Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Bowl Game: Boise State Horses.

Is that a smile I see, Gar Bear?

GP always talks about winning by one point and for whatever reason a lot of people dislike his attitude. Pretty sure they’re all on his side now. 17-16 probably isn’t how many people saw it playing out, but damn if it wasn’t the only way it was supposed to happen. The thing about this team this year, though? Even when we were down by ten early and it looked like Boise might not have too much trouble moving the ball, I never doubted the outcome. I knew the team had more heart than to get beat down by a bunch of relocated California sissy boys. That’s what their team is and that’s why, when it mattered the most, they caved in and let the Frogs do what they needed to do to get out with a victory. I know WWHD, lyle, barron and buck all attended the game and from their phone calls and reports, it sounds like we were outnumbered but the fans, like the team, never backed down. I’m sure we’re all kicking ourselves this afternoon for not gutting it up and going out to San Diego, but I am sure we’ll all remember exactly where we were when the Frogs cemented themselves as not the best non BCS team in the country, but also as I feel one of the top 5 best teams in the country period. Seriously, who wouldn’t you match us up against? Outside of Oklahoma, Texas, Florida and MAYBE Alabama, I don’t think there’s another team in the country that could beat us right now. If Barry can make good on his playoff proposal, I might even consider voting for the guy in four years.

Getting off my high horse for a minute, though, I will give credit where credit is due and say that Boise, despite my earlier comments, is a great football team. Considering how many underclassmen they have, I think they have as good a chance as any to go undefeated (well, almost. hehhehehehehehehe) again next year. However, if you really take a step back and look at the bare bones of the game, they simply didn’t want it as bad we did. They had opportunities and didn’t capitalize on them. Heck, this big, bad offense we kept hearing about took a knee to end the first half! That’s how scared they were. However, at the sake of rambling on and on, I’ll get into the actual performance on the field. Note: These are not going to be easy to do because TCU has not posted the post-game stats and I am pulling information from several different sources.

Offense - A-. You might think that anytime we win a game against a good defense, the offense should automatically get an A, and in many cases you might be right. However, it took the offense almost two entire quarters to put points on the board, and the two interceptions in that first half were brutally timed. Regardless, they did get the job done in the end and ended up moving the ball on Boise like no other team this year, but because of the first half, a minus was still in order.

All along you knew our gameplan was going to be to run the ball down their throats, so it should be no surprise that of our 472 yards, the most Boise has given up all season mind you, 275 of those were on the ground. TCU also once again controlled the time of possession (36:07 minutes) and made good on 9 of their 18 third down conversions, totaling up 28 first downs total, vs Boise’s mere 15.

Flinging the ball, Red struggled a little bit there at the beginning. Since he missed the Colorado State game, both times Dalton had to play from behind we lost, at Utah and Oklahoma, so I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t just a little worried about how he’d perform. Well, after throwing an unnecessary interception, I think it started to click a little bit for him when on Boise’s ensuing possession the defense bailed him out and held the Broncos to a field goal. He finished the night with 197 yards on 22/35 passing with no touchdowns and an interception which was good enough to earn him offensive MVP numbers. He also rushed 16 times for 74 yards. I am sure the way he kept the team together and rallied them back from the early game deficit played a role in this decision, but for my money the offensive MVP should go to...

Dear Boise, This is what Victory looks like.

Behind Brown, as he usually does, Joseph Turner banged away for 83 yards on 16 carries, including one of the more physical touchdown runs I’ve seen in a long time. In the fourth quarter, with TCU driving and our fans smelling a victory, Turner took a handoff and bounced off a few defenders, even dragging a few into the end zone with him for good measure, for a 17 yard score to put the Frogs up 17-13 and give us our first lead. After a couple of defensive stands, per usual, this ended up being the winning TD. Glad to have you back next year, Turner.

Other rushers were Jeremy Kerley, who ran 4 snaps for 10 yards and Ryan Christian who took one handoff for 6.

Receiving, the Broncos defense buckled down in the secondary as I thought they would and as mentioned only allowed the Frogs to put up 197 yards through the air. Regardless, Dalton was able to pick and choose his receivers for underneath gains as he hit 7 different receivers to gain his yardage. Jimmy "LT 2" Young was second in receiving yards, gaining 62 yards on five catches, followed by Ryan Christian (6-53) and Walter Bryant (6-67), who included a big 15 yard catch in the first half to his repertoire, which stopped the clock and allowed the Brown TD soon after. Shae Reagan followed with one catch for 11 yards, a great sideline grab that went under review, but came late in the game and helped us burn some clock. Like Brown, Reagan is another guy who we will always wonder "what if?" about due to the unlimited potential he had that was stomped out by injuries. Curtis Clay had a seven yard grab that he barely kept his hands under and scooped in, while Brown and Turner had a catch each. In a game where Boise had the advantage against our passing attack, Dalton did just enough to move the ball down the field and pick up some big first downs.

Overall, a pretty good game for our offense despite the lack of points scored. In fact, this was the first game all season where the Frogs didn’t score on one of their first two possessions. It took them a while to get going, but once they did, you knew they were going to take the lead eventually. No huge, game busting plays, and Jeremy Kerley’s only involvement was an intercepted pass out of the Wild Frog, but, as GP says, you only have to win by one point, and that’s what we did.

Surgeon General's Warning:

Do not attempt to drink and walk while watching the Frogs Defense

Also, I'm not cross eyed.

Defense - A. Really, it was a tale of two halves for our defense. Boise surprised them early, jumping out to a quick 13-0 lead, marking only the third time all year the TCU D has allowed points on its first series. However, who of us honestly thought Boise was going to get the better of the best defense in the country over the course of an entire game? Here’s a stat: In Boise’s first two drives, they had 30 yards rushing, including Johnson’s TD run. For the rest of the game? -2. In fact, for the entire second half Boise only had 145 yards and a FG to show for their efforts. Go. Frogs. I knew that our run defense was going to absolutely defile these guys, but 28 yards? Yikes! It didn’t stop there either; in the passing game, Boise’s supposedly high flying passing attack only had one play go for more than 20 yards. Like I said, they KNEELED out the first half! Boise was held to season lows in points scored, first downs, rushing yards and total offense. Even without Robert Henson we did these things so that just goes to show how for real these guys have been this season. In fact, Sir Wesley was so inspired by the defense’s second half performance, that, after having a little too much Christmas Cheer (read: whiskey) I inadvertently practiced my very own tackling drills first on the floor of my kitchen, then immediately on the opposite wall. I now have a nice little gash on the bridge of my nose and can be used as a stand in for any future Jason Phillips involved TCU photo shoots. All for the love of the game, though, right?

Back. Breaker.

Anyway, talk of the defense absolutely begins and ends with Stephen Hodge. With the loss of Henson, the defense really needed someone to not only be a leader on the field and make some big plays, but also a leader in the huddle and in the locker room. Apparently Hodge and Phillips took it upon themselves in the pre game pep talk and, while it took them a couple of series to get on the same page, once they did, wow. After Boise’s touchdown, three of their next five drives went for negative yards and I think that really took the wind out of their sails. Hodge finished with 11 tackles, three of those for losses, as well as a sack and the biggest interception of the year which was also, shockingly, the first of Hodge’s career. With Boise getting the ball back at the end of the fourth quarter only trailing by 1 point, Hodge went back to the game film and knew that his man was going to run a corner route based on where he lined up. He was right, he jumped the route, and he picked off the pass, prompting GP to do the greatest fat man jump fist pump I’ve ever seen. When you’re as bad to the bone as Patterson, though, you can be forgiven for only having a 6 inch vertical. Hodge was named the game’s MVP and there’s no arguing this. Despite being third on the team in tackles this year, Hodge never got the recognition that Henson, Phillips and Hughes did, but this guy was as much a part of our success as any of those guys. The most hard hitting tackler I’ve ever seen at TCU is going to be sorely missed next year. Good luck at the next level.

Second in tackles for the Frogs was the man who was abruptly thrust into the spotlight this week once it was announced that Henson was going to be sitting this one out. Daryl Washington finished with 6 tackles, including one for a loss and was a more than adequate replacement as a starter. Look for him to have a breakout year next year just like Hughes has this year.

Speaking of, surprisingly enough, Boise State figured something out and was able to keep Jerry Hughes pretty quiet, but his lone sack of the night was a HUGE one and forced Boise to kick a field goal late in the game. The field goal kept them one point short of the Frogs. He only finished the night with 4 tackles, including one for a loss and the sack, but the biggest part of the evening was what Jerry said post-game: "I’m going to be a Horned Frog next year." To my knowledge there aren’t any teams in any other sporting league called the Horned Frogs, so this is good for us. Really good.

Jason Phillips totaled 5 tackles in his final game as a Frog, including one for a loss and was definitely one of the major leaders for this defense. Having only missed one game in his entire TCU career, Phillips has been the face of this defense for a long time. GP said earlier in the week that he wasn’t going to allow anyone to wear #39 for a while, and that’s the best testament to the guy that I can think of. Phillips was an absolute warrior for the purple and white and we will never be able to replace his commitment, skill and energy.

In the secondary, Drew Coleman, Nick Sanders, Tejay Johnson and Rafael Priest held their own and honestly only got beat on one play. Johnson led all tacklers with 6 and Coleman was right behind him with 4 and even had one for a loss. Priest had 2 tackles and was the victim of the most illegitimate pass interference call in the history of the sport. Sanders had one and did a great job keeping the Boise receivers in front of him. We have three of these guys coming back next year. I'm just sayin...

Rounding it out were seniors James Vess and Matt Panfil who had 3 and 2 tackles, respectively and they each had a tackle for a loss. Panfil also picked off the final pass of the game when Boise attempted to pull some Fiesta Bowl magic. That shit might work against Stoops, but get it outta there when the Frogs are in town.

For the game, TCU held Boise to 250 total yards, which, as mentioned is their lowest output of the year and 200 fewer than their season average. 222 of those came through the air, although a big chunk of that came on Vinny Peretta’s 65 yards reception. 28 yards rushing was a great bookend to a dominating defensive season. Boise didn’t even attempt a trick play until the final one of the game, which was intercepted and shows how afraid they were of what our defense was capable of. It was an honor and a priviledge to be able to watch these guys each Saturday and, while I want to say that we’ll never see anything like this again, as long as GP is calling the shots, anything is possible on defense. Awesome Show, Great job.

Special Teams - A. Not much digging to do on this one. Evans, after the Utah disaster, hit his only field goal of the game, a 32 yarder to which I had my ass clenched so tight you couldn't have fit a pin in it. Anson Kelton consistently punted Boise deep into their own territory to aid our defense and was quietly the best player on our special teams this season. Our coverage teams did a great job in making tackles, only getting beat for a big run on the opening kickoff when Boise hit a Perreta - Johnson lateral that went to the 50. We didn’t do much in the way of the punt return game, with Kerley taking one kick for one yard. AB and Hodge did well returning kicks though, as Brown took 3 for 47 and Hodge took 2 for 27. Honestly, I think Kerley still isn’t 100% and had this not been a bowl game we probably would not have seen him back there. Look for him to live up to his first team All Conference punt return pedigree next season.

Overall - Definitely one of the most exciting games I’ve seen the Frogs play. It wasn’t pretty and it wasn’t a blowout like we’ve been accustomed to this year, but it was a win, and it was a win over the undefeated #9 team in the country who should've been in a BCS game. It is also a win that should spring board us into the final top 10. TCU could end up being the only 2 loss team in the top 10. Think about that. The ole Frogs are finally getting a little respect! This is also a record setting win for TCU as we have now won four straight bowl games for the first time in school history, with the last one coming at the hands of Boise in 2003. A few more notes:

  • 11 wins for the third time in four seasons and the fourth in six.

  • The winningest senior class ever at TCU with 41 wins.

  • 52-1 under GP when holding opponents under 17 points.

It should also be noted that this was GPs 100th game as the head coach of TCU, upping his record to 73-27, and one back of Abe Martin for second on the all time list. GP is going to be remembered as the greatest coach to ever roam the sidelines at Amon G and I'm just glad I've been able to be a part of it.

Knowing we were going to wear the black/purple ensemble again, I threw caution to the winds and went full on gameday for work, including my black and purple LT jersey. I’m pretty sure my work productivity was at an all time high yesterday because of this, although that is not saying much. Upon waking up in my bed this morning fully clothed from the night before (these things happen), I decided there was no way I was going to let it end yet and wore my jersey all day today as well. The karma I built from this is the only way I was able to make the hungover drive home to Longview.

Continuing though, as the best way to sum up this game, I’m going to allow Mr. Attention Seeker Ian Johnson to explain how it was, via ESPN:

"They had better athletes than we've ever seen," Johnson said. "They played with so much heart. You didn't look over there one time and say, 'We broke them.' They knew they were going to come back and they believed in themselves the whole time."

I could not have said it any better myself. Sometimes it just comes down to the athletes, and TCU has them. We also have the best defense in the country as well as a pretty good offense that doubled Boise’s output, but who’s counting? The second half of this game was probably the hardest I’ve ever seen our team fight. With thoughts of Utah surely eating away at everyone’s minds, the Frogs didn’t get down and made Boise pay for taking the safe route and kicking field goals. I said that I thought the kicking game would play a role in this game, and although I didn’t mean it precisely this way, Boise has to blame part of this loss on playing it safe, especially late in the game. When a team cowers down the way Boise did, TCU can smell blood in the water and it just drives them more. Although we’ll never know without a playoff, on a neutral field, this defense would shut down any offense in the entire country, no matter how prolific. We’re going to lose some major players, but with GP there’s always a new crop of athletes ready to slip in and fill the void. This has easily been my favorite season to be a part of since becoming a TCU fan and it’s going to be hard to top, not just because of the results, but because of the team itself. We’re losing some great guys and friends, but I know as much as you do that there are going to be new and possibly better ones to take their place in the upcoming years. Now, how many days until next season????

Game Ball - Hodge. Duh.

Just because of the holiday spirit, and because it’s a story involving WWHD and GP, I’ll leave you with what I gathered from the former’s drunken voicemail early this morning. Apparently after the game, everyone was back at the bar at the team hotel and a bunch of players and coaches started to come down to celebrate. Naturally, the man himself surfaced and, naturally since we worship at his altar, WWHD and lyle had to get his ear for a little bit. After debating what to say, WWHD simply walked up to GP and said, "Coach, all I wanted for Christmas was a W," to which GP looked him square and the eye and goes, "Merry Christmas." GP. Santa Claus. Merry Christmas to everyone who may read this and I’ll be back in a couple of weeks after a nice relaxing holiday of overeating and skiing. Go Frogs and alert me when it's time to defile Boise's blog.

All Photos courtesy of the Star-Telegram.

Morning Victory Dump

TCU takes the risk, reaps top 10 reward Star-Telegram

Washington, Hodge provide emotional fire for TCU Star-Telegram

Hodge helps preserve victory with interception Star-Telegram

TCU pull rank to pin first loss on Boise State

TCU replay: Why the Frogs won Star-Telegram

Team scheduled to arrive at 4pm
-If you're in the Fort head to the John Justin Athletic Center and welcome home our Frogs this afternoon

BSU allows 427 yards to TCU's "physical" offense Idaho Statesman

Player diary: This game came down to toomany lost chances Idaho Statesman
-Two things on this one. 1. If you're going to publish something at least spell check the title 2. You were not "definitely the better team", ultimate loser statement.

Poinsettia lives up to expectations ESPN

Video highlights ESPN

TCU pulls rank over unbeaten Boise State San Diego Union-Tribune

TCU trio happily rushes by committee San Diego Union Tribune

Another bowl game reward for TCU QB San Diego Union-Tribune

5 thoughts 2008 Poinsettia Bowl College Football News

TCU helping players for life after football Idaho Statesman

"TCU has the best defense in the entire country" -Skip Bayless ESPN's First Take