dude has hit all of his FGs but one, including a 50 yarder, but has missed 3 extra points this season? What gives?). 23-0 Frogs. House.
Second Half. After a refresher in the parking lot and a sausage wrap, it was time to get back in to continue witnessing the pounding. Knowing we would get the ball first, and knowing how well our offense had been playing, definitely equalling the effort of the defense, there was absolutely no doubt that points would be put on the board. After AB's 59 yard return (seriously, that's TWO he should've taken to the house this year. He'll get one) put us in great field position, the offense stalled a bit and we settled for an Evans field goal. 26-0. At this point we started the "War-ren-Je-effs!" chants, which apparently went over most of the crowds heads (come ON guys, dont' you watch the news and/or prepare for the game in the stands???), as did my constantly referring to Austin Collie as Air Bud (double COME ON... Austin Collie.. Collie is a dog... air bud played football... ), which after explaining it was told it was a reach (I guess any chant you have to explain is always a reach.) At this point, we were all pretty on top of the world. We'd refueled, the entire crowd actually came back in after the half and was even more fiery than usual, and the Frogs were looking like they weren't even going to let BYU see the end zone. Hell, I was at one point even heard to remark to my friend next to me (who didn't go to TCU and is a huge UT fan, but is a better TCU fan than about 75% of the people who attended and comes to all of our games simply because we're so ravenous about the team), "Man, I'm so happy I might even go for UT Saturday." Upon sobering up today, though, I can safely assure you that this will not be the case.
Naturally,though, hubris breeds failure and Max Hall drove the Cougars down the field, although we still forced them into a 4th and goal from the 2 that even Schultz KNEW was going to be a QB draw, but the D had been playing so hard I guess giving that up is forgiveable. 26-7. Fortunately, we have the namesake Andy Dalton running our offense, and he wasn't about to give the defense any room to worry. After a deep pass to Jimmy Young (FLAWLESS toss and DOUBLE FLAWLESS catch diving on the sideline - tell me someone caught the Mortal Kombat reference), a few Christian runs and a Turner smash into the end zone (and ANOTHER missed PAT by Evans. Off the right upright AGAIN. Can you move the ball to the left hash on these?), it was 32-7 Frogs at the end of the third. After BYU threatened on their first drive of the fourth quarter and actually got the ball to the 11, Nick Sanders once again decided this wasn't the time to fuck around with a good thing and intercepted Hall's pass for a touchback. Ball game. That did it right there. At this point it was just going to be a game of keepaway as we only threw the ball one time the rest of the game. Putting the game in the hands of Kerley, Turner and Christian, and letting the defense do the voodoo that they do so well, the fourth quarter was a mere formality. 32-7 Frogs. #9 team in the country DONE. Longest win streak in D-I, DONE! Amon G, where BCS dreams come to die.
As a side note, as the fourth quarter was winding down, many of us decided it would be in our best interest to get as close to the rails as possible in order to talk shit to the BYU team (the only thing better than being a bad loser is being a bad winner) and, rumoredly, rush the field. The only time I've ever rushed the field was after the 2005 CSU game when we clinched the conference, and although there were probably only about 30 of us that did and it was weird, it was still fun and security was fine with it. However, in typical TCU fashion, this whole plan got a big fail stamp. As everyone was fired up to rush the field at the end of the game, in typical TCU fashion, no one did... except 3 guys, who were expecting the mass of students to follow them onto the field (because strength in numbers is the only way to beat security in such a situation). Unfortunately for these guys, there were about 6 cops to each of them, and they police brutality'd them to the ground with tackles, knees to the back, and, ultimately, cuffing and probably paddy waggoning. Bummer. Go Frogs.
Offense - A+. As I've pretty much highlighted the big plays, I'm just going to list stats here. Dalton, though, it should be mentioned, was absolutely on fire tonight, and not just his hair. He only had to throw 19 passes, but completed 12 with a long of 25, for 170 yards and two TDs vs. 0 INTs and no sacks. Credit definitely needs to be given to the O line who, after an off performance, came up HUGE. Dalton had plenty of time to throw, rarely having to scramble, and there were times when he'd get out of the pocket and could've tucked and run for 15 yards before being touched. It was during these times, though, that Dalton was patient and would find his man and pick apart the BYU secondary, only rushing 6 times for 20 yards. Being out these past two weeks, Dalton came out hungry and it looks like he'd been watching the BYU game film ever since the OU game, knowing he would sit out until then if he could. We've got a great QB in #14 and I still can't believe it took him 8 games to get a TD. But, if he's going to have a break out party, now was the time.
Running the ball, Kerley led all rushers with 9 for 77 net yards and a TD. Turner took 19 hand offs for 69 net and a TD, followed by AB (8-39), Christian (8-29), Dalton, and Hicks (1-7). Through the air, Jimmy Young had 4 receptions for 78 yards and TD, Bryant had 4-44 and a TD and Turner, Watts, Johnson and Christian each had one reception.
Overall 29 first downs, 410 offensive yards (240 yards rushing, 170 passing), 2 fumbles, one lost, fewer false starts and holding penalties 31:23 TOP, 11-16 on third down and 1-1 on 4th. Also, 1-1 on great big ole ass whippins.
Defense - A+. It's becoming pretty commonplace for me to give the defense an A+ rating each week, but can you blame me? Best defensive performance all year, mainly because of the caliber of the opponent we played. Hodge ended up leading all tacklers with a staggering 12, including one for a loss, followed by Phillips with 10 and Longview's favorite son Henson with 8. Down the line, Coleman had 6 (and 3 pass breakups), Washington and Priest had 5, as did Jerry Hughes who, it should be mentioned had 4 of those for sacks and 2 forced fumbles. I think we've found our MWC defensive player of the week, nay the YEAR. Nick Sanders had 4 tackles to cozy up to his 2 INTs, followed by Tejay with 3 and Panfil with 2. Also recording sacks were John Fonua and Cody Moore.
I want to take a minute and just apologize to our secondary. Honestly guys, I just didn't know if you had it in you, and I'm sorry for being so hard on past performances. There've been some great plays, but then there's been some over the top gains that left me questioning how we were going to match up with teams for the rest of the year. I think it's hard to give enough credit when our run defense does what it's been doing, but you guys stepped up tonight and played out of your minds and are a huge reason why we massacred the Mormons. Congratulations, and keep it up!
Overall, the D only gave up 297 total yards to one of the best offenses in the country (23!!! rushing, 274 passing with most of those coming on junk gains up the middle that we were letting them have). 6 sacks, 2 INTs. 7 points. Awesome, awesome job.
Special Teams - B-. Ross Evans had one FG for 31 yards, but was 2-4 on PATs. This must be fixed. Anson Kelton had 2 punts for a net of 44 yards with one inside the 20 and, once again, wasn't relied on too much to keep us in the game. Combs had 7 kickoffs for an average of 61 yards, but had no touchbacks and several punts that didn't clear the 15. None out of bounds, but we need more consistency here. Fortunately, special teams coverage was great and wasn't messing around with any arm tackles as the return men were consistently met with 3 or 4 Frogs each time.
Overall. If you look at some of the stats, it really looks like the game was a lot closer than it was. Same amount of plays run by both teams (70), almost even TOP, comparable first downs, comparable 3rd down conversion rate. However, stats are for losers, and we all know how this turned out. Frankly, best game I've ever seen TCU, or for that matter just about any team, play collectively. A lot of the time our defense wins the game and the offense just pads stats against inferior opponents, but this was a team that was 9th ranked in the country and was supposed to have a much improved defense. I think the most telling sign was how BYU opened as a 2.5 favorte and closed as a 2 pt dog. That's quite a swing, especially for the 9th best team in the country. Although I will have to give one knock and say that we did have 10 penalties this game, truthfully, the Cougars just flat got out played and, miraculously, outcoached. We were able to find all the holes in their defense and were in Max Hall's head from the beginning. You hate to get yourself in a "what if?" situation, but games like this naturally do that. What if we'd played that way against OU? Now, I'm not going to sit here and compare OU to BYU, because OU is a MUCH MUCH better team, and I still don't think we would've won, but what if AB had returned that kick and what if our team had been clicking like it was? Probably still would've lost because OUs line play would still have gotten the better of us and Sam Bradford is a far better QB and has far better weapons than Max Hall, but there's no way it would've been 35-10.
Unfortunately, games like this just show that non BCS teams just don't have the consistency to get into BCS and National Title discussion, although in this situation I'm definitely not complaining. I mean, BYU had an outside shot at the NC game had things fallen perfectly... what an embarassment that would've been! And while I still believe that, for this year at least, the MWC should get a bid over the Pac 10 and the Big East, we've got to win a few more high profile games against big time teams in order to make that jump. Regardless, best TCU game experience I've ever had... I was fired up from start to finish and you could tell the crowd was completely fueling the team. I hope we had recruits there and I wish we could put asses in the seats at every game, not just big ones. The pieces are in place... we have the PERFECT coach and team, the money, the facilities, and a Texas alumni base. With more crowds like this, TCU football can become the second most elite program in the state (sorry, we'll never jump UT). If you were there, congratulations, if you weren't, sorry you missed it and I hope the broadcast did justice to the atmosphere in the stadium.
Closing out, we are currently 27th in the AP and 24th in the coaches polls. It's hard to speculate where we will jump after this game, and I will bring that analysis later today or Monday, but you'd think anywhere from 18-22 would be logical, depending on how things play out. Would do the prediction for next week here, but this game deserves it's own post and I will do so in the Top 25 analysis. Anyway, thanks Frogs for playing your hearts out and let's keep this momentum rolling all the way to the MWC championship. GO FROGS!